The OILS Method of Preventative Maintenance

Equipment maintenance is a wonderful thing. Performed timely and correctly, the prevent in preventative maintenance will mean that you will not only save time and money on your machine or attachment, but you will also avoid costly downtime associated with an
inefficient operation. When considering the preventative maintenance of your stump grinder attachments,
we suggest you apply the OILS method. It’s elementary, really, just know the word OILS, and what the letters stand for. Once you have that down, all you have to do is get your hands dirty and get it done.

The OILS Method

O as in Operation: As with most equipment and attachments, there are a number of ways to operate a stump grinder attachment, and only a few of them are correct. Correct operation might be different from one stump grinder attachment to the next. First thing’s first in operation — read the operator’s manual. This is often the step that gets pushed aside or passed up. When we’re talking about stump grinders, there are a number of different manufacturers and models that have different methods of operation. Let’s talk about a couple.

1. The Sweep Path — When cutting a stump, the sweep path of the attachment varies from one stump grinder to the next. This is quite possibly the most important
difference in the operation of one stump grinder attachment vs. another. Some have cutting teeth on both sides of the cutting wheel, while others only have teeth on one side. What this means is that with stump grinders that have teeth on both sides, you will be able to cut the stump while swinging the cutting head in both directions. If there are only teeth on one side of the wheel, the stump grinder will only cut swinging in one direction. This will make a difference in productivity; but if there are only teeth on one side of the wheel, it could also mean a big difference in maintenance costs if the operator decides to cut in the wrong direction. These maintenance costs could be in
the form of the need to replace the cutting wheel, instead of just the cutting teeth. There is usually a large decal,
very visible to the operator, telling him or her which
direction to move the cutting head if, in fact, it will make a difference. Please follow all directions in the operator’s manual and posted decals to prevent unnecessary
maintenance costs.

2. The Species of Stump — The kind of stump being cut will make a big difference in the stump grinder’s operation. Properly operating the grinder based on the stump species will get maximum performance and minimal stalling.
For instance, a soft wood such as pine could be cut in
increments of about 1.5- to 2-in. passes. A hardwood like an oak should be cut in smaller increments — 1 to 1.5 in. to prevent stalling of the attachment and excessive wear on the cutting teeth and wheel.

I Is for Inspection: Inspection is important for safety’s sake and for maintenance sake. First, inspect hydraulic hoses and fittings; replace any that are worn or damaged. Worn and damaged hoses compromise the ability to handle the pressure that the hydraulic system can put out and can result in injury from a blown hose (and hot hydraulic oil leakage). Next, check pins and bolts to make sure they are properly secured and tightened to the correct torque. Finally, inspect the stump grinder teeth — replace any excessively worn teeth, as this will greatly affect the operation of the stump grinder. If the stump grinder attachment begins to vibrate during operation, there is a good chance that the problem is excessively worn or
broken teeth. Another area for inspection will be seals. Check motor seals, hoses and cylinders for leaks. If any are found, the best option will be to contact your dealer and install a seal kit for the appropriate component.

L Is for Lubrication: Lubrication applies to various areas of the stump grinder attachment. Start with the grease zerks at all pivots (there will be a few). Refer to the operator’s manual for all locations and use general-purpose grease. Many stump grinders operate with a planetary gearbox for maximum torque. It is important to keep that gearbox properly lubricated. Change the oil after the first 50 hours of operation, then every 1,000 hours of operation or every year (whichever comes first). Use gear oil as indicated in the operator’s manual and follow instructions for replacement to prevent damage to components. For skid steer-mounted stump grinders, don’t forget to make sure you are operating with clean hydraulic oil. Using dirty hydraulic oil will result in reduced performance of the attachment and can cause damage to the valves, motor or gearbox, not to mention the skid steer itself.

S as in Storage: Improperly storing or transporting equipment can cause damage. Avoid sudden maneuvers when transporting stump grinders (or any attachment for that matter). When transporting a stump grinder attachment, it is important to make sure the cutting head does not contact the ground. This can cause the wheel to turn, resulting in
damage to the hydraulic motor. Store the stump grinder indoors when possible
or with the support pads on a pallet. Make sure that hoses, couplers and
cutting wheel are not in contact with the ground. Cap the hydraulic couplers to prevent contamination of hydraulic oil.


S as in Safety: Quite possibly the
most important step in OILS maintenance is the “S” for safety. While it is costly to repair equipment components… try repairing bodily components. Stump grinder attachments can be dangerous pieces of equipment. Make sure you follow posted decals, read the operator’s manual and use common sense when operating and maintaining your stump grinder attachment. Here are a few suggestions: check that all shields are in place and secured (this includes safety glasses with side shields) because flying debris can be dangerous to operators and bystanders; ensure bolts are secured to the proper torque and safety pins are in place and secure; and before performing maintenance, securely block the equipment, turn the engine off and disengage the tractor PTO for three-point mounted stump grinders. Also, no service work will require a serviceperson to place any part of his or her body underneath the stump grinder. Hydraulic system failures or mechanical failures can cause the equipment to rotate or drop and if a part of the body is in the path of the rotation or drop, this can cause serious injury or worse.

OILS — operation, inspection, lubrication, and safety and storage. While we have focused on stump grinder attachments here, this method of maintenance can

certainly be applied to various types of equipment, including self-contained stump grinders. If we could sum up all of these steps, it could be done in two phrases — read the operator’s manual and use common sense. That my dear operator is elementary.

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