It’s no surprise that gin equipment is expensive. And being operated three to four months per year means there are eight or more months to repair the gin. Most gins do a great job of tearing down machinery and working on or rebuilding those things that fail regularly or are close to failure. There is one piece of equipment that typically ends up being neglected more than any other. It’s likely the most expensive machine in the gin and is the most expensive if it goes down. That’s the press.
Presses have the most stress and normally cause the fewest headaches each year, and many ginners have an “if
it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude about their press for obvious reasons.
A number of us were talking at the recently concluded Beltwide Cotton Conferences, and the guys in the meeting who manufacture and repair gin equipment around the country said that a number of press failures, in recent years, are due to lack of routine maintenance. In recent months, OSHA has publicized a safety alert on strain rods for cotton gin presses, but this isn’t the only type of failure that can occur. Leaking hydraulics, electrical issues, limit switches and programming are just a few more that will cause even a balding ginner to pull his hair out.
The obvious question is what kind of maintenance is recommended. The answer to that question is well beyond the scope of this article. The consensus of those of us talking about this topic came to the conclusion that you should contact your manufacturer to get yearly and other periodic maintenance for your specific model of press. Everyone’s specific situation is completely different, and, therefore, so are the recommendations.
Each press has a different method for doing things like tightening strain rods and adjusting height pressures. Some maintenance is based on time (months or years in service), while others are based on bale count. The whole gist of the discussions we had was that ginners typically need to pay better attention to that one piece of equipment. If it went down, it would cost you the most money, and, if it fails catastrophically, it could cause significant injury to those working around it.
If you haven’t looked at your press recently, make this year’s resolution that this is the year to do just that. Get with your manufacturer and develop a plan for the yearly and periodic maintenance of your press. It’s much cheaper to do it in the off-season than in-season where downtime is the most expensive and failure can have catastrophic results.
Dusty Findley of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association in Dawsonville, Ga., contributed this article. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or (706) 344-1212.