The importance of starting the season prepared and with the confidence cannot be stressed enough. Downtime is very costly during the busy season. So here are some steps, broken down by component, you can take at the start of the season (and periodically during the season) to ensure your striping equipment is in tip-top condition and ready when you are.
Engine. Oil change and spark plug replacement are in order. The paper air filter should also be changed. The foam air pre-filter should be cleaned with soap and water and then dried. Before reinstalling, take a teaspoon of engine oil and work it into the foam pre-filter with your fingers to distribute it evenly and completely. Don't over saturate the foam filter as it will contaminate the paper filter and render it less effective. If you feel you have added too much oil, use a shop rag or paper towel to remove the excess. Adding this small amount of oil to the pre-filter will greatly increase its effectiveness and dramatically increase the life of the paper filter. If you work in an arid or dusty environment it is a good idea to clean and re-oil the pre-filter periodically in the season.
Fuel. If you have an extended off-season, hopefully you added a fuel stabilizer like STA-BIL if you left fuel in the tank and system. Another good practice at season end is to shut off the fuel valve and let the engine's carburetor run dry. Whether these have been done or not, you may want to remove the float bowl yearly and inspect the inside of the bowl. Be on the lookout for bad gas (distinct odor, darker color, or gummy residue), which should give you some concern for the carburetor's close tolerance parts like the jets. Next look for any gritty substances or sediment in the bowl as a result of poorer quality fuels. Also look for the possibility of two separate liquids in the bowl (water and gas). If it is not that obvious simply look for signs of pitting or corrosion as a result. I once saw a float bowl that had a pinhole leak in it as the corrosive result of water left in the float bowl over the off-season. If you find water in the bowl, it is more than likely in the larger fuel tank. Drain and discard properly. Now add fresh gasoline.
Visually inspect the pull cord for frayed, thin or weak areas. Replace it now rather than deal with it on a jobsite in the dark.
Drive assembly. Most of today's direct-drive systems feature self-adjusting clutches and have gear housings that are lubricated for life and require no maintenance at this time other than a visual and audible inspection. If you have a hydraulic driven pump, now is the time to change the hydraulic oil and filter.
Hoses, filters, strainers, fittings, guns, siphon tubes. Visually inspect all hoses for tears, bubbles, wrinkles, cracks, and dryness. Inspect all filter screens for tears, deformities, and dried paint. Inspect filter gaskets and ensure that the filter bowl threads are free of excess paint. Inspect the inlet strainer for blockages, wear, or damage. Replace or clean all as needed. When in doubt, it is best to replace.
Clean up the siphon tube by removing dried, built-up paint on the outside. Verify that there is no paint build up on the inside. Remove the siphon hose and inspect both the inside of the siphon hose and also the 90-degree inlet at the bottom of the pump. Re-install the siphon hose, tube, and strainer. Reposition them properly in the 5-gallon bucket or 15-gallon hopper and re-tighten the clamps. It is best to align them away from your sightline (to the guns) to minimize viewing obstructions. Visually inspect the guns and see that the trigger moves freely and retracts and reseats the gun's needle smoothly. Take a wrench and check that all high-pressure fittings are tight. Make sure all high-pressure fittings are "high-pressure fittings." Cast iron, black pipe, or bronze fittings are completely unacceptable and dangerous due to their insufficient and limited pressure rating. Install a new airless tip and guard.