Preseason maintenance tips for your tree care equipment

“People who write about spring training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball.”

These sage words come from baseball Hall of Famer and pitching legend Sandy Koufax—or the Left Arm of God as Sports Illustrated once called him. The man obviously knows a thing or two about throwing a baseball and understands the importance of spring training. To be sure, the success of a player – or an entire team for that matter – starts in the spring. That’s when you fine-tune techniques and build up endurance for the long haul of the grueling season ahead.

Preseason maintenance is equally vital to the performance of your tree care equipment. After sitting idle in storage during the winter months, it’s time to get your brush chippers, stump cutters, grinders, mini skid steers and other equipment geared up for the upcoming season.

Jeff Vander Molen, senior training and development specialist at Vermeer, helped us gather some preseason tips that can help get your tree care equipment primed and ready for a big season. First and foremost, he said, consult your Operator’s and Maintenance Manuals for proper procedures. Here are some other things to look for.

Watch out for those pesky critters
Equipment hibernating peacefully in storage can be a perfect nesting spot for small rodents such as mice or squirrels. Therefore, Vander Molen said it’s important to inspect all the wires and hoses on your equipment to see if there are signs of chew marks – replacing any that have been damaged. He said this happens much more often than some may assume.

“The weirder stories I’ve heard through the years involve mice and squirrels nesting in machines that are in storage,” Vander Molen said. “So I always recommend doing a detailed inspection of all wires and hoses on the machine. This is especially true with grinders as there are more places and bigger spaces that critters can nest in.” 

Check fluid levels and for moisture
“I recommend that you go through your equipment maintenance manual and check basic things like fluid levels,” Vander Molen said. “You will want to make sure the radiator is full. Drain or replace your fuel filters. And again, check to make sure all connected hoses are in operating condition and that there are no fluid leaks. Also be sure to grease your equipment properly as it’s outlined in your operator’s manual.”

If your tree care equipment has been stored in an area prone to fluctuating temperatures, Vander Molen also recommends checking to make sure there is no water in the fuel tank or the hydraulic tank. 

Check Knives and Cutter Wheels
Dull knives or cutter wheels can cause excessive vibration on your brush chipper, grinder or stump cutter. This can have a negative impact on the machine as the vibration may put added stress on the drive belts, clutch and bearings. Therefore, Vander Molen recommends that you inspect knives and cutter wheels for wear, cracks or other irregularities. Replace knives and cutter wheels as needed.

“The beginning of the season is a good time to check your cutter knives and your sheer bar on brush chippers, and the cutter wheel on your stump cutter,” Vander Molen said. “This is also a good time to check bolt torque, tightening any loose bolts. Continue to inspect (knives and cutter wheels) regularly throughout the entire season and replace them as needed. This will ensure the productivity and performance of your equipment.”

Kick the tires and tracks
“If the machine has been sitting in storage for some time, you will want to make sure the tires are aired up and ready to go,” Vander Molen said. “You will also want to check the tracks on your mini skid steer or stump cutter. 

Know when to contact your Vermeer dealer
“Some customers are self-sufficient when it comes to maintenance, while other customers prefer to rely on their dealers to perform inspections, maintenance and other equipment updates,” Vander Molen said. “Now is a great time of year to contact your dealer as they may have a preseason maintenance program that will make sure your tree care equipment is greased, tuned and ready for the upcoming season.”

Have any preseason maintenance advice?
How do you get your tree care equipment ready for the upcoming season? Tell us in the comments below.

Vermeer, the Vermeer logo and Equipped to Do More are trademarks of Vermeer Manufacturing Company in the U.S. and/or other countries.
© 2018 Vermeer Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

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