The Case IH Cotton Picker is an innovative machine designed to pick and package cotton efficiently and cost-effectively. Utilized by both large and smaller-scale farmers, these harvesters have an enviable reputation for being robust and long-lasting.
However, cotton pickers will only provide good service if they are regularly inspected and maintained.
The owner’s manual has the most accurate and up-to-date information related to maintenance schedules and inspections that must be performed by the operator and the workshop. Despite being a user-friendly machine designed with the owner-operator in mind, a trained technician with precision instruments and tools is the best person to complete major repairs and refurbishments.
Case IH aftermarket parts should be sourced from a reputable supplier with the knowledge and expertise to maintain Case IH equipment.
Despite the complexity of the IH Case harvester, there are a few common problems that can be resolved through careful adherence to maintenance and inspection schedules.
Here are a few of the more common issues that can be addressed to keep your cotton picker running.
Spindles and Spindle Bushings Inspections
Spindles wear unevenly with the upper half to 1/3 wearing less than the lower group. This is due to the proximity to the soil that splashes up onto the plant as well as the fact that most of the cotton is found on the lower portions of the plant.
To do their job effectively, the spindles need to be very sharp and over time they lose their edge and become blunt.
The bushings also sustain wear and regular inspections will ensure that the excess play in the system is identified and either adjusted or repaired before it impacts harvesting or the life of the machinery.
To save on costs, rotate the lower spindles into the upper positions and replace the lower spindles with replacements.
Over the off-season, corrosion often attacks the worn spindles, necessitating replacement.
Any broken spindles or spindles that fail to rotate must be replaced to avoid damage to the doffers and the spindle moistening pads.
The bar is disassembled to fix any non-rotating or dead spindles and then rebuilt.
Wear and Tear on the Doffers
The doffers become worn over time as the seed cotton from the spindles is unwound, wiped, with a stripping motion towards the end of the spindles.
Any misalignment of the doffer or the spindle will result in the doffer sustaining damage. Even with a properly set gap, the doffer wears down with use and needs to be replaced when it reaches a point where it is not stripping the cotton effectively.
The entire row of doffers needs to be removed and replaced with the correct tolerances set between each doffer.
Maintaining the Moistening Pads
A regular supply of cleaning fluid is necessary for the moistening pads to do their job of removing gum and resins from the spindles as they pass against them.
Without the moistening pad, the spindles will soon clog up, resulting in lower yields. So, it is important that the moistening pads are checked for damage and replaced timeously and that the correct mixture of cleaning fluid, in the correct concentration, is available and topped up in the tank while harvesting.
Picker Ribs Inspection
The picker row units remove the seed cotton from the plant. As the spindle rotates, it flings the seed cotton against the ribs which knocks burs and sticks off the cotton before it contacts the doffers and enters the air conveyor.
If the ribs are loose, misaligned, or damaged, they can make contact with the bars or spindles, resulting in excessive wear or breakages.
In the worst case, they can cause sparks which can end up causing a fire. For this reason, it is essential to inspect the unit before commencing with harvesting to confirm that the components are not making contact where they shouldn’t and make adjustments if they are.
Setting the Bar Height and Checking Its Condition
The bar height must be uniformly set to maintain the correct gap between the spindles, the doffers, and the moistening pads.
If the bar is set too low, it will not doff the cotton from the spindles and if it is set too high it can make contact with the doffers and moistening pads, causing excessive wear or, in extreme cases, gouge chunks out of the components.
The height must be checked before commencing a harvest and an eye kept on it during the harvest to ensure that the correct gaps are maintained between the various components.
Compressor Doors Adjustment
The picking mechanism is protected by the compressor doors. The compressor doors press the plant and cotton bolls against the spindles but are also adjusted in such a way as to prevent larger plants with a greater volume of cotton as well as bigger stalks and rocks or debris from passing through each row.
The adjustable springs that control the pressure applied by the compressor doors need to be checked for breakages and replaced if found to be faulty.
Along with the tension springs, any worn or damaged hinge pins or scrapping inserts should be replaced.
Plant Lifter Height Adjustment
The plant lifters are designed to “float” just above the soil, adjusting to the changing height. They guide the cotton bolls into the row unit and must be set approximately 1 inch from the ground.
They should neither plow into the ground nor drag leaves or debris along.
To avoid damage to the components, making an assessment of the row bed shapes as well as noting the presence of rocks or other obstructions before harvesting will prevent damage to the machinery.
Picking Unit Cabinet Wear
The picking unit cabinet is subject to a high level of corrosion and abrasion. With the addition of moisture and physical damage due to impact with rocks and other obstacles, the metalwork takes quite a beating with bent and broken sheet metal being the ultimate result.
As a result, it is possible that air leaks in the suction area can cause a lack of suction, resulting in clogging and possibly even fire.
The various belts that drive the water pump, fans, alternator, and air conditioning also require regular scrutiny to avoid potential problems while harvesting.
Maintaining the Integrity of the Air Conveyance System
For the cotton to move through the system efficiently, the air ducts must be free from obstruction and holes.
It is therefore important to inspect and clean the door and transition area as well as the discharge and air separation areas during the course of harvesting.
By paying close attention to maintenance issues before they become a problem and replacing damaged components with reputable Case IH aftermarket parts, one can avoid some of the more common problems mentioned above and ensure that the cotton picker operates efficiently throughout many harvests.