Jul 19, 2023
Work Like A Pro With These 5 Farm Shop Accessories
Many farm shops now function at the level of a commercial repair shop. Here are
Many farm shops now function at the level of a commercial repair shop. Here are options to in-crease the efficiency of shops that hum with activity 12 months a year.
TWO- OR FOUR-POST LIFT
Post lifts come in two designs. A "clear-floor" design has a steel tube that connects the two lift columns at the top. A "floor plate" design uses two independent columns with a channeled steel plate on the floor between their bases that protects cables and hydraulic hoses running between them.
"With a clear-floor design there is a limit to the height of a vehicle that can be lifted before it contacts the crossbar," says Tim Chihak, owner of Dominator Lifts in Cresco, Iowa. "A floor plate unit will lift taller vehicles, but it requires more bolts into thicker concrete to prevent deflection of the posts because as a vehicle is lifted, the towers want to slightly tip toward each other. With a clear-floor lift, the crossbar deals with that issue."
Two-post lifts support a vehicle's frame on two V-shaped pivoting arms that stick out from each post. Four-post lifts support the wheels of vehicles driven onto the runways as opposed to using arms that contact the vehicle's frame.
"If you’re going to do a lot of wheel-off work, or pull axles and suspension components, you have to outfit four-post lifts with crossjacks to support the vehicle by its frame rather than its tires," Chihak says. "It's important to spend time with the post lift seller and discuss what you want to do with the lift to make sure you get the right design for your specific needs."
Two-post lifts with 10,000-lb. capacity start at around $5,000, or $6,000 installed. Four-post lifts capable of lifting 12,000 lb. are in the $8,000 to $10,000 range, and $10,000 to $12,000 installed.
Many farm shops are upgrading to commercial-duty power washers.
"You can plan on getting 50 hours to 100 hours out of a box-store power washer," says Ben Klingemann, with Hotsy Equipment Company. "A commercial-duty power washer is good for 1,000 to 2,000 hours."
The best power washer is carefully matched to the shop in which it will operate. Will it run off 110 or 220 volts? Will it be stationary or mobile for washing outside the shop on nice days? If choosing a hot water washer, will its burner be LP, natural gas, diesel or kerosene?"Customers get discouraged by the price of a hot water washer, even though it might actually be what they need," Klingemann says.
"Some companies say they’ve got soaps that will make a cold water washer work like a hot water washer, but nothing cuts grease and oil like heat."
Commercial-duty cold water power washers start around $1,500. Hot water washer prices start at $5,000. Don't overlook rebuilt commercial-duty washers.
"Our reconditioned power washers are rebuilt to like-new standards," Klingemann says. "They’re an economical way to get into a heavy-duty power washer."
Several years ago, Steve Menz and his family decided to air condition the 90'x135' main shop on their Perry, Iowa, operation.
"The shop was already insulated for heat, so we added a big household air conditioning unit, around 5 tons," Menz says. "If you keep the slab cool, it's not that hard to keep the shop at 75°. The big thing is you feel more like working on equipment when the humidity is bearable. We get a lot more work done in the summer with air conditioning. A side benefit is that the shop stays cleaner because we keep the big doors closed."
Commercial warehouses use powered sweepers to keep their big expanses of concrete clean, and it's not purely cosmetic.
"If you drive back and forth across dirt, grit and rocks, it wears out your concrete surface and makes it rougher and harder to keep clean," Menz says. "We found a used self-propelled floor sweeper on eBay for around $1,500. It does a better job with dust, dirt and small rocks than a push broom, and it's way faster. The less dirt there is on the floor, the less dirt gets kicked into corners and under benches, plus sweeping by itself puts a lot of dust in the air. The power sweeper has a vacuum that reduces spreading the dust around."
Menz's floor sweeper is a ride-on machine, but walk-behind sweepers are available for $500 to $2,500.
It's increasingly difficult to find a tire repair shop to fix tires in small towns, and impossible at night or on weekends. The ability to repair vehicle tires as-needed might justify the cost of an on-farm tire machine.
"There are two tiers of tire machines," says Mechanic Superstore's Luke Miller. "There's the standard grade of machines like Triumph, Ranger and other good durable units that will change dozens of tires a month. Then there are the full-time tire shop-type machines designed to change dozens of tires a day — the Hoffman, Corghi and CEMB units."
Tire machines that handle only passenger car and light truck tires start at around $2,600. Machines with the capacity to do passenger car tires through implement and light-duty truck tires retail for $7,000 and up.
When shopping for a tire machine, know the most common tire and rim sizes you want to repair, and the load ratings of those tires, to ensure it can fix your flats on a Sunday afternoon during harvest.
Dan Anderson uses his hands-on experience with farm machinery repairs, field operations and technology to share practical tricks and fixes.