The hydraulic breaker attachment – one of the most common attachments for a remote-controlled demolition machine – generates as much as 1,500 foot-pounds of force at its tip. Typical wear and tear is expected, which is why keeping up on breaker maintenance is vital to ensure optimum performance on the jobsite.
“Operators often overlook breakers, so they might not receive the proper time and attention they deserve in a maintenance regiment,” said Keith Becker, Managing Member of Becker Equipment Company LLC. “To get the most out of their investment, operators should consider the breaker as another piece of equipment with its own service schedule rather than a simple attachment, such as a bucket scoop. While the breaker requires the machine’s hydraulic system to provide the pressure to run, it is just as important as the machine itself and requires regular servicing.”
Ready to begin servicing, but not sure where to begin? It’s simple. Take the time to follow these four steps to increase uptime and maximum breaker life.
Choose the Right Grease
Not all grease is the same. Look for a chisel paste that can withstand temperatures as high as 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep in mind, if grease is running down the tool, it’s most likely not correct. Proper greasing minimizes metal-on-metal contact to prevent the tool from overheating, which can prematurely wear tool steel, damage bushings and ruin hydraulic seals.
Using standard grease may save nickels and dimes now, but could eventually cost time and money by requiring more frequent greasing. And if the tool steel isn’t properly lubricated, there will be added costs in tool steel replacements.
Some companies offer a durable, molybdenum-based chisel paste. This paste contains small copper and graphite particles that roll up like ball bearings between the tool steel and working bushing. The paste is also more viscous than standard lubricants, which allows it to remain between the steel and bushings and provide better lubrication for longer periods than using grease alone.
Once the right grease is chosen, it has to be used correctly. Greasing before and during operation also is part of proper breaker maintenance that reduces equipment wear. To lubricate a breaker, apply pressure on the tool steel to verify that it is pushed all the way into the breaker. Inject grease into the breaker’s lubrication points using a grease gun, until it exits the bottom of the breaker. This ensures the void between the bushings and the tool steel is filled and new grease displaces any remaining grease that might contain dust or debris. Some manufacturers recommend adding grease every two hours when a breaker requires manual greasing or if the operator sees shiny slivers of metal on the tool steel.
Some breakers have automatic lubrication systems that keep tool steel properly lubricated, but those systems still need daily inspections to ensure there is adequate grease in their vessels.
Check the Bushing
Even with the best lubrication, replacing the wear bushings is inevitable. Measuring the wear of the bushing is essential to maintaining a reliable breaker, and the machine doesn’t always need to be taken apart to do so. Instead, use a 3/16-inch drill bit and try to slide it between the tool and bushing.
Typically, about 1/4 inch of space is the wear limit for a bushing. A good way to estimate is if the drill bit fits between the tool and the bushing it may need replacing. However, having a mechanic evaluate the bushing is the most accurate way of assessing wear bushings.
Monitor Nitrogen Levels
Many breakers feature nitrogen gas in the back-head as a cushion and for increased power. This minimizes the power demand on the carrier’s hydraulic system and ensures consistent, high-impact energy. It’s important to maintain and fill the nitrogen reservoir as needed for consistent power output.
Be sure to conduct a visual inspection of the breaker before every use, and a thorough examination weekly to ensure everything is working properly – this results in increased uptime and extended breaker life.