Compact Equipment

OCT 2018

Compact Equipment is a magazine dedicated to equipment owners and operators of small, nimble, tool-carrying construction, landscape and ag equipment — such as skid steers, mini excavators, compact tractors, generators compressors and beyond.

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Page 32 of 63

WHAT OILS SHOULD YOU USE IN THE WINTER? ride/low vibration, long-lasting, aggressive and multipur- pose for starters). Snow tracks are wider and feature more aggressive tread patterns than most, providing both a smooth ride compared to the simple bar lug and superior traction. Snow tracks often utilize a tapered outside edge that allows for snow and dirt to shed off and move away from the rollers and idlers as the machine travels. These tracks also tout a shorter stopping distance, ideal on snow- covered surfaces. Many brands market these tracks as not just snow tracks but an all-season-style option. "Rather than offering winter tracks like some other manufacturers, all ASV compact track loaders come standard with four-season tracks," says Buck Storlie, ASV Holdings Inc. testing and reliability leader. "The tracks' pliability and flexibility promote excellent trac- tion on ice, and our industry-low ground pressures mean maximum performance on snow. Therefore, con- tractors don't have to deal with switching out tracks as the seasons change." How do you operate on those tracks? When working in snowy conditions, implement the same operating procedures as when working in mud. Utilize three-point turns to protect sensitive surfaces and reduce stress to tracks. Operate on level terrain as much as possible. When on an incline, drive straight up or down. Do not make sudden changes in direction, always move slowly and always carry loads low to maximize machine stabil- ity. Even with snow tracks, track loader operation will feel differently. "Operators will soon discover that the low ground pressure — psi per square foot — advantage for soft working conditions can be a slight disadvantage when pushing snow on hard slick surfaces with the track ma- chines," notes Jeff Jacobsmeyer, Kubota construction product manager. "Operators will need to start slow with a track machine to determine the limitations when pushing to avoid excessive track spinning and unwant- ed sliding because excessive spinning will reduce track life dramatically. "Another thing is it's important to check if the loader is frozen tight to the ground before operation. To prevent a freeze down situation from happening, the operator needs to be careful not to park in mud or slush that can turn to ice. A frozen down situation can break or dramati- cally shorten the life of idlers, rollers, final drives and rubber tracks." Snow work is often more difficult than typical construc- tion. Snow inhibits visibility and hides jobsite objects. Contractors need to stay aware of their surroundings, both for safety and to prevent property and equipment damage. Operators should strap themselves in and always drive at safe speeds. Everyone knows slippery conditions make it harder to brake and maneuver, so it's extremely important for equipment drivers to keep their eyes open for vehicles and other snow-clearing equipment. "Parking lots often contain obstacles such as curbs, medians and parking lot islands that can be difficult to see below snow," says Storlie. "To best defend themselves against the possibility of hitting one, snow-clearing con- tractors may want to take steps to evaluate their con- tracted property before the first snowfall to note possible hazards. Being aware of the obstacles could mean saving money otherwise spent on equipment repairs and prop- erty damage." Cab and Maintenance Winter work is clearly cold. Only a madman works in a ROPS-equipped loader. Though we have seen many pros unwisely brave al fresco operations. "A cabbed compact track loader with a properly working heating system is critical," confirms Girard, "especially on large commercial lots where the operator might be spend- ing the entire day there. You want that operator to be hap- py and content in the cab." Ample heated airflow also prevents the windows from fogging up or freezing during the cold winter months. Heated seats are also a plus. Sticking with the heat motif, operators should take the time in colder temperatures to warm up both the engine and hydraulic oil. Today's com- pact track loaders have a number of features for getting started faster in cold weather without having to rely on starter fluid or other aftermarket methods. Case compact track loaders come standard with glow plugs and block heaters for getting the machine cranking after sitting for long, cold hours in a parking lot. "It's also important for snow contractors to know how to use the master electrical shut-off switch," says Girard. "This serves two functions in cold weather. It prevents the bat- tery from drawing down and serves as a theft deterrent for machines that may be sitting in remote parking lots waiting for the snow to fall. Those units are susceptible to thieves." The battery is susceptible to cold weather problems. All contractors should perform load tests on their batteries be- fore the snow starts to fall to ensure that it is capable of op- erating at full strength under load. A strong battery tested in the fall will be known to have the amperage needed to crank the starter in frigid temperatures. The undercarriage and tracks will also need to be a focus in snow and ice work. Before startup or after the workday, any ice or snow that has accumulated in the tracks and sprockets should be cleaned out. 33 WHAT OILS SHOULD YOU USE IN THE WINTER? "Refer to the manufacturer's recommendations on oil selection based on the ambient temperature of the working location" suggests Perry Girard, product manager with Case Construction Equip- ment. "There are specially formulated engine and hydraulic oils recommended for these regions. Northern climates with colder temperatures gen- erally require a synthetic or lighter viscosity oil in winter months that will allow it to flow more quickly to the engine. A 15W-40 should be suf- ficient if the weather never gets below 14 degrees Fahrenheit (F). A 10W-40 is fine down to -4 de- grees F, and a 0W-40 can be used down to -22 de- grees F."

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