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    Keep Your Tractor Running All Year | Fall 2003 Out Here Magazine

    If Randy Taylor bought a new tractor today, he could expect it to last the rest of his life — if he maintains it correctly.

    By Carol Davis

    Most tractor owners are like Taylor: they don't make their living with a tractor, but they use it frequently around their property for mowing, log splitting, or creating gardens.

    Use a little common sense and follow your tractor's operating manual, and your tractor could perform well for decades, says Taylor, an extension engineer in machine systems for Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas.

    A tractor's operating manual is invaluable in keeping it running smoothly, Taylor says.

    "In the operating manual, it will have regular service intervals, such as places to grease and how often," Taylor says.
    Most manuals will recommend that tractors, under average operation, should be serviced after about every 10 hours of use, Taylor says.
    If you have an older, used tractor for which the operating manual has long been lost, the Internet is useful for tracking down a copy, Taylor advises.

    "You can find them for tractors 30, 40, 50 years old," he says.

    An Internet search revealed several websites offering manuals for tractors, including www.ssbtractor.com and ebay.com. The cost, which depended on the model of the tractor, ranged from about $15 to $180.

    Most manuals will recommend that tractors, under average operation, should be serviced after about every 10 hours of use, Taylor says.
    "With tractors, use is based on hours, not miles," Taylor says. "You have to think about how much it's been used."

    Your owner's manual should be your guide, but Tractor Supply Company's Ray Dulin provided these general tips on keeping your tractor running all year:

    CHANGE YOUR ENGINE OIL
    Check your owner's manual to see what the manufacturer recommends. Use the lowest-recommended grade for best all-weather protection, energy conservation, and fuel efficiency.

    GREASE ALL GREASE POINTS
    Choose highly water-resistant grease to keep your tractor's moving parts operating smoothly and seamlessly. Less friction means a longer life for those parts.

    INSPECT ALL HOSES AND BELTS
    Check for signs of cracking, softening, and bulging. If a belt gives more than 1 inch under finger pressure, the belt should be replaced.

    CHECK YOUR BATTERY
    Regularly remove battery caps and check fluid levels; clean corrosion from posts and cable ends with a wire brush; and tighten the battery clamp and cable ends to the positive and negative posts. Generally, batteries should be replaced every three to five years.

    Indeed, if you take care of your tractor like you take care of your truck or car, it will get you where you need to go.

    Carol Davis is editor of Out Here.