As winter approaches, whether or not you continue operating through the winter months, winterizing your construction equipment is crucial for protecting your investment in those machines and the future business they represent. Despite its size, a mini excavator requires the same maintenance and care as its larger counterparts. With all the same components of standard-sized excavators, a mini machine demands proper maintenance to get through the winter and achieve the desired service life.
If your mini excavator goes unused for a long period of time, you will need to properly store the battery away from frigid temperatures. Batteries can lose up to 35 percent of their power at 32 degrees F and as much as 60 percent at 0 degrees F. To prevent the battery from draining in the cold temperatures, you should test its voltage before storing it inside.
A frequently overlooked service point on mini excavators is track tension. Most models have rubber tracks, which must be kept properly adjusted to maximize longevity and minimize wear on the track and its components. Winter can be particularly tough on rubber tracks, with extreme cold, snow, ice and sloppy ground conditions, so extra vigilance is recommended.
A track running loose will accelerate wear, causing unnecessary downtime and put a stop to production for the reinstallation of a new track. On the other hand, a track running too tight will cause the rubber material to tear and will greatly increase wear on the other track system components, including traction motors, sprockets and front idlers. Operators should always refer to the operator’s manual and check track sag measurements on a regular basis to ensure the track tension is correct.
The propel drive gearbox, one of the most vital components of a machine’s performance, is often neglected when it comes to servicing. During winter, gearboxes may be covered in mud and snow, with the fill and drain plugs not visible. Gearboxes require an oil change at approximately 1,000-hour intervals, depending on the manufacturer. Gearboxes for mini excavators may be small, but they are still expensive to manufacture because they have the same internal parts as their larger cousins.
Proper winter care can add years of productive, efficient service to your mini excavators.