December 01, 2016

Preparing for Winter's Worst

Winterizing your forestry machines takes common sense – and time. Don't neglect it. It takes only a few hours and is much easier to do in your shop where you have all the right tools. Spending just a few hours in your shop can easily save you many more hours trying to fix a dead battery or blown hose out in the woods.

Be sure to refer to your operator's manual for complete details. Here are the key items you need to add to your list.

In the shop

Make sure you use the proper fluids. – Consult your operator's manual to ensure you have the proper fluids and lubricants in your machine for your particular temperature conditions. Here are a few important things to keep in mind:

  • Verify coolant winter-freeze-protection levels. A 50/50 Cool-Gard™ II-to-water ratio is recommended for most environments. For extreme cold-weather climates reaching -46 deg. C (-50 deg. F), up to a 70/30 ratio of Cool Gard II to water may be used.
  • Use seasonal-grade-viscosity engine oil. Mixing of fluids is not recommended.
  • Use winter-grade fuel. (No. 1-D in North America) when temperatures fall below 0 deg. C (32 deg. F)
  • If the engine is equipped with an ether assist, check that the canister is full and replace it, if necessary.
  • Use John Deere Fuel-Protect Diesel Fuel Conditioner (winter formula) at 5 deg. C (41 deg. F) to treat biodiesel fuels during the cold-weather season. Use B5 or lower blends at temperatures below 0 deg. C (32 deg. F). Use only winter-grade petroleum-diesel fuel at temperatures below -10 deg. C (14 deg. F).
  • Use of fabric, cardboard, or solid winterfronts is NOT recommended with any John Deere engine, as they can cause excessive temperatures and reduce engine life.
  • Use NLGI2 grease when temperatures are above 0 deg. C (32 deg. F), NLGI1 below 0 deg. C (32 deg. F) and NLGI 0 below -20 deg. C (-4 deg. F). You don't need to change the grease from NLGI 2 to NLGI 1 unless the temperature is expected to remain below 0 deg. C (3 deg. F) for several days. If the temperature drops significantly below zero, change the grease immediately.
  • In extremely cold conditions below -25 deg. C (-13 deg. F), use SAE 75W/90 gear oil.
  • Inspect fluids and filters for water and sediment. This is especially important during the winter because there will be greater condensation buildup. Water will settle at the bottom, so allow fluids to sit for several hours or overnight. Drain a small amount of fluid from tanks, reservoirs, and oil pans to check for water, and remove any water and sediment that may have accumulated.
  • Thoroughly inspect batteries. Check for proper water and electrolyte levels. Inspect and clean terminals, and ensure wiring is properly tightened. Load-test the batteries to verify their overall performance and condition.
  • Inspect rubber tires, hoses, and belts for cracking and dry rot. Rubber becomes harder and more brittle in cold temperatures, which can lead to failures that would otherwise not occur during warm temperatures.
  • Ensure proper tire pressure. When the temperature falls, check and fill tires until they reach the proper pressure labeled on the sidewall. If tires are equipped with tracks or chains, use pressure defined by the track or chain manufacturer.
  • Thoroughly clean and pressure-wash the machine. Remove belly pans and service guards to clean mud and debris buildup within the frame.
  • Check diesel-fired coolant heater, if equipped. Consult your operator's manual for details.
  • Fill and charge pressurized water system, if equipped. Use proper coolant solution. Consult your operator's manual for details.

In the woods

  • Allow machine fluids to warm up prior to operation at maximum speed. John Deere skidders are equipped with automatic transmission warmup, which prevents the machine from being operated until machine warmup has been completed.
  • Park the machine overnight on a hard surface to help minimize the risk of the bottom surface becoming frozen into the ground.