5 Tips for Operating Equipment in Cold Weather

Updated: Nov 13, 2015

Forklift driving through snow

Winter is a cruel mistress whose cold shoulder can wreak havoc on your equipment if the necessary precautions are not taken. Fortunately, there are many starting and operating aids to help warm the cold soul of Mother Nature. These aids for starting include block heaters, battery blankets, hydraulic tank heaters, and oil pan heaters. While the use of these aids will help, they are not enough to prevent breakdowns in the harsh northern winters.

We have developed the following 5 step process to not only warm the engine, but also the entire hydraulic system and drive train to prevent down time and keep your equipment hard at work.

  1. Allow the equipment to run for a minimum of ten minutes before operating any other functions. This step will warm up the engine and get it ready to start working in the other components.
  2. Work the hydraulics slowly in and out, progressively stroking the cylinders further until all cylinders have been fully extended and retracted. Make sure this is done with all functions of the machine including any auxiliary functions. REMEMBER: Hydraulic fluids will NOT warm up at engine idle, the oil must be warmed up by slowly operating the functions.
  3. Slowly rotate hydraulic drive motors on the wheels in both directions for hydro-static drive and hydraulic swing motors on the turret of manlifts.
  4. The transmission, drop boxes, differentials and planetary compartments must also be warmed up. Slowly exercise the drive system by traveling in forward or reverse slowly. This will work the components, put heat in the oil and subsequently the metal components themselves.
  5. Gently drive the machine and work the hydraulics until reaching full speed. This will not only warm up the metal and oils, but also ensures the seals do not obtain too much stress and ultimately fail.

Here’s a few reasons why these steps should be taken:

  • Reduce oil leaks
  • Decrease hose failure
  • Increase equipment up time
  • Improve productivity

Forget to follow these steps? No problem! Give Leavitt Machinery a call and one of our factory trained technicians will be on site to get you up and running right away.