No matter how simple a piece of striping equipment may appear or how easy it may be to operate, it is going to require maintenance. And before a contractor begins a new season, it is important to make sure that equipment is maintained and functioning properly. While most manufacturers suggest doing maintenance at the beginning of the off-season, here are some parts/areas of striping equipment that should be double-checked before beginning your spring season.
If a spray gun starts spitting or clogs on the job a contractor's time will be wasted unnecessarily. It is much better to prevent these problems and save on unexpected costs before beginning striping. "You can tell when the parts are worn," says Steve Muellenbach, vice president and general manager of M-B Companies. "You can't really say 'Okay that gun should be rebuilt every 10,000 gallons' because that's not the case. You can see a disfigurement in the line. When the line does not look sharp and crisp something is wearing."
Mark Malloy, director of marketing for Airlessco, says guns, if not properly cleaned and stored during the off-season, can accumulate corrosion. Before starting up for a new season, Malloy says to remove the trigger guard, unscrew the filter and visually inspect the gun head and filter housing for any paint residue that needs to be removed. Residue left in the head can suddenly break loose causing the gun to spit or clog, he says. Also, filters inside the gun need to be cleaned or replaced. Malloy adds that a contractor should routinely check the spray gun for maintenance issues during the season as well.
Muellenbach says contractors also need to check the packings in the gun. The packings keep the paint from leaking through the needle assembly. One way to tell if a packing needs replacement is checking if the gun shuts off correctly. If it doesn't, that is a sign of a faulty or worn packing, Muellenbach says.
High pressure paint hoses are a part that Malloy says most people don't pay attention to. And that is a big mistake. If a hose is damaged to the point that it starts to leak, a large amount of paint can leak out, he says. That not only costs the contractor money, but if a hose leaks on a job it will also cost the contractor time and possibly the client. Malloy points out that there is no in-the-field fix for a worn hose and to do so puts employees at risk of an injection injury. So it is important to check your hoses before the start of the season.
Todd Jepsen, contracting and refurbishment manager for EZ Liner/Vogel Traffic Services, says hoses should be checked for damage from rubbing. Rubbing causes wear on the hose. So a contractor needs to check the hose for any visible signs of wear.
It is also important to make sure hoses are not loose. No matter what kind of striping equipment a contractor owns, there will be vibrations in the system either from transportation or striping. These vibrations can cause the fittings on the end of a hose to come loose, Muellenbach says. It is important to check the fittings daily and tighten any that are loose.
Striping equipment consists of many types of valves, all of which should be checked. Failure to check and maintain valves results in an inefficient system, problems dispensing paint, and unexpected downtime and costs, Jepsen says. A dip water test can be used on check valves and ball valves. This test allows the contractor to see if the valves have any leaks. "It's cheaper and easier to discover a problem with water than it is when the system is full of paint," he says.
It is also important to make sure pop off valves are working correctly. "We pull ours off, and we'll hook them in line to a system that is overrated for what that pop off valve is to make sure that it pops at its recommended rate," Jepsen says. "If it's 100 psi I want to make sure that it functions at 100 not at 130."