Preparing aerial lifts and cranes for cold weather is essential in preserving performance and protecting your equipment. Here Cara Eccleston, marketing coordinator at Elliott Equipment Company (a sixty-eight-year-old, family-owned manufacturer of telescopic truck-mounted aerial work platforms, cranes, and digger derricks, explains the crucial steps to getting it done:
Preparing your aerial lifts or boom truck cranes for cold weather operation is an important step in ensuring a long equipment life and optimum performance on the job site. Without the proper parts and service work, slow hydraulic operation and other cold-weather issues can put a serious damper on performance.
Here is a list of maintenance steps to consider before the cold weather hits.
1. Oil Warming Solutions. When the temperature drops, so does the temperature of your hydraulic oil. Cold oil dramatically decreases flow in your hydraulic system, which causes many equipment functions to slow down and underperform.
Instead of running your oil for a long time to warm it up before operating the machine, consider adding a hydraulic oil heater to the hydraulic tank to accelerate the warmup. These systems utilize heating elements inserted directly into the oil tank that run off the truck power. But it’s important to talk with an experienced distributor to ensure you choose the right size and quantity of heating elements for the worst-case scenario temperature.
2. Hydraulic Oil Replacement. Standard hydraulic oil has a viscosity that’s ideally suited to an average climate. When the temperature drops, your oil will lose stability and require additional heating before operating. Consider replacing your oil with specialized cold-climate oil that has a lower viscosity and retains stability in temperatures as low as -50 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Cold Weather Hoses and Seals. Anticipating brutally cold temperatures? Consider replacing critical hydraulic hoses and seals with specialized cold weather replacements that stay soft even in the coldest climates. Before operating, make sure your hoses are tightly secured, particularly the hydraulic return system. And always warm up your equipment before operation.
4. Prepare Your Chassis for the Cold. Be sure to ensure that your truck passes DOT inspections with adequate tire tread and tire pressure for driving in snowy weather. Check all brake and turn signal lights to make sure drivers are aware of you far in advance. Also, check systems on the chassis that can pose potential problems in the cold like water in air tanks, batteries and engine fluids.
5. Heaters in the Platform. Your personnel are your most valuable assets. Keep them comfortable when working in on an aerial lift or crane platform by adding heat. A 110V-powered heater on the platform provides the warmth operators need to keep working until the job’s done.