Next to the plow, the spreader is probably the most important piece of snow remediation equipment on any snow removal vehicle or truck. If you haven’t properly prepared your spreader for the season, chances are it could fail you during a storm and if it does, you’ll have a lot of explaining to do.
Keeping your spreader or blaster in shape throughout the season is relatively easy. Even if it’s just a walk-behind, keeping a spreader in top shape after the season starts is a good idea. You simply need to wash, lubricate, and inspect the moving parts.
In season spreader maintenance starts with the old adage “cleanliness is next to godliness.” While you might not think you have the time to clean your spreader, you need to make time. It’s a lot better than pulling a piece of equipment out of service or replacing it during a snowstorm.
Corrosion is the spreader’s biggest enemy. This is especially important when dealing with steel hoppers because of the corrosive nature of snow removal chemicals and compounds, but it’s also important if your hopper is made of polyethylene or some other non-corrosive material. Cleaning keeps the hopper free from materials that could hinder or adversely impact spreader operation.
Regular cleaning with water is recommended for cleaning the hopper, frame and interior components. Rinse with a hose and make sure the hopper is tilted on its side, positioned for proper drainage. If you’re using a pressure washer, be especially careful around motors and electrical components. Keep your distance, and watch the pressure so it doesn’t damage any components.
Never use abrasives or cleaners that contain acetone, benzene or gasoline as those may degrade and damage the structural integrity of a polyethylene components. Ideally, you should clean your spreader after each snow event.
The next step is to lubricate all moving components with a good multi-purpose grease or oil. Check your owner’s manual to ensure you lubricate all bearings, chains, conveyors and rollers. As a general rule of thumb, the more moving parts your spreader has, the more you need to lubricate.
Any electrical connections such as lights or terminals should be treated with a good dielectric grease. This keeps the connection free of corrosion and easier to connect. Always apply a dielectric grease when terminals are disconnected.
Now it’s time for a quick visual inspection. Check conveyors, belts and chains to make sure they are properly adjusted according to your owner’s manual. Never overtighten a chain or drive belt, as this could damage the motor, or gearbox, and possibly void your warranty as well as affect overall performance. Always refer to your owner’s manual for proper tension.
If you’re working with a spreader that has conveyor belts, make sure no sand or other de-icing agent is trapped between the belt and the surface below. This is something that should be taken care of during cleaning but it’s always a good idea to double check.
If your spreader uses a gas engine, please refer to your owner’s manual and adhere to its schedule for recommended periodic maintenance. It will offer advice on when to replace the spark plugs, air filter or when to change the oil.
If your spreader operates on hydraulics, make sure you follow the recommended replacement schedule of the fluid. If your spreader is electric-powered, you’re in luck. Electric powered spreaders require far less maintenance than either hydraulic or gas-powered spreaders.
Keeping your spreader in proper operating shape is a matter of discipline. It doesn’t take long, and it can not only keep you on the job, but also lengthen the service life of the spreader. So be sure to protect your investment.
If you’d like to more about in-season maintenance for your spreader, consult your owner’s manual, or contact your local Meyer dealer or representative. They can offer common sense advice on keeping your spreader operational.