Power At Work

Counting and fixing external threads

For quick shop work, the thread files are the best tool when it comes to counting 
or repairing external threads


Thread files are a handy dual-purpose tool around any repair job. They come in imperial and metric thread and are not very expensive. I keep one of each in each of my workshops. The most common tool source is the K-D tool display you see in many hardware and auto parts stores.

Of course, the main intent of a thread file is to file damaged external threads. That’s an easy and obvious job. Each square file has four different thread sections on each end, so one file will cover a wide range of eight thread pitches.

We must demand schematics for our electrical systems

Let us collectively tell the major equipment manufacturers that we need direct access 
to the layout of the working systems for the equipment on which we spend big dollars


Electrical faults that “come and go” can cause serious frustrations and take machines out of service at critical times, such as harvest days when time is big money.

About a year ago, I introduced this issue and suggested that operator’s manuals should contain electrical schematics. Those are line drawings that allow any person with a reasonable working knowledge of electrical circuitry to trace current paths by being able to predict voltage indicator points.

Repairing trailer axle spindle damage

‘Tightening’ the bearing in place with metal compound is the answer if you 
are worried about spindle wear on your trailer axle


Trailer axles seem to have a problem with spindle wear that is not normally seen in cars and trucks. 
The problem is that the inner race of the inner wheel bearing turns on the spindle and slowly wears back and into the face of the spindle.

I first noticed this while servicing RV trailers, including big fifth wheels. One big trailer I had was wearing so quickly that I would check and sometimes adjust the increasing clearance half way through our trip back to Canada from California.

Remember to check your grain in storage – often

Regardless of the year, it is critical that operators pay attention to temperature or moisture content increases in stored grains or oilseeds


Shortly after I went on staff at the then Western Ontario Agricultural School at Ridgetown in 1964, I started talking about grain drying and storage. My colleague Ralph Clayton and I actually started an elevator operator’s course in 1967.

So what has changed? Primarily, my hair colour and the people who are operating elevators and on-farm grain drying/storage systems.

Power at Work: The case of the misleading grease nipple

Most vehicle wheel bearings are greased the same way. But our expert recently encountered one trailer bearing that could cause you problems if you don’t approach it properly


Vehicle wheel bearings basically have always been greased the same way. You pack the bearings with grease, then install the bearings in an enclosed hub, with an inner seal and an outer cap. There is no provision to add grease. There are no grease nipples.

This is the best way. The bearings are packed with an approved wheel bearing grease and the hub is sealed to keep out normal dirt and water.

Power at Work - What’s happening in engine oil analysis and recovery

Technology has evolved, so that you no longer need to impress your neighbour with the plume of smoke pouring from your truck or tractor


Some of us remember when we looked at the colour of engine oil on the dipstick and then rubbed it between two fingers to see if it felt okay – with not too much soot (carbon particles) in it. Those two criteria determined if it was uncontaminated enough for additional miles or hours of use.

Power at Work: It pays to look after your trailer wheel bearings

Doing the necessary checks and using the right grease are maintenance musts to keep your trailer in good working order


Every time I see a bad set of wheel bearings or a bad wheel bearing set-up, I feel compelled to write a fresh set of instructions. “When will everyone catch on?” I ask myself. Well, one reason is that jobs are changing, cars last longer and there are more trailers on the road.

Years ago, mechanics routinely serviced the front wheel bearings twice a year, plus every time the front brake shoes were replaced. We got lots of practice. These routine jobs are gone and I suspect now that a lot of repair guys are just not properly trained.

Power at Work: What will smart metering mean for your farm?

The opportunities for most farmers to shift their activities to take advantage of time-of-use pricing are limited. In fact, it may encourage greater use of self-contained standby generation systems


Most of you will already have a smart meter installed, or will have one shortly on your electrical service.

Personally, I have real difficulty with the term “Smart.” My Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus list the adjective “smart” as meaning: keen; quick; sharp; brisk; witty; spruce; well-dressed. I do not think the meter measures up to any one of those adjectives. However, it does meet all of the descriptions of a verb transitive category – to feel a sharp pain; to be acutely painful; to be punished.

Power at Work: Have you read your shop manual lately?

With this in your hand, you should be able to do repairs yourself or at least narrow down the potential fault locations for a service rep


Most of us are inundated with operator’s manuals for everything from the bench grinder to the combine. In many cases, these manuals tell us how to start and stop the equipment, when to service it and the importance of operating the equipment safely. That is all good and useful information, but why should it stop there?