"Cleaning a machine each day is easier than cleaning asphalt off after it has hardened," says Keith Hofer, service manager at Gehl Power Products' Yankton, SD, plant.
Abrasive materials, which accumulate in sprocket, bearing, auger and conveyor areas, increase the stress on all components and accelerate wear. Cold paving material can break loose and produce tears in the mat as they pass under the screed.
Hofer suggests applying a release agent any place asphalt would touch, most importantly on the bottom of the screed and in the hopper.
Keeping Sealcoating Rigs Operating
Steve Rapp, manager, equipment division, SealMaster, says vigilant contractors can make sure their sealcoating equipment produces as efficiently as possible.
Reduce buildup in tank. "You can get a buildup of 1/2 in. to 1 in. thick or even more because the tanks get hot from being in the sun," Rapp says. "If the buildup is too thick the sealer dries and falls off into the tank and can plug up the intake." Open the lid and using even a regular garden hose, spray down the walls inside the tank once or twice a year to knock off the buildup.
Monitor the agitation shaft. "Sometimes the agitation shaft starts leaking and once the sealer leaks into the bearings they're ruined," Rapp says. "So any leakage, where the shaft comes through the bearings, should be taken care of immediately. Sometimes you can simply tighten the bolts. Other times you have to remove the bearings and replace them and put a new shaft seal in."
Keep tank lids vented. Plugged vents mean the pump won't pump properly; on a gravity flow tank the material won't flow smoothly.
Keep spare parts on hand. Bill Grauer, Bluegrass Sealing & Striping, Louisville, KY, says he is able to keep his sealcoating crews running partly by keeping extra spare parts on hand.
"Anything that's wearable is going to get you sooner or later and that's what we stock," Grauer says. He says he orders two sets of parts for his diaphragm pumps, including two diaphragms, four balls, four seats.
"I run 30,000 to 60,000 gallons of sealer through each truck with 2 1/2% additive and 4 lbs. of sand per gallon in the mix," he says. "If I have the parts in stock I can tear a pump down and have it back in service in 90 minutes."
David Lewis, Moore Seal Inc., Kirkwood, DE, keeps extra ball valves on hand, including spares on each truck, "because the sand really eats them up." He recommends buying quality ball valves because the cheap valves will split and leak quicker because of the sand.
"If you pay more money it's worth it because the higher-quality ball valve will last three or four times longer than the cheaper valve, meaning you have to spend less time changing the ball," Lewis says.
He says contractors should replace the ball valves periodically, such as on a rainy day when the crew has downtime. "If a ball valve doesn't break and it's about time, replace it anyway because you know it's going to."
Lewis says one way to know a ball valve needs to be replaced: If a wand leaks when you lay it down, the ball valve needs to be replaced.
Keep filter baskets clean. Lewis recommends cleaning the filter baskets at least twice a week. "There's nothing worse than getting out on a job and the pump starts starving," he says.
Taking care of your striper
"Clean, clean, clean." That's what Craig Treon, general manager at Kelly-Creswell in Xenia, OH, says. "A striping machine is just like an expensive paint brush — if you want to use it again, you've got to clean it."
Treon says cleaning and regular maintenance on striping machines is essential to keeping money coming in, and he is echoed by Rob Krommendyk, product line manager for truck-mounted paint stripers at EZ-Liner Industries, Orange City, IA.
"Lack of summer maintenance and attention to potential breakdowns can cost the striping crew hundreds of dollars in down time alone, not to mention the added cost of repair," Krommendyk says.
To keep striper running well:
Clean tips and nozzles daily. Use techniques recommended for the specific type of paint you use. "And use clean paint," Krommendyk says. He says straining paint before use is recommended for smaller striping machines but is not normally needed for larger machines.