Get your gear in gear

Proper upkeep for hoses and reels can ensure the equipment lasts for a long time.

Lawn care can often times be all about the number of properties that can be treated in a day. From dawn to dusk, it’s all about getting one more lawn in.

And with all that use, it’s important to maintain hoses, reels and spray rigs in order to keep them running efficiently.

“It’s like checking the oil and tire pressure in your car. If they’re properly maintained, they’ll keep working every day,” says Jennifer Wing, marketing manager with Hannay Reels.

Keep it clean.

While it’s the last thing LCOs want to do at the end of the day, Wing says taking the time to clean your reels and hoses can be crucial to keeping them in working order.

“For reels and things like that, it’s always important to keep an eye on the dirt and grime buildup on the hose reel and the hose itself,” she says. “So, (I suggest) quick wash-ups every so often to clean out hidden areas of dirt that can damage the hose or the reel components. (This) will just make things last longer and work better.

“Especially after a tough or dirty job, it might be wise to wash things down quickly because dirt can hide in certain areas – especially on a power reel with a chain guard,” Wing adds.

However, don’t fret if crews forget to hose things off every once in a while, because John Kucera, director of engineering at Coxreels, says the equipment can handle it.

“When pertaining to reels, operation is rarely impeded by poor maintenance. The working components are well protected by the inherent design,” he says. “The nature of the industry is rough and tough, and our product line fits right in line with that type of work. A reel does not need to shine to do its job.”

Even so, Kucera does say a good scrubbing every now and then is still necessary.

“This, of course, does not mean that the product should not be cleaned,” he says. “Landscape and lawn care are tough on equipment by default because of the abrasive nature of the environment. Depending on the location of the reel on the equipment, cleaning to remove abrasives around the bearing and swivel joints can help extend component life.”

Kucera says the chemical used in one’s lawn care rig shouldn’t have an impact on the equipment’s maintenance schedule.

“Most products used in the lawn care industry are mild enough that internal damage cause by them is negligible,” he says. “Best practices to prolong the life of equipment is to keep it relatively clean and to address any corrosion as soon as possible.”

Don’t let it deteriorate.

Corrosion is one of the most common problems that can occur from improper maintenance. Wing suggests investing in noncorrosive equipment to play it safe.

“If you’re using harsh chemicals, it’s always important to be careful of spills around a hose and its components, and the hose reel,” she says.

“Reels constructed in noncorrosive materials, like aluminum or stainless steel, are always recommended when you’re working with harsh chemicals like fertilizers and pesticides. If a spill occurs, any piece of equipment should be washed down as soon as possible to prevent any chemical reactions.”

The elements are known to do their damage, too.

“Leaving it outdoors in inclement weather can have a significant impact on the reel,” says Jerry Medley, vice president of sales & business development at Coxreels.

If corrosion is spotted, Kucera recommends immediately cleaning, lightly sanding and painting any broken powder coat showing signs of rust.

And the problems caused by corrosion are not always eye-catching. Medley says even the smallest parts can get damaged and, if left untreated, the destruction will begin to spiral.

“The pieces that break or need to be repaired on any reel in the industry are from wear and tear on component parts like swivels, or seals inside of a swivel,” he says.

Medley adds that while hoses are made to take a beating, they are one element of the operation that is damaged the most.

“People run over hoses, they’re out in the elements. Eventually your hose will need to be replaced as well,” he says.

Kucera adds that over time, seals and hoses are bound to degrade.

“Because of the abrasive nature of the work, damage to the protective coatings of the steel is common and not letting this damage fester is the best way to extend the life of your equipment,” he says.

Make it last a lifetime.

Wing says reels that are kept up thoroughly should have quite the longevity.

“As far as the reels go, it usually depends on wear and tear and things like that,” she says. “We’ve had some reels that are used daily last for decades. If they get damaged, they may need replaced. But if they are maintained properly and are serviced regularly, they can last a very long time.”

Medley and Kucera say they know lawn care operators who are still using reels that are decades old.

“We build these things very robust and very industrial in construction and design,” Medley says. “And that’s because the industry is very rough. We build these in such a way because we know these things take an absolute beating.

“If they are properly maintained, you should never have to replace them,” he adds.

And while these reels might not look the prettiest, Medley says they can still get the job done.

“It might just look dull and dingy and you’ll have places where the powder coat or the paint on the equipment might crack,” he says. “You just keep it relatively clean and dry.

Spot the small stuff.

As Medley mentions, even the smallest parts of the reel need to be maintained to keep it operating correctly.

“There’s a lot of working components in a reel,” Wing says. “You have swivel joints and chains, and things like that. You always want to check the joint connections and make sure they’re secure. A lot of manufacturers recommend different lubrication intervals – usually 40 hours of use.”

Ignoring the swivel joints can cause the reel not to spin anymore, meaning LCOs will have to manually unwind and rewind the hose.

Other parts to keep an eye on include bearings, pinlocks and even the motor on power reels.

“There are also bearings on each side of the reel, and they allow the reel to rotate easily,” Wing says. “Bearings eventually wear depending on use and the working conditions of the reel. So, people may notice resistance or tugging.”

Wing adds that the pinlocks keep the reel engaged during travel, so the hose doesn’t unwind while the truck is on the road. “Checking the spring on the pinlock to see if it’s starting to wear is important. These are easily replaceable,” she says.

An extra tip Wing has for lawn care operators is to occasionally make sure the reel is firmly attached to their rig.

“Make sure the reel is still securely bolted to the truck, the trailer or the cart,” she says. “They aren’t welded into these vehicles so checking they are secure is necessary. Things can loosen over time, especially depending on the road conditions where they are.”