Maintaining a motor grader

Motor graders are the stalwarts of the construction process. Given that these heavy-duty machines do the hard work, they need to be looked after so that they continue to perform optimally.

The entire motor grader machine is developed around its blade, or moldboard, and its precise movement – from the turntable and frame, to the hydraulic cylinders and gears. All these parts need to be well maintained.

In general, you should follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for checking parts and getting them serviced, and don’t overlook the basics, such as the fan belt, engine oil and battery contacts.

Motor grader maintenance tips

The blade/moldboard

This is the part that engages directly with the soil, so special attention needs to be given to its cutting edge.

Wear and tear on the cutting blade, or blades, attached to the moldboard is high, especially if the blade is pitched back, rather than at right angles. For this reason, blades need to be inspected and replaced regularly – in some instances, even per day. Depending on the surface being prepared, blades should be checked after every 25 to 50 hours of operation.

If the blade gets too worn down before it's replaced, the moldboard will be compromised. If you fail to maintain the blade's edges and the bolts that keep them in place, you may end up needing to replace the moldboard.

Blade slide and turntable

The blade slide allows the moldboard to move on a swivel track, and it should be checked every month or so. The bronze or metal shim glides that control the blade slide’s movement can also wear down.

Fortunately, removing and replacing the glides, which are situated on four different points and should all be replaced simultaneously, is a quick and easy process. To ensure your machine gives you the fine cut you want, the brushings in the slide also can’t give too much play. If the slide’s movement is too loose, the clevis pins keeping it in place need to be replaced.

Air filters

If dirt clogs your machine’s air filters, their efficacy will be compromised and the motor grader will consume more fuel.

Check your air filters as per manufacturer recommendations and keep an eye on the "restricted alert" signal, if your machine has one, which alerts you to problems with airflow. Pre-filters do a good job of reducing the amount of dirt that enters the air filter, so they can be fitted to prevent you having to change the air filter as often.

Scarifiers

Standard on some machines and optional on others, these lessen the work of the moldboard for rough grading or cut-outs. The "teeth" of the scarifier shouldn’t wear down to the point of reaching the scarifier shank, or pocket. If that happens, you’ll have to replace the shank − a far costlier task than replacing the teeth.

Operator station and controls

To ensure precision and operator safety, the seatbelt, floor mat and handles need to be checked regularly. Loose blade handles will also make jobs more difficult, especially where precise work is called for.

Tyres

Tyre traction affects the machine’s grade, so tyre pressure needs to be carefully monitored. The tyre tread is also essential to the machine getting "good bite" on the ground. A half-inch deep is the absolute minimum for a grader’s tyre tread.

In addition to the points above, general maintenance includes keeping an eye on the hydraulic cylinder; checking all seals; greasing and lubricating; and regularly checking for any suspicious leaks or drips.

At the KH Plant Grader Rebuild Centre, we provide exceptional after-sales customer support to ensure that your grader continues to perform optimally. Call us with any questions related to maintaining or replacing your motor grader parts, or to find about about purchasing a fully refurbished Caterpillar motor grader.