Feb 11, 2021

When the elevator calls on a cold day, will your auger be ready? Take these tips for a dependable cold weather start

With the cold weather snap we've been having, I'm reminded that my dad always said, "Things just start breaking down and don't work well after -25". That being said, you don't always have the luxury of taking a day off when the elevator calls for grain in the middle of winter. In case you're in a rush and it's too cold to fire up the auger to load the trucks, take a few minutes and remind yourself of a couple of key tips to ensure that your auger or conveyor starts when you need it to.

Fuel problems always seem to show up when the cold hits. The two most common fuel problems are:
1. Old/dirty fuel
2. Water in the fuel

Make sure you are always using good clean fuel. Check your fuel filters often, and replace them when necessary. It's the easiest way to ensure the auger engine will start easy and run clean at a cold, crucial time. The last thing you want when you're in a rush is pausing to clean the carb or rip the engine apart. If you're not sure how old the fuel is in the jerry can you're about to use, you're better off using it for a bonfire. Go get some new stuff and prevent the headache.

Water in fuel is as bad as dirty or old fuel, and sometimes worse. Because water is heavier than fuel, it will usually find its way to the bottom of the tank, often where the fuel line feeds the carburetor. And you can be sure that it will either freeze up when it's cold or prevent the motor from igniting when you need it to most. If there is a drain valve on your auger, it is recommended you periodically drain the fuel in the spring or when the unit is warmed up in the shop. Fuel additives such as Sea Foam or isopropyl-based gas line antifreeze can also help mitigate the problems old or water-based fuel can pose on engines.

EFI vs Carbureted Engines

Most farms have augers or conveyors with both carbureted and EFI (electronic fuel injection) motors. Although they operate very much the same, the starting procedure may differ.

On a carbureted engine, add a small amount of throttle to ensure the engine will idle, pull the choke fully out and start to crank the motor over. Be sure not to over-throttle and flood the engine. Once the motor fires and runs for a few seconds, you can usually push the choke in half-way and let the engine warm-up for 5-15 minutes. After the engine is good and warm, you can push the choke in all the way and you should be good to go.

When cold starting an EFI engine, there are a couple other things to consider. Set the throttle to approximately one-third open (between idle and one-half throttle), turn the key on, and watch for any lights on the control panels. This will ensure everything is powering up. Listen for a humming sound to confirm the electric fuel pump is working. After the pump kicks in, fully turn the key to the start position and start cranking the engine over. If it stalls or does not start after a few seconds, cycle the key to the off position, and repeat this step. Wait for the electric pump to kick in again and start cranking the engine over. This may need to be repeated multiple times. Once the engine is idling and running, allow 5-15 minutes for it to warm up before putting any load on it.

Following the tips above will ensure you the best chance of making sure your auger/conveyor starts in the cold weather. Sometimes it is just too cold for an engine to start regardless of what prep work you do. In that case, it might be time to go inside where it's warm, and browse here for a new auger with modern technology and new, clean fuel in the tank!

For more information on our grain handling equipment, auger accessories, or to learn more about cold starting an engine, talk to one of our agriculture specialists at your nearest Flaman location