Busting Rust -- 10 Things You Can Do To Prevent Farm Machinery from Corroding

Richard L. Parish  |  10/6/2005 12:42:00 AM

Figure 1. Washing an implement after each use goes a long way toward preventing rust and makes the implement easier to use next time.

Figure 2. Hang hydraulic hoses on the implement so that the tips don't hang on the ground. This prevents corrosion (and dirt in the hydraulic system).

Figure 3. Exposed hydraulic cylinder rods can rust and pit, then destroy cylinder seals.

While equipment companies are doing their part to reduce corrosion of tractors and farm equipment, how well you maintain your machinery will determine its useful life. Here are some rust prevention tips.

1. Clean the machine after each use. Dirt, dust and crop residue can be corrosive when mixed with grease and oil on equipment. Rain can also be damaging. It is recommended that you wash equipment down after each use. For example, with a rotary cutter grass can build up and the deck can rust very fast. Putting a machine away clean helps to preserve equipment.

2. Store indoors. Storing machinery in a shed when it is not being used will keep it clean and dry.

3. Avoid parking on dirt. If inside storage is not possible, tillage implements in particular should be parked on concrete, gravel or blocks of wood to keep the disk blades or chisel plow knives off the ground. They will hold up a lot better if not in contact with grass or soil.

4. Wash off chemicals. Corrosive chemicals such as fertilizer and pesticides should be washed off as soon as possible. Pressure washing with hot soapy water and then rinsing is ideal; however, simply rinsing thoroughly with cold water will also help.

5. Apply plow-bottom paint. You can keep tillage tools clean and shiny by applying what is called plow-bottom paint. This flat black paint, sold at implement dealers, can be sprayed or brushed directly on the disk blades, sweeps, plow bottoms or other ground-engaging surfaces. It stays on in storage but peels off when it hits the soil and leaves a shiny surface again.

6. Wax annually. Applying a good quality automotive wax or protectant to major surfaces such as tractor hoods and fenders provides additional protection.

7. Do paint touch-ups. Scratches and paint chips can be repainted to help prevent rust in those areas.

8. Grease bearings. Bearings and other moving parts should be greased before the machinery is stored for the season. Filling the bearings with grease prevents water from seeping in and corroding the bearings.

9. Hang up hydraulic tips. Another area where corrosion is a problem is hydraulic fittings. When unhooking hydraulic hoses from the tractor, some folks drop them on the ground. Then the connections get rusty and don’t fit well the next time you try to hook them up. Hoses should be hung up on the machine once they are unhooked to keep the tips off the ground.

10. Retract hydraulic cylinders. Hydraulic cylinder rods on implements are subject to pit corrosion, or pits in the metal, if left extended and stored outside for a season. Pit corrosion can tear out the seals on the cylinders the next time you use the implement. You should retract the cylinders or coat the rods with heavy grease to protect them.

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