September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
One-on-One with Tom Roelike, mechanic
What do you specialize in fixing? I don't specialize in any one thing. I work on tractors all year and whatever else is in season, and in the summer, both big and small square balers.
What on-going training is required for your job? Every year there is schooling on new equipment, either on the computer or classroom instruction.
How does your job vary by season? During the winter months we are doing repairs in the shop and getting ready for the new season. In the spring, summer and fall we spend a lot of time in the country on calls.
Do you have any tips for farmers before they head out to the fields this spring? Look things over before you hook up and check for missing and broken hardware. Lube everything.
What is the most common preventable problem you see on equipment you work on? Too much dirt build up. Clean the dirt off and make sure everything is free.
What do you enjoy most about your job? Every day is something new - a new challenge and a different job.
What is the strangest breakdown you've encountered? A call on a baler that was locked up. The customer had picked up a big chunk of wood he didn't know about and it was wedged and we couldn't turn it back or forward. We pulled the big square bale out and then we found it. It was probably three inches in diameter and a couple feet long.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job? There is always more to do; you never really get done.
How has the field of ag mechanics changed during your career? When I started the biggest tractors we sold were a little over 100 horsepower. Now everything is much bigger. Computers now control everything and they keep track of everything. There's autosteer and guidance systems and more coming.
What tools do you always have at your side? A flashlight and an O-ring pick.
What has been your most time-consuming fix? I don't remember any one that stands out, it varies from day-to-day. Most jobs are a day but some go to a week to a week and a half.
In your opinion, what has been the best piece of equipment ever made? Why? The 50 and 55 series tractors. When we delivered them, we didn't see them back for years.
What do you enjoy doing in your freetime? My wife, Gloria, and I enjoy spending time with our four children and seven grandchildren. I also enjoy stringing beads.[[In-content Ad]]