Mini excavators are rapidly growing in popularity with all types of contractors, thanks to their versatility. But while your mini excavator may be small, it works just as hard as its larger cousins. And it houses all the same working parts as a big machine. Experts will tell you that all too often, when a mini excavator breaks down, it’s because the machine was poorly maintained. The following maintenance tips will help you assure your little excavator lives a long and healthy life.
Since most of these machines have rubber tracks, proper tensioning is vital. If the tension is too loose, the track will wear out faster. You’ll have to shut down to replace the track before you planned to do so. If the tension is too tight, the rubber will tear, exposing other working components to premature wear, especially sprockets, front idlers and the traction motors.
Grease is the word, when it comes to any construction equipment. Mark points not easily seen so you don’t overlook anything. This also helps keep things consistent if multiple operators are using the machine. Remember that more is not better, it just makes a mess. One to three shots of grease should be plenty.
The propel drive gearbox is essential, and it’s expensive. Yet it, too, is often overlooked — easy enough to do when the gearbox is mud-covered. Plan to change the oil every 1,000 hours. It’s a quick job, since the mini excavator gearbox holds only one-half to one quart of oil. It might help you to remember if you know that propel drive gearboxes frequently fail when they’ve reached 1,500-3,000 hours. As with any motor, aging oil degrades and ceases to do its job.
Oil loses its ability to protect over time, too. Just because your hydraulic oil looks clean doesn’t mean it is. As it loses viscosity, it can no longer keep contaminants in suspension or absorb moisture that may get into the system. That can damage hydraulic components that operate within tight tolerances. You’ve already reached this point by the time hydraulic oil starts to appear cloudy. Plan to change this oil every 2,000-4,000 hours. And make sure you’re using the OEM-spec’d oil.
Construction companies are all about action, and keeping records is tedious. However, it is as essential as the maintenance itself. Accurate service records for each piece of equipment help you know when it’s time to perform needed actions and help ensure you’re using the right fluids, etc. The more equipment in your construction fleet, the more important record-keeping becomes. You cannot keep all this in your head.
Over time the data tells you how well each machine is performing. That way, when it’s time for a new mini excavator – or another one – you’ll know if you want the same make or something different.
Every mini excavator OEM uses somewhat different specs. For all these maintenance practices, be sure to consult your owner’s manual to find the proper measurements, fluids, etc. to use for your machine.