Starting off right: Prepping your machines for winter

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Updated Dec 2, 2020
Photo: Western ProductsPhoto: Western Products

When heading into the harsh days of winter, it’s important to make sure all of your equipment is properly prepped before you venture out into the snow and ice.

Take a look at what snow and ice experts say you should keep in mind when prepping your machines for the winter tasks ahead.Dec 2 Updated Article

Equipment cleaning

When checking out your arsenal of machinery, it’s common to ask which machines need to be prepped for the upcoming jobs, as well as what types of cleaning and maintenance need to be performed.

“Virtually, every tool in an arsenal, including a snow shovel, needs to be inspected and, to one extent or another, requires maintenance,” says Tyler Jones, product manager at Fisher Engineering.

Jones notes that even shovels will have broken rivets and need to be thrown away or at least repaired before they are brought out for use in the winter weather, so it’s important to start your season off with a thorough inspection.

Doug Clark, product manager for Western Products, recommends taking a look at any piece of equipment that’s been left completely unused all summer long, as it’s guaranteed to need a little TLC. When inspecting these pieces, Clark recommends checking for any signs of cracking, sun damage and rust.

While both experts recommend starting this prepping process as early as September or early October, for those who might be experiencing mild winter weather, it’s good to go ahead and start now, as you don’t want to find yourself in the middle of a storm and find problems with your equipment.

“There’s a very real possibility in almost all of the United States of having a snowstorm from this point on,” says Clark. “So, you’re going to want to get that done fairly quickly.”

Tlc Part One Of Three

Clark recommends beginning the inspection process by topping off any petroleum, oil, grease, lubricant or hydraulic fluid in your machines, and follow that with hooking them up and performing a basic function test to ensure everything is working properly.

From there, Clark says to clean the machines off and make sure all of the fixtures are tight. This is the time when you can clean up rust and paint any spots that might need it.

After this, assuming that all of the equipment was working when you tested it, Clark says your equipment should be good to go. He also adds that you’ll need to make sure all hydraulic hoses are tightly connected and not leaking, and if you have a central hydraulic spreader, hook it up, run it and make sure none of the couplets are leaking.

“One of the best ways to make sure that you’re ready in the fall is to conduct a good shut down in the spring,” says Clark. “So, if you take your units off and have properly stored them, the odds that you’re going to walk out in September or October, or November and December if you’re in the South, and find a functional piece of equipment goes up astronomically.”

Based on his experience, Clark says all customers need to keep in mind that if you bought something new in April or May and never used it, you still have to store it and get it going in the winter as if you had used it the prior winter, as most of the damage and degradation to winter equipment happens in storage in the summer.

Clark says over the years, he’s had numerous customers approach him and say how much they love their Western Product’s equipment because it lasts forever, so he always makes a point to ask what their process is like when they get ready to store the machine.

Overall, the process is simple and consists of only two main steps: Thorough cleaning and proper storage in a cool, dry, covered area.

Clark says it’s phenomenal how much doing these two simple things will add to the life of the unit.

“Obviously, you clean because you want your stuff to look nice and look good to customers, but the whole point of cleaning machines is to be able to inspect them effectively,” says Jones.

Check back tomorrow for part 2 of this series, where we’ll take a closer look at maintenance for plows, spreaders and more. 

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