In a time where farm costs are continuing to spiral due to influences outside of our control, we must be diligent on elements that affect prices that can be controlled.
One central element is the upkeep and maintenance of the vital machinery needed to run the farm.
While most people will ensure machinery is serviced regularly or at required service intervals, many are unaware that regular checks and maintenance practices between services can help ensure a machine’s service life. It can prevent unplanned downtime, which can be costly in the repair costs, the missed production time and delays in work.
In an article on how machinery maintenance can reduce farm costs, from earlier in the year, it was outlined how simple, daily preventative maintenance checks can help ensure your machinery’s optimal performance.
The article also outlined how these checks can contribute to extending the service interval to reduce maintenance costs and how choosing the right engine and transmission oils to reduce fuel usage can all contribute to lowering farm costs.
One of the daily preventative maintenance checks was to check on the machines fluids and greases to ensure there are no leaks and they are at the optimal levels for efficient performance.
Whilst checking fluids can be simple as most oil, or coolant reservoirs will have minimum and maximum indicators or dipsticks, checking the various grease points and choosing the correct grease can be a bit more cumbersome.
Why do I need to grease my tractor?
Grease performs several functions on farm equipment. The primary function is the lubrication of the moving parts to help reduce friction and heat between the parts.
Without it, the moving parts would wear and tear against each other through friction and heat build-up, causing regular breakages to the parts and increasing downtime of your important farm equipment.
With grease applied, this reduces the friction between the parts. It acts as a lubricant between the parts, creating a protective barrier. In addition to this, it occupies the space between the parts, helping prevent dust or dirt from getting into these spaces to cause damage.
The grease also helps cool down the moving parts preventing them from overheating and breaking.
Greasing the machinery
It is essential to ensure your machinery is greased correctly and regularly. Before looking at the greases, it is vital to understand all the grease points on your machinery and where you must apply grease.
Most machinery brands will have similar grease points, but, there will always be some variations, so it is essential to check the machine’s manual to check all the points.
Some of the more common points include ball joints, pivot points, bearings, kingpins, linkages, etc., but there can always be other unknown points.
Before applying the grease, it is important to clean the grease point and area around the greasing area to prevent forcing any dirt into the area when pumping the grease in, which would increase the wear and tear on the moving parts.
Knowing how much grease to apply can be tough, especially in enclosed areas. Some think forcing the grease in until no more will go in or until it pops out through the seals will do; or for open areas smothering the area to ensure coverage.
However, this is not so, and indeed these practices can cause damage to your machinery parts, with many engineers saying over greasing is just as bad as having no grease.
Popping seals with over greasing will also stretch the seals. They will not return to their original state, meaning the enclosed area is no longer sealed and is susceptible to dirt, water, and dust.
Dirt and debris will be attracted to grease, so excess grease in areas will encourage more dirt and debris into the area, which will increase the friction and break down the grease and parts.
The best practice for greasing is to grease less and grease more often to ensure there is grease present to protect your machinery and prevent over grease areas. If you are unsure how much, you can also refer to the owner’s manual for guidance on the frequency and amounts required.
Some points will require daily greasing whilst others will be less frequent, and in cases of extreme mud, wet or hot conditions the suggested intervals should be vastly reduced. The best advice is to keep a maintenance log for your machinery to ensure you can track these and check this daily to see what is required for that day before starting any work with the machinery.
Choosing the right grease
Not all greases are the same, and in many cases some grease thickeners used, such as lithium, calcium, clay and graphite, are not compatible with each other and, when mixed, can break the grease down, so you must select the right grease for your farm.
The first place you should consult is the machinery owner’s manual to see the recommended greases. In some cases, this may give options depending on the temperature ranges the machinery will operate in and the pressure the machinery will be under. These aspects, along with the type of base oil and type of thickener and additives used, should be checked on the greases you are choosing.
Many manuals will either direct you to a specific grease or its’ equivalent but may also say to use a multipurpose NLGI 2 grease. This multipurpose mineral-based lithium grease is the most common type of grease used on farms due to this and its price.
However, NLGI 2 greases differ vastly. Many different types and brands offer different formulations for different performance levels and applications that may not always be suitable for your application.
Modern engineers and grease experts today recommend people look to upgrade their lubricants and greases to the more modern synthetic types for increased benefits.
For those operating a regular maintenance schedule and following best practices for greasing their machinery, the extra performance, protection and extended interval benefits of the synthetic higher temperature, higher-pressure, water-resistant greases will negate the upfront price difference and ensure the longevity of your machinery further.
Finol Oils offers a full range of grease for all applications from international lubricant brands TotalEnergies, and Petro-Canada. Also, it offers a range under its own Finol brand.
These ranges include traditional mineral greases and modern synthetic high-performance greases. Finol stocks this extensive range in various pack sizes, including 400g and 500g standard and screw in cartridges up to buckets and barrels for large users.
Finol also offers a dedicated technical desk with a team of technical experts who can discuss your applications to find the right product or discuss the option of rationalisation of your greases and upgrading the grease to get the great benefits outlined.
To find out more or to get a free quote, click here, or contact: 01 582 7111.