De-Winterizing Your Dredge
As we start coming out of the winter season in the in the Northern Hemisphere there are a large number of dredges that will be put back into service after sitting for several cold months. One of the most important things to do before you start dredging is to perform thorough dredge maintenance and system checks. While most people perform their regular dredge maintenance checks (engine oil and filter changes, fluid levels, etc.), it is very important that you also remember to perform some other checks.
If your dredge has been stored outside or in a storage shed, you should spend a little extra time to check the electrical system. Pay particular attention to wires that are hanging down or in semi-enclosed spaces such as the operators chair arms or wire chases. You should also inspect the hoses coming into the cabin for the pressure gauges. It is not uncommon for rodents to seek refuge the cabin area or in the wire chases. You should look for evidence of nests or chew marks. Any damaged wires or hoses should be repaired prior to starting the dredge.
Another maintenance item that is often forgotten is the fluids in the gearboxes. You should use this time to change fluid in the Starwheel Drive gearbox, the pump drive gearbox and the winches – especially if they have not been changed within the last year. During the fluid changes you should look for any signs of wear or external contamination (water, silt, sand, etc.). If any external contamination is found, the gearbox(es) should be resealed in addition to having the fluid changed.
The final item that also tends to get neglected is the hydraulic oil. At the very least, you should start the season off with a new set of hydraulic filters. Also, you should check the hydraulic oil for water or other contaminates. If contaminates are found and your hydraulic oil is less than three years old, you may want to consider renting a filter cart, or having a company come out and filter the hydraulic oil for you. This can often be done where the dredge sits. Depending on the starting condition of your oil this process can take up to a half day. IMS, recommends 10 micron absolute filter, with a final “polishing” cycle at 3 micron absolute. This is a little more expensive initially, but is a lot cheaper than replacing hydraulic components. Remember, the hydraulic oil is the life blood of your dredge.
Take a little extra time this year before putting your dredge back into service after being stored. It will save you many times over in terms of frustration, downtime and cash. If you need a source for parts and/or filters, you can call us at 715-243-2132 or e-mail at [email protected]