Although predicting when you’ll need your snow attachments has been a struggle the last few winters, it’s still important to make sure they’re maintained and ready to go at a moment’s notice. Whether using a compact tractor with a snow blade, blower, sweeper/broom or pusher attachment, proper maintenance can ensure you’ll be prepared for whenever winter weather chooses to arrive.
BEFORE THE SNOW
The best way to make sure attachments don’t get damaged is to be aware of your land conditions before the snow falls.
“It’s important to know your jobsite before the snow season hits so that you can map out and indicate where manhole covers, hydrants, landscaping objects and etc. are located so they can be avoided,” says Katie Althoff, attachment product specialist for Bobcat. “When deep snow covers up manhole covers and curbs, it’s important to know what the jobsite entails.”
Proper initial set up of the tractor with its snow attachment is also helpful. On attachments that angle left and right (e.g., snow blades, snow sweepers), Paul Burton, vice president of engineering for Paladin Attachments, says it is critical that the unit be set up and operated in a proper manner.
“If the swing table is not level side-to-side and front-to-back on the blade, the attachment will dig in on one of the outboard sides, causing uneven wear on cutting edges and brushes and possible damage to the paved surfaces,” he says. “Blades have wear shoes behind the blade for a reason. The adjustment should be made using the tips in the operator’s manuals, keeping the wear primarily on the shoe and only secondarily on the cutting edge of the blade. This will ensure not only proper operation, but longer wear of the attachment.”
On attachments that move straight ahead (e.g., snow blowers, snow pushers), it is important to have them sit slightly above ground level.
“The snowblowers should have the side shoes set up so that the cutting edge is just above the ground so the unit does not catch on sidewalk upheavals and damage the edge,” Burton says. “On snow pushers, the unit should always be operated with the side shoes level front-to-back for maximum efficiency and longer wear.”
DURING THE SEASON
Proper usage during the season will help save some maintenance headaches down the road.
“Snow attachments, like any other attachment for compact equipment, can serve the owners many years if properly adjusted for operation,” Burton says. “Improper operation of the attachment will not only shave years off of the service life of the attachment, it can also cause serious damage to people and property.”
Ron Peters, product manager with CEAttachments, says the best way to extend a snow attachment’s life is to not force it into the snow.
“With different attachments, you don’t want to put too much down pressure on them,” Peters says. “With an angled broom, if you put too much pressure, you’re going to wear out your brushes too fast. With blades, you’re going to run your skid shoes and cutting edges out if you use too much pressure.”
As with any attachment, routine maintenance is a requirement, not a suggestion. Daily inspection of mechanical wear points, bearings, loose bolts, cables, sprockets, chains, worn pivot points and greasing of moveable pivots and interfaces shouldn’t be overlooked.
“Be on the lookout for any excessive wear, loose parts or any area that could dislodge during operation,” Burton says. “Safety for the operator and surrounding environment cannot be neglected. When performing maintenance on the machines, care should be taken to remember that maintenance should never be attempted with the machine is running.
“A few minutes spent daily getting the units adjusted correctly will add years to the life of the attachment.”
Kelly Pickerel is associate editor of Compact Equipment, based in Brecksville, Ohio.