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Mechanics Corner: Get the most from your attachments, season after season

Perry Girard Published on 06 November 2015

As with any piece of equipment in use on your farm, proper maintenance of your attachments can save you a lot of time and money. But what attachments are right for you, and how can you keep them working efficiently season after season?

The useful life of an attachment depends on a number of factors, such as the quality of the attachment, its ruggedness and design, how it is used and maintained, and whether it is properly matched up with the power unit.

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My first suggestion is to share your maintenance challenges with your farm equipment dealer. It’s important to be specific about the type of work you do, the amount of ground you’re working, soil conditions, frequency of work and making sure the attachment is built for the task.

It’s also important that the attachment does what it was designed to do. While there is a lot of variability with the operator and the care and maintenance for an attachment, many attachments (with the exception of buckets) can last the life of the tractor – even outlive the power unit – if they’re used and operated correctly and well maintained.

Below are some maintenance tips for the most common attachments in use:

  • Loaders are one of the most popular attachments for compact tractors and can be used to move mulch, dirt, snow or hay and forage. Heavy-duty buckets typically require a quick-mount system for easy on and off, and a single joystick control positioned near the steering wheel for easy operation. 

    If you’re using a toothed bucket, be sure to replace the teeth, adapters and pins regularly. Replacement of teeth on a bucket and bolt-on edges will extend the life of a bucket. Your farm equipment dealer is your best bet for OEM and all makes of replacement bucket teeth.

  • Mower attachments are used when you have acres of land to mow and mulch. The blades create a clean and precise cut, which reduces the risk of objects being thrown from the mower. Use yielding blades on the mower to maintain an even cutting pattern and further reduce the risk of damage if an object is struck. 

    Mower options include flail mowers, flex-wing finish mowers for more hilly properties, mid-mount finish mowers used for trimming around an area and rear-mount finish mowers used for expansive areas, such as large homesteads.

    Regardless of the type of mower attachment, the key to proper maintenance is keeping the blades razor-sharp. Most mower blades are reversible, resulting in a long life, and worn blades are easy to sharpen or replace.

  • Rotary cutters can be used with utility, mid-range and high-horsepower tractors to cut through large, dense areas of weeds, stock and brush. Be sure to choose the cutting width that is right for your job; blades are adjustable and exchangeable.

    You can also choose rotary cutters with standard-equipment chain guards that evenly deflect clippings and prevent them from getting caught. The blades and heavy A-frame used in a rotary cutter are designed to prevent slowing down or getting stuck when mowing over a rock or stump and around obstacles without harming your cutter.

    You do not need to sharpen rotary cutter blades in the same way you would sharpen a mower blade. In fact, they need to stay dull and generally require very little maintenance.

  • Rotary tillers that help prepare seedbeds for planting and control weeds between rows are used by everyone from gardeners and nursery owners to landscapers and small-farm owners. Growers who want a large vegetable garden will use them for secondary tillage just before planting and again after planting for weed control.

    They are designed so that it spares the crop while taking care of the weeds. Choose rotary tiller attachments that come standard with all the preventive maintenance instructions and tools you will need, including grease fittings to protect driveline universal joints and rotor shaft bearings, and a chin support so you can easily adjust the shield height quickly and safely.

  • Blades are available for both front and rear applications. Front blades are often used for moving materials, grading and clearing snow in the winter. Choose bolt-on or quick-attach blades that can be changed quickly and safely without additional tools.

    They can also be fitted with a skid shoe to prevent gouging and maintain the blade at the pre-set height. Rear blades are also extremely versatile and are most often used in landscape grading, seedbed preparation and spreading applications.

    The advantage of using a rear blade is that it will also cover the equipment tracks. Again, the key to proper maintenance is keeping the blades sharp.

  • Other attachments include utility backhoes for digging and rotary brooms for sweeping leaves, clippings and snow from paved areas. There are a variety of snow-specific attachments as well. But regardless of the attachments you’re using, it’s important to make sure you receive training on how to get the most from your investment. It’s also important to learn exactly what the attachment is designed to do.

Proper care, maintenance and use are all important factors. If you are not maintaining or using the attachment properly, you can expect a much shorter lifespan. Easy maintenance fixes such as blade replacements and chain adjustments can extend the life of many attachments.

Attachments are an easy, cost-effective way to upgrade and expand the versatility of your equipment. You may not purchase a new tractor every few years, but you can vastly expand its usefulness with the right attachment. It’s always best to start by contacting your equipment dealer for specific advice and offerings.  PD

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Perry Girard is a product marketing manager of attachments with CNH Industrial Parts & Service. Email Perry Girard.

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