Power At Work

POWER AT WORK: Put your concerns in writing when your equipment fails

If your equipment starts to malfunction, keeping accurate notes and being prepared to put your complaint in writing can lead to a much earlier and much less expensive repair bill for both parties


How many of us wait until things go seriously astray and then expect others to respond positively? If you are as guilty as I am, then please pay attention.

What brought this to mind was a phone call from a Better Farming reader about a verbal understanding that somehow got badly distorted over a period of a year or two.

Power at Work: BACK TO BASICS – PART III: All you ever wanted to know about torque

A torque wrench is a key part of your tool kit. Knowing how to use it for the maximum efficiency and safety can greatly enhance your mechanical performance


My first two back to basics articles brought so much response that I decided to add a third – this time on torque.

By now, most of you should have at least one torque wrench in your shop. There are many occasions when bolts or nuts must be tightened to a predetermined uniform torque.

Power at Work: For a better wiring job, use heat shrink tubing

It’s better than electrical tape, doesn’t unravel and lasts far longer


Heat shrink tubing is a simple product often overlooked for sealing electrical connections. This easy-to-install product does a better job than electrical tape and it lasts far longer than a few wraps of tape.

Electrical tape is always my second choice for covering any electrical connections. I plan most jobs to be finished and sealed with heat shrink tubing.

This means putting the tubing looseon the wire before doing the soldering, and before clamping or crimping any connection.

Power at Work: How to plan an effective grain drying system

Asking yourself the right questions before you start and taking all the key factors into account will save you costly regrets five years down the road


Whenever you propose to start or build a grain drying system, you will have to answer many questions. If you do not think these questions are valid now, I guarantee that you will think they were valid when you are five years down the road.

Location is very important.
Once you place the first bin, you are committed to that location. Please make sure that you make the best possible choices. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

Power at Work: How to check the settings on your steering box

Many vehicles on the road and in the field are being operated with unnecessarily sloppy free-play inside the steering box. Some simple tests to help you avoid this problem


There is an art to properly setting or adjusting any steering box. Sadly, because the majority of vehicles now have power steering, most regular mechanics and home mechanics have lost this art.

So let’s start this lesson with a quick look under the hood of any vehicle around that doesn’t have rack and pinion steering. We are only talking now about the old style steering box, as common on old tractors. These are still used in light and heavy duty trucks.

Power at Work: Cleanliness is essential when opening newer hydraulic systems for repair

With today’s more sophisticated hydraulic systems and tolerances measured in microns, rigorous attention to cleanliness is the order of the day


Some of us started our “mechanics training” in the 1950s, when tolerances between metal components were not as close nor as critical as they are today. Neither diesel tractors nor hydrostatic drive units entered the small village garage of that era.

I learned to do valve jobs, piston ring and bearing replacements – and even repair tires. Clean up involved a putty knife, a can of gasoline, a brush and an old sheet or shirt for wiping.

Do remember that in the 1950s, if an engine had an oil filter, it was probably of the alternate-flow type.

Power at Work: How to check for and deal with stray voltage on the farm


As I stated in an earlier article, what goes around comes around. Usually the time period is 20 to 30 years. Stray voltage is right on time.

I started hearing about this in the early 1970s when I worked as an agricultural applications engineer for Ontario Hydro. It was presumed at the time to be a greater problem in the United States, where they had many rural electrical co-operatives which did not have the quality of distribution line system we had in Ontario.

For example, in some remote rural areas, they only serviced customers with one line – the “hot line” – and all neutral current returned via the ground path. That single line system was also used in remote areas of rural Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, but never in Ontario.

Power at Work: New ideas in abundance at the Agritechnica farm show

Everything from tractors purpose-built to run on canola oil to a warning system for children coming near farm machinery were on view at the world’s largest farm equipment show in Hanover


The European Agritechnica farm equipment show, held in Hanover, Germany, bills itself as the world’s largest. The November event is certainly one of the most innovative with 330 new launches from the record 2,200 exhibitors, including a six-wheel-drive 540 hp tractor, the first engines specifically designed for running on canola oil and an all-electric fertilizer spreader independent of pto power.

Power At Work: BACK TO BASICS – Part II - What you should know about horsepower

Power is really the rate of doing work and horsepower is one important measure we need to understand as we go about our daily tasks


In the last issue, I covered some basics on electricity, heating air and air-flow rates. This month, I would like to deal with some questions that come up regularly about horsepower and hydraulic power.

What exactly is horsepower?

Power At Work: A primer for simple fibreglass repairs

Some tips to help you do your own repairs with materials readily available at the local hardware or auto-body supply shop


There was a time when I tried to repair most things with glue, screws and bolts with nuts and washers.

Now I find that fibreglass methods can be used both to repair things and to create whole new parts. In one recent repair project, I had to make a plaster mould for a missing piece of a fibreglass car body and then attach the new piece using fibreglass. So, the purpose of this story is to encourage other handy persons to go to the local hardware or auto-body supply shop and stock up on the basic fibreglass materials.