Saw Maintenance Tips

Maintenance tips to keep saws in top condition all season long.

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By now, your season is well underway, and your equipment will soon be feeling the long days just as you will be feeling them. Your pavement saws will work particularly hard, cutting out sections of asphalt or slicing through concrete – in many instances with blades turning at better than 2,000 rpms all day long.

You can't do much to lighten the work load for these machines, but you can provide a little tender loving care that will help keep them running smooth the rest of the season.

Grease 'n' tighten

A little lubrication goes a long way, says Kevin Cote, technical field representative for Diamond Products located in Elyria, OH. Diamond manufactures a full line of pavement saws with blade capacities that range from 8 to 54 inches.

"Keeping the blade shaft bearings lubricated is tops on my daily maintenance to-do list," Cote says. "I tell operators of our units to grease these bearings at the end of every work day. They should give each bearing two pumps of grease while the machine is still warm from operation and while the shaft turning over at an idle speed. I say no more than two pumps because over greasing may blow out the bearing seal and ruin the bearing."

Making sure the blade shaft belts maintain the proper tension is important, as well, he adds. "With new saws, I advise operators to run them an hour or so and then retighten the belts without over tightening them, which could damage the belts and bearings. After that, they should routinely check the belt tension until the belts have stretched to their limit.

"A squealing sound indicates that a belt is slipping. At that point, the belt needs to be tensioned immediately to avoid wear and potential damage caused by the sheave."

Tough conditions

Sawing concrete creates especially difficult operating conditions for pavement saws, adds Ed Varel, engineering project manager for Honeoye, NY-based Stone Construction Equipment. In addition to a complete line of concrete and asphalt preparation equipment, Stone manufactures three concrete saws, including the self-propelled CSP3 that accommodates up to a 20-inch blade.

As Varel explains, even when wet sawing, concrete generates fine dust particles that can easily make their way into bearings.

"Operators working in these conditions should hit lubrication points daily and routinely clean the engine air filter." He, too, emphasizes the importance of checking belt tension, especially when cutting expansion grooves or using a saw in other tough conditions. Says Varel, "A loose belt will reduce blade rpm and shorten blade life. Cutting a groove too deep, more than one or two inches in a pass, or cutting too fast can also damage blades."

When wet cutting, water is the lifeblood of a fast-turning blade and it works to suppress dust. Without adequate water, blades can overheat, warp, and ruin the cut. Part of any service regimen should include checking the water delivery system prior to the workday, and making sure tubes are free of dirt or debris. This is especially important if the water source is questionable, notes Ray Coblentz, engineering technician for EDCO. Located in Frederick, MD, EDCO offers a complete line of concrete and asphalt saws, from small walk-behind models to large self-propelled models with a 36-inch blade capacity.

"Water from a nearby stream or lake may have sediments that can easily clog up a hose or nozzle," Coblentz says. "It's a good idea to hook up the water prior to taking a machine to the job site to make sure it is running freely onto the blade."

Like the other manufacturers, EDCO emphasizes that lubrication and routine inspection are both critical to pavement saw performance and longevity. "Arbor bearings should be lubricated daily to purge concrete particles that naturally make their way into the bearing," Coblentz says. "The blade should also be checked every day to ensure it is tight and free of cracks or loose segments."

Transporting trials

Another way to add longevity to your saw is to transport it properly. "Driving a saw up a high ramp is hard on the drive linkage, and allowing it to drop even a foot or less while unloading can damage the fork assembly," Coblentz says. "Before transporting a saw, the blade should be removed and the saw lowered on the main frame and secured with straps. Putting the weight on the main frame reduces the load on the fork assembly and hydraulic cylinders and strapping it down keeps the machine from bouncing."

So what should be on your maintenance check list before your saw leaves the shop in the morning? Included on this list are lubricating grease fittings, checking belt tension, and giving the unit a good overall inspection. Since your saw's blade and arbor will carry most of the work load for the day, make sure the blade is tight and in good condition, and that the water system is ready to operate. As with any piece of power equipment, the oil and air filter needs to be checked daily and changed at intervals recommended by the manufacturer.

"Pavement saws should also be cleaned at the end of the day," especially when they are used to saw concrete," Coblentz reminds operators. "The sawing process and water combine to create a slurry mixture that coats the sides of the machine. A good wash down at day's end with a pressure washer or hose will remove any buildup, keep the saw looking good, and allow operators to give it a thorough inspection in the morning."

Based in Neenah, WI, Rod Dickens is a freelance writer specializing in the construction industry.