In purchasing a new seamless gutter machine you have probably invested somewhere in the range of $6,000 to $15,000, depending on the type selected. If you have listened to what the dealers have probably told you, you understand that the machine in capable of lasting for at least 20 years, and maybe for 30 years or more, in active use. You may also have heard service personnel tell horror stories about machines that had to be replaced in 10 years because of severe abuse by the operators. What is the key difference? Tender loving care.
In an article published by Construction Management on their web site, Fritz Batz, service manager of Knudson Manufacturing, is quoted as saying, “The most successful gutter companies transport their gutter machines in an enclosed trailer, truck, or van.” The reason for that success is keeping the machine CLEAN and DRY. Every other gutter machine manufacturer also stresses the importance of keeping the interior of their machines clean.
Foreign Object Damage
The nemesis is foreign objects-any kind of foreign objects. Did you ever see anyone knock over a cup of coffee or pop on a desk? Think of that coffee or sugar rich soda running through the electric motor or controls of your $15,000 combination gutter machine. What about a wrench or pair of cutters that was on the machine and got bumped and fell into it? Is there ever any construction site debris and waste around? Things like nails, screws, bits of concrete, etc.? Even paint chips that have flaked off a gutter because of severe maladjustment of the machine can damage a roller. That decking screw making a quick trip through your gutter machine can do $1,000 to $2,000 worth of damage in seconds. BEWARE!
AN ENCLOSED VEHICLE
What do you need to do, and what do you get? Installing your gutter machine in an enclosed truck, van, or trailer achieves two things. You can keep all road and jobsite dirt and debris off and out of the machine. Of course, this will only work if the floor of the vehicle is free of cracks and openings, so be sure the floor is tight. This kind of vehicle will also keep your machine out of rain, snow, sleet, and wind. The floor of the vehicle must also be flat to avoid distorting the frame of the machine when you bolt it down.
A less desirable choice would be an open trailer or open truck bed. If you decide to go this route you are risking more rapid wear on the machine, but perhaps your current finances will not support an enclosed vehicle. In that case be sure the bed is tight to prevent road dust from rising up through the bed and into the machine. Also, purchase and use a good tarp to cover the machine during transport and when not in use.
Train all the people who will operate the machine and be sure they understand and follow the recommended procedures. Convince everyone that dirt and debris are very damaging to the machine and must be avoided. Make it a rule that all covers always be kept closed except when working inside the machine.
Get them to listen to the machine when it is running, learn what it sounds like, and be alert to any unusual sounds or noises when running gutter. Strange noises usually signal a problem that requires immediate attention.
LUBRICATION, CLEANING, AND PREVENTIVE MAINTENENACE
Train your personnel to perform inspections and lubrication of the machine at specified intervals. It is recommended that the electrical components be inspected for looseness, discoloration, and possible damage daily. Lubricate the shear blade daily with the recommended lubricant. For all lubrication tasks use those lubricants specifically recommended by the machine manufacturer.
Every week you should lubricate the chains with the recommended lubricant. Check the chains for proper tension and adjust them if required. While you have the covers open, look around for anything that is out of place (like dust, dirt, or that jackknife you have been missing).
The inside of your machine should be regularly cleaned. Monthly cleaning is recommended by some manufacturers. Vacuum or blow out any foreign matter. Inspect and clean the guides and rollers. Look for any burrs or buildups of material. Clean away any such buildups with an appropriate solvent.
AVOID HAULING OLD GUTTER
Frequently the customer wants you to remove his old gutter from the site. Accomplish this in some other way than setting the old gutter pieces next to your gutter machine inside the truck, van, or trailer. The old gutters are often coated with dirt and debris which can vibrate off during transport, migrate onto your machine, and accelerate wear.
At least one person should be your in-house expert on the machine. Some manufacturers recommend someone (probably the owner) learn from the manufacturer or the dealer how to adjust the machine. However, once you know, resist the temptation to constantly fiddle with the adjustments.
When something goes wrong, get an expert who really knows what to do and get your machine fixed promptly. This is most likely to be support personnel from a regional dealer. Prompt repair or adjustment will keep your machine in top condition and keep your crews working on the job with a minimum of interruptions and delays.
Occasionally you hear about a machine that was manufactured in the 1960s and is still making gutter. While you might not get 40+ years out of your machine, with good maintenance and careful use your machine will remain in excellent condition, with a good resale value for many years.
Author: Sock WoodruffThis author has published 10 articles so far.