COMPACT TRACTOR – Don’t Cut out Preventative Maintenance

stump grinderEquipment 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 some of the methods below.

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.

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.

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.

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. There are a few more concerns we can’t fit on the page, so visit us at for more stump cutter maintenance insights.

Ron Peters is a product manager with CEAttachments, based in West Bend, Wis.

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