By Steve Temple
Even though “making hay while the sun shines” is an old-English expression about farming, it certainly applies as well to making the most of all types of seasonal work. The thing is, you might need to make a few changes in your pickup’s maintenance to take full advantage of good weather in certain areas.
For instance, work-truck owners in Alberta, Canada, have to endure wide ranges of temperatures, from as cold as -60 degrees F in winter to 100 degrees in summer. While that’s an extreme example, it’s one that could also apply to areas of the lower 48, especially at higher altitudes. In the Great White North, during the bitter, cold months, it’s good to use 0W-40 to ensure easy startup. When changing engine oil for the summer months, don’t forget to refresh your truck’s lubrication.
As pointed out by our contacts at Shell Lubricants (www.shell.com/rotella), good grease (such as calcium-based Shell Gadus S3 A1000XD 2) provides resistance to water washout, along with oil separation and softening due to mechanical action. Keep in mind that a lubricant must be usable at the operating and ambient temperatures in which your truck operates.
Components that typically require greasing include wheel bearings, kingpins, tie rods, slack adjusters, brake cams, suspension bushings, clutch release system, universal joints, and the 5th-wheel/gooseneck.
When applying grease through a zerk, make sure both the gun tip and fitting are clean; apply enough new grease to force out the old. If it doesn’t get flushed out, check for damage; if the fitting seems clogged, replace it. Then remove any excess grease once you’re done.
If you’re towing with a fifth wheel, check the layer of grease on the hitch to make sure it’s not too thin or old. It’s important to have good lubrication here to minimize damage and undo wear. After cleaning off the dirty old grease, apply a fresh bead of the correct type of grease with a back-and-forth motion, putting a heavier coat on the back section.
Another area of importance is the trailer-light wiring. It can be a pain to postpone towing your work trailer or getting ticketed for having faulty trailer lights. We’ve found that quick-and-easy, snap-type connectors are neither as secure nor corrosion-resistant as the Western Union type. This type is a simple, yet very strong splice.
Protect splices with shrink tubing or Permatex’s Liquid Electrical Tape, a weatherproof coating that can be applied in tight areas where roll-tape can’t reach. Speaking of trailering, we heard about an odd experience involving an HVAC contractor who regularly tows his work trailer from Reno to Winnemucca, Nevada.
After extending the exhaust pipe on his Ford Super Duty beyond the rear edge of his utility bed, he had a recurring problem of one particular trailer tire going flat. What he discovered was the heat of the regen cycle for the DPF was cooking the rubber on that tire. Keep that in mind when doing any non-factory mods, especially around hot exhaust tips.
With hot weather here make sure the antifreeze is a 50/50 mix. Even though straight water is one of the most efficient liquids for heat transfer (for this reason, many racecars use 100-percent H20), you still need antifreeze/coolant to prevent corrosion and raise the boiling point. Landscapers working long areas in rugged terrain would certainly appreciate a suspension that minimizes the bumps.
While summer is already locked in, it doesn’t hurt to think a few months ahead about ways to extend your work season well beyond hay-harvest time.
Again, we picked up a cold-weather pointer from those hardworking Canadians who install diesel-fired block heaters.
These have additional benefits besides ensuring a quick and easy startup after a cold winter night. They also provide immediate cabin heat so you can hit the road right away in a toasty cabin.
And it’s certainly easier to budget this sort of upgrade after you’ve enjoyed a busy high season.