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Boom baby: Sprayer maintenance and best practices

John Guilfoyle for Progressive Forage Published on 12 July 2019
Sprayer

Regardless of the size of your operation, preventative maintenance goes a long way to ensure your sprayer is ready for the season.

Basic maintenance can also help prevent downtime in the field and give you the confidence in your equipment that you need to complete a hard day’s work. Here are some tips and best practices to help you make sure your sprayer is operating at its best.

Fluids, filters and grease

First and foremost, start by reviewing the operator’s manual and familiarizing yourself with the recommended storage removal procedures. Be sure to check all fluid levels, including engine coolant and oil, hydraulic oil and torque hub oil. Top off or change oils, filters and coolants as necessary, making sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommended service intervals.

Today’s machines are engineered to the highest performance standards; each machine is a highly engineered system of complex working parts which should be maintained by only using genuine filters and lubricants. Using non-OEM-specified filters and lube creates a weak link in the system and can compromise performance of a machine.

Next, be sure to check all grease points, then inspect the engine for any leaks or other obvious issues before starting up the engine.

Battery and electrical system

When getting your sprayer out of storage, it is very common to have to charge the battery. Be sure to fully charge the battery on a slow charger before starting the engine. To maintain battery health, your battery should be on a maintenance charger any time your sprayer is not used for three weeks or more.

Next, examine the wiring and the electrical system looking for any frayed wires, loose connections or rodent damage, and make sure all components, switches and lights are in good working order.

Tires

Tires can easily be considered one of the most costly consumable components on a pneumatic tire machine. There are, however, several operating practices and basic maintenance items that can help producers and equipment owners maximize tire life.

Tread depth is one of the key indicators of the overall health of pneumatic tires and should be monitored regularly to determine where a tire is in its life cycle. It is important to consider that each type of tire has its own tread depth considerations, so equipment owners should consult with their dealers to determine the original tread depth and determine the point at which the tire needs to be replaced or retreaded.

Inspect tires regularly, looking for any cuts, cracks, abrasions or uneven wear on the tires; these actions could lead to the replacement of a damaged tire before it becomes a bigger issue or could possibly be an indication of a bigger problem. Operators should also check for any damage to the rims, which could weaken the tire and lead to costly downtime.

Improperly inflated tires can cause unnecessary wear and damage and can wreak havoc on total cost of ownership, so tire pressure should be checked daily. Tires should also be cleaned regularly, and any debris should be removed from the tread whenever possible or practical.

Tires should be rotated regularly. Irregular wear can be present for a variety of reasons, and the best way to minimize it is to follow the manufacturer-recommended rotation intervals.

Structural and boom components

Thoroughly inspect all structural and boom components, looking for any cracks, breaks or other signs of wear on the metal components. This is also a good time to clean and touch up any rusted areas with fresh paint in order to prevent further wear.

The cab

Check the cab door gaskets, and replace the primary and secondary cab filters as necessary. This is also a good time to make sure the pressurization fan and air conditioning is working properly. Inspect the controls to make sure everything is working properly.

Tank and nozzles

Pay close attention to the tank and related components. Flush any remaining product and rinse systems with clean water. If it has been stored with an antifreeze, be sure to cycle through plenty of water. The antifreeze can be stored and saved for next fall. Inspect all hoses and fittings, looking for cracking or other signs of wear.

Finally, inspect and clean all nozzle bodies, replacing any nozzle body check-valve diaphragms as necessary. Inspect and clean the spray tips and all strainers as well, then check flow rates to ensure uniform output and replace any spray tips that aren’t performing properly.

When it comes down to getting the most out of a sprayer investment, proper maintenance procedures can go a long way. Following these basic practices will ensure your sprayer is operating at its best and can lead toward a safer and more productive season.  end mark

PHOTO: Sprayer booms present several wear opportunities, and hoses, metal parts and nozzles need to be checked thoroughly and often. Photo courtesy of CNH.

John Guilfoyle is the product manager of maintenance products with CNH Industrial Aftermarket Solutions

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