The importance of prepping your drill rig for winter

The importance of prepping your Drill Rig for winter

As the winter approaches so does the impending cold and everything that comes along with it. Here are a few tips for preparing your equipment for the cold. 

The cold weather can take a serious toll on our valuable equipment. Things like rapid temperature changes of fluids, condensation, ice, and wind can wreak havoc. Fortunately there are some steps you can take to reduce the chance of break downs. 

 

Batteries

Often overlooked until it’s too late. A batteries functionality decreases dramatically as temperatures drop below freezing. To reduce the chance of a no start condition you can: 

  • Have your batteries tested before the extreme weather. Many auto and equipment parts stores will test them for free. Drillers’ Choice technicians travel with computerized battery testers and can ensure yours are healthy. 
  • Ensure your battery terminals are free of corrosion. This includes inspecting grounds and connections at the starter and fuse blocks. 
  • Make sure battery cut offs are switched off every night. Reduce the chance of any draw to make sure your battery has a full charge in the morning. 
  • Remove batteries and store inside or install a trickle charger if the machine will be winterized. Even batteries that are disconnected can discharge over time. A low or discharged battery will freeze and fail. 

Fuel System

Todays fuel systems are not what they used to be. Tolerances are tighter and materials and sensors are more sensitive to contamination. In the winter months the fuel blend changes to try to combat gelling. While this (sometimes) works, it also causes other issues like lack of lubricity.

Steps you can take to protect your fuel system:

  • Know your fuel source. Many contractors use a fuel delivery service. Make sure you are buying from a reputable supplier and avoid using fuel from unknown sources. 
  • Treat your bulk tanks. If you have a bulk tank you are likely using fuel that was blended for the summer and fall. If you do not anticipate a delivery within the winter months be sure to treat your tanks with anti-gel and fuel conditioner. 
  • Use a quality fuel system treatment at every fill-up. Winter fuel is very harsh. More lubricity is needed to ensure the longevity of your pumps and injectors. 
  • Keep your tanks full whenever possible. A full tank will reduce the inner surface area on which condensation can accumulate. Rapid temperature changes overnight can cause large amounts of water to build up and contaminate your fuel system. 
  • Keep spare filters on hand. In the event that you do experience a gelling situation having filters on hand will help get the rig back up and running fast. 

 

Hydraulics

Overall the hydraulic system is pretty robust but can be susceptible to damage in the cold. General maintenance is your best friend here.

  • Rubber becomes more brittle in the cold. A thorough inspection of lines and fittings is suggested. Replace any lines that are showing signs of cracking or wear to reduce failures in the middle of a job. 
  • Sufficient warm up will help reduce wear and over pressurization of components. On occasion free spinning rotaries while warming the rigs will help move the fluid along. 

 

Gear Boxes and Planetaries 

It’s crucial to inspect fluid level and quality in gear boxes and planetary assemblies. These components are common to have water and dirt contamination which can lead to bearing failures and cases cracking when the water freezes. 

  • Regularly inspect fluid levels and quality.
  • Inspect and replace seals as necessary if signs of contamination are present. 

 

Water and Air Systems

It goes without saying that your water injection systems are susceptible to freezing but many don’t give the same care to air systems. Air systems and plumbing that is sometimes used for both water and air are prone to moisture and condensation buildup. Freezing can cause severe failures. 

  • Ensure all water is drained and when possible blown out with compressed air. Use care to inspect low hanging areas of hoses and components as water can pool here. 
  • Use a good quality antifreeze where allowed.
  • Drillers Choice can assist in winterizing your rigs and supporting equipment such as grout plants and water pumps.

 

Overall Rig Inspections

Aside from general maintenance it can be extremely valuable to have a qualified technician complete a thorough inspection of the entire rig. Inspecting the rig can help identify failures BEFORE they stop the job. Finding these issues allows you to plan the repairs and not have the repairs plan your day. Drillers’ Choice technicians will perform a complete inspection and deliver a report with an action plan to bring the rig up to par. An experience tech can also identify early signs of failures. Repairing components before they are allowed to cause damage to other components can be critical to time and cost savings. In the winter months this can be even more so when factoring in day light, job site access, and extreme temperatures that can slow or stop repair work. Catching and repairing these issues in a controlled environment and timeframe is best for everyone involved. 

Overall general maintenance and preventative repairs will reduce down time and money lost in the winter months. In the event you still experience a breakdown Drillers’ Choice will be there for you. 

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