Well, the Holidays are over, and we made it thru another year. There was no end of the world doomsday so this means that your hydraulic machines are still humming away as you do thru your work days to achieve the status quo.
To keep your hydraulic machines – whether they be tractors, excavators, skid loaders or even log splitters- humming away, we are going to go over 5 easy tips you can perform yearly to make certain you’re running like a champ until 2019.
- Test your filter’s clogging indicator. We won’t tell you to just change the filters based on the calendar, because all of your filters will have clogging indicators that will tell you when to change your filter, right? If your clogging indicator is a pressure gauge, you can cycle flow through they system while the oil is cold. If the needle on the indicator moves even just a little, it works. If your needle is stuck in a non-zero position even when the hydraulic machine is off then it clearly needs to be replaced. Please note that this method only works for pressure gauge indicators, as electronic or pop-up indicators will only trip when a preset pressure is reached, which may not be possible to achieve unless the filter is almost clogged.
- Inspect hoses, tubes and pipes. If any of these components on your hydraulic machine are worn, corroded, frayed or broken, an inspection will reveal impending failure, which could be catastrophic if it were to occur in the filed or even on a public road. If a hydraulic hose or tube is even just slightly worn through or rubbing, an annual inspection will reveal this, allowing you to fix it before it costs you unexpected down time.
- Have your oil sampled and tested. If your oil is taken care of, then you should only have to change it when absolutely needed. By sampling the oil and sending it to a lab to be tested for ISO Code, water saturation and total acid number you can monitor the oil’s condition and decide if you should change it. Particles and water can be removed from oil, but the total acid number can tell you if the oil is oxidized, which is a sign it should be changed.
- Check for leaks. Slow leaks are most common and account for for most of the oil lost from hydraulic systems. The damage caused by a slow leak is both environmental and economic. Make sure your hydraulic machine is clean before you start, as it will be hard to see leaks when your machine looks like it just came out of a deep fryer. Start by running the hydraulic machine until the oil and fluids are warm which allows it to thin out enough to pass through what could be damaged seals or loose connections. Look at all the fittings and connections, around hydraulic motors, on the shafts of the cylinders, keeping and eye out for drips or extreme sheen. Plumbing and fittings should be changed where needed and motors and cylinders rebuilt with fresh seals as required.
- Inspect all accessory components and replace as required. Sometimes, pressure gauges, flow control valves, ball valves, filler/breathers, clamps, and quick-couplers are overlooked. Their non-operation may not be noticed until they are absolutely needed, which is then too late. How many times has an implement been hooked up to a tractor only to find the couplers are seized? That missing handle on a suction line ball valve isn’t missed until the day you have to change your pump-and instead of just shutting the valve, you have to drain the whole reservoir.
These yearly maintenance tips can be added to your regular hydraulic machine maintenance routine, which will see your fleet running strong into 2018!