By Ron Snyder and Kevin Barclay
Spring is right around the corner. Whether your equipment has been sitting in long-term storage, or you’ve been able to use it all winter long, taking a few key steps will ensure the maximum efficiency of your machine this season.
If you completed the recommended pre-storage maintenance and procedures at the end of fall, you should be in good shape when restoring it in the spring. Here are our best practices to follow prior to getting out on the jobsite.
After uncovering the machine, first take the time to inspect it from top to bottom. It’s a detailed process, but vital for your machine after sitting in storage. Different factors, from temperature to rodents, can cause issues.
When looking over your machine:
- Wipe off any rust-inhibiting oil that was applied to exposed hydraulic cylinders prior to storage
- Check the exhaust and air intake system to ensure all connections are tight
- If the battery was removed during storage, install the machine’s fully charged battery and connect the terminals
- If your machine is equipped with a battery disconnect switch, turn it on
- Inspect wiring, hoses, belts, the exhaust system, and the air intake system for damage or deterioration that may have occurred during storage
- Look at the exhaust internally and externally for animal nests that may cause hot spots when the unit performs regeneration and exhaust temperatures climb
- If the machine has inflatable tires, the tire pressure should be checked and adjusted to the correct pressure
One additional step for machines equipped with Tier 4 engines is checking the diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) container to make sure it did not freeze or crack over winter.
Prior to Starting
- First add oil, coolant, DEF or grease as necessary
- In areas that are particularly hard hit by cold, harsh winters, it is good to check all grease points to ensure they are taking the grease and are well-lubricated
- To pre-lubricate the engine bearings, crank the engine for 10 to 15 seconds with the emergency switch turned on to prevent the engine from starting
- Pause for 30 seconds and repeat the procedure one additional time
Following this, you can now start the engine. Allow the engine to idle for approximately 15 minutes in a well-ventilated area and check for the following:
- Fluid leaks (fuel, engine oil, coolant and hydraulic oil)
- Proper oil pressure and engine temperature
- Battery voltage to ensure proper operation of the charging system
- Proper operation of all the indicators and/or gauges
At this point, it is good to shut off the engine and do one more walkaround to inspect for any evidence of leaks that you may not have caught initially.
Machines Utilized During Winter
Some operators use their machines year round, and in particularly harsh climates, one step is crucial before spring to ensure it is ready: checking the oil.
The viscosity of the oil may have been lowered for the cold ambient temperatures. If this was the case, when temperatures begin to warm up above freezing, this oil should be drained and replaced with the proper viscosity oil for the current conditions. This information can be found in the manufacturer’s operator’s manual.
Storing and restoring your machine is a process, but by taking care of your investment, it will lead to greater uptime, maximizing profitability. Simply put, that is good for your bottom line.
Ron Snyder is the national service and warranty manager at Takeuchi-US. Kevin Barclay is a regional service manager at Takeuchi-US.