With the multiple rotating parts and fine tolerances, cotton pickers require regular maintenance to function efficiently.
However, there comes a time when you need to strip down the assemblies and replace worn-out parts.
To obtain the longest useful life out of your equipment and to avoid machines breaking down, follow the manufacturers’ maintenance schedules and recommendations.
Engine maintenance entails greasing and changing filters, replacing oil, and tuning. While checking that your John Deere Cotton Picker heads are in optimal condition, it is a more specialized process.
Any time you have multiple spinning components in close contact with each other, you are going to have increased wear and tear as well as damage.
Cotton plants are robust and can do a fair amount of damage, especially when you are harvesting a large area.
Maintenance schedules vary depending on the age and usage of your machinery.
Some parts require daily inspections, while others can go for a week, a month, or even several months before they need attention.
Certain parts of your cotton picker need complete rebuilds after 2-5 years depending on how hard they have been used.
For many of these maintenance procedures, obtaining original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts or John Deere aftermarket parts are your best option.
There are cheaper alternatives though. These may seem to offer cost savings, but the quality and material specifications are usually poor and can cost you much more money in the long term.
OEM or Aftermarket Parts
If you fit sub-standard parts, they will potentially damage or cause additional wear to your machinery, which offsets any cost savings that you might have anticipated.
Using a trusted supplier who stocks parts that are manufactured to the original specifications ensures that your machinery won’t break down and will extend the useful life of your harvester.
Maintaining the Doffers
As we are discussing about John Deere Cotton Picker. Doffers spin far faster than the spindles and any misalignment can cause them a huge amount of damage.
Even small amounts of wear and tear to the bushes can cause the doffers to wear more than they should. This affects your harvesting and can cost you money.
When the doffers are worn out, the doffer column is disassembled and the doffers are removed. Then the spacers are removed and replaced. The easiest way to do this is to cut the old, worn spacers off with a cutting disk as they will be held in place by tightly worn cotton.
The doffers must be correctly spaced as they need to match up with the spaces between the spindles to remove the cotton efficiently.
Once the doffer shaft is cleaned, new doffers are placed onto the shaft. The old doffers can be refurbished by grinding the edges square if there is enough material available.
The new doffers are dropped onto the shaft and a spacer is added. Every third alternating doffer receives a shim as well to ensure that the correct spacing is maintained.
Replacing the bearing at the same time as you replace the doffers is recommended and it’s a good idea to check that the locknut is still in good condition as well. If it isn’t, then replace the locknut with a new one.
Once the doffer bar is full, the doffers are aligned and the locknut tightened. Then the edges are ground down so that they are all of a uniform size.
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Spindle Bar Maintenance
Once the harvester has been through a couple of harvests, it will be time to rebuild the spindle bars.
The spindle bar has a rotating shaft inside on which are mounted gears that mesh with the gears on the spindles. The gears on the drive shaft are held on by a roll-pin that can shear off and there are various bearings along the shaft that can also wear out and may need replacement.
When inspecting the drive shaft, it is quickly apparent which gears need replacement as they will be worn and damaged. Often the roll-pin breaks, which then allows the gear to run up and down the shaft. This means that the spindle stops turning as there is no drive power to turn the spindle.
Both the gears on each spindle as well as the gears on the drive shaft wear down and require replacement. The amount of wear is determined by the amount of time the harvester is used as well as by inspecting the spindles.
Once the gears and bearings have been replaced on the driveshaft, it is returned to the spindle bar and a snap ring holds it together.
Then the spindles are threaded into the bar. This is a delicate task as the bar is aluminum and the spindles are steel. Cross-threading the spindles can be an expensive mistake as the spindle bar is an expensive part.
It is advisable to never use power tools to insert your spindles as the chance of cross-threading them is far greater than if you do it by hand.
Your replacement parts need to be ordered from a supplier with quality inventory, either original spares or high-quality John Deere aftermarket parts.
Moisture Pad Maintenance
The moisture columns come in for a fair amount of wear and tear as pieces of the cotton plant can bend the moisture pads and damaged or broken spindles damage them as well.
Once these columns are stripped off the cotton picker, the moisture pads are removed and the whole assembly is pressure washed to remove dirt and debris. Then the moisture pad supports are aligned so that the gap is equal between each one.
Maintaining a ready supply of soapy liquid is imperative. Failure to keep the pads moist will result in the spindles being less effective as they are doffed, which results in lower yields. Checking the moisture levels and filling the tank is a daily task that cannot be neglected.
It is not strictly a maintenance task, but it has long-term consequences for the life of the spindles and the doffers.
A supplier such as Certi-Pik, USA carries all John Deere aftermarket parts you will need to maintain your cotton picker. They fabricate high-quality spares and offer online and telephonic ordering. With same-day delivery, you can have your parts delivered whenever you require them.