Learn the importance of sharp teeth, proper chain tension, tight bolts and more.
Ride-on or walk-behind, a trencher is the machine you need for digging a basic utility trench. But you can dig yourself into some downtime if you don’t maintain the machine.
Because trenchers rely on hydrostatics or hydraulics to produce torque, make sure you follow the necessary safety procedures and wear PPE when you do your daily inspection. As always, read the operator’s manual first.
Check the tires, fluids and gauges
Check the tire pressure. You’ll also want to torque the tire mounting bolts to the manufacturer’s specifications, since the stress caused by trenching does a good job of loosening them. Also check the levels of hydraulic fluids, engine oils and coolants, and look for leaks while you’re at it.
Eyeball the hydraulic hoses for weathering, damage or bulges that can lead to bursting under pressure. The trencher tail roller, pivot, pivot stub, auger bearings and auger sleeve require grease after 10 hours of work.
Start the engine and check each gauge. All temperatures and pressures should rise to and remain at normal levels. If you see any strange levels, shut down the trencher and use your company’s lock-out/tag-out procedure to remove the machine from service.
Check teeth, chains and sprockets
Inspect the digging teeth, chains and sprockets for signs of wear. Digging teeth should be sharp. Worn teeth cause the trencher to work harder while placing higher shock loads on the chain and boom. Check that the face of each cutting edge is intact.
A worn digging chain can jump off the sprockets or end roller and damage other parts of the digging system. If you find worn sprockets, maintain the system tolerance by replacing the chain when you replace the sprockets.
Check the chain tension; the correct tension will be specified in the operator’s manual. A too-tight chain causes premature wear on the rollers, booms and sprockets. A loose chain can hit the boom and eventually bind the tail roller.
Follow the manufacturer’s specifications for matching the digging teeth, sprockets and digging chain to your digging conditions.
How often should I perform a routine maintenance check?
Always use the oils and coolants recommended by the manufacturer. Most manufacturers specify maintenance checks at 10, 50, 100, 250 and 500 hours of operation.
John Ross has written about industrial, automotive and consumer technologies for 17 years.
Image Credit: Henryk Sadura / Shutterstock.com