Preventing Power Box Rake Problems

Power box rakes have it tough. From the moment you take it off your
trailer and stick it in the ground, your power box rake gets used and
abused with the same scratching, digging and punishing you give to the
dirt. Luckily, today’s power box rakes are tougher and stronger. Power
box raking has been around for almost 30 years now, so maintenance has
really become much easier and less complicated.

These skid steer,
tractor and compact utility loader attachments are able to handle
increasingly greater stresses and jobsite demands. But even
quality-built machines need maintenance to stay up and running — so
knowing the suggested maintenance procedures of your implement is key.
For starters, you will need to keep an eye on your power box rake’s
major wear items.

Major Wear Items

1. Roller Drum Bearings

2. Work Teeth (Carbide)

3. Gauge Wheels and Wheel Bearings

Replacement of these major wear components depends mostly on daily
maintenance. Roller drum bearings are an item where special attention
needs to be paid. Drum bearings that are triple-lip sealed, steel-shielded and
protected from damaging material are stronger and will last longer.

Pure carbide, blunt-shaped teeth virtually never scratch and will
outlast the steel roller itself. The work teeth on most powered rakes
are welded onto the roller. Replacement teeth can be ordered, but
usually it is easier and more cost-efficient to replace the drum
completely.

Gauge wheels should not be
made of wheelbarrow type wheels, but rather heavy-duty components
intended for tough duty. Gauge wheel air pressure is critical in order
to make sure that the tooth roller is level to the work surface. Uneven
pressures across the roller canspeed-up tooth wear on one side or the
other. If your powered rake has wheelbarrow type wheels, it is critical
that you grease them daily, sometimes twice daily if the conditions are
particularly wet, to avoid rusting.

Multi-ply, trailer axle hub wheel assemblies are the ideal tires used
as gauge wheels. Tapered and sealed bearings mean the tires can take
the tough abuse of banging over the rocks and roots. On many power box
rakes, daily wheel bearing lubrication is being changed to yearly.

Along with drums, teeth and bearings, owners should also be eyeing
their drive system. The two major drive systems on power box rakes
today include:

Chain Drive Bearings:
The drive side of the roller is equipped with a sprocket, which is held
onto the shaft with a nut and washer. A huge benefit of chain drive

systems is that the hydraulic drive motor is isolated from the stress
and impacts associated with working in hard, rocky, wet and abrasive
jobsite conditions and the

tremendous power of today’s larger horsepower and
powerful skid steers.

Direct Drive Hydraulic Units: This
type of drive system can be more complicated and expensive, since the
roller shaft is supported by the hydraulic motor’s bearing. Down time
repairing the direct drive hydraulic motor can be costly, involving
hours of shop labor costs.

Maintenance

Care and upkeep of powered rakes can be fairly simple in the context of
ground engaging equipment. Greasing grease points, ensuring bolts are
tightened and keeping spinning areas clear of wound debris is a top
priority. Also be sure to maintain tire pressure and wheel depth
adjustment, and keep the flexible particle barrier adjusted and tight.

Check hydraulic hoses and angle control wires
(if equipped). Renew chain case lubrication each year
and replace any working parts mentioned in the
manual, such as a chain-tensioned spring. Tighten hoses to
stop leaks, and in general give your powered rake
a good once over before each use. Remember, loose
bolts or parts lead to bent or broken parts and
downtime.

Last but not least, be sure to wash your powered rake every chance
possible. Get the mud off and you will be able to see any maintenance
areas of concern quickly in the future. And a clean rake is a happy
rake!

Bad Maintenance

The end
result of a lazy attitude toward maintenance is cost. Instead of
beating the rain and mud and instead of getting payment for jobs done,
you’ll end up with lost

opportunities and profits.

Listen to Your Powered Rake

Yes! And no… Screeching or scrapping noises usually means wire or
banding is wrapped in the bearing areas; this can be the noise of dying
bearings. Clacking and slapping sounds usually mean that rope, burlap,
a wire tree basket or silt fence has wound around the teeth roller —
this can destroy the flexible barrier in minutes. A thumping or
clunking cyclic sound can mean a direct drive motor coupler is worn out
and is in need of replacing. This is really a deadly sound, because if
you can hear it, the hydraulic drive motor’s internal components are
being pounded.

Roller bearings that have not been greased at the end of each day can
be rusting as the warmed grease inside them has segregated from the
moisture that collects inside the bearing from condensation. The
moisture corrodes the inside upper balls and race areas. Unfortunately,
it’s not something you will hear until it’s too late.

Peak Performance

Keep tire pressure up in both the loader and the guide wheels. And make
sure the guide wheels are adjusted to ensure that the teeth roller is
level and all the teeth are doing the same amount of work. Study the
rake’s operational video a few times. It’s difficult to remember the
small things that make a big difference in performance without a visual.

Also, know the rake’s features and take advantage of them. Choose a
rake that offers all the features that will allow you to face any
jobsite condition or material. And if you still have questions, contact
your powered rake’s manufacturer and ask to speak to their operational
expert. An expert can guide you to time-saving tricks and tips to get
the most out of every dollar you paid. Check with the field
representatives who will often arrange on-the-job training seminars to
“fast track” your team into productivity.

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