It’s important that your excavator is ready to work when the deadlines are looming ever nearer -- but there are some bad habits and patterns that all too many owners and operators fall into that compromise the performance and useful life of their excavator. In this Shop Talk Blog post, we are going to talk about four bad habits that compact excavator owners and operators need to quit.
1. Forgetting about the gear oil in the final drive
It’s a shame that the final drive can be so easy to forget about when it comes to maintenance, because that’s what keeps your mini excavator moving. You should check the gear oil level in the final drive about once every 100 hours. If the gear oil starts running low and but you keep running the drive, you will ruin the drive. Also, remember that gear oil, like any lubricant, will began to degrade over time and as it is exposed to heat. That’s why you should also change out the gear oil at least once a year. Otherwise, you are going to end up with a gritty mess in your planetary hub like in the failed final drive shown below. Don't let that happen to your final drive!
2. Not greasing pins and bushings correctly
Your compact excavator’s pins and bushings need to be greased every day that it’s on the job. A good rule of thumb is to use one to three shots of grease. Too little grease will cause accelerated wear because it won't provide enough lubrication. Some people mistakenly think that if a little grease does some good, then an abundance of grease is even better. However, using too much grease doesn’t help with lubrication -- it makes a mess, attacts and traps abrasive materials (dust, sand, gravel) that can do as much damage as no grease at all, can also trap heat where it will cause an increase in wear-causing friction.
3. Never changing out the hydraulic fluid
Depending on the make and manufacturer of your equipment, the hydraulic fluid needs to be changed out somewhere between 2,000 to 4,000 hours -- be sure to follow manufacturer recommendations on this. Like gear oil, it degrades over time and with exposure to elevated operating temperatures. You should also flush the hydraulic system and add fresh fluid whenever there has been a catastrophic failure somewhere in the hydraulic system, such as with a failed pump or travel motor.
4. Rarely cleaning the undercarriage
The undercarriage amounts to a significant part of your M&O costs. One easy way to contribute to the long life of your undercarriage is to clean it. When it isn’t cleaned regularly, debris can get packed in tightly -- so tightly, in fact, that it can push aside seals and introduce abrasive contaminants where they can do the most damage. A good example of this is shown in the image below where the main seal was forced apart by tightly packed dirt and grit.
If the undercarriage is dirty, you may not be able to spot potential problems, like uneven track wear or leaking fluids, during daily inspections or walkarounds. Finally, the more debris that builds up -- especially if it’s heavy mud mixed with rocks or gravel -- the heavier your equipment is going to be, which in turns increases fuel consumption.
If you want your mini-excavator to have a long life with minimal downtime and maximum efficiency, breaking these four bad habits are a good way to start. Replace them with these positive habits: checking and changing the gear oil in the final drive, greasing the pins and bushings on your excavator correctly, changing out the hydraulic fluid per manufacturer recommendations, and cleaning out the undercarriage regularly. These final drive maintenance tasks will make a huge difference in how well your final drive performs and how long it lasts.
Texas Final Drive is your partner in providing new or remanufactured final drive hydraulic motors from a single mini-excavator to a fleet of heavy equipment. Call today so we can find the right final drive or hydraulic component for you, or check out our online store to find your O.E.M. manufacturer brand motor now.