With winter truly upon us, now is the time to look at our machinery fleets and carry out some much overdue maintenance that we have neglected to carry out during the growing season.
It's fair to say that with everything so wet there' s plenty of time being spent in sheds, so with spring rapidly approaching, all our equipment will be ship shape and ready to roll out the door. Except it won't be, will it?
In the southern hemisphere, we don't really get a 'down season', at least not one where machines don't move for up to 3 months of the year, so things like seized brakes and clutches aren't all that common. What we do see on a regular basis however, is things like, stale fuel, flat batteries and seized bearings.
While these things are all a nuisance, the good thing is they are almost entirely preventable. Stale fuel predominantly affects small engines, so things like weed eaters, water pumps, domestic mowers, blowers and such like are tend to suffer the worst. You can avoid this by treating your fuel with a stabiliser and then running it through your equipment. This, although I don't know how, stops the fuel from breaking down, and the VOCS (volatile organic compounds) from evaporating. Another simpler method is to turn the fuel tap off ( if fitted) and run the engine until it stops. Then, if it has one, remove the drain plug from the carburettor bowl to remove any residual fuel. Finish off by filling the fuel tank as the less air that's in the tank, the longer the fuel will last. When you are ready to start the machine again, simply turn the fuel tap on and hey presto, it will probably go.
Flat batteries...... As we all know, one of the worst feelings in the world is when you turn the key and click...... Nothing! More often then not, the majority of winter electrical problems start at the battery! There are several reasons behind this, the first one being temperature.
With the majority of our bigger mowers being diesel, these engines rely solely on heat for the fuel to burn. Pretty much all the diesels in the turf industry are of the indirect injection variety which means they require glow plugs to provide the initial start up heat, therefore the colder it is, the more they have to do, and the more they have to do, the harder the battery has to work.
Another issue is conductivity. More often then not, the poor battery is often overlooked at service time and therefore is usually covered in dirt and moisture and grass. All of this combined is a fine breeding ground for corrosion. Once this takes a hold and resistance increases on the connections, the alternator then thinks " man this battery is working hard, I'm going to feed some more charge into it!" So before you know it the battery is gassing and feeding acid vapors into our already corrosive environment and everything rapidly spirals down hill from there! So in short, if you want your battery to give a long lasting life, keep it clean!
Finally, bearings! See that thing laying on the floor of the shed, covered in cobwebs. It's called a grease gun! Most of us readily admit we don't grease frequently enough, and with limited staff and time constraints I can appreciate why. However, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, prevention is far cheaper then the cure. A run round with the grease gun, ensuring any water is purged from the bearing, plus a quick spin of the roller or reel, will ensure everything has a good coating and will therefore not corrode. With some rollers requiring special pullers or welding gear to overhaul them, a $7.00 tube of grease will go a long way to preventing problems from arising. As for these very expensive miracle cure greases. In my experience don't waste your money. With moisture being the main cause of bearing failures in our industry, the best method is do it frequently.
Needless to say, I'm expecting a run on batteries, bearings and starting faults in the next couple of months and at GTS we are well prepared to deal with these issues. We can offer either Supercharge or Panasonic batteries at very competitive prices. Our prices on common bearings are very hard to beat, and should your machine not want to start, we'll be more then happy to come and get it going for you.
Stay dry and warm.
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