Keep spray equipment in top shape

November 15, 2019 -  By
Spray hose (Photo: iStock.com/adventtr)

Photo: iStock.com/adventtr

When it comes to maintenance of hoses, nozzles, sprayers and reels, there’s no secret formula to keeping your equipment in top form. It boils down simply to time — as in taking the time to follow through on the little things.

“Like with any mechanical equipment, maintenance is key,” says Kurt Upham, president of OhDeer in Wayland, Mass. “Don’t neglect it.”

Upham uses Gregson-Clark sprayers and pumps. He says his philosophy on maintenance might skew on the side of an abundance of caution, but this approach likely helps keep his fleet rolling with minimal interruptions.

Upham’s maintenance routine includes monthly pump and engine oil changes. He says it was easier to schedule maintenance monthly instead of by accumulation of engine hours.

“Get a rainy day and can’t spray? Let’s maintain these (machines) and get them and keep them running like they should,” he says.

Winterizing the sprayers and pumps includes taking the pumps and engines off his fleet’s trucks, cleaning the equipment with natural detergent, and then rebuilding the pumps.

“From A to Z, all new diaphragms to valves, to everything but the pistons,” he says. “We tag them and put them on the shelf and they’re ready to go.”

Upham stores everything but the tanks inside, while tanks are washed and drained before being stored outside.

“Treat it like you would treat anything — if you want it to last, take care of it and maintain it,” he says “I wish there was much more to it, but when I sit here and think about it there isn’t a lot to it. Maintain and make the necessary repairs that you have to and don’t neglect certain things.”

Check it over

Tom Charnock, president of Turf Doctor in Clarence, N.Y., says one thing to be keenly aware of is kinks in hoses. Kinks will cause wear spots that will eventually fail.

“Pay attention to what you’re doing, how you recoil or coil it up, how you go around the corner of the building,” he says of hoses. “If you get a kink in there, then it wants to kink in the same place.”

Charnock says he and his employees also calibrate their sprayers with a bucket test to see how long it takes to fill a 5-gallon bucket. This simple equation to calculate flow rate consists of 5 gallons divided by the time it takes to fill the bucket. That figure is multiplied by 60 seconds. This bucket test — performed in the spring and as necessary during the season — is critical to ensuring his sprayers and pumps are performing as he assumes they are.

“It’s a calibration check,” he says. “Are you putting out the volume you think you’re putting out?”

If your spray number seems off, it might be a good thing to do a bucket test to ensure your pumps, sprayers and nozzles are functioning correctly.

Keep spares

Jason Creel, owner of Alabama Lawn Pros in Trussville, Ala., says it’s important for operators using the automatic winding reels to be mindful of the task at hand. He uses Hannay Reels for his weed control and fertilization business.

“You’ve got to pay attention to what you’re doing when you go to wind your hose up,” he says. But, regardless of the extra focus needed, the time saved with automatic winding is a benefit.

Creel also says it’s a good idea for operators to keep some extra parts around because due to constant use some parts eventually wear out.

He says something as simple as the button that triggers the reel winding may need to be replaced. You don’t want to get caught needing to wind up 200 feet of hose manually.

“I keep a spare button in my truck because it doesn’t take much to change it out,” he says. “It’s two screws on the back of it that hold it in.”

Christina Herrick

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