Tips & Tricks: Prepare Your Loader for the Busy Season
Bobcat loader product specialist Mike Fitzgerald takes us through all the checks and maintenance needed to prepare your skid-steer loader for Spring.
As spring begins, Bobcat compact loader owners should start thinking about maintenance on their machines. A maintenance checklist — including testing the battery, checking tires, fluids, oils and fuels — and following attachment maintenance procedures should take place several weeks before you operate your loader on a jobsite.
Inspect the battery, check tire pressure
Whether your Bobcat loader has been in use or inactive in winter, perform a careful inspection of your loader’s battery. Then, check the loader’s tire pressure to ensure that all tires have the correct pressure.
There is always draw on the loader’s battery, so unless you have disconnected the battery over the winter months, the battery will slowly run down and will need to be charged before busy season operation. Your Bobcat loader’s battery can also freeze in winter months due to a low charge, which can lead to internal battery damage. Make sure the battery is charged and the battery connections are clean before using your loader (corroded terminals can cause hard starting and charging issues).
Checking tire pressure is another crucial step, saving you time and money down the road. You shouldn’t start operating a loader without making sure tires have the proper tire pressure. Air slowly permeates through the rubber tire, causing it to lose air pressure when the machine is inactive. For compact track loaders and mini track loaders, check the tracks to make sure they have proper tension. Refer to your Bobcat Operation and Maintenance Manual for proper inflation pressure for skid-steer loader tires and track tensioning for compact track loaders and mini track loaders.
Check fluids and fuels
Matching fuel and oils to the proper temperatures and following Bobcat loader recommendations are keys to minimizing downtime. Fuels will be dependent on outside temperature and what application the machine is being used in. For instance, No. 2 grade fuels should be used at temperatures above 15° F; however, it is recommended to use a blended or #1 diesel fuel and/or anti-gel additives when temperatures drop below 15° F.
Engine oils and oil weights should also be examined before use. Filters in your Bobcat loader should be changed annually, or sooner, depending on how many hours per year the machine is in use.
Don’t forget about attachments
Many attachments are needed during the busy season to help with day-to-day maintenance and ground-engaging tasks. They require the same attention to maintenance as the loader itself. Checking the hoses, cylinders and guards, cutting blades and edges of the attachment can help determine if damage or wear has occurred.
You should also go deeper than just a visual check by examining the attachment’s fluid and lubrication levels. Connect the attachments, test them and build up the pressure to make sure your attachment hasn’t changed in winter and is in top working condition.
Last but not least, comfort features such as heat and air conditioning should also be checked. Other amenities like windshield wiper blades and radio should be examined as well. Although the features may not cause you downtime, they do keep you and your operators comfortable and more productive while working and should be a part of normal maintenance.
Mike Fitzgerald is a loader product specialist with Bobcat Company, a compact equipment division of Doosan Infracore Construction Equipment America. With over three decades of construction industry experience, Fitzgerald coordinates North American customer and dealer product development efforts, and conducts training for the construction industry’s leading line of loaders, comprising skid-steer and compact track loaders and attachments. Fitzgerald’s expertise leverages his experience as an operator, mechanic and service manager. He is a former chairman of the Association of Equipment Manufacturer’s Compact Loader and Excavator Council. A current member of the Society of Automotive Engineers, Fitzgerald holds one European and two U.S. patents.
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