Skid-steer maintenance helps mini skid steers increase ROI on a variety of jobsites, and regardless of size or job type, the effectiveness of the machine depends on their being in the best working order.
Ditch Witch mini skid steers are designed for reliable, low-maintenance operation, but regular maintenance will help extend both the productivity and the useful life of the machine. One critical aspect of mini skid-steer maintenance is the upkeep of attachments and hydraulics.
An ounce of prevention
It’s important to include attachments in skid-steer maintenance. All mini skid-steer attachments and tracks are in part powered by the hydraulic system. Hydraulicsystem issues can therefore cause major complications with attachments and general machine operation.
It’s good practice to match the flow rate of the hydraulic system with that needed by any attachment. An incorrect match can reduce the efficiency of the attachment by decreasing the machine’s operational speed or how well the attachment works. Issues with the compatibility of an attachment and a mini skid steer can also cause immediate downtime. For example, if a low-flow attachment is put on a high-flow hydraulic system, the machine’s system can overpower the attachment, causing motor seal failure. Once the attachment or mini skid steer is damaged, productivity and project failure are not far off.
Routine maintenance goes a long way
A general best practice for keeping attachments operating effectively is daily greasing. An operator should pump grease into attachment lube points until excess grease is visible. To simplify maintenance routines, some Ditch Witch attachments are grease-free.
Each attachment available for the Ditch Witch line of mini skid steers has its own maintenance routines. The operator’s manual details the regular maintenance that optimises performance. The most common attachments and their recommended maintenance include:
• Inspect pallet forks before each use for damage or wear that require immediate attention
• Inspect plows for loose hoses or fittings, and check the blade for wear or cracks
• Grease 4-in-1 bucket cylinders, check for any hose or cylinder leaks and any other damage, and
• Check trenchers for worn teeth and proper chain tension. For a mini skid steer in regular use, checking the loader arms every few months for cracks and wear will help keep the machine in proper working order.
Attachment lock pins for the loader arms – responsible for engaging the attachment – should be checked whenever an attachment is installed. Operators can ensure a proper installation by checking whether the bottoms of lock pins are visible under the attachment receiver plate. In addition, operators should look for dirt or debris where the hoses couple to the machine. Contaminated quick couplers can lead to hydraulic-system failure, even for machines designed to filter the fluid from the attachment.
Hydraulic-fluid levels should be checked daily and need to be included in skid-steer maintenance. Low hydraulic-fluid levels can mean not enough fluid to power equipment, causing the fluid to overheat.
Hydraulic hoses should be inspected for leaks and frays before and after powering up the machine. Damaged or leaking hoses should be replaced immediately.
The hydraulic system also needs to be protected from contamination. When a mini skid steer is used for the first time, the hydraulic filter should be changed after the breaking-in period – 50 hours of use. A new filter removes any contamination and allows the machine to function normally.
After the first change, hydraulic filters should be changed every 250 hours, and the hydraulic fluid in 500-hour increments. As fluid deteriorates, operators will notice decreased efficiency from the attachment and tracks.
Keeping attachments in working order and maintaining a regular skid-steer maintenance schedule for hydraulic systems directly impacts the productivity of a mini skid steer. When operating properly, the mini skid steer delivers exceptional performance and productivity for a wide variety of jobsites – from compact landscaping to larger underground construction jobs.
For more information, visit ditchwitchcea.com.au.