Long Live Your Mini Excavator | Maintenance Tips for Long Time Durability
Your customer has just purchased the perfect mini excavator. Maybe it’s the newest of several in his construction firm’s fleet, or maybe it’s his first mini excavator. Or maybe you’ve purchased one or several mini machines to expand your dealership’s rental fleet. Regardless of the reason, timing is excellent. Mini excavators can significantly boost productivity during this busy season. The following maintenance tips will keep your machines on the job.
Compact excavators may be small, but they have all the same moving parts as the big boys. Treat them to regular maintenance, and they will pay you back with long time durability and an excellent return on your investment. Here’s what you need to do. As always, it’s important to consult your owner’s manual to find the tolerances, oil specifications, etc. specific to your make and model machine.
Grease literally keeps moving parts moving smoothly. Failure to keep bushings and pins lubricated causes unnecessary wear and tear. On the other hand, over-greasing makes a mess and wastes expensive lubricant. Apply 1-3 shots of grease to every single grease point, every day. Some of these points are hard to locate, so if more than one operator uses your mini excavator, mark each point with paint so nothing is overlooked.
Working machines get dirty. When that happens, it’s easy to miss the fill and drain plugs on the gearbox. But the propel drive gearbox is critical to your excavator’s performance, and some can fail after just 1,500-3,000 hours if not properly maintained. The usual oil change threshold is 1,000 hours, though that can vary somewhat from one manufacturer to another. Make sure your service techs and operators are tracking this, so they don’t forget. Changing the gearbox oil in a compact excavator is easy, because you only need a quart or less of oil. That’s a lot cheaper than replacing the gearbox.
Hydraulic oil can fool you, because it looks clean even when it is not. Over time it loses viscosity. As it breaks down it cannot keep contaminants suspended. At this point it isn’t doing your equipment any good. Your system can actually develop problems with rust, because the oil is no longer able to absorb moisture.
Hydraulic systems require tight tolerances to function properly. That makes it especially important to keep track of the correct type of hydraulic oil and filters and to follow the OEM-recommended schedule for changing this oil. Usually that’s somewhere between 2,000 and 4,000 hours.
Tier 4 maintenance tips
If your compact excavator has a Tier 4 compliant engine, you have special maintenance procedures to follow for the diesel particulate filter (DPF). It’s not a big deal, as the filter lasts a very long time and it’s easy to change. Check your manufacturer’s recommendations regarding regeneration procedures and intervals. Double-check to be sure you’re using the recommended grade of oil and type of diesel fuel.
If your engine has a selective catalytic reduction system instead, always check the diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) level as part of your regular maintenance routing, and refill it as necessary.
Experts say that, for some reason, this procedure is often skipped. Don’t overlook it. The rubber tracks on your mini excavator must be properly tensioned to work effectively and last as long as possible. Too tight, and the rubber material could tear. Too much tension causes undue wear and tear on sprockets, front idlers and the traction motor. Too loose, and you’ll also get premature wear. Either way, having to stop work to replace the track will be costly in money and unplanned down time. So check those sag measurements regularly.
Keep your maintenance records up to date
No one likes paperwork, but it is essential for effective business management. Your service records should show oil and filter changes and any repairs. Keep your invoices. Over time this information will help you calculate the true cost of ownership of your mini excavator. And in the event of a warranty claim, you’ll have what you need to prove you’ve been taking proper care of your equipment.