Bolick says contractors should not forget to drain and refill the planetary or gear box as recommended in the operator's manual as well. He says to cover moving parts such as cable ends, conveyor chains, auger chains, and extension slides with grease to protect them from moisture damage. Also, Kirst suggests lubricating bare metal surfaces to protect them from rust. Keeping the hydraulic cylinders in the fully retracted position protects cylinder rods from rusting. "This is also a good time to check the safety aspect of the machine," Kirst adds. "Replace any worn or illegible safety decals and double-check the condition of all safety shields and guards."
When the off-season is near the end, Kirst says contractors should remove all protective lubricants on the screed and hopper and double-check all fluid levels. Burners or electric screed heat should be checked before beginning work again in the spring, Bolick adds.
One way to ensure all parts are checked and basic maintenance is done is to check the paver's manual, which comes with the paver. However, Hutchins says another good resource to have is a service manual. These manuals usually come separately, and contractors will have to spend a little extra money for them. But, he says, service manuals have very in-depth information, and they can be invaluable to contractors.
If a contractor still isn't sure what maintenance or service needs to be done, contacting a factory-trained technician may be the best option, Hutchins says. A factory-trained technician can do an inspection on the paver and provide a condition report. "They're the people who are on the machines constantly and are able to find things quicker than someone who may not look at a machine for repair purposes," he says. "An operator doesn't look at it [the paver] the same way a service technician looks at a machine." Hutchins says while an operator might become used to a rattle and think it is a normal sound, a technician can hear a rattle and be able to say what needs to be checked and repaired.
Some final touches in preparing a paver for the off-season include: filling the fuel tank to prevent condensation in it, coating cable connections with electrical gel, making sure the unit is properly greased, and unhooking battery cables, Bolick says. When the paver has been thoroughly inspected and all off-season maintenance and service have been performed contractors can put their pavers into storage. When it comes to the best place to store a paver an inside location is ideal because it protects the paver from weather conditions. Kirst says keeping a paver indoors also helps to prevent any "varmints from taking up residency inside the equipment." However, a paver can also be stored outside, Hutchins says.
All of the described maintenance and service are important to preparing a paver for the off-season and the next paving season. The result of improper or neglect of off-season maintenance is a paver that will not be in top condition and will fail or break down when next season rolls around. Plus, paver components will experience premature wear, Hutchins adds. "There's no way around it, these things are going to wear themselves out," he says. Hydraulic system problems, an uneven mat, and improper distribution of the mix are all possible setbacks that could occur. And when uptime is so important for paving contractors, proper maintenance and service is the only way to ensure the paver has more uptime than downtime, Hutchins adds.
"That paver has to work. It has to be one of your most important pieces of equipment," Hood says. "If you don't maintain it and service it - you go out there and just start paving - it will go down. And not only can it result in a lot of hard handwork, you could effectively lose the job." Spending that extra time and money on paver maintenance and service during the off-season can be the difference between a successful paving season and one that is plagued with paver problems and loss of profits.