Schools Training

Off the Road and Onto the Field: Farm Equipment Mechanics

13 NOV 2012
Career Path : Automotive

The history of agriculture is in many ways a great example of the history of technology. Over nine thousand years ago, areas in and around modern-day Egypt saw cultures discovering small-scale planting of wheat. Roughly two thousand years later, the ancient Sumerians began using animals to help them in the fields. With the coming of the industrial revolutions, agriculture began to be mechanized, vastly increasing agricultural outputs to supply the increasingly populous urban centres.


One of the main developments that helped mechanize farming was the internal combustion engine. Animals came to be replaced with tractors and other automotive devices, which could do all sorts of farm tasks with greater efficiency than oxen, mules, horses, and the other pack animals they replaced. Today, it is not uncommon to see farm equipment mechanic courses taught in mechanic schools. Much of the same foundational knowledge applies to road-ready cars as it does to mechanized farm equipment, such as knowledge of fuel systems, ignition systems, transmission, emissions, and regular, everyday tune-ups and servicing. But due to the size of the vehicles, the terrain on which they operate, and the other work they perform aside from simply driving, farm equipment mechanics need to know some different areas of service.


If you want to become a mechanic to work on farm equipment, here are two machines you need to be familiar with: the tractor and the combine.


The Tractor


The tractor’s specialty is pulling—that is, it is a high-powered machine that uses great amounts of torque for the purpose of moving, hauling, or towing material or other pieces of farm equipment, like tillers or ploughs. Though they use many different kinds of engines, tractor mechanics should have an excellent familiarity with diesel engines. Tractors also can come with unsynchronized transmissions (usually older models), or synchronized transmissions (newer models). Because tractors are replaced less often than cars, a good mechanic needs to know both older and new tractor transmission designs.


The Combine


The combine is an automotive farm machine that is mainly used for harvesting. Its name comes from the fact that it combines the processes of cutting and gathering the ripe crop and separating it from the chaff in one process, all while remaining mobile. It takes mostly diesel like the tractor. Working on a combine, the mechanic needs to know about its motor processes as well as the rotating blades for reaping and the rotating cylinders for threshing. Combines regularly drive through deep terrain using tracks instead of tires, which the mechanic must also be familiar with.


Agriculture will always remain an important industry, and will always continue to take advantage of new technology. The best kind of mechanic school is not only one that keeps up with this technology, but prepares the mechanic to work with anything from cars, to trucks, to tractors.


Visit the Canadian Automotive & Trucking Institute to find out more about registering for an auto mechanic course.