Winterizing Road Building Equipment
As fall moves into winter, the temperatures outside quickly become colder and colder. That means you need to prepare your machines for starting in frosty morning conditions and get ready for below zero, freezing conditions as your equipment sits overnight. Here are some tips to help you both prepare for and operate your roadbuilding equipment during the winter months.
Watch Out for Water in Your Equipment
As the temperatures plummet, you must take the necessary steps to prevent damage to your machines. For asphalt compactors, mills, and shuttle buggies, introduce antifreeze to their spray systems to keep the water from freezing in the pipelines or tanks. If you're operating drum rollers during the cold months, add an antifreeze mix to them as well in order to prevent any water from freezing in the pipelines or tank.
Water is a key part of road building equipment operation. To save yourself the headache and costly downtime that come with critical machine failure, check and double check that you've either drained all water for winter storage or added antifreeze for winter operation.
Check and Recheck Your Lubricants
Critical to winter operation or storage is making sure you have the correct lubricants for your machine and the temperatures in which your machine will be operating. Before beginning work each day, it's important to check engine, hydraulic, transmission, and final drive lubricants for proper flow. As it becomes colder, these types of fluids can thicken, leading to inefficient operation or machine damage.
You should also give your engine ample time to warm up before beginning work each day. Just like stretching before going for a run in the cold, it's a good idea to run your machine through its daily movements to get the fluids moving for easier and more efficient operation.
End of Season Tips
Once winter is in full swing and the paving season ends, you need to properly store your road building equipment to ensure it's ready come spring. Drain all water completely from your compactor tanks and spray bars and then flush the entire system with an antifreeze mix. This process ensures that any residual water left in the system will not freeze and damage components during seasonal storage.
Change the oil, and check the fluids one last time before storing your road building equipment. When a machine is in operation, contaminants can build up in the oil, and when left to sit, they can cause corrosion on components. Another recommendation is to either unhook the battery and store it indoors, or place a trickle charger on it to maintain the charge. If left sitting for a long period of time, batteries will discharge, which can shorten their life, leading to unnecessary downtime come spring.
Prevent Cold Damage to Your Road Building Machines
Cold temperatures can wreak havoc on all types of equipment, whether in storage or operation. While the paver is stored, it's critical to start it and move it around periodically. To maintain efficient operation, you should drain the lines of antifreeze and refill them monthly, as well as remove the blocks and uncover the fume extraction system. This process will charge the battery, move the fuel and hydraulics through the system, and help ensure a long life of the tires or tracks.
The key to protecting your equipment is to double check everything to ensure it's ready for the cold. Take the extra time now to avoid damage and costly maintenance later.