The Big Dripper

A friend I used to go to school with became a mechanic for IH after high school. We called him Jiggles. Every time you would call him out (later, when he’d struck out on his own and was affordable) to fix something he would jiggle the wires and it would start working again.

Jiggles used to say that if us farmers would only realize how cheap oil rings were compared to all the oil a leaking fitting drips out in a day of running the price of oil would go down. No the oil thing was mine, he would only say we’d call him out more often.

It’s not like he wouldn’t fix a leak if he saw it while he was there doing something else. That’s when he’d say it. Today I did my part to drive down that oil price. I installed a few seal kits on my 1440’s hydro static driver and driven motors.

I wish I had done it a couple years ago. They do get gradually worse at leaking and I was to an expensive point. Then when the line turning on the header and feeder house had a wire harness wear through it and leaked out the machine was completely drained so no better time.

Just like the last time I added o rings to the driver’s cans another leak shows up that was eclipsed by the other three. It’s not the distance, it’s the direction. There’s a belt and a spline that eventually needs to be replaced on the input shaft side of the driver.

When either of those repairs come online the driver’s input shaft’s o ring can be installed simultaneously. The final one. Until then The Big Dripper will become a more easily lifted Little Dripper. I can’t bench press what I once could and now wished I’d never tried that.

But we were young bucks then …….





Bean There Done That

The bean run is done. Perfect weather for the whole race. Yields were good but not great. Maybe a little above average but nothing to brag about. I finished up on Thursday, October 22. It rained on the next day. Off and on all day. It was getting dry so the rain is a good thing. Fields were catching fire when worn out bearings threw sparks that ignited the super dry crop residue.

Thirty some acres of standing corn was burned down and totally lost somewhere nearby. According to the bar chatter on Friday evening. Fortunately I’m not part of the fire starter crowd since I’m not using my fire starting Fisher Price combine I’d bought (been ripped off for) locally by “a good church going Christian”. Everybody started carting a tractor hooked to a disk around to set in each field they were cutting in case of emergency. Nothing fights a field fire better than a disk.

Now it’s on to the corn. One crop down with one to go. In more ways than just price and harvest (and fire). I hear the corn dried down naturally in the field. Good thing since we are already losing enough money on every bushel as it is. Wet corn would have added insult to injury. I only wish the EPA would let my people grow and allow the ethanol to reach Congress’s mandated level of production. At the total mandated the surplus bushels would disappear and profitability could be restored in the grain growing business. As it is we are held hostage by appointed administrative bureaucrats. The kind that are very hard to fire since you can’t vote their sorry asses out of office.

After two weeks of climbing combine ladders I’m beginning to toughen up. Some of the soreness is abating from my muscles. Another three or four weeks will finish the crops and the workout. I’ll be fit as a fiddle going into winter. Ready to cut and split the wood for warmth.



Still White

……. And the seven breakdowns.

Cold. White and still. For a moment. Then the north winds kick in with a vengeance. I tried to put back on the farmer cap yesterday and did, for a moment. Sunday after splitting some wood and making that last post I tore into the old 1440 I’m using for parts. It was cold but things worked out nice and by sunset I was down to the unloading auger’s up and down tube just below the elbow. I had the elbow off but the gearbox bolted to the inside of the elbow was still attached to the lower auger shaft with a pin and a cotter key. It was getting too dark and I was getting too cold so I started in on the project first thing Monday morning.

By noon I had it completely off and ready to take along north to put on the 1460. By sundown again I was listening to the engine block heater sizzle on the 1440 I’d bought and used to combine everything last year. I’d flipped a coin on which one to take up north to pick the 178 acres of corn north of town. I guess it landed on edge because now both machines are parked up north of I-80 next to the bins. When I removed the little cover plate (too little) on the horizontal tube behind the elbow on the 1460’s unloading auger it had a bolt and pair of nuts instead of the original pins with cotter key. Unlike the 1440’s bolt and one lock nut that came out easy the 1460’s first nut came off easy but the second was getting harder to turn with each new bite with the wrench. Each bite of a twelve side boxed end wrench.

Half way off about a half hour later I gave up. I headed home to get the other better combine.  The 1460 has a beater going bad, the fan needs rebuilt, it could use a new rotor and cage out of the burn victim. It’s three way gearbox is starting to leak, unless it always has and the last guy had replaced the original hydraulic oil with heavy gear oil. It seems the more hydraulic oil I add the faster it leaks. The thinner it looks on the dipstick too. The unloading augers already had a bearing out of one of the under tanks cross augers before this elbow ring thing. The feeder house needs to come off the 1440 parts combine for the 1460. All things I had listed two years go on my Original CoCreator’s Blog but never got around to doing after buying the new 1440. Why that coin was even in the air to begin with is beyond me.

Oh yea. It’s because at the end of beaning I thought the 1440 acted like it was losing power. And last night in the dark when it couldn’t pull itself up hill with the separator running too I remembered why I’d taken the 1460 north. So in the dark I almost disassembled the electric fuel pump from the 1440 parts combine to put on the 1440 dream machine. I had taken all the necessary bolts out and only had left the fuel lines to be cracked open and removed. It was a completely different kind of pump than the one already on the dream machine so it was going to require taking along a couple of rigid fuel lines too. I had checked the pump with the jumper cables to make sure it ran before I’d started removing it by pickup headlights.

By noon today I was back running at full power. But when I went to start the auger tractor that had been plugged in all night AFTER a cold start on the dream machine (it was under twenty and very windy) the 4-e-h batteries were stone dead. Not frozen but stone dead.Two new ones and the starter purred like a kitten. I finally got a few wagons of corn combined today. Maybe four. I humped the hoppers over the snowy hill with the 1440. When I quit in the dark the one wagon sitting over the swing hopper for the bin loading auger was full along with the hopper on the ’40. By the time I run them up the auger on the bin the bin will be full. One down one to go. I finished the corn east of the creek ditch. Tomorrow I’ll start on the patch west and north of the ditch. I’ll start on that other bin too after moving the auger.

The fun never ends …….




The auger is fixed. The bin is full. As are almost all of the wagons. The whole shebang is grouped down by the pasture inside the fence along the road. I’m waiting to load a couple of semis full of corn for delivery to the alcohol plant co owned by Bunge of North America just south of Council Bluffs along Interstate Highway I-29. We’re going to spot a few loads into the market. My older brother’s driver is bringing one of the brother’s trucks. We will load him on the road from the field. I have a long enough auger to reach across thee road ditch and dump on the truck while it still sits on the gravel road. That way we can keep the roadside on the road and the field side in the field.

It’s Monday November 3rd. November is for picking corn. I have forty acres done and two hundred eighty to go. This could be my largest corn run ever. I hope it all goes well. Yesterday I put the 1440 and twenty foot bean head away in the barn. I’m hoping the 1460 will last through the fall. I never used it at all last year. It sat around as a spare while I ran everything through the 1440. The 1460 has better lights, more power with it’s trurbo, and a few more bushels of grain tank capacity, and a longer unloading auger. With corn yielding three times as much as beans the extras start to really add up. It also has heavier final drives and a beefier transmission, both adding stability to it’s stance.

I may try planting my ten bags of winter rye today. At any rate I’m going to have the stay at gone mom run to Co op and pick them up after we load the corn. I plan on planting them alongside gulleys so I can fill the gulleys in with a dirt scraper or tractor & loader next summer after I harvest off my cover crop seed for next fall. That’s the theory anyway. I’ve been told all the rye needs to do is germinate this fall to be a viable crop next summer. I think we still have warm enough soil. The temps have been above normal the last couple weeks. I know we have wet enough soil. It never seems to quit raining.

That’s about it from the corn patch. Have a great month. Be thankful we have it.

See ya then, see ya there …….




There’s no time like the present. This is the 1440 story.

Last summer as I was reading the classified section in a monthly newspaper titled Iowa Farm And Ranch Statewide Edition I came across a classified ad for an IH 1440 combine with a lot of new parts. Had since new. Always shedded. In excellent condition and ready to go to the field. Priced at $4,000.00 American Dollars. I remember thinking that sounded like a good buy.

A few weeks passed and I still hadn’t called on the ad. As a matter of fact I could no longer find my copy of that month’s edition. A week later the next month’s edition came in the mail. I made a point of putting the paper where I wouldn’t lose it until I found the time to call the phone number listed on the ad. By the time I was done putting up hay there was more than a combine in the paper I was interested in. A New Idea double basket hay rake listed had caught my eye. If it was what I thought it was the price looked cheap. The combine ad I was looking for was gone but another ad for a 1440 that said new price $2,7oo, if not sold by July 15 will part out good unit or lots of excellent parts. Procrastination pays???

I made the calls and arranged the itinerary. One day I would journey out to Nebraska to look at the rakes. The next day I would journey up to east of Sioux City to look at the combine. It was quite a drive out into Nebraska. The rakes weren’t what I thought but they looked like they were still in good condition so I bought them. One was a right hand rake and one was a left hand rake. One had a longer hitching tongue than the other so they would pull staggered to not miss the narrow strip between them had they not been staggered and overlapped. They both were hydraulically driven instead of ground driven. Both hooked to a three point toolbar that they trailed behind.

The next day after getting directions from the farmer’s wife I headed up to see the combine. I left without the cell phone my wife offered to send with me. I left without the directions the lady had given me. So I simply wandered north by west through the countryside on the back roads until I crossed highway 20 east of Sioux City.  That much I remembered from the directions I had written down. I also remembered it was two miles south of the old highway 20 that could be seen from the new highway 20. I had also remembered that they lived about twenty miles east of Sioux City and the farmstead had two upright silos near the road by the other out buildings.

When I had found highway 20 I headed west until I came to the twenty mile mile marker. Sure enough I could see the old highway 20 pavement from the new highway 20.  I drove the two miles on south of the old 20 and started heading back west. Then back tracked east to the place I’d started two miles south of old 20. Then on east looking all the while for two silos. There were a lot of farms with two silos but none were along that stretch of road. So I tried the roads a mile north and a mile south of the one I’d been searching. Eventually I came across the local mail carrier. At last I thought, this guy will know everybody in the area, it’s his job to know.

He’d never heard of any Wilcoxes in this area. However he had heard of some one town over. (I say one town but what he meant was in the next town’s rural delivery route) He gave me a rough description of how to get to the house he thought it was. When I got there and saw the two silos I thought this has to be it. It wasn’t but the guy there had heard of Gary and knew where he lived. Even though one of the houses he told me to turn at was no longer there I could tell it had been a farmstead at one time by the windbreak still standing across on the other side of the road. When I pulled into the farmstead I’d been directed to the lady was out in the garden just like she’d said she would be.

She called her husband and said he would be by shortly and proceeded to direct me out to the shed that the combine had always been shedded in. When my eyes had adjusted to the dim light I couldn’t believe them. This sucker still looked like new. The tires were like new. The chains and belts all looked like new. It had a chaff spreader attached. I had already decided to buy it if it ran like new.

When he showed up Gary assured me it did. He said that even though he hadn’t bought it brand new he had bought it two years old with only 800 hours on it and yes it had always been shedded. He went on to tell me he had run a rock through it so insurance had bought him a new rotor and concaves. (the parts that do the actual threshing) he further told me it had a new motor installed not that many hours ago. The hydrostats had been replaced with new ones. The final drives had been rebuilt. I could see the unloading augers had been replaced. He had converted the header height control from the old cable actuated to an electric over hydraulic actuated one.

I was basically buying a new combine for $2700 dollars. We began talking and had he not had hay to bale I think we could have talked the rest of the day away. He and his wife were very personable. I felt like I’d known them all my life after a couple hours. But he had work and I had driving to do so after I’d written the check we parted company. I tried to find a route home that I could drive the machine on without overtaxing the hydrostats along the way. Western Iowa can have some very steep hills to climb and I wanted to avoid the worst of them if I drove it home.

By seven or so I was still lost and getting very tired. When I rolled into Logan Iowa from a direction I’d never driven before I was at least on familiar ground. Logan is the county seat for Harrison County, one of the counties I farm in and home of the USDA’s Farm Service Center where we sign up for the government cheese. (Farm Program) I whipped the pickup into a parking stall outside one of the watering holes I stop at when I’m in that town. I had a few drinks with the locals and caught up on the local gossip. Then I had a few more when the rounds were being bought faster than I could drink them. When the bartender suggested I get a room instead of trying to drive home I was all for it. I had nearly fallen asleep driving as it was before I’d even had a drink.

When I went back to hauling hay the next morning a friend showed up and said the stay at gone mom was calling every sheriff between home and Sioux City looking for me. It’s OK if she stays at gone but let me slip off the radar just once …….

I used my little cream puff to harvest all the crops last fall. I only climbed into the 1460 to move it out of the way and to park it in the barn at home for the winter. Along with the five row head I’d bought from the rake guy. It will become my new home made six row head this summer. I bought another four row head for the parts I need to make the transition.

I went back and bought a couple of Lundell gravity box wagons from Gary and towed them home with the pickup. I could only drive twenty five miles an hour towing them. That’s when I decided to have the combine hauled home by a professional trucker. The five hundred dollars it cost wouldn’t go far buying another new hydrostat if I wore it out driving it all the way home.

This post is way longer than I thought it would be. Sorry about that. I’ll tell you the story about the original home made six row corn head some other time. When I have more time/room.

See you then, see you there.