You probably are already aware of the basics of getting you ground support equipment (GSE) fleet winter-weather ready. Your maintenance crews have been busy getting engine block heaters ready to go at a moment’s notice, prepping the de-icers, and putting the windows and doors back on equipment that won’t be able to tolerate the cold. But there is more to having your GSE fleet prepped for icy temperatures than these obvious tasks. These tips for GSE winter maintenance will keep your ground support equipment running through the coldest months of the year.
Clean Battery Posts and Connectors
In cold weather, vehicle batteries will often struggle to crank. The explanation for this is pretty simple – when temperatures are extremely low, batteries cannot produce as many electrons.
Remember that batteries produce those electrons through the interaction of lead and lead dioxide plates with an electrolyte fluid. While you can’t exactly change the outdoor temperatures, you can make things easier on your batteries by keeping the posts and connectors clean. Also make sure the leads to your alternator and starter are clean. This will make it easier for your batteries to crank.
Change to Winter Weight Oil
One of the most important GSE winter maintenance tasks to be performed when cold weather arrives is changing the oil in your ground support equipment. The cold temperatures will increase the viscosity of oil and other lubricants, which in turn affects how well they can lubricate interacting parts. Oil cannot lubricate gears and bearings if it cannot get to them. A lack of lubrication will significantly accelerate a component’s rate of wear which in turn leads to downtime, repairs, and costs.
In the winter months, you should replace the oil in your GSE with a winter weight oil that is designed to function in colder temperatures, such as a 5W-30. If in doubt, refer to your equipment manual for the manufacturer’s specifications for oil replacement in colder temperatures.
Grease and Tighten Moving Parts on GSE
If you want your equipment operating at peak performance in the winter months, take the time to grease and tighten moving parts in your GSE. This is also a good time to check and top off fluid levels, including oil, antifreeze, and hydraulic fluid.
Tighten Tire Chains on GSE Vehicles
Tire chains can help your GSE get traction on icy or snowy surfaces. However, if the chains are not installed and maintained, they can damage your equipment.
An important yet often overlooked GSE winter maintenance step is to make sure tire chains are properly tightened. Chains rolling on hard surfaces of ice or packed snow will cause added vibration, and loose chains will make this even worse. The added vibration can loosen fasteners and other components and cause cascading damage.
Keep Tires Properly Inflated on GSE Equipment
For every 10°F drop in temperature, tire pressure drops by about 1 to 2 psi. Unlike cars and heavy equipment, the tires on ground support equipment are not likely to rotate long enough for the temperature to reach normal levels. Keep in mind that underinflated tires wear faster and are more susceptible to damage, which is why it’s imperative to keep a close eye on GSE tire inflation levels when cold weather hits.
Revisiting Processes with Maintenance Personnel
Winter is a great time to step back and review the maintenance and repairs performed on GSE during the past year. Look for processes and methods that worked well and should continue to be implemented, and others that should be revised. This is also a great time to review safety procedures and discuss any violations or accidents from the previous year.
GSE Winter Maintenance from Ground Support Equipment Maintenance Experts
Cold temperatures will impact the performance and productivity of your GSE. It is important to regularly check and clean battery posts and connections, change to winter weight oil, grease and tighten moving parts, and check tire pressure levels and tire chains. Finally, take this opportunity to review last year’s methods and processes to see if there are any improvements and changes that can be made to your preventative maintenance approach.
At FlyTek GSE, we specialize in keeping ground support equipment fleets in top condition, especially during the challenging winter months. Our highly skilled technicians perform GSE maintenance and repairs on brands such as Eagle Tugs, FoxCart, Hobart, JetMac, JetPorter, Lektro, TowFLEXX, Tronair, Unitron, and many more. Our onsite maintenance and repair services includes aircraft jacks (plus jack load testing and certification), tugs, HPUs, GPUs, engine slings, workstands, and any other type of ground service equipment in your fleet. We can handle the maintenance, repair, and testing as well as updates or recalls that may be involved. If you are ready to find out what FlyTek GSE can do for you, contact us today!