Construction Equipment Assistance: Taking Care of Your Bobcat Mini-Excavators
The construction equipment industry is projected to increase by 12% from 2016 to 2026. When it comes to large-scale excavation projects, few machines measure up to the performance of a Bobcat loader or mini excavator, such as the Bobcat s650 or Bobcat t590.
Taking care of your Bobcat is important. Otherwise, you’ll not only be stuck with a repair bill, but you’ll also lose out on the ability to perform top-quality construction work.
Today, we’ll cover some of the most important components in maintaining your Bobcat compact excavators. We’ll also show how preventative maintenance can go a long way toward keeping your machinery running at peak performance.
For Bobcat skid steer loaders and mini excavators, gear oil for the final drive motor is one of the most important things to pay attention to.
If the oil gets too low or you neglect to change it, you’ll experience significant damage to both the gears and bearings inside the gear hub. Over time, this damage could become catastrophic -- it may even damage the machine’s drive train.
How often should you check the gear oil of your Bobcat compact track loader or skid-steer loader? Gear oil for a
final drive motor should be checked about every 100 hours of operation (even sooner if you are performing constant high-power excavating tasks) and should be changed at least once a year or every 200 hours, whichever comes first.
If you are unsure about how to change or even inspect your Bobcat's gear oil, you should take it to a professional construction equipment repair shop. They can give you an oil change, and they may even be able to give you some additional maintenance tips or recommendations. Regardless, they will help ensure that each of your machines is ready for another busy workload schedule.
The gearbox or final drive tends to accumulate a great deal of dirt and debris, mainly because it tends to be exposed to the elements. In addition to checking and changing the oil, you may also have to clean and fill the drain plugs at regular intervals. How often should you do it? The answer may depend on the type of job you’re doing and how hard the machine is working.
This is particularly important in Bobcat equipment, as their final drives tend to be vulnerable to
main bearing failure. This failure could put stress on the rest of the system and demand replacement parts. Cleaning the gearbox and maintaining the oil are essential steps in prolonging the life of your equipment.
If you’ve never taken a look at the undercarriage of a mini-excavator, you might be surprised at just how many parts there are down there. You’ll find such items as:
- Track bolts
- Driver motor
- Drive sprockets
- Main idlers and rollers
- Track components
Your undercarriage might not normally be visible, but it’s important to make sure that you maintain these vital components to ensure the longevity of your machine. How can you maintain the undercarriage of your mini-excavator?
Remove debris with a shovel (never while machine is running)
- Clean away debris with a pressure washer
- Check for signs of stress and wear
Lubricate components as necessary
How often should you worry about cleaning your undercarriage? Every day, if possible. Job site debris can significantly impact your excavator’s performance and reduce the overall lifespan of your machine.
Always maintain proper tension of your rubber or steel tracks. Check with your owner’s manual to determine the exact parameters, as they vary slightly between machines, even when they come from the same manufacturer.
Bobcat mini track loaders can also accommodate both steel and rubber tracks, depending on the conditions of your job site.
However, it’s also important to understand that the type of tracks used and the track tension may have to be adjusted based on ground conditions. For instance, loose tracks could also mean accelerated wear, while rubber tracks tend to tear when the tension is too great.
The average piece of Bobcat equipment contains many moving components that should be greased daily, especially if the machine is being used for a major project or by multiple operators.
You should apply one to three shots of grease to your machine’s pins, bushings, and turntable bearings to prevent the wear that comes from the friction of metal surfaces rubbing together.
Regularly Inspect the Case Drain Filter
Typically, a Caterpillar final drive and travel motor will have a case drain filter. This component is located on the return line to the hydraulic tank. It serves to remove impurities from the hydraulic fluid leaving the travel motor. It’s important that you don’t neglect this component, as a clogged case drain filter can cause pressure to build up inside the travel motor itself and cause catastrophic damage.
How do you check the case drain filter?
Locate the case drain line (next to the hydraulic lines)
- Follow the line to find the filter (3.5” long by 1.5” in diameter)
- Remove the drain line
- Plug the drain lines
- Inspect the filter
The filter element should be bronze-colored. If you see any discoloration, you should have the filter replaced immediately.
Develop a Maintenance Schedule
Keeping a written record of your service intervals might actually assist you when it comes to filing warranty claims.
What should be included in your regular maintenance schedules?
- Daily check of fluid levels
- Daily check of pivot pins
- Daily check of track tension
- Daily cleaning of undercarriage
- Weekly check of radiator
- Weekly check battery cables and fluid hoses
- Weekly check of driver controls
- Weekly check of air filter
- After 100 hours, check final drive oil
- After 200 hours, change final drive oil
- After 250 hours, check or change the battery
Remember, these time frames are meant to be a starting point. You may have to adjust your maintenance schedule if the machine has recently seen heavy use.
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