How to prepare a tractor for use after a roll over.
July 10, 2018 6:17 AM   Subscribe

Tractor done rolled over. What should I do after tipping it upright and before using it?

My father (a 70 y/o partially paralyzed stroke victim diabetic with congenital heart failure) has a penchant for tipping over his equipment. The guy has no concern for his safety but so far has proven to be indestructible. Really, he should be dead about 10 times over (this includes pre stroke incidents too). He has no business being on a tractor but he's a very stubborn dude and we've always taken the stance that if he's not putting anybody else in danger let him be. Long story short this time is the last the keys get taken away. That leaves me in charge of maintaining the property and having a working tractor is an important part of doing that maintenance. After I get the tractor upright what preventive steps should I take before starting and using it. When he rolled his dozer I was told by a couple of people that all of the fluids and filters had to be changed. Are there any other preventive steps I should take?

It's an older version of this model
posted by jmsta to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Is there a reason not to take it to the local ag repair shop? Expensive, yes, and it might be headed there anyway if your fix doesn't take. (I'm not mechanically inclined enough to remove glow plugs or clean up spilled oil, so.) Three ifs = shop visit. If it hasn't been serviced in a while...if you're not engine-savvy....and if you need this machine, then consider getting help. I am VERY glad to hear that your dad survived this rollover! Good luck with the righting process, and be careful.
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:04 AM on July 10, 2018

What brand of tractor, what year (ish)?
posted by DarlingBri at 7:15 AM on July 10, 2018

Engine wise:
If oil leaked out, clear it up. Check the oil level and water level - if they are good, then that's likely less of an issue. There is nowhere the oil and water can go that being upside down makes any difference over than the oil can go out of a engine through a breather or out of a poorly sealed joint, in which case top it back up when it is right side up and has sat for a while (to let everything get back where it should be). If it's all still in the engine you are likely good. If it isn't, then it can only have gone outside or in the cylinder bores, in which case turning it over a few times (or even letting it sit for a prolonged period) is likely ok, but cranking on the starter with the glow plugs removed and no fuel (as in shut it off) for 30 seconds is likely enough to blow the pistons clear. It WILL make a mess if there is anything in there, though. The longer it was upside down the more potential effort is involved in getting the oil back where it needs to be, but it may well just be a matter of 'right side up and wait'.

Check for any damage inside and out - battery location and wires, any stressing of pipes (exhaust especially, near the welds). Check the battery hasn't leaked out acid from being upside down and that it wasn't hanging on the battery leads or anything. Also check that it hasn't shifted and is close to shorting out. Check for any stresses to the mechanical side of it (lifting arms, wheel toe links are delicate etc).

And, honestly, if the fluids are in it, from an engine perspective I'd just roll it back over, let it sit for about as long as it was upside down and then start it.
posted by Brockles at 7:52 AM on July 10, 2018 [10 favorites]

If it just rolled on its side (doesn't sound like it) and if the side it rolled on means the air intake is still above the rest of the engine (especially the fuel line and oil pan) then all you'd have to do is tip it back onto its wheels. You often hear of farmers just rolling their tractors back over and starting right up again. If it sat upside down or even just on the "wrong" side for a long time I'd be worried about the air filter, but that's a diesel with fuel injection and there indeed aren't many other places for fluids to go. Visual inspection for leaked oil along with the "right side up and wait" strategy Brockles mentioned is at least a good starting point, if not all you need to do. If the air filter is fouled you'd want to replace it.

I'd flip it over, let it sit for a day, check the oil level after that, and inspect the air filter and replace it if necessary. Then I'd do nothing more than try to start the engine. It'll either start or it won't. If it doesn't, call a mechanic.
posted by fedward at 8:20 AM on July 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

Brockles wins. Unless the equipment was submerged then this is just a "roll it over, give it a bit, then try to crank it" type situation.

If the thing was submerged or the intake sucked water of noticeable levels then you've got a different scenario on your hand. Ask me about the time my great uncle's truck (attached to a flatbed with a dozer on it) experienced a parking brake failure and galloped, backwards, it's happy ass down the hill into the creek bordering the family farm. Rebuild time after a trackhoe got truck, trailer, and dozer out, but them's the breaks.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:00 AM on July 10, 2018

if it ran while tipped over (not sure if newer tractors like that have a tip-over sensor), the engine could have been oil-starved, and damage to the bearings could have occurred. The only way to tell that for sure is a)The engine fails while running or b)disassembly and detailed inspection of internals.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 10:11 AM on July 10, 2018

I was just writing what ArgentCorvid did, but have a suggestion- if it did run for some time sideways with the oil pump sucking air- after getting it running, and using it for a while (assuming no obvious signs of bearing damage like rod knock or low oil pressure) you can send a sample of the used motor oil for analysis to a lab (Blackstone Labs is the one I'm familiar with, there may be others.) They can check for excessive bearing material in the oil. If you get high levels of bearing material in the next couple of oil changes, it would be smart to strip the engine down and repair before it destroys itself. OTOH, if the oil checks out OK, you're almost certainly good to go.
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 10:23 AM on July 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

From Messick Farm Equipment: What should you do if you roll your tractor???
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:25 AM on July 11, 2018

jmsta, what happened? How'd you do with righting the tractor?
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:06 PM on August 14, 2018

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