Frequent maintenance is a key to keeping your BOSS spreader ready for use during the season and when putting the unit into storage for the off-season. Today we will go over the proper maintenance of BOSS hopper spreaders and tips for keeping everything in good working order. Keeping up with the factory maintenance schedule on your spreader is easy and well worth the time when you compare it to the downtime of replacing prematurely worn components due to neglecting maintenance.
Every 20 hours of use, the bearings should be greased. On pintle drive spreaders, there are two bearings on the front side of the unit where the chain tension is adjusted and one bearing on the opposite side of the spreader from the drive gearbox. These three bearings should be greased with multipurpose lithium-based grease. The large black plastic cover will need to be removed on the rear of the spreader to access the grease fitting of the rear bearing. The grease fittings on the front bearings can be accessed by removing the small black plastic coverings just forward of the chain tension adjustment bolts.
Every 20 hours of operation, the conveyor chain should also be greased. With the spreader empty, the spinner assembly can be pivoted out of the way. The spreader drive can then be turned on, so the conveyor chain is moving. You should see the conveyor chain going around the sprockets on the end of the drive assembly. To lubricate the chain, spray chain and cable lubricant on the drive links on both sides of the chain as it passes around the sprockets. Lubricating the chain once every 20 hours will help increase the life of the conveyor chain.
On auger-driven spreaders, there is only one bearing that will need to be greased every 20 hours. This bearing will be on the front side of the unit. There is a cover on the front side of the drive assembly held in with push clips that will need to be removed to access the grease fitting on this bearing.
Chain tension should be checked every day or every use, along with the tension of the hold-down straps securing the unit to the truck. To check drive chain tension, pivot the spinner assembly out of the way so you can see underneath the pintle chain to gauge how much play or sag is in the chain. The chain should have enough tension to not drag across the bottom of the cleanout tray but is loose enough that there is roughly 1 inch of sag in the chain. If the chain is over tensioned, it will cause accelerated wear of the chain, drive sprockets, and will cause an increase in the amount of power the drive motor will use to turn the conveyor chain. The hold-down straps should be tight enough not to allow any movement of the spreader but not overly tight as to pull down and distort the mounting points molded into the hopper.
The wiring connections on the spreader are often overlooked when performing maintenance. The wiring connection ends on the vehicle, and the spreader should be clean and free of water, ice, dirt, and corrosion. A light film of dielectric grease can be applied to the connector's pins, but care should be taken not to over-apply it. These connections only need a thin film of dielectric grease to prevent corrosion. If the connector is jam-packed with grease, it could cause a poor connection due to the pin’s hydro locking. Also, it is a common misconception that dielectric grease helps conduct electricity. Dielectric grease is used to help seal the connector from water, dirt, dust, and sand preventing corrosion. If more than a light film is used on the connection of low voltage communication circuits, such as the communication circuit of our hopper spreaders, you may see issues with the controller in the truck communicating with the control module of the spreader. This is an application where a little goes a long way.
Another preventive maintenance measure is to use the weather caps on both the vehicle and the spreader connector ends when the unit is off the vehicle in the off-season. This will help protect the vehicle side connectors from accumulating dirt, dust, and debris in the off-season. On the spreader side, when used with a light film of dielectric grease, the weather cap will help keep moisture out of the connector and help prevent corrosion during the off-season while the unit is in storage.
The oil in the gearbox of the drive system should also be checked at the end of every season. This oil is synthetic 75w-90 gear oil and should only be changed if moisture has made it into the gearbox and the fluid appears white or milky. This happens very rarely but is still a good thing to check while you are doing maintenance.
Always remember that continual and proper maintenance will ensure the longevity and reliability of your BOSS equipment.