Top Tips for Woodchipper Maintenance

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A woodchipper is a fantastic tool used in so many circumstances, reducing a volume of tree brash/waste to cut down on transport costs and disposal costs. The by-product, woodchips, can be used as a mulch on beds or for footpaths, as animal bedding or a fuel/energy source.

With the machines working in a harsh role, in all weathers and ground conditions, it is important to keep on top of your regular maintenance. Peter Bagguley, National Sales Manager for GreenMech provides some top tips on simple routine upkeep to prevent costly repairs and downtime.

Towed Woodchippers

  • Chippers work in a dusty environment – check the air cleaner regularly.
  • Your chipper is fitted with safety devices to protect the operator – check that these are working as intended by the manufacturer. The red safety or control bar for example is there for your safety, do not disconnect it or prevent it from working.
  • Some machines have cut-out switches for bonnets and panels – check that these work as they should.
  • A water-cooled engine needs airflow through the radiator to keep it cool. If you are chipping into a truck, fine dust can get sucked into the radiator and prevent airflow so check and clean if required.
  • Air-cooled engines need to have the engine inspection panels removed and any debris removed to prevent ‘hot-spotting’ of the cylinders.
  • Fluid levels should be monitored to maintain the operational integrity of your chipper. If the radiator has a header tank, check the level in the radiator. Change the fluids/filters as instructed in the machine manual.
  • Grease the machine as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Every chipper needs sharp blades at all times to avoid transfer of shock loads into the bearings. A good edge on the shear bar/anvil is also needed for efficient chipping.
  • Keep your investment clean – dirt and salt will damage the paint over time.
  • Also check your trailer – ensure the brakes, lights and tyres are in good and working condition. Don’t forget your jockey wheel!

Tracked Chippers

  • All of the above tips also apply to a tracked chipper.
  • When using a trailer, along with the above checks, inspect the floor and ramps for security, and secureyour chipper as per the manufacturer’s instructions for trailer balance/nose weight for safe towing.
  • Ensure that the tracking controls work as intended by the manufacturer and that the track components and tracks themselves are in good order and show no signs of damage.
  • Ensure accessibility to essential tools to be able to refit a lost track as per the manufacturer’s instructions if required.
  • Check any additional accessories work in the manner that they were intended to – Winches need a good quality/condition rope and should only be used as specified by the supplier.

Tractor Mounted and Powered

  • Include the applicable bullet points above for the tractor as well as the chipper.
  • Ensure that the specification of the tractor suits the chipper.
  • Ensure that the correct specification PTO shaft is fitted and in good order with correct guarding. Some have a ‘slip clutch’ which will need to be set at the correct torque settings. Others may need a ‘shear bolt lobe’, ensure that you carry some spare bolts.
  • Grease the UJ spiders and plastic guards which cover the shaft.
  • Ensure that any hydraulic hoses are correctly fitted and that the in-cab controls work as they should.
  • If a 12v supply is needed to run the ‘No Stress’ device or beacon, ensure that the correct light cable is refitted if the tractor is intended for highway use.

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