5 Tips for Simple, Smart Slewing Ring Maintenance
No part on an excavator will last forever, that’s just the nature of heavy construction work. But since replacing the slewing ring on your excavator can be a time-consuming and expensive process, a little extra maintenance to extend your slewing ring’s life is always a great investment. To help, we’ve put together this short guide to help you get the most out of your slewing ring as possible.
Keep It Clean
The slewing ring on your excavator already suffers from the dangers that come from ‘out of sight, out of mind’ parts. As a part that’s not right in your face every day, your slewing ring can be one of those parts that only bubbles up into your vision when there’s a problem. But you can make your life easier by committing to keeping it clean -- well, as clean as possible.
Nobody is perfect and often excavator work falls into the category of downright tough and dirty jobs, but a clean slewing ring exterior (and its surrounding parts) will help spotting a problem early that much easier.
As an added benefit, a clean slewing ring discourages dirt, dust, and debris from working its way past your seals and -- since even with your manual in hand a grease zerk can be hard to find -- it makes keeping your slewing ring lubricated that much easier.
Fight Friction with Proper Lubrication
Any guide you find on slewing ring maintenance will probably repeat one common mantra: Keep it lubricated. That can be easier said than done, but when it comes to common issues a big bucket of problems can be drawn right back to improper lubrication. Taking time to ensure you’re lubricating according to your manufacturer’s guide is a surefire way of extending the life of your slewing ring.
Proper lubrication isn’t just about constant lubrication, either. Your machine’s manual will tell you how often to lubricate your slewing ring and the proper way, as well, from whether or not to purge your grease (inject grease until it comes out the seal) to how to rotate your house to evenly spread grease during the process. Your operator’s guide will also tell you how often to grease BOTH the slewing ring and the internal swing drive components.
If your machine does call for a purge, take a close look and feel of the grease that comes out. Metal grit, roughness, and debris can be clues as to what’s going on inside of your slewing ring and signs of problems brewing in your slewing ring.
Operate it Optimally
Since you’re the type of operator who reads slewing ring maintenance articles, we can rest assured you’re an expert excavator operator who knows their machine and takes great care to operate it as designed and within its stated specs. But as a pat on the back, it’d be a good time to remind you that the care you take with your machine also extends the life of your machine’s component parts -- a well-trained, expert operator can often extend the life of a slewing ring simply by operating the machine properly at all times.
By ensuring you minimize the impact from handling imbalanced and overweight loads, you reduce the strain on critical parts in your excavator. And when you plan your work mindfully and try to reduce the impact of repetitive work situations by alternating positions and arrangements you’ll often reduce the odds of the problems that result from uneven wear in your slewing ring and across all the parts on your excavator.
Learn more about slewing rings in our What is a Slewing Ring article.
Watch and Listen
Frequently issues with your slewing ring will show subtle signs early, and by keeping your eyes (and ears) out for those signs you’ll be able to stop them before they lead to major issues. Watch and measure how your machine performs specific tasks and pay attention for changes. Routinely inspect bolts and connections for looseness or wobbling. Turn down the tunes and listen to your machine as you put your slewing ring to work and check for uncharacteristic noises and new sources of vibration.
Problems can always come along quickly, but an operator with a keen and watchful disposition can often bring a near ESP-like awareness to even the most minor of issues.
Start at Install
If you do suspect your slewing ring is failing, don’t wait to fully evaluate it -- a failing slewing ring can lead quickly to dangerous and catastrophic problems with your excavator.
If you are at the state where you need to replace your slewing ring, the first step, of course, is to ensure you use a high-quality replacement slewing ring, new or used. Replacing your slewing ring can be an investment in time and money, so it’s best not to find yourself back in the shop repeating the process.
Even before installation, be sure your slewing ring is handled and transported properly. While a well-built slewing ring should be designed for heavy-duty work, your slewing ring is still a precision part and care should be taken when moving and storing your slewing ring. During installation be sure the slewing ring is lifted and positioned using assistive equipment and fully-threaded eye bolts and avoid impacts to the slewing ring at all times.
On the brighter side, installing a new slewing ring is the perfect time to start a strong maintenance plan. Deeply clean all the surrounding parts, replace any worn bolts or connections, use new and proper grease, and be sure to mount your slewing ring correctly and exactly to your machine.
Now is also a good time to check and record to the tolerance of your slewing ring to provide yourself with a baseline going forward.
That’s it for our short slewing ring maintenance tips. Hopefully, you found these tips helpful. A well-built and well-maintained slewing ring should provide years of consistent and reliable work, but if you do find yourself in search of a replacement slewing ring solution, our Parts Specialists are always here to help connect you to a replacement slewing ring and to get you and your excavator back up and running quickly.