Common wintertime compact excavator operating errors and how to avoid them
Whether it is teeth-chattering cold or sweltering heat, working conditions can greatly impact a compact excavator's performance and longevity. It is important to be prepared by both understanding your environmental challenges and following the operator's manual guidelines.
According to David Caldwell, national product manager for Takeuchi-US, operators using their equipment throughout the winter can reduce costly downtime by avoiding these common mistakes.
Mistake #1: Leaving material in the undercarriage
Material left in the undercarriage between the rollers, carriers, and tracks can freeze overnight, preventing the rollers and carriers from properly spinning when the operator goes to use the machine the next morning. The roller can also develop flat spots, so it's imperative to clean out the excavator's tracks daily.
Mistake #2: Leaving the excavator on damp ground outdoors in freezing temperatures
Parking your excavator outdoors in freezing temperatures overnight may cause its tracks to freeze to the ground. Debris can also freeze to the cylinder rods, which can damage the wiper seals on the cylinders. Be sure to park the machine in a dry area and clean any exposed portion of the cylinder rods.
Mistake #3: Increasing RPM too quickly
Increasing the RPM too quickly in cold climates can cause engine damage. This is due to the lack of oil pressure to certain components such as the turbocharger. The machine should idle at start-up so the oil can circulate and get to the proper operating temperature. Let the engine idle for five minutes, then gradually increase its RPM. Ease in working the hydraulics.
Mistake #4: Using ether or starting fluid
Using ether or starting fluid is never recommended. If an operator believes starting fluid is necessary, something is likely wrong with the engine, or the block heater should have been used. This fluid causes a rapid increase in compression and can cause the piston to crack or melt, among other failures. A block heater will keep the coolant warm and helps the engine start much easier the next morning. Glow plugs or a grid heater are also great functions to use throughout the winter.
Lynette Von Minden is a senior public relations specialist with Swanson Russell.