Don’t Ignore These Wear Points

High-acreage planters deserve close examination during preseason maintenance ( Darrell Smith )

Hidden wear to frame hinges and other pivot points on planters can lead to catastrophic breakdowns in  the field or during transport.

“It’s tough to tell if a big hinge pin is worn inside its sleeve,” says Phil Jennings, Kinze Manufacturing service manager. “It might be worn or cracked internally where you can’t see it and held in place only by the sideloading from the pieces its holding together.

The best way to check hinge pins is to fold and unfold the planter while somebody watches that pin. If there’s any lateral free play in the joint, or any jerks during movement, there might be a problem.”

Jennings also recommends lowering planters into planting position and watching the main frame while someone eases the planter forward.

“Our planters leave the factory with a little bit of ‘lead’ in the wings,” he says. “If the wings are flexed behind the main frame when they’re under load, it indicates there’s wear in the hinge pins that deserves attention.”

Driveshaft couplers and latches are other telltales of frame problems.

“On folding planters, if the latches don’t line up, or have to be rammed to latch, it might be because the hinge pins are worn and the frame tubes are moving around too much,” says Jay Funke, owner of Del-Clay Farm Equipment, an AGCO dealer in Edgewood, Iowa. “Another thing to check is driveshaft couplers. Sometimes they’re just out of adjustment, but sometimes the wings they’re mounted to are out of alignment because the hinges or pivots are worn.”

Replacing worn or cracked hinges or pivot pins on mainframe components is a major undertaking, requiring jacking, blocking and precise alignment of heavy frame tubes. Once pins are out, it’s time for a decision.

“Pins are replaceable, but the sleeves (where they pivot) are welded parts of the frame,“ Jennings says. “It’s tricky to cut off the old sleeve, weld in a new one and keep things in alignment. Usually, putting a new full-size pin in the old sleeve reduces the free play enough to get by for a few years.”

... And Don’t Forget

  • Hinge pins on folding markers. “Ignore sloppy hinge pins too long and all the free play and banging around can crack the arms,” says Matt Shepheard, John Deere program manager for service marketing. “It’s cheaper to replace worn pins than to replace broken marker arms.”
  • Vanes on vacuum fan impellers. When vanes on vacuum planters wear thin due to grit they can break off, which throws the high-speed fan out of balance, damaging the seals and bearings in the vacuum fan drive motor.  
  • Tined wheels on row cleaners. “I’ve seen an inch worn off the tips of tines on row cleaners,” Funke says. “Also, don’t just spin them to check the bearings. Grab and wiggle them to check for side play in the bearings.”
  • Seed meters. “Replacing the entire seed meter might be less expensive than the cost of all the parts, the time to install the parts and then running a seed meter test to validate performance,” Jennings says.
  • Seed plates. Oval seed holes and deep grooves in seed plates where rubber seals ride can subtly degrade metering accuracy in ways that barely show up on seed monitors during planting but create head-scratching mysteries once crops emerge.