A yellow Rogator syringe stands next to an empty field in the middle of a light November snow. (AnnaMarie Ward/The Union)

Sinclair Tractor Service Technician Brandon McKean works on a variety of machines like this skid steer engine. (AnnaMarie Ward/The Union)

For the past eight years, Lucas Rappenecker has worked on all types of farm equipment at Sinclair Tractor in Winfield. Here he is working on an 8370 RT IVT transmission. (AnnaMarie Ward/The Union)

WINFIELD – After exceptionally long harvest days, the bounty harvest has finally arrived, the bright beams of tractor headlights no longer pierce the darkness of the Iowa fields, and farmers are beginning to prepare for what comes next.

Machine maintenance is one of the many ways to prepare early for a successful fielding and planting season.

At Sinclair Tractor in Winfield, service technicians assist these hard-working farmers with such preparations.

“Farmers always look ahead to next season,” said service technician Lucas Rappenecker as he worked on an 8370 RT IVT transmission.

Rappenecker started working for Sinclair Tractor 8 years ago straight out of high school and now expects to shift his work slightly as the seasons change.

Once the urge to bring in the harvest dies down, Rappenecker finds his job often shifts from working on combines to repairing and maintaining tractors as farmers will use them for the next season.

Also, “off-season jobs are bigger,” he said. “Once they’re in the field, it’s about getting them back out there as soon as possible.”

During the planning season, farmers have more time to inspect their machines and have major repairs done without disrupting the planting or harvesting schedule.

“These larger jobs are the ones that lack routine maintenance,” said 18-year-old mobile service technician Ryan Springsteen. “A little TLC goes a long way.”

According to Brandon McKean, another 18-year-old service technician, the natural rhythm of the farming season after harvest brings more machines to inspect and prepare for planting.

Tractors require maintenance similar to the average road vehicle.

“On the newer models, the oil needs to be changed every 500 hours,” he said as he retired from working on a skid steer engine. “The older models have to be changed every 250.”

Springsteen addressed the similarities in maintenance.

“This is the time for scheduled maintenance like oil and filter changes,” he said. “In the case of water pumps, the engine valves must also be checked.”

During this time, Sinclair Tractor will be offering inspection services.

“Farmers can drop off their stuff or we can go to them,” Springsteen said. “During an inspection, we look for defective or damaged parts and carry out preventive maintenance work.”

“The idea is that they bring them in while they’re still fresh in their minds,” McKean said.

He explained that this time of year makes it easier to make repairs than when farmers pull out their tractors to start tilling and are pressed for time.

Inspection offers are always posted on the Sinclair Tractor Store, but sometimes online as well.

“This is where the seasons begin and end,” said Rappenecker.

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