Compact Tool Carrier Preservation
Simply put, we all want to get the most out of our machines that we depend on every day. Compact tool carriers are extremely versatile, and we count on them to perform in the toughest of conditions. By selecting the proper equipment and performing some basic preventative maintenance measures, your compact tool carrier will live a long and productive life and will ultimately end up saving you time and money.
The old saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” certainly applies to maintaining your compact tool carrier. It is extremely important to perform routine basic maintenance after each use to ensure the continued performance and increased longevity of your equipment. With this in mind, before firing up your compact tool carrier, make sure to follow this simple checklist to make sure that your equipment is performing at its best every time you start it up.
Get a good look: Inspect the entire machine for damage or wear. This includes a visual inspection of tracks or wheels, fittings, body, controls and any attachments. Also check the tire pressure or track tension.
Fill ‘er up: Make sure that your engine oil, gasoline (or diesel), hydraulic fluid and battery water are at the correct levels. Top off your fluids if necessary — but be careful to not overfill.
Stay on top of your filters: Clean your air filter regularly and change it, if necessary. You can do this by blowing compressed air from the inside. If the air compressor is so clogged that compressed air will not properly clean the component, it is time for a replacement filter. Also check hydraulic and oil filters to make sure they are not dirty or damaged.
Grease and tighten: Grease all pivot points and tighten all nuts and bolts before heading out into the field. There are a lot of possible issues that can arise from loose parts, and by doing a simple check with a wrench before using your compact tool carrier, it will reduce wear and extend the life of the machine’s components.
When the work is done for the day, make sure to remove all debris and clean the equipment with a pressure washer. Mud and dirt that is not washed off at the end of the day can harden and cause damage to moving parts when the machine is restarted. While washing the equipment, it also gives you a great opportunity to perform a visual inspection of your compact tool carrier. Don’t forget to grease the zerks and pivot points after every wash to ensure that your equipment will have a long, productive life.
Time Specific Maintenance
Every 25 hours: To maximize the performance of your machine, you will want to clean the foam pre-filter and air filter every 25 hours. These are vital components of your machine and they must be maintained for your equipment to be at its best. You will also want to get a good look at your hydraulic lines at this point and make sure that they aren’t leaking. Compact tool carriers are used in the roughest of conditions where it’s quite common to tear lines. Stay on top of it by checking the lines after every 25 hours of use. Small hydraulic leaks can quickly grow into larger and more expensive leaks, so it is in your best interest to catch these issues early.
Every 100 hours: To keep your compact tool carrier running strong, make sure you change the engine oil every 100 hours of use. Just like with a car, permanent damage could be done to the engine if you do not properly maintain the lifeblood of the equipment. At this point, you will also want to take a look at the battery electrolyte levels and check the battery cable connections. Make sure any corrosive build up is cleaned off, as this can sap the power from the battery itself. It is also a good idea to check the fan belts. Any belt that is showing signs of glazing or cracking should be replaced immediately. You may also think about replacing the air filter at this point. A deformed or torn air filter will allow dirt to pass into the engine and can potentially cause substantial damage to the engine.
Every 200 hours: After every 200 hours on the job, your equipment will need to have its filters changed. The oil filter, hydraulic filter and fuel filter will all need to be swapped out at this point. It is also important to take a quick look at the spark plugs and make sure they are not worn or fouled. Examine the condition of the porcelain and get rid of any spark plug that is cracked or in a questionable condition.
Every 400 hours: It’s likely that after 400 hours of use, your compact tool carrier will need a little bit of TLC. Your 400-hour inspection should start off with checking the engine speed. It should be around 1,200 rpm idle and 3,600 rpm full throttle. Also take a nice hard look at the fuel lines and make sure that there are no leaks. You will also need to replace the hydraulic fluid at this time. If the hydraulic oil is a milky color, that’s a good sign that there is water in the system. This may not seem like a huge issue, but as the machine heats up, water in the system will turn into steam that can cause serious damage to the pump and wheel motors. Normally after about 400 hours of use, it’s also about time to replace the fan belts.
There are also a number of common-sense maintenance measures that you can take before storing your equipment at the end of the season that will mean a longer life for your machine and more money in your pocket. These measures include:
1. Checking for loose fasteners
2. Adjusting the tension of the tracks
3. Draining the fuel
4. Replacing the anti-freeze
5. Charging the battery
6. Disconnecting the cables
By investing a little bit of time into the proper care and maintenance of your compact tool carrier now, you will be able to count on your equipment for years to come.
We put our compact tool carriers through a lot. We drag them through mud and rocks and push them to the limit in the blistering heat, staggering cold and every temperature in between. Knowing this, we are bound to experience issues at some point. Here are a few warning signs that should tell you that your compact tool carrier needs some serious attention.
Chattering: Jerky operation or chattering from your compact tool carrier typically means that there is something wrong with the hydraulic system. It could mean that water got into the system and a mechanic should inspect your equipment as soon as possible.
Smoking: A smoking engine is a sign of burning oil. It is important to have your machine inspected if this is happening. Typically, diesel engines will produce black smoke, and a gasoline engine will produce white smoke, but white smoke can also mean a problem with the fuel system. If your compact tool carrier sounds as if it is running out of fuel even though there is gas in the tank, it could be a serious problem with your machine.
Grinding: Anytime you hear parts grinding, stop using your equipment immediately and give your compact tool carrier a good once-over. Pivot points should be checked and greased. Unfortunately, grinding often times will indicate that a lot of damage has already been done and that parts will need to be replaced.
Proactive vs. Reactive
Problems happen out in the field, but once you establish a regular maintenance program, you can rest assured that you are getting the most out of your compact tool carrier. By thinking proactively and spending a little bit of time on your machine now, you can avoid major issues later that can cost a lot of money and put you behind deadline on your projects. Always remember: If you take care of your equipment, your equipment will take care of you.
Dan Roberts is a technical service representative with The Toro Co., based in Bloomington, Minn.