Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Winter for field techs

I am a field mechanic all year long.  You might think that after a rain when it is too wet to work in the field I might be inside the shop.  It doesn't really work that way.
When tractors are parked it is the best opportunity for preventative maintenance and they are only parked here when weather stops work. 
The growers here know that there is a brief window when the weather stops field work so annual inspections and tune ups have to be done in the mud, fog, cold and rain.  My phone starts ringing at the first sign of rain. 

You learn to cope with the mud and cold after a few years.  Sometimes it is difficult to take things apart and keep them clean and dry inside.  I find working on these bigger tractors the hardest because you have to climb on them or under them to do almost everything.  If you plan ahead and take all the tools and parts you need and try not to move around too much you can keep things cleaner.

Any part that is bare must be sprayed with WD-40 quickly to prevent rust.  Many parts suppliers use large heavy duty zip lock bags for parts which I always save.  They can be used to protect parts and hardware while things are torn down.  I keep blue lint free rolls of towels to wipe parts dry and my nose when it runs in the cold.  I wear nitrile gloves to keep my hands dry and parts clean.  Most important is rain gear because mud can easily be blown off with an air compressor.

With preparation you can work in these conditions comfortably and you have a good excuse to go mud boggin'.  You can fling mud all over a company truck and the boss doesn't get mad.  You had to get to the tractor, right!


Friday, October 31, 2014

you can run.......

I worked for a Massey Ferguson dealer for four years. I struggled working on Massey Fergusons more than any other brand of tractors. It always seemed like there were parts issues and we never had the right tooling. I left there and moved back to the Kubota dealer where things are much easier.

My boss here knows I have Massey experience so when one comes in for repair I often get it. Two clutches this week. Man I'm tired.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Week one

It has been a full week now at the new job.  I am getting used to my surroundings now and starting to feel more comfortable.  I'm figuring out where everything is but I am sure there is more to find that I haven't thought of yet.

I worked on a Kubota RTV 1100 that overheated and now I am replacing the wire harness on an M125X.  I had to replace the engine on the RTV because it was up in the hills far from the owner's home when the water pump went out and leaked all the water out.  He had to drive it to get home and the little engine that could, couldn't.  I also got some new tractors ready that had been sold.

I like the change so far and I really can't see a down side.  I was getting pretty beat up at the old location working on so many big heavy jobs.  Eight Steiger axle seals in a row, in a sandy field and a Steiger with the park brake locked up in the middle of the field was a challenge.  I wish the old SM could have spread that around a little.  All that kind of work to one guy makes him find a new job.

I haven't got my service truck yet.  It is coming from Texas and should be here in a few days.  I saw a photo of it today and I think I'm going to love it.  The biggest challenge I've had here so far is separation from my tools.  I'm using a small chest that I bought in 1985 and there is not enough room for the tools I need.  I had to pick a few essentials that would fit in that little box to work with for a couple of weeks.  I haven't had to borrow tools for  a long time and I don't like it.  I'm praying for patience.

I am so used to being interrupted every day to go on  road calls and then driving from job to job that working in the shop continuously makes me beat tired by the end of the day.  I will never understand why anyone would want to work inside the shop all the time.

I miss my old friends.  I really enjoyed working with them.  The transition did not go as smoothly as I had hoped and some that had to stay ended up with hurt feelings.  I wish that wasn't how it happened but it is.  I only hope the new company that bought them out is good to them.  Me, I'm glad to stay with the company that has treated me so well for so many years.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

New Job

I started a new job today with the same company in a different location.  Are you confused yet? 

Ok, it goes like this:  I worked at Pioneer Equipment Company in Five Points, CA for 25 years.  Then I left for four years but I went back.  I have been there two years this time.  A recent sale of the company has given me the opportunity to transfer to the Fresno, CA location. 

I started as a Service Technician and worked my way up (or down, depending on how you look at it) to Service Manager.  I left to work with a friend at a Massey Ferguson dealer for four years.  I had the chance to go back to Pioneer and jumped on it. 

If you are following along you see that I started as a Service Technician, then I was a Field Technician, then Shop Foreman, then Service manager, then Field technician, now a Shop Technician for a while until I go back to Field Technician.

Now the weird part.  I started in May of 1983.  I left in May of 2008.  I came back in May of 2012.  Then in May of 2014 the Five Points location sold and I moved to the Fresno location. 

I want to tear May out of my calendar now.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Kubota Engine teardown

I recently replaced the engine in a Kubota RTV 900.  The water pump seal began leaking and the coolant level was not checked or topped off.  No coolant in the engine quickly caused the engine to overheat.  When the engine got to the point that it was hard to start the customer brought it in for us to check it out.

The engine cranked faster than normal and made a lot of smoke.  I ran a compression test and it was low.  At that point the customer decided to replace the engine with a brand new replacement engine from Kubota.

New engines from Kubota come with starter, alternator injection pump and injectors.  They also have a new engine warranty and are reasonably priced.  It costs close to the same amount to overhaul one and the rebuilt engine usually has a 90 day warranty.  Most customers want the new engine.

I tore down the overheated engine and recorded it on video.  Watch and you will see what happens to an engine when you ignore that coolant puddle in the driveway.  Sometimes the temperature gauge will not show that the engine is hot if there is no coolant in the engine.  The gauge reads coolant temperature not air temperature.  No coolant, no warning that's just the way it works.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

MXU115 14900 error

I went out Friday afternoon on a call to check an MX115 that would not move in either direction.  The tractor was shredding brush in a vineyard and just stopped in the middle of the field.

When I got there they had found another tractor and pulled the MXU to the end of the row for me.  I'm glad because walking a quarter mile to work on a tractor is bad enough, but when the rows are full of pruned branches you get all skinned up.

I first did a visual inspection and saw wires hanging on the right side behind the battery box.  The driver told me that the low range had stopped working earlier in the day.  The differential lock light was on and the error warning light was flashing. 

I hooked up the laptop to read the error codes but could not communicate with the controller.  I was not too surprised by this since I have been having trouble with the cable on the laptop but I saw that the ADIC was online.  It couldn't be the cable on the laptop if it was reading one controller.

The wiring had to be fixed and it was not accessible without lifting the cab or removing the rear wheel.  The customer agreed to haul the tractor to the shop to get it going. 

Saturday morning he hauled it in and I pulled the rear wheel off to get at the transmission harness.  The transmission temperature sender wires, and one clutch solenoid valve wires were completely pulled off.  Luckily I had most of the right terminals and connectors to do the repair.  I didn't have the temp sender terminals but I did have some that were close enough to get it going.

Once the wiring was repaired I replaced the blown #33 fuse.  This fuse is for the transmission CAN which explains why there was no communication with the transmission controller.  With the new fuse installed I was able to connect to the controller with the laptop.  I cleared the codes and ran the tractor for a while to see if the code repeated.  The code did not repeat and I test drove the tractor around the yard for a while to be sure.

I'm not sure if the damaged wiring had anything to do with the blown fuse.  I did not check the schematic to see if there was any relation.  The customer was in a hurry to get back to work and said he would bring the tractor back when he was caught up for some other repairs.

I made a video of the repair here

Friday, February 14, 2014

Powershift or bangshift

This time of the year we are getting everything ready for the coming season.  There is not too much going on in the field yet. 

A tractor came in this week for a tune up and inspection.  The customer also complained that his powershift was shifting hard in some gears.  The tractor was a Case IH MX 210 Magnum with a 18 speed full powershift.  It has an electro-hydraulic control system that uses a controller to turn solenoid valves on and off to engage clutch packs.  The clutch packs are arranged in a speed transmission and a range transmission.  The combination of clutches engaged determines what gear the tractor is in. 

The clutch packs are called:  Odd, Even, C1, C3, C5, Reverse, Master, Low, Medium, and High.  First gear uses Odd, C1, Master, and Low.  When shifting to second Odd drops off and Even comes on.  Shifts that change with only one clutch swap are smooth and quiet.  When you get to the shift from sixth to seventh, even switches to odd, C5 switches to C1, and low switches to Medium.  This is called a three pack swap.  It also happens between twelfth and thirteenth.  Three pack swaps are the harshest of the shifts and the loudest.  If these shifts seem too hard or loud there is some adjustment that can be made.  It can be done from the driver's seat through the A Post instrument controller.

It is best to calibrate the shifts when the tractor is warmed up and doing the operation that it is most used in.  With the transmission oil warmed to operating temperature shut the engine off.  Hold the prog key on the instrument control unit (ICU) while starting the tractor.  Keep holding the prog key until the list of controllers shows on the display.  Using the arrow keys scroll down to the transmission controller.  Push the prog key to choose the transmission controller.  The menu you are looking for is transmission setup.  Use the arrow keys to get there and then push prog.  If the transmission oil is not warm enough you will get a low temp warning.  You can warm the oil with a restriction in the remote coupler or by steering to the stops.  Once the oil is 60 degrees C you can proceed.  The Eng RPM will show and you need to set the RPM around 1200 RPM.  An asterisk should appear when the proper engine RPM is reached.  Push program and the instructions will appear on the screen.  When all the packs have been calibrated you can exit the setup menu, and exit the transmission menu and return to normal operation..  Drive the tractor though all speeds a couple of times and your shifting should be smooth with only a small difference at six to seven and twelve to thirteen.

I made a video here