R.M. King Company specializes in cotton picker header overhauls. Since the company’s inception in 1953, R.M. King Company has completed more than 40,000 overhauls. Our shop is designed to repair cotton picker headers exclusively and contains custom equipment to do the work thoroughly and efficiently. Since our focus is on the cotton picker header alone, our overhauls are more thorough than the average repair shop. Many mechanics primarily focus on high wear areas and any known problems. We call this repair and maintenance rather than an overhaul. R.M. King Company is unique in that it does a complete rebuild on every overhaul. This means that every part (gear, bearing, seal, roll pin, ect) is inspected before being reinstalled, repaired or replaced. This flow sheet shows the steps every overhaul goes through (link to PDF). 

Often the first question a machine owner asks is, “How much is this going to cost?”. To ensure maximum value for the customer, we offer a fixed labor rate. The cost of an overhaul is the fixed labor rate plus parts. To provide assurance and accountability to our customers, we even offer to return the used parts back to the customer*. This allows the customer to inspect the parts that were replaced to verify the wear. (*Footnote: The request to return the replaced parts must be made in advance)

Another common question is, “How often should I get an overhaul and what if I have problems before then?” Our goal for each overhaul is to bring the header back to the manufacturer’s specifications while minimizing the cost to the customer. R.M. King Company repairs all models of John Deere and Case IH cotton picker heads. Each overhaul comes with a one year warranty, ensuring the harvest goes smoothly. If problems should arise during the picking season following an overhaul, any service calls are free of charge* (Footnote: Warranty service calls cover the labor charge of an RMK mechanic. There may be a charge on the parts used depending on the circumstances.) During an overhaul, we do not replace parts that have acceptable usable life under normal operating conditions. Many customers find that an overhaul every 500-900 acres per head provides balance between expense and function (3,000-5,400 acres for a 6 row machine). When a machine is run too long without proper maintenance, parts with a shorter lifespan potentially cause damage to parts intended to last longer. This is most often seen in the areas of cam track, cam roller, and bar. When looked over the life of a machine, keeping header units on a regular overhaul schedule minimizes expensive repairs caused by excessive wear. We have seen overhauls invoices 50% higher than our average because maintenance was postponed too long. Keep in mind that we have a fixed labor rate. This means the difference in total cost is solely in the quantity of parts needed during the repair process. When the header units are properly maintained, they will outlast the rest of the machine. We have customers who still regularly run cotton picker machines over 40 years old!

If you want to send your headers in for an overhaul, all you have to do is dismount your header units from the rest of the machine. We will take care of the rest from there. Your salesman will schedule the transportation from your location to our shop. Once the bill is paid, the salesman will deliver the units back where they were picked up. We have the ability to transport and overhaul any cotton picker header in the continental United States. Our goal is to make it a simple process for the customer and focus on what we do best, overhaul cotton picker headers.

R.M. King Company also manufactures the most complete line of aftermarket header parts in the world. These quality aftermarket parts maintain a low cost for a complete overhaul. Check out our Parts page for more information about R.M. King brand parts.


(Flow Sheet PDF showing the steps included in a RMK overhaul)


Maintenance & Service

When a complete overhaul is not necessary there are several options available for maintenance. We will work on any assembly of the header unit. The best value for maintenance in our shop is the repair of the picker bar. We fully disassemble the bar and inspect every gear, roll pin, bearing, spindle, and bushing. Our custom equipment allows us to do this in a fraction of the time it takes other repair shops. We are unique in that we only replace parts that do not have usable life remaining. Many repair shops replace a specified number of spindle assemblies without checking for wear. While this simplifies the repair, it risks purchasing unneeded parts or passing over parts that still need to be replaced. With our equipment the labor to inspect each part pays for itself many times over. 

When repair for the complete bar is not needed, we often repair the spindle assemblies by themselves. As with the complete bar repair, we inspect each part and only replace items that do not have usable life remaining. We have found there is significant savings by reusing the spindle nut even if every bushing and spindle is replaced versus purchasing new spindle assemblies. 

Similarly the repair of the gearbox, moistener columns and doffer columns is needed regularly. For customers within driving distance, our fully equipped service vehicles can provide many repairs on site. We are here to support the industry and welcome special requests. Please do not hesitate to speak with your salesman or call the shop foreman with technical questions or capabilities of our shop. 



Every mechanical machine wears and will eventually need repairs. With any newly designed machine, there are parts that have a shorter lifespan than desired. These weaker areas usually go undetected until the machine has been in use for a period of time. As an overhauler, R.M. King Company is among the first to see the weaknesses in different model machines. This knowledge is then used to improve upon or fix certain wear points in the machine. 

The first time R.M. King Company overhauls a cotton picker header, it takes longer than the average overhaul. This is because there are a number of one time improvements which are installed automatically. These improvements help increase picking efficiency and prolong the life of the machine. 

Some of the automatic improvements included in our overhaul address issues such as:

  • Grease unable to reach the bottom of picker bar 
  • Access Door limits clearance causing plug ups 
  • Plastic grease manifold cracks and breaks 
  • Sun gear can drop when the bolts shear and destroy cam arms and bars
  • Bottom of bar wears from pushing dirt out of the drum
  • Difficult to grease entire unit while in the field
  • Wear holes in base plate
  • Top plate cracking around transmission
  • Sub plate cracking around idler gear hole
  • Transmission leaks oil after ratcheting
  • Transmission being properly ventilated
  • Moistener stand bends too easily
  • Idler gear hex hole wallows out and spins on shaft
  • Bolts on aluminum hub bend and break 
  • Doffer drive shaft spacer rusts to shaft
  • Doffer drive spacer damages bearing
  • And more


Grease Kit

The most common cause of premature wear on picker bar parts is a lack of grease. It is especially difficult to get sufficient grease to the lower section of the bars. While the bearings are vital to the function of the bar, they are the main culprit in limiting grease flow to the bottom of the picker bar. R.M. King Company has addressed this issue in its proprietary grease bearing (JD8804G).

After a year and a half of design development, we can now provide a simple and effective solution. The R.M. King’s proprietary bearing JD8804G has grease holes which allows grease to easily flow to the bottom of the bar. In addition to the grease holes, this bearing is a caged needle bearing. This is higher quality and more reliable than the failure prone full-compliment bearing. These bearings extend the life of the bar parts, save money and decrease downtime in the future. The Grease Kit is automatically installed as part of a standard R.M. King Company overhaul.

How does the grease bearing work? Grease will take the path of least resistance as it flows through the machine. As the grease is pushed down the bar it must pass through the first bearing. The pressure required for the grease to continue to travel down the bar is then increased. With each consecutive bearing, the pressure is increased further. Eventually the pressure required to pass the remaining bearings becomes greater than the pressure required to pass the thrust sleeve and thrust washer at the top of the bar. This results in grease being pushed out the top of the bar while the bottom of the bar is still not adequately lubricated. It is a common misperception that when grease comes out the top of the bar, the bar is full of grease. The holes in the grease bearings allow grease to flow through at a lower pressure. The result is easier flow for grease to reach the bottom of the bar. 

It is important to note that because grease will take the path of least resistance, the use of the grease bearing should only be done when all the bearings are replaced. A mix of standard and grease bearings in the same header could further decrease the lubrication in the bars still using the standard bearing.   

To demonstrate the benefits of the grease kit, we ran a test of two bars side by side. While viewing through a plexiglass side, it quickly becomes clear which bar contains the grease kit and which one is a standard bar. A video of the simulation is available for viewing here..