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 five maintenance tips to help protect your equipment.
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 use 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°F.
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.
Glazer is the president and CEO of Elliott Equipment Co., a 68-year-old family-owned manufacturer of telescopic truck-mounted aerial work platforms, cranes, and digger derricks based in Omaha, Neb.