There it awaited the arrival of Steve and Sheri Strehlow, of SJS Farms in Hanover…to deal with the fuel problem, to run some tests on the combine and then to train two of Cheetah’s employees how to drive it, operate it and maintain it. Although the combine arrived in Tanzania around the end of May, and we were able to get it through the port and shipped to Iringa by early June, Steve and Sheri were not able to get time away from their custom combining business until the third week of October… well after the harvest season for corn in Tanzania.
- To solve the fuel problem and get the engine running at full power as well as checking the combine all over for any small problems that might come up.
- To test the combine by running a quantity of unshelled corn through it, making the correct settings for corn of the type used in that area.
- To train two operators who were already working as drivers for Cheetah in the proper way to drive the combine, to operate the threshing/shelling part with the correct settings and then to properly maintain the machine.
It was a long day when we tackled the fuel problem; we had already removed the fuel tank the day before and checked it for rust or sediment. There was no shortage of theories as to why the fuel was not flowing properly to the engine! We were able to clean out the tank with a pressure washer with detergent and then dry it with compressed air, eliminating that as a source of the problem.
After refitting the tank, checking the sediment bowl and screen…and the fuel filter… the engine was started and it ran beautifully…for 30 seconds… and then shut down! After rechecking all parts of the fuel system, including replacing the fuel pump, Steve had the inspiration to check with “Pat” from Sharber Brothers in Rogers(Pat has many years of experience with John Deere diesel engines). After checking for the time difference, we were able to call Sharber Brothers using a cheap local cell phone and connect Steve with Pat…once Steve explained the situation, Pat had a suggestion…and it worked! The engine now ran at full power…finally.
The next day we were able to drive the combine up a steep road into Iringa town and eventually into the Cheetah office compound. There we were able to start testing the combine by running ten bags of unshelled maize through it. Steve adjusted the settings so that the cobs came out clean and the corn came up into the bin.
We continue to be in communication with the Cheetah staff in Iringa as they prepare for the day they can begin to use the combine in their corn production and marketing program that is giving farmers in the program an opportunity to rise up out of poverty by producing a significant surplus to sell through Cheetah’s marketing program.
The combine will eliminate the part of the program that required the hand shelling of the crop, primarily by the women of the farm families and but also reducing the losses caused by their traditional “beating with a stick” method.
We look forward to following the progress they make in putting this fine old machine to work in a new way that will benefit many farm families in the Iringa region of Tanzania. Thanks to all who participated in this outreach from our church to our brothers and sisters in another country far away as they work their way up and out of poverty.