Help Your Equipment Beat the Heat
By Diego Navarro
As winter turns into a beautiful Canadian spring and summer, warmer days have a way of challenging your equipment uptime. But don’t worry. A few simple summer maintenance practices can help keep your forestry machines running smoothly throughout the hot weather.
By Diego Navarro
There was a time when you filled up with diesel and went about your business without giving it a lot of thought. But now, with greater engine sophistication and more stringent environmental regulations, an increasing number of fuel alternatives such as biodiesel Ultra-low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) are available for use.
Hot weather requires a higher-grade diesel fuel, with a higher viscosity to provide better lubrication protection to the injection pump and injectors. Many specialists recommend Grade 2-D with a cetane index of 45 or more. Your dealer can verify the specific summer fuel that would be best for your equipment.
Now is actually a good time to try new fuels because cold weather issues like gelling are not a concern. Remember, when changing fuel types, you need to keep a close eye on sediment, water, and especially sulfur levels. If you have Tier 3 engines, a diesel fuel with less than 500 ppm of sulfur is a must, and fuels with 15 ppm of sulfur are ideal.
The Right Oil
Make sure your engine oil is the proper viscosity for hotter weather. In most climates, 15W-40 oil that meets CI-4 Plus or CJ-4 specifications is the best weight for the summer months. As for hydraulic system oil during this time of year, make sure you aren’t mixing incompatible fluids, and stick to the same brand if topping off the system. Also be sure to use fluids that are approved by your equipment manufacturer.
If a machine’s hydraulic system was using lower-viscosity fluid during the winter, you need to bring it back to summer viscosity by replacing the reservoir volume with the right viscosity grade. This usually corrects the viscosity blend for the whole system. For example, if the winter fluid was ISO 32 and the machine typically works with an ISO 46, use ISO 68 to bring the viscosity close to ISO 46. If you have any questions, just give your dealer a call.
Finally, submitting oil and fluid samples to your oil analysis-servicing lab can provide confirmation that your oil and other machine fluids are not contaminated, ensuring your machine operates at peak performance.
Tires and Tracks
Winter is tough on tires and tracks, and care must be taken for summer. As the temperature rises, so will the pressure in your tires, and you should adjust them accordingly. Also, check that all tires are the same size and wearing evenly. In the case of four-wheel-drive loaders, rotate tires with the greatest wear to the back of the unit.
On tracked machines, make sure all rollers spin freely and no oil leaks are present. Check track tension and adjust if needed.
Make sure your coolants have the right concentrations of glycol and additives. If a machine is already using an organic-acid coolant, make sure you top off with the same type of coolant. Using test strips can quickly tell you whether the coolant has the required concentrations. You can always bring these concentrations to the desired level with supplemental additives from your dealer. You can also send coolant samples to the lab for more complete analysis.
General Maintenance Checks
Here’s a quick checklist of other maintenance exercises to perform during the hotter summer months:
- Grease all points, making sure they are not plugged and that they effectively take grease.
- Check for and replace any missing hardware.
- Check for bent or loose shields and repair as needed.
- Check all systems for leaks and take corrective action if required.
- Check all hoses for signs of wear. If worn, check all brackets and clamps to ensure the hose is properly routed.
- Test air-conditioning systems and recharge if necessary.
- Give all radiators, oil coolers, and air-conditioning condensers a thorough, deep cleaning. Summer demands the most from cooling systems. Ensure they’re ready for peak performance.
- Make sure batteries are fully charged and have the correct electrolyte level.
- Clean battery-terminal posts.
- Check the condition of your belts.
- Ensure all belt tension is within specs.
Regular attention to maintenance detail can ensure a productive summer season in northern forests and help your fleet beat the heat.
Diego Navarro is John Deere’s aftermarket sales manager, Americas.