Keep farm mower and pruning equipment running: what parts to monitor before breakdown occurs

In a press release on March 21st, 2021 the US Census Bureau deemed “National Agriculture Week” the 21st-27th & National Agriculture Day on the 23rd. We are celebrating farmers by posting loss prevention blogs all week.

General-purpose mowers, whether power take-off or self-propelled, are typically used for cutting and maintaining landscaped areas and general farm grounds. Almost all equipment with moving parts presents possible pinch points and other hazards. Care must be taken to prevent potential severe injury to fingers, hands, and other body parts. Similarly, loose clothing or gloves can get caught and pull body parts into moving machine parts. Rotary cutters and mowers also can throw objects with their high-speed blades like stones, rocks, and debris hundreds of feet at a high velocity.

Cutting blades, spindles, and wheel axle failure

Due to the heavy shock loading stresses applied to the cutting blades and drive train, the cutting blades and drives should be frequently inspected. The cutter spindle and wheel axle can use considerable amounts of grease in just a few hours of operation. To help prevent early wear and potential failure of the spindle and axle, make sure the cutter wheel is greased prior to each use. Surface dirt and rust can hide more serious deterioration. All surfaces of this equipment should be periodically cleaned and inspected for damage or deterioration. happens, replace the seal. If oil needs to be added, use only the grade specified by the manufacturer. Wheel spindles and bearings require proper lubrication to prevent severe wear and eventual failure. Spindle and bearing grease should be inspected and maintained at proper levels prior to each use.

The most common mechanical failure: cutter mechanism and drive train

Though the engine/main power source is critical for operation, the most common mechanical failure for this type of equipment is in the cutter mechanism and its drive train. In routine operation, repeated shock loading places severe strain on the bearings and spindles for the cutting mechanisms. Shock loading should be minimized where possible. The lubrication grease for the bearings and spindles should be checked prior to each use.

Most failures are progressive and can result in a sudden and catastrophic failure. Early detection of problems is essential in preventing failures. Routine inspection of all moving parts and bearing supports can result in early detection of mechanical problems and can allow for a scheduled repair prior to catastrophic failure. To help prevent gearbox wear and potential early failure, check the oil level in the gearbox prior to each use. The shaft seal at the bottom of the gearbox is likely to leak. If this happens, replace the seal. If oil needs to be added, use only the grade specified by the manufacturer.

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© 2021 The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company. All rights reserved. This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice. HSB makes no warranties or representations as to the accuracy or completeness of the content herein. Under no circumstances shall HSB or any party involved in creating or delivering this article be liable to you for any loss or damage that results from the use of the information contained herein. Except as otherwise expressly permitted by HSB in writing, no portion of this article may be reproduced, copied, or distributed in any way. This article does not modify or invalidate any of the provisions, exclusions, terms or conditions of the applicable policy and endorsements. For specific terms and conditions, please refer to the applicable endorsement form.

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