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Diagnosing The Grind: Three Sensory Steps To Troubleshooting Your Heavy Machinery Gearbox

Heavy machinery is often the backbone of a business, and when it's not working right, the downtime to fix the machine will cost your business money. While some heavy machinery gearbox issues can be avoided with regular preventative maintenance, it is up to you as the business owner to know when it is time to call in a gearbox mechanic before things go extremely wrong. Leaving heavy machinery to continue running when the gearbox is giving you grief will only earn you a bigger repair bill. So that you know when it is the right time to call in the experts, here are three ways to help you troubleshoot gearbox problems within your machinery gear.

What Can You See?

A visual inspection is the first step to identifying what your gearbox issues are. Bear in mind that heavy machinery rarely works in a clean environment, so a damaged seal, for example, could be letting dust and dirt particles into the gear wheels of your hard working machine. To do a visual inspection, you must:

  • Have a camera ready to photograph any damage that you see. Once you clean the housing surrounding the gearbox, you could destroy evidence that your mechanic needs before making repairs. By taking photos of everything that you see, you take the guesswork out of trying to describe what you saw at a later time.
  • Look at the seals around the gearbox housing. Are they in perfect condition? Or are they cracked and deteriorated? As mentioned above, if your mechanic opens up the gearbox housing and finds that dirt is mixed in with the lubrication that keeps your gears moving, then the dirt has likely entered through these cracks. Even small particles of dirt can cause gear wheels to wear unevenly or throw the gear wheels completely out of balance. So, a fully sealed gearbox is essential.

Unless you are an experienced mechanic, leave the opening of the gearbox for closer visual inspection to a professional. They are trained to detect irregular wearing of the gear teeth and have the tools needed to have a really close look at what is happening beneath the gearbox housing case.

What Can You Smell?

After you have looked at the exterior of your gearbox, it is time to get your nose to work. Much like a bloodhound dog, you are sniffing the air to see if your olfactory detectors notice any unusual smells coming from the gearbox area.

What you are sniffing for are scented clues that your gearbox is overheating. Odours that will help you confirm this diagnosis include the smell of smoke coming from the gearbox seals, or the smell of hot oil leaking out of the gearbox area and striking the hot metal of a running machine. A visual inspection will be required to narrow down where the smell is coming from, but telling your mechanic what you can smell will help them to quickly get the repairs under way.

What Can You Hear?

Sight and smell are not the only two senses that can help you troubleshoot gearbox issues, as your hearing will play a role in your diagnosis as well. In particular, you're listening for the sound of vibration, knocking, or clunking coming from the gearbox area.

When the gear teeth turn, they should perfectly mesh together with the gear teeth directly next to them. Daily machinery vibration, worn teeth, or general misalignment can all cause this meshing to get out of sync. This can cause the gear teeth to wear quicker than expected, and eventually break. You can hear when the gear teeth are not working properly by listening to the gearbox when it is in motion. Any sound coming from this area could spell trouble.

Turn this guide into a checklist that you can use when you suspect that the gearbox in your heavy machinery is not performing at its best. By doing so, you will quickly know when to call on mechanical experts to get your machinery gearbox back into top working order. This, in turn, means your machinery will always deliver when you need it and reduces the chances that it will have a negative impact on your ability to make a profit. For more information, contact a local machinery company that specializes in gearbox repairs