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TimberWest November/December 2013

Sept/October 2014

ON THE COVER
Photo by Diane Mettler: Brintech Logging and the company’s two new machines — a Doosan and Hyundai

Keep on Thinning
Pleines Logging has focused on
thinning for two decades

Good Crew Makes the Company
RDL Northwest Inc. is picky
about its crew and equipment

Running on All Cylinders
While companies were struggling
through the recession Brintech
expanded

Woody Biomass Column
Be Ready with the Message

16 Seconds: The Divider
Winners and losers of the LWC

ScorpionKing Struts
Ponsse shows of the new
ScorpionKing in Rhinelander, Wisc.

Guest Columnist
Preparing Your Forestry Equipment for Winter

DEPARTMENTS

Tech review - Brushcutters & Mulchers

In the News

Association News

Machinery Row

 

 

 

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Mike SchmidtPreparing Your ForestryEquipment for Winter

Mike Schmidt, Manager, Forestry Tactical Marketing, John Deere Worldwide Construction & Forestry Division

Winter means different things for different regions across North America. In areas with a lot of snow, operations can shut down for months, making winter a good time to tackle equipment maintenance projects. In warmer climates, loggers often see wet unpredictable weather, facing weeks to a month or more of conditions too wet to cut. Some regions can only access timber when the ground is frozen, making winter the most productive time of the year.

No matter your location, one constant remains true: when the winter months arrive, new challenges face forestry equipment owners and operators. Like most diesel-powered equipment, these machines need special attention for wintertime use and storage.

A logger’s best resource for any equipment maintenance and wintertime preparation is their equipment dealer. A good dealer will know the equipment as well as the local conditions and will have experienced service technicians on staff who can help get the machines ready for the cold months ahead.

Winter Operation

Forestry equipment is made to work, even when the weather turns bad. Still, there are some precautions and preventive measures you should take to ensure your machines continue to run smoothly through the winter.

Cold temperatures affect fluids more than anything else. Oil, fuel, and hydraulic fluid become more viscous in the cold, which can inhibit the operation of the engine or other systems or even cause damage. Hydraulic oil is the most critical fluid that needs to be kept flowing freely. Cold, thick hydraulic oil can cause pumps, lines, and hydraulic coolers to fail.

It is important to consult applicable manufacturer manuals and specifications to determine the recommendations for cold-weather fluids, then change all fluids according to those guidelines. For extreme cold, it may be necessary to consider arctic weight oils. This is especially important in engine oil and fuel, as it can lead to the most problems with the engine. Oils developed for cold weather will also make it easier to turn the engine over when starting it.

If your machines will be operating in extremely cold temperatures, you may need to equip them with fuel-fired heaters. These will help keep the coolant, engine oil, and hydraulic fluid at a high enough temperature to prevent gelling and keep the machine and all its systems running smoothly.

The electrical system can also be affected by the cold and should not be overlooked. You should be sure the battery has enough cranking amps to get the engine started after it has sat in the cold overnight. Also, at the beginning of the season, check the wiring to be sure it is in good shape.

Besides the fluids, your machine itself can be affected by the cold. Steel, when subjected to temperatures, can become very brittle. This can lead to cracks or even breaks in key components. If you’re operating the machine in extremely frigid temperatures, be sure to use care. To prevent added wear on moving parts, use low-temperature grease (minimum three to five percent) at lubrication points.

Set up for Local Conditions

If you typically only see a few days of below-freezing temperatures at any given time, your machine’s factory settings, equipment, and fluids should be sufficient. However, if you regularly work in freezing temperatures, talk to your dealer about cold-starting solutions. These include the cold start aid option that delivers starting fluid, an air-intake heater available on some engines, and a coolant heater. These options ensure strong starts, even in the coldest operating conditions.

Park in the Right Space

In freezing conditions, your parking spot for the night can make all the difference. Be sure to pick a solid, level surface to park your machine. This will ensure your tracks or tires don’t freeze to the ground and will help prevent damage to your undercarriage components from frozen mud and dirt.

Storing your equipment for the winter may also invite problems related to safety and security – from curious kids climbing and playing on the machines, to vandalism, to theft. It is crucial that machines be parked for the winter in a secure location.

Avoid the Obstacle Course

In wet conditions, it’s not uncommon to lay a mat of tops and other debris along the forest floor to help navigate in the mud and minimize impact. While effective, these mats—along with water, mud, and snow—can conceal potentially harmful obstacles. One such obstacle is larger-than-normal stumps, which are a direct result of cutting in challenging conditions. Being mindful can prevent costly repairs.

Stay Hydrated

Your machine relies on the right fluids to run optimally in all conditions, but things like coolant levels and oil viscosity become more important in extreme operating conditions such as cold weather. Make sure the oil viscosity is rated for the temperatures you expect to encounter between changes. This holds true for track and swing drive gearbox oil, hydraulic system oil, and grease. Find what works by referring to your operator’s manual.

Cool Fuel

Diesel fuel has its own set of issues when the temperature dips below freezing, and gelling can be a big problem. It causes waxing in the filters and clogs the fuel filter media. An anti-gel additive prevents that from happening and will help save time and money when the machine is started in colder temperatures.

If you have any questions or have encountered a unique cold-weather situation not covered here, be sure to talk to your dealer—they’ll know just what to do.