Flood Information


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Clean Flooded Farm Vehicles Quickly

Try to clean tractors, trucks and other farm equipment as soon as possible after they were flooded.

“Delaying will make the dirt and silt harder to remove and may cause considerable rusting and corrosion,” says John Nowatzki, North Dakota State University Extension Service agricultural machine systems specialist. “You could damage farm vehicles and equipment seriously if you use them before they’re reconditioned.”

He recommends you have your farm equipment dealer or other expert recondition engines because they need to be completely disassembled for cleaning. However, if you must use the tractor or other engine immediately, you could take the following steps:

  • Clean the exterior thoroughly with a hose.
  • Scrub greasy deposits with a solvent.
  • Remove the spark plugs or fuel injectors, air cleaner, intake manifold and carburetor and clean them thoroughly with a solvent.
  • Drain the crankcase, flush it with oil and refill it with clean oil.
  • Disconnect fuel lines and blow them out with compressed air.
  • Crank the engine slowly with the spark plugs or fuel injectors removed to force water out of the cylinders. Squirt light lubricating oil into each cylinder and let it stay in place for about five minutes, then crank the engine slowly to lubricate the cylinder walls and rings.
  • Replace all engine, fuel and hydraulic filters.
  • Completely flush the fuel system (tank, pump, lines) with No. 1 diesel fuel. Be extremely careful to avoid starting a fire.
  • Replace the starter and generator.
  • Drain and flush the transmission and final drive with a solvent and refill with clean, new oil.
  • Remove and clean unsealed wheel and track bearings with a solvent, then lubricate and replace the bearings. Factory-sealed bearings shouldn’t need cleaning if the seal is unbroken.
  • Flush the cooling system with fresh water and clean the radiator fins.
  • Replace the battery if necessary. If it was submerged in water, you probably will need to replace it.

Once you’ve cleaned and replaced all the parts, examine the engine and turn it over by hand. If it turns freely, it probably is ready to run. Turn it on and operate the machine at low speed until you are sure all the parts are working smoothly.

If you found a substantial amount of dirt in the crankcase, transmission or gear train, change the oil and oil filter after running the machine for a few hours. Using fresh lubricant is less expensive than paying for additional repairs.

Other car and truck parts also will need cleaning after being flooded. Here are some tips:

  • Remove inside door panels, and clean and lubricate latches and window-raising mechanisms.
  • Remove the seats and floor mats. Brush and vacuum them thoroughly, then clean washable surfaces with soap and water. Use rug or upholstery shampoo on nonwashable areas. Dry the seats and mats completely.
  • Disassemble the leaf springs and clean or replace the spring pads if necessary.
  • Have the brakes and steering mechanism checked before you drive the vehicle.

 Farm implements also will need the following parts cleaned:

  • Chains: Soak them in a solvent for several hours, then remove them from the solvent and allow the solvent to drain out. Next, soak the chains in light oil for several hours, then drain off the excess oil and replace the chains.
  • Gears and sprockets: Clean exposed gears and sprockets with a cleaning solvent, then coat the gears with light oil.
  • Gear cases: If you find water or grit in enclosed gear cases, drain the cases, flush them with a solvent and refill them with clean oil.
  • Belts: Repair or replace torn or cracked belts.
  • Cutting parts: Remove knives and cutter bars from mowers and combines. Clean and dry them, then coat cutter parts with light oil and reassemble them. Also remove dirt, chaff, debris or water from the inside of combines.
  • Soil-working parts: Clean dirt and rust from surfaces of tools such as mold boards, discs and cultivator shovels and coat them with rust-prevention grease or used crankcase oil.

For more information, visit www.ag.ndsu.edu/flood or www.extension.org/Floods.

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