Sweeper Maintenance Simplified

Avoid Problems with the Help of Daily Inspections and Maintenance

By Stephen Kingsley

Sweeper attachments are not glamorous and are often overlooked for that reason. Keeping them running smoothly and operating at their full potential requires daily inspection and maintenance. Poor adjustment and misapplication can adversely affect performance. Get to know your sweeper attachment inside and out to prevent unnecessary future, possibly fatal, failures. Sweepers require a certain amount of finesse. You have to know how and when to adjust your sweeper, depending on broom type, application and ambient conditions. Too much brush contact or an overly aggressive operator can greatly diminish both performance and brush life, but proper adjustment and operation will keep your attachment running smoother and longer with better results.

The best way to keep your sweeper attachment running at its maximum efficiency is to perform daily inspections and maintenance. Sweepster, a Paladin Attachments company, along with most other sweeper manufacturers, includes a maintenance schedule worksheet with each of its sweeper attachments to help its customers maintain their attachments correctly. Take a few minutes to read these precautions before each use.

Brush Pattern
The most often-overlooked maintenance area on pickup and angle sweeper attachments is the brush “pattern,” or ground contact area. The optimum brush pattern adjustment for a sweeper attachment is typically a 2- to 4-in. contact pattern that allows the brush to pick up debris with a “flicking” motion. If brush pressure is too light, the debris is not picked up by the flicking motion. If it is too heavy, the brush begins to operate almost like a mop, leading to excessive brush wear on the sides of each bristle as a large portion of each bristle is dragged across the surface.

Checking the Brush Pattern Is Simple:

1. Move the sweeper to a dusty flat surface with the brush in the raised position.
2. Set the prime mover’s parking brake and leave the engine running.
3. Start the sweeper rotation at a slow speed. Lower it to the operating position. Run the sweeper in this stationary position for 10 seconds.
4. Raise the sweeper, stop the rotation and back away. Switch off the engine and remove the key from the prime mover.
5. The brush pattern left in the dust should be 2 to 4 in. wide, running the length of the brush.

To Adjust Your Brush Pattern:
1. If the brush pattern is too wide, reduce brush pressure or brush-to-surface load. Some manufacturers have pickup sweepers that feature a “T” handle quick-pin that allows for tool free adjustment.
2. If the brush pattern is too narrow, increase brush pressure or brush-to-surface load.
3. Repeat the steps for checking your sweeper attachment’s brush pattern until the brush pattern is 2 to 4 in. wide.

Brush Leveling

Another area of adjustment that is often overlooked and can greatly affect both performance and wear is brush leveling. Most critical on angle sweepers where the brush will move through an arc from the left to the right, improper leveling will result in the brush pattern being either more or less than optimum in left or right operation.

The sweeper attachment operator’s manual will typically cover each machine’s leveling procedure, as they vary from machine to machine. The common element, however, is simple physics. The brush will only stay level from left to right if the “swing plane” is level from side-to-side and front-to-back. In other words, if a level was placed on the swing pivot while the sweeper attachment was in operating position (engine stopped), it would indicate level both laterally and longitudinally. This is the only way that a brush will be level throughout the swing operation. If the plane is tipped forward, the brush will wear excessively on the inboard sides; tipped back, the brush will wear excessively on the outboard side.

Attachment Sweeper Maintenance ScheduleVacuum Systems
Some models of pickup sweepers incorporate a vacuum system, and this system will need special daily and weekly maintenance. Each day of operation, the sweeper attachment’s skirting and bucket body seals should be inspected for splits, cracks or wear that will cause a drop in efficiency. During operation, at each hopper dump, the brush should be stopped and the filter shaker should be operated for a minimum of 5 to 10 seconds. This will shake the loose dirt from the filter. Shaking the filter without stopping the vacuum will imbed dirt in the filter, causing premature filter replacement. At the end of each workday, the filter should be removed and a garden hose used to clean the debris from the filter. Use of a pressure washer will damage the filter media. The filter must be dried prior to reinstallation in the sweeper. On a weekly basis, the filter should be examined for tears, damage or blockage.

Make sure all hydraulic hardware and hydraulic fittings are tightened securely and all clamps, guards and shields are installed correctly. Check for deterioration and replace parts if the end fittings are: damaged or leaking; outer covering is chafed, cut or blooming; reinforcing wire layer is exposed; or the hose is kinked, crushed, pulled or stretched. Be careful when inspecting fittings and hoses, as escaping hydraulic fluid can have enough pressure to penetrate the skin, causing serious personal injury. Do not bend or strike high pressure lines. Do not install bent lines, bent tubes, kinked hoses or damaged line tubes or hoses. It is important to repair damaged or loose lines, tubes and hoses to prevent leaks.

Hydraulic Oil/Filter

Insufficient prime mover oil flow can result in sluggish broom operation. A low level of oil or dirty oil and/or filter can cause excessive oil temperatures and damage to your prime mover. Check your prime mover’s oil levels and cleanliness before each use. All hydraulic fluid should be filtered before use in a sweeper attachment to obtain the ISO cleanliness standard of 17-14 or better, as required by the prime mover.

Check all hardware to assure it is tight. Make certain that all locking pins, latches and connection devices are properly installed and secured. Remove and replace any damaged, fatigued or excessively worn parts. Make certain all safety decals are in place and are legible. Keep decals clean and replace them if they become worn and hard to read.

Annual Maintenance and Storage

Daily inspections and maintenance are futile if you don’t properly store your sweeper attachment when it is not in use. When storing your sweeper attachment, place it on blocks or storage stands to avoid putting excess weight on the brush. This weight will deform bristles, greatly minimizing sweeping effectiveness. Never store polypropylene brushes in direct sunlight because this can cause the material to deteriorate before the bristles are worn out. Thoroughly clean mud, dirt and grease from the machine before storing for the season. Coat exposed cylinder rods with grease, lubricate grease fittings, seal the hydraulic system and secure hoses off of the ground.

Taking the time to perform daily inspections and maintenance can prevent premature failure of your sweeper attachments, saving you time and money in the long run. Proper storage can also help prolong the life of your sweeper. These three in combination — inspection, maintenance and proper storage — are your best defense in the fight against failing attachments.

Stephen Kingsley is a market manager for Paladin Attachments, which includes Sweepster Attachments, based in Dexter, Mich.