August 2, 2011

Equipment maintenance form
Photo by Jim Ruen
I’ll use this service form hung above my workbench to keep track of my long-term mower maintenance.

I’m one of those assemble first, read the directions later people. Over the years, I have tried to be better about reading the instructions first—or at least while I assemble. It is amazing how much smoother things go.

The one time I do pay particular attention to my manual is when a problem develops. The other day, the drive belt on my rough-cut rotary mower started to peel apart. Replacing the belt required the idler and the brake be adjusted, which required checking the manual.

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This in itself was valuable, in particular, because I don’t believe I adjusted it properly when it was new. Even more valuable was taking a few minutes to review other maintenance tips, one of which was to grease the blade spindles every 10 hours.

“Ouch!” I have not been doing so. I haven’t even been tracking my use hours. One of the problems is that I use the machine sporadically—an hour here or an hour there, sometimes for three or four hours at a time but, again, very sporadically. It is easy to lose track of when the gas engine was last serviced, much less when the blade spindles were lubricated.

My immediate response was to grease the zerks. For the longer term, I made a use chart to hang above my workbench. It’s nothing fancy, but it should help. My goal is to fill in when I actually use the mower and note when I service it. Perhaps a little regular maintenance will prevent some high-cost repair. I may even revisit some of my other manuals before problems develop. It may not be the most stimulating reading, but it I know it will be worthwhile.

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