Nov 13, 2023
Begin Off-Season Repairs with Cold Weather Machine Care
What are you driving to and from the areas of the plant to be evaluated and upgraded this offseason? What kind of platform will you raise and lower on the reg to execute each task? Those pieces of equipment need love and attention during cold weather to run efficiently.
One of the most obvious tips for keeping auxiliary equipment at the ready is using a block heater to raise the temperature of the engine and hydraulic fluid. If you want to speed the warming process, you can block the radiator to keep cold air away from the fan.
But take a look at the hydraulic fluids you’re warming. Did you start with the right ones? Before it gets freezing cold out there, make sure you install the right engine oil, hydraulic fluids, and transmission and final drive lubricants for the specific machine and the specific temperature range you’ll be working in during plant maintenance and upgrading. The operator’s manual will guide you there.
Take a look at the hydraulic hoses while you’re in that area, too. Hose outer wrapping could use a nice rubbing of arctic hydraulic oil during the winter so it doesn’t get brittle enough to crack.
You looked at the engine and fluids, but don’t forget the drain that cold weather effects on the battery. That thing has to generate almost twice as many “cranking amps” to get going when it’s cold outside. (You may want to store it indoors in between workdays.)
Don’t forget your best practices for storing diesel exhaust fluid involve temperature. DEF will freeze if left exposed to temperatures of 12 degrees F or lower. Then, after it has expanded, it can bust out of its container during thawing. This means you want to store it properly, in a proper container, at temperatures you can monitor.
Whichever steps are most efficient for your team to get equipment started in the cold weather, don’t get in a hurry. Make sure you let the engine reach its operating temperature before you “take off” to work. Intake and exhaust valves can gum up, among other problems, if you don’t take the time to let engines warm up properly.
Here’s a caution tip for you. If you elect to use starting fluids to help get equipment running, remember that they are highly flammable. They’re also toxic. Make sure you store starting fluids properly in the mechanic’s garage.
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