Much of what operators need to know about maintaining their mobile shears can be found right in the owner’s manual, but Loren LaGesse, technical trainer with Superior, Wisconsin-based Genesis Attachments, says often those books get tossed in a desk drawer before an operator has the chance to review it.
“The things we get a lot of questions on—grease types, welding practices—a lot of that stuff is in the manuals” LaGesse said. “The guys that work on these shears never get a chance to go through it, look at it, review procedures [and] periodic maintenance, those sorts of things.
“If you have an owner’s, operator’s [or] safety manual available, make it available to everyone,” he added.
LaGesse spoke during the Scrap Expo session Mobile Shear Maintenance on Sept. 13 in Louisville, Kentucky, and while he noted that reviewing the information in the owner’s or operator’s manuals is critical to fully understanding how the system should be maintained, he offered in-depth advice on short- and long-term solutions to preserving a shear’s life.
The basic rule of thumb when it comes to material being processed, according to LaGesse, is if it “snaps, pops, cracks or flies when you cut it, it shouldn’t be in the jaws of a shear.”
“We see a lot of situations where a shear goes into a yard, material gets dumped in front of a shear and an operator goes to work and cuts everything that’s in front of him,” he said. “A lot of that stuff does short-term damage to the blades as well as long-term damage to the hydraulic system and the structural components of the shear.”
Processing that material often will void the shear’s warranty, too, and LaGesse said if it causes significant structural failure, you won’t get assistance when it comes to repair or replacement.
Shear components need to work in unison with one another, and a properly maintained shear will require less power, less fuel and have less unexpected downtime. LaGesse said poor maintenance can lead to:
- poor cutting performance;
- broken cutting blades;
- increased downtime;
- decreased efficiency;
- premature wear;
- decreased production; and
- increased fuel consumption.
An issue LaGesse calls “the biggest thorn in our side” is shears needing a case drain circuit. On all rotation systems, the case drain oil must be plumbed into a dedicated filter before entering the excavator hydraulic tank. It also should be equipped with a contamination indicator like a gauge.
If an operator wants to ensure a shear is running at peak performance, LaGesse said to make sure adjustment plates are set up properly. The adjustment plates are machined specific to each shear blade location and orientation and are not generic nor interchangeable. He stressed the plates are for each specific serial number and cannot be used model to model.
He also emphasized the importance of rotating a shear’s blades. Although the primary and secondary blade fitment is more forgiving than piercing tips, they also need to fight tight in the blade pockets with no gap on the load-bearing surfaces.
Material should actually be sheared, he said, not torn apart using brute hydraulic force, and blade condition is subjective to the kind of material being processed, which is where rotation comes into play. LaGesse said if you get hung up on a specific rotation schedule, you potentially could rotate too soon or too late, affecting shear life.
“Pull the covers off the shear once a week and do yourself a favor to try to avoid some of that downtime and ensure preventive care,” he said.