Maximize Dozer Performance
Focus on four areas for good dozer maintenance.
by John Gilbeck
Whether you’re moving rocks, pushing dirt, or shaping a haul road, you need your crawler dozer to provide maximum productivity and uptime while keeping daily operating costs as low as possible. You can achieve all three objectives through proper daily and periodic maintenance with attention to four specific components and systems.
1. Blade condition
Inspect the blade skin daily for obvious items such as cracks, holes, or dents. Next, focus on the cutting edge and end bits to determine if they need to be replaced. Check to see that each side of the blade or end bits is wearing evenly. If you happen to do a lot of side cutting with only one side of the blade, the wear will not only decrease the life of the blade, but also decrease the life of the undercarriage and linkage joints.
At a minimum, an excessively dull or worn cutting edge will cost you productivity and accuracy. Rotating, reversing, and replacing tips should be done regularly — if components wear beyond the limits capable of supporting hardware when reversed, you’ll need to install complete edges and bits, adding considerable expense. Always keep cutting edges, end bits, and related hardware on hand.
Before you finish walking around the blade, check the condition of the hydraulic hoses (and wire harnesses, if you have a grade control system on the machine). Rocks, dirt, and other debris that spill over or bounce off the blade can sometimes damage hoses and harnesses. Finally, make sure that all of the grease zerks will take grease for each joint.
2. Blade pitch
Proper blade pitch for the application and material being moved is very important to dozer performance. If your dozer has adjustable blade pitch, this area should be inspected to ensure it is functional. This feature needs to be utilized to maximize dozer performance. In general, a mid-pitch position is appropriate for general applications, but pitching the top of the blade forward or backward from this position can significantly change dozer performance. Please refer to the manufacturer’s operator manual for recommendations and adjustment information regarding this important area.
3. Hydraulics and other fluids
The hydraulic oil level should be inspected each day before startup. Some sight gauges allow you to also see the condition of the oil, giving you the chance to tell if it has been overheated or appears burnt. If the system is equipped with a breather, inspect this area for signs it is plugged. Keep it clear to prevent contamination from entering the system. Also, inspect the wiper seals on all hydraulic cylinders daily. A damaged seal can allow contamination into the system. Finally, check the condition of hydraulic hoses.
Every fluid level, not just hydraulic oil, should be checked on a daily walkaround. If a level is low, inspect for leaks and initiate repairs. Service doors and panels provide very good access to view areas where leaks can develop, so make it a point to look behind them.
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