I have started machinery up for the beginning of the season so many times that it is more a habit than a conscious procedure and because of that, it is a challenge to explain or write down what it is I do.
Let’s start by setting the scene. I am usually called back to work at the golf course sometime around April 15 depending on the temperature of the ground. The magic number is 54 degrees. The air may still be cold so I have low-temperature lights in cold storage that will light at 0. Normal florescent shop lights will not light at temperatures below 56.
The mowers have been in storage for six months. This is a good time to check under them and make notes if anything has leaked out or if the batteries have split open from having been frozen. Tire pressure needs to be checked because moving the mower with low or flat tires can ruin them. During the winter, the mowers may have been shuffled for one reason or another. So like a game of pick-up-sticks, there is usually the obvious one that needs to be moved first to get the process started.
To move a mower, it is important to check to see if there is any fuel in the tank, proper air pressure in the tires, oil in the engine crank case and oil in the hydraulic tank. The battery will be dead or low, so some time on the battery charger is a good idea. For the one you want to move first, a cranking amps battery charger is a real good idea. You want to make sure everything is right so you have your best chance at starting the engine the first time. You don’t want to burn out a starter before the season has even begun.
Old machinery that is cold is best started using starting fluid. This is great for gasoline engines, but you need to be careful around diesel engines. Some diesel engine makers allow it, sometimes going as far as installing either injection systems, and others do not allow the use of either. It is important to know which engine is which because either in the wrong engine can cause an explosion. Speaking of explosions, you want to also do everything you can to minimize the chances of the batteries exploding.
Most of the tires carry 22 psi, same pressure as the golf car tires, so low range is good for most things. There are a few tires that go as high as 90 psi so to cover that wide a range a second tire gauge is needed.
To speed the startup process, I have an air hose reel with enough hose on it that I can reach everywhere in the shop, cold storage, and to the edges of the paved area outside the shop. To do that takes a hose about 150 feet long. I always have two air chucks in the tool box so that if someone has barrowed one, I still have one to use. In the same drawer are the tire pressure gauges, low range and high range. Most of the tires carry 22 psi, same pressure as the golf car tires, so low range is good for most things.
There are a few tires that go as high as 90 psi so to cover that wide a range a second tire gauge is needed.
Each mower needs to be brought into the shop to get its reels put back on. When I first arrive, there are 32 reels scattered on the shop floor. The reels have been away for the winter at a sub-contractor downstate for sharpening and truing. They are back now and the cans of bolts that go with them are usually somewhere on each mower.
Once the reels are installed, the mower needs to be put on the lift to check the cut and to set the starting height.
After the mowers engines have run for about 30 minutes, they are usually ready to be started once a day to be moved around before actual mowing starts. Any leaks on the floor from when the machine was stored need to be checked out. Some will re-seal themselves, others will not, checking to see which kind they are is important and any other needed maintenance should be noted.
After all the mowers have been through the shop once, priorities for repairs can be set, parts orders and repair work begun. This is a good time to do some of the modifications that drivers have been asking for that have not been done yet.
I am still putting off installing the heated steering wheels that people ask for at the start and end of the season because they are just under $300 each. I would rather give them all-weather cabs if I can come up with a light, inexpensive design. Maybe this is the year it will happen.