Pre-Season Plow Check Up
By: Charles D. Smith
Originally Printed In The September 2002 Issue Of Snow Business Magazine
When doing a pre-season check of my plow, what should I be looking for? What does it need as far as pre-season maintenance?
This can be broken down into categories; Electrical, mechanical, hydraulics, and cosmetics. These checks can be performed with the plow off the vehicle. These are brief descriptions. Electrical includes checking all connections for corrosion. This includes the battery connections on the vehicle, and the connections at the plow solenoid on the vehicle. It is easier to remove wires and clean them now, than in the middle of a snowfall. Be sure to use a light coating of dielectric grease on all connections. Check the connections at the plow pump. Check any wiring harness plugs for corrosion, (clean any corrosion) and coat them with grease as well.
Mechanically, begin by inspecting the cutting edge for wear. Typically if there is only 1” of edge or less left before you will start wearing the bottom edge of the plow, you should have a new cutting edge on hand. Replace it before you start wearing into the plow moldboard. Next, inspect the A frame of the plow for bends. Look closely at the welds, looking for stress and cracks. If the A frame is bent, it is best to replace it. If welds are stressed or cracked, they can be rewelded. Inspect the trip springs. On full moldboard trip plows, to adjust the springs properly, you loosen the nut on the bottom of the adjuster, and tighten the nut on the top of the adjuster, Once adjusted, snug both nuts. Springs are adjusted properly when the coils of the spring just begin to separate. Inspect the lift chain for wear. If it is worn, replace it now, before it breaks. Inspect any pins on the plow and frame. If they are rusty, replace them now, and save the rusted ones for spares. You can clean the rust off with a wire wheel. Rusted pins are harder to remove and install.
Inspect the hydraulic hoses for chaffing and signs of wear. If hoses are worn, cut, or chaffed badly, replace them now. Remember the fluid that runs through them can be as high as 3000 PSI. Again, it is better to replace them now than during a storm. Inspect the angle pistons. Look for rust on the rods (the chrome part). The rods should gleam, and have not rust pits on them. The same goes for the lift cylinder, the rod should be smooth and free of pits and rust. Rust can be removed with fine emery cloth. If you did not replace your hydraulic fluid in the spring, now is a good time to change it. The procedure can be found at http://www.snowplowing-contractors.com/snowplows.html. Look for signs of leaks. Remember, where fluid leaks out, water can get sucked into the system.
Cosmetics are just that, how the plow looks. There is one “functional” cosmetic concern, the moldboard. If the moldboard is rough and rusted, it will cause the snow to stick to the moldboard, and create more resistance to the snow. The snow is meant to roll off the moldboard. The slicker the moldboard the better. If the moldboard is rusted, then painting it before the season is best. About a month after painting, apply a coat or two of wax. Waiting a month allows the paint to fully “cure”. If the moldboard is smooth, then just applying wax will do.
If you do need to sand your plow, any areas sanded down to bare metal should be primed with Self Etching Primer". Eastwood sells it in handy spray cans and in 1 quart containers. Regular Primer will not "etch" into the pores of the metal. That is why using a primer that self etches is important!
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