Ask the Mechanic

Rake Made Better

(Progressive Farmer image by Steve Thompson)

READER: I have owned several New Holland bar rakes through the years and really like how they rake hay—no dirt or rocks in the hay. However, it seems that all of these rakes have a common problem with the gearbox, and it usually is failure of the cone bearing on the top of the gearbox. It has a castle nut on the shaft and is used to preload the bearings for proper rolling torque. Is there any way of extending the life of the small bearing under the dust cap located on the top of the gearbox? It seems to want to run dry as time goes by.

STEVE: I am also a big fan of the New Holland bar rakes and the way they leave the windrow, especially for the small square baler. But, like you, I have had my share of problems with the top bearing going out, allowing play in the shaft driven by the wheels. The shaft coming from the wheels naturally has to put a never-ending shock load on the bearings on each end of the shaft. The bottom bearing is large enough to handle the load, but the smaller bearing on top will fail first. One reason is because it is smaller, and it also is at the top and is difficult to lube. When I get a rake gearbox to rebuild, I always drill and tap the dust cap, and install a grease fitting. This directly greases the top bearing, and I have found that is a winner for extending the life of the gearbox (see photo). Both of my New Holland rakes in my left and right set have been drilled and tapped, and they have had heavy use for years without a problem.

READER: I have a JD 2240 that needed a new bottom radiator hose. I got one and put it on, and when I filled with coolant and ran the engine at fast idle, the hose would collapse. The first report from the coffee shop techs was that there was something wrong with the thermostat. The second report was that the hose needs a spring in it to reinforce the walls of the hose. However, Deere's parts catalog does not show a spring as a separate part, and one did not come in the spring. The original hose did not collapse, but it was old and hard. What should I do? The tractor gets hot when the hose collapses and shuts off the flow of coolant from the bottom of the radiator.

STEVE: I had the exact same problem with one of my Deere utility tractors about the size of your tractor. These tractors have a huge water pump, and they do really draw coolant. I used a spring out of another lower heater hose, and that fixed the problem. I bought the tractor used, and I did not check to see if the thermostat had been removed.


What happened to me was for sure not life-threatening, but it does show how freak accidents can happen. When the temperature soars over 100ËšF, I like to park my tractor between two trees. This particular time, when I drove out, one of the branches scraped my outside wide mirror and knocked it into the detent tightly against the left door. I could not open the left door, and I could not get to the right door because of all the monitors. If I had hit the glass door hard enough to knock back the mirror, it would have broken the door. Thank goodness my neighbor was mowing near the road and was able to get on the steps and pull back the mirror. Beware of freak accidents.

Write Steve Thompson at Ask The Mechanic, 2204 Lakeshore Dr., Suite 415, Birmingham, AL 35209, or email mailto:///…