Whether it's a commercial level large-sized excavator or a mini or small excavator meant to handle residential tasks, making sure your machine is properly maintained is of the utmost importance to reaching your goals. Today we will be conducting an easy-to-understand rundown.
One key benefit of staying in front of the curb when it comes to your excavators' health is that you’ll end up saving yourself a whole lot of money through repairs and re-installments. Aside from keeping everything functional, most of the time, the earlier that needed maintenance is noticed, the less damage to your vehicle will receive through continued wear and tear. If the issue, whatever it may be, is left unaddressed the problem can become so severe as to render your entire machine useless and completely unable to function properly.
Let's take a look at some of our tips to keep your excavator in tip-top performing shape. If you recognize any one of these issues and believe you may have let the problem worsen a bit too long, not to worry there are solutions that can be found anywhere on this road. These specific issues we will be addressing later as this encompasses likely full part replacements in which the solution itself can be a bit pricey. That being said, let's focus on how we can prevent a venture into your wallet with some helpful tips and tricks.
Excavator Gear Oil
An essential variable in keeping your excavator healthy and fully mobile is paying attention to your gear oil. Gear oil for the final drive motor does not necessarily need frequent inspection as most excavators themselves won't show too much wear and tear until after their first year. You should inspect your excavator's gear oil after every 100 hours of operational duty as a good rule of thumb to start.
Neglected gear oil levels can significantly damage your excavator's functionality as a whole. For instance, if and when your excavator's final drive gear oil gets too low this will pose a significant threat to the bearings and to the gears directly as there is no longer any lubricated separation for the rough, coarse materials keeping them from grinding violently against one another. The first thing you will notice is an abnormal increase in radical sound cues from your drive train indicating that your gear levels are becoming dangerously low. While maintaining the fact that you should be inspecting your gear oil every 100 hours after the operation, the gear oil itself should be exchanged once every 1 or after 200 hours of operation. If your excavator is constantly undergoing heavy lifting tasks requiring extensive amounts of mechanical movement you should inspect the quality of your gear oil regularly depending on the task.
If you are unsure about how to change or even inspect your Bobcat's gear oil, you should take it to a professional construction equipment repair shop. They can give you an oil change, and they may even be able to give you some additional maintenance tips or recommendations. Regardless, they will help ensure that each of your machines is ready for another busy workload schedule.
On all excavators, there is a way to self-check your gear oil without any help from external sources.
Step #1). Locate the final drive oil chamber on your excavator. Typically found on the front side of your drive train. There you should notice a cap with three screws. The top screw is for replacing old gear oil in exchange for a new batch. The screw on the level is there to check in on your gear oil levels. The screw at the bottom is essentially your drain plug which if you need to empty the chamber is the screw you are after.
Step #2). Check your oil levels and quality assurance. Simply remove the screw in the middle to the left in most cases. Slowly removing the screw will let out some pressure before the oil starts to seep out. If the oil you notice leaving the chamber is black this indicates dirty oil as it has been oxidized thoroughly and will need replacing as soon as possible.
Step #3). If you deem the gear oil will need to be exchanged, remove the drain plug to let the debris fall out of the drain. Ensure you are capturing the removed oil and you're not letting the debris fall into the environment as this is a heavy pollutant for organic life. In severe cases, this action alone of neglecting proper disposal methods can pose a very serious offense and could get the operator into some serious trouble.
Step #4). After removing the old oil from the chamber screw back on the drain plug and leave only the top 2 screw plugs vacant. Initiate the integration of your new oil via the top plug and continue to fill until the oil begins to reach the appropriate level without seeping out. Plug back in your screws and voila you have successfully conducted an oil change for your excavator.
Ensure your gearbox is free from clogging debris and can be readily accessed if needed. Clean the screws to ensure they can come out with minimal relative effort if you cannot access this chamber this can pose a formidable obstacle in continuing the care for your excavator.
Excavator Undercarriage maintenance
The undercarriage should be on the list of regular inspections as this part of the excavator houses many key components to ensure your machine is functional and ready to go. The Undercarriage itself houses components such as your track components, your final drive motor, sprockets, your idlers, rollers, etc. The main idea when caring for your undercarriage is relatively simple. By using conventional cleaning methods by utilizing a power washer the job can be done relatively quickly. Ensure that the collection of outside debris from the undercarriage is removed. In layman's terms you're looking for any clunks of sand, dirt, rocks, etc. on the machine itself. Removing said debris can dramatically increase the functional life of your machine ensuring no harmful radicals impede your systems or gears. Another way to remove the debris is by using a shovel or elongated tool to minimize direct contact with the heavy machinery parts by the operator. This maintenance should be done regularly, daily if possible, but should mostly be done after an operation using the excavator.
In this route of inspection, you’re going to be ensuring that there are no limp tracks or rubber connections. This can indicate that your track's integrity is too loose for another operation as they might detach from the excavator body. How your tracks should look can be covered in an operator's manual for the specific excavator. Any misalignments will be illustrated in the operator in that handbook.
If your track's health is not looking too good you may need some repair or replacement of these parts. The operator manual will include specific types of tracks that are compatible with your excavator's drive train. Getting in front of the wear happening to tracks can save you from dealing with issues that may arise in other components of your excavator and this should be regularly inspected after any operation.
Make Sure To Grease
Many or most excavators require regular greasing. As the heavy construction vehicle is made up of many moving parts ensuring that your operation is as smooth and seamless as possible you will need to ensure that adequate levels of greasing are maintained or inspected as much as possible whenever you can. Anywhere that you can access or see that portrays moving components should be layered with up to 3 shots of grease. Important areas include the bearings, pins, and bushing including wherever you are aware of areas of intense friction taking place.
Maintain Your Drain Filter
Depending on the make of your excavator, what is known as a case drain filter can be accessed. Not all excavators come with this component like Caterpillar, yet a few makes do including Bobcat, be sure to consult your operator manual to determine the location of the filter or to determine if your excavator has one, to begin with. The primary purpose of the drain filter is to remove radical debris from overly contaminating the hydraulic fluid. If this drain filter is left unattended you run the risk of a clogged drain filter in which case the functionality of your excavator is at severe risk.
Inspecting your Drain Filter
Step 1: Consult the operator manual to identify the location of the filter on your excavator.
Step 2: Once located you can remove the drain line
Step 3: Following this, you can inspect your filter directly. What you're looking for is a healthy drain filter that is indicated by a bronze coloring. If you notice any other colors aside from this it is time to think about removing the filter entirely and exchanging it for a new one.
The most important factor in keeping your excavator in good health is to develop a consistent inspection routine or schedule. Below we will outline what a regulated inspection routine should look like.
After every 100 hours of operation check: Final Drive Oil Quality
After every 200 hours of operation change: Final Drive Oil
After 250 hours of operation check: Battery
Daily Inspections include:
- Levels of fluid
- Pivot pins
- Drive track tension levels
- Removing the buildup of debris from the excavator
Weekly inspections include: Radiator Battery Cables Fluid Hoses Air filters Operator Controls Conclusion Many operators will find themselves encountering different issues with their machines at different times. How you plan to conduct your maintenance should be relative to how much an excavator is operated. Fluctuations in consistent usage will determine how often your attention to these areas is addressed.