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Top tips to prepare your machine for winter
David Burke
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Top tips to prepare your machine for winter

If last year’s weather is anything to go by, it’s not too early to start preparing your machine for some unpredictable weather over the next few months.

1. Install the correct lubricants and condition hydraulic hoses
Before it gets too cold outside, install the correct engine, hydraulic, transmission and final drive lubricants for your exact machine. Before starting the machine, check each level to ensure they are fluid enough for proper flow. To do so, check each dipstick and, if the oil drips, then it is fluid enough. NEVER use oil that has been diluted with kerosene.

Additionally, the outer wrapper of hydraulic hoses can crack when flexed in colder temperatures. The hoses will still function properly and carry oil at the expected pressure, but to avoid having the hoses crack, condition them before the temperatures drop. To do so, operate your machine so that the hydraulic oil temperature reaches 150℉ and continue running it for an hour. For best results, apply an arctic hydraulic oil for colder months and normal machine use will condition the hydraulic hoses.

2. Store equipment safely
When your machine is not being used, it’s best to keep it out of the elements if possible for an easier start. If your machine is off the clock during the winter months, make sure you detach any attachments and store them away separately to avoid damage to hinges and joints.
Always keep fluids and oils in room temperature to avoid freezing. If the machine uses diesel exhaust fluid, or DEF, it’s important for operators to know that it can freeze and thaw without hurting its ability to function properly. DEF has a shelf life of one year but varies depending on storage conditions. If owners aren't going to use their equipment during the winter, it's a good idea to store indoors in temperature-controlled environments that are out of direct sunlight.

3. Tyre and Fuel Protection
Fuel and proper tyre pressure are two important components that should be checked before and during the winter season. Tyres should be checked for the proper tyre pressure and look for wear marks on the tyre. Low temperatures will reduce the tyre pressure so if you have the option, consider using track mounted equipment instead of tire-mounted equipment.
Fuel tanks should be maintained full, to prevent condensation inside the tank and along the fuel lines. You can use a fuel treatment that can be added to diesel or fuel tanks that will thaw frozen fuel filters, liquefy fuel and remove moisture from the lines and tank.

4. Keep batteries fully charged and warm
Cold weather requires your batteries to generate nearly twice as many cranking amps in order to turn over, so keep yours charged and warm for easy starting. If you are working in subzero temperatures, storing the battery indoors at room temperature could help when it’s not in use.

5. Warm up Engine
Help prevent the intake and exhaust valves from sticking by running your engine before you begin each day’s work until it reaches operating temperature. Additionally, give your machine a nice stretch and cycle through all of the machine’s functions to distribute warmed oil until they all operate with ease.

6. Conduct a visual inspection
The easiest way to check if your electrical wiring, attachments, and hoses are wearing or being damaged is to take a look at each, and all of your components, before daily operation. Look for cracks, cuts and worn spots on all hydraulic hoses, belts, and tires. Also, remove any snow/ice, dirt, and debris from tires or undercarriages. Before the winter, schedule an undercarriage inspection with your local Pat O’Donnell & Co. Service department.

Additional Helpful Tips
There are other areas that you need to be aware of and be sure they are checked before the winter season:
• Grease Points - Properly grease all areas to prevent moisture from building up. Remember to use low-temp lube as recommended by manufacturers.
• DEF - Newer equipment uses DEF, diesel exhaust fluid, but this one will freeze at 10 degrees or below. Make sure that there is a way to heat and thaw frozen DEF to keep your equipment running.
• Undercarriage - Remove any excess of snow or debris below as it will increase the operating costs of your equipment.
• Batteries - Avoid charging a frozen battery as it will normally explode. If the battery is not being used for extended period of time, then you will need to maintain the battery connected to prevent it from drain completely.


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