Author: Wolfgang

Service and component history

How to find info about service history of used heavy machinery?

When buying used construction machinery, it is particularly important, especially for large machines, to obtain information about the service and component history of the machine. When was the engine changed, when were repairs made to the hydraulic pump, when were axles changed, when was the last service and how old are the oils on the machine. In the used machinery business, machines often go unfathomable ways. If you find a machine in Holland, it is not a foregone conclusion that this machine has also worked in Holland – it may well be that the machine comes from Romania or Finland. So it would be important to get some data. In most cases, however, sellers will not reveal where they bought a used construction machine. With a mini-excavator, this information is not so important. But if you buy a 300 hp wheel loader, you should know what the machine has done before and whether it has been maintained according to the manufacturer’s specifications. An important criterion is whether, for example, the original engine and the original gearbox are still fitted. If this information is missing, the remaining service life of the machine and its components cannot be estimated well.

Forensic search for info about machine maintenance

The best way to find out this information is to do a thorough inspection and look for information about the origin of the machine, e.g. on the stickers in the cabin. If the dealer or seller does not want to provide the information, you can also call the manufacturer’s service partner in the respective country, where you might get the missing information. During an inspection with a contractor one can usually get some info from the local service staff.

Sticker with service information for heavy equipment maintenance

Downloading machine info from ECU

On some machines the local dealer or an inspection service such as Mevas can download a summary from the machine ECU or ECM. Especially for Caterpillar and Volvo we can provide such service. The summary contains info about error codes, overheating or engine overspeeding. In some cases we can support with phone contact to service providers in other countries. Due our large network in the international machinery industry we know many people in various countries. Contact us please for a quotation and more info.

How to measure engine blow-by ?

What is engine blow-by?

A combustion engine is burning fuel in a cylinder in which a pistion is moved up and down. The piston is sealed towards the cylinder by piston rings. An certain amount of exhaust gas is escaping from the combustion chamber to the crankcase housing. This is the so-called blow-by. At diesel.net you can find a nice drawing of it.

Why and how testing an engine for blow-by

During a used machine inspection it makes sense to check the engine for the amount of blow-by. With checking or a measurement of the amount of escaping gas an experienced inspector can estimate the engine wear. In most cases it is sufficient checking with a hand on top of the oil refiller tube for the amount of blow. At the same time the inspector would check the smell of the gas for burned oil or smell of coolant in the engine lubrication system.

On larger engines it might be reasonable to measure the blow-by and compare it with factory specifications of engine manufacturer. Some of our inspectors are equipped with the gauge, a so-called anemometer.

Engine blow-by measurement

However, the inspector should know about engine configuration. Not all gas is escaping through the refiller tube if the measures are not correct. Some engines have a certain amount of blow-by even when new. Mevas inspectors who checked Perkins engines and stood too close can tell a story about it. Talk to an expert before blow-by is evaluated.

What can the exhaust fume tell us about engine condition?

Technicians with some experience would smell if an engine is burning oil. The color and the amount of smoke is telling a story as well. Engine smoke can appear white, grey, grey-blue or black. If the appearance of the smoke is not normal an inspector would check the engines systems carefully for problems such as injectors not working well or coolant draining into the engine greasing.

Where to buy a CAT-14-pin cable?

Where can I buy Caterpillar diagnostic cable with the 14-pin plug?

Some recent machines of Caterpillar have a new 14-pin socket for the diagnostic adapter. One option is to purchase from CAT dealer a new cable in a heavy version for almost 250$. Another option is to order it from Mevas. We have bought a package of adapter cables for heavy equipment diagnostic adapter CAT-ET 3. The cable is an addition to the current diagnostic cable with 9-pin Deutsch socket. The cable we are selling is connecting the diagnostic adapter with the socket in the machine.

How much does the cable cost?

We are selling the cable for a fee of 39 Euro plus shipping. If you buy more than one there can be a slight discount. The cable is good for any Caterpillar excavator of the F-Series, it works as well for wheel loaders of M-Series, bulldozers of K-Series and some other machines.

How to order the 14-pin cable?

You can buy online if you just want one cable. Just visit our online store. If you need more than one contact us via our contact form. You can also contact us if you have further questions about the technology of machine diagnostics. We have over 20 years of experience in the diagnosis of construction machinery. Our technicians analyse the condition of many different makes, such as Komatsu, Hitachi, Cummins, Volvo and Liebherr.

What can I do with a Caterpillar diagnostic cable?

What is this cable for? It is part of the so-called Electronic Technician from Caterpillar. You need this tool to make settings on the machine. With the associated diagnostic adapter and software, you can check and change all settings in the machine’s electronic control units. The engineer can check the machine for error codes and upload files for the injectors, for example. As already described, many newer machines have a new plug connection. Unfortunately, the old cable with only nine pins no longer works on these machines. There is a combined cable with both 9 pins and 14 pins available from the Caterpillar dealer. Unfortunately, this cable is relatively expensive with a purchase price of about $250.

Oil analysis for heavy equipment

What is oil sampling and how to do it?

Analyzing the oils used in construction machinery can be useful because you can read information about wear from the contents of the used oil. To do this, a mechanic or technician uses a very clean container and a pump to remove oil, e.g. from the engine, from the hydraulic circuit or from the gearbox. The extracted oils are sent to a certified laboratory. There, the lubricants are analyzed for their ingredients using various methods. It can be used to determine whether there are increased levels of silicon, sulphur, copper, coolant or other trace elements in the oil.

Inspector Wolfgang just took an oil sample
Heavy Machinery Oil sampling

When is it reasonable to analyse oils of used heavy equipment?

An analysis of the existing oils only makes sense if you have an approximate idea of ​​how long the oil was in use. If the oil has only recently been changed, an analysis of the condition is not very useful. There are then too few analyzable particles in the oil. If the oil used is much older than permitted, i.e. the change intervals have been significantly exceeded, the values ​​will also be incorrect. But if the oil is in a normal change cycle, you can read a lot of information from the trace elements. It is therefore important to know whether the prescribed maintenance intervals on the construction machine have been observed.

What influence have working hours and temperatures to oil condition?

As already described above, it is important to know or to be able to estimate the service life of the existing oils. And to get meaningful results, it is necessary to warm up the machine. Otherwise there will be many particles, e.g. deposited on the bottom of the oil pan or in the filter. The oil must therefore be vigorously moved and the viscosity increased in order to obtain meaningful results.

What info does an oil sample report contain and what does it tell us?

A professional laboratory for the analysis of construction machine oils usually provides us with an interpretation of the analyzed values. Too much silicon means dirt gets into the machine’s systems and you have to look at where and how dirt gets into the system. If coolant is found in the engine oil, there is a problem in the cooling system. If traces of aluminum are found in the transmission oil, one can conclude that there is increased wear in some components. The same applies to the presence of chromium, copper or magnesium. As soon as we have the results of an oil analysis, our technicians will advise you and describe the possible causes. A hint is given on what to do to avoid early problems.

By the way, to guarantee high quality of our oil analysis we work on this sector with the lab of Zeppelin Baumaschinen which is the CAT dealer for several countries in Europe.

How to check the hydraulic pump?

How can I check if my excavator hydraulic pump is working well?

In the event that the hydraulic excavator does not have enough power or even when buying an excavator, it is useful to check whether the hydraulic pump has enough power. Normally, however, you do not have any equipment for measuring pressure with you. Don’t forget that pressure alone is not a criterion for sufficient power. You would also have to measure the volume of the oil flow.

Hydraulic Pressure Testing during inspection of an excavator

So what can be done to check the performance of the hydraulic pump?

An excavator usually has a so-called load-sensing pump. The pump’s sensors constantly check the pressure and the oil volume demanded. The pump permanently adjusts the volume flow and the pressure to the requirements during work. To check performance, an experienced inspector will usually test whether the excavator can make three different working movements at the same time without slowing down the flow of one working movement. For example, lifting the boom, extending the arm and extending the bucket at the same time. The inspector must note whether there are one or more hydraulic pumps for the different components. Often the traction drive has a separate pump.

Pressure test for comparison with the manufacturer’s data

The type of test described so far is helpful if you do not have a pressure gauge available. However, for a more accurate test of performance, it is helpful to be able to measure pressures. To do this, the inspector needs to connect a pressure gauge to the test ports and measure the pressures for the pump and the pilot pressure. The recorded data must be compared with the manufacturer’s specifications.

Hydraulic-Pressure gauge for excavator testing

Which company can inspect an excavator with pressure measurement?

Some MEVAS inspectors are equipped with dial gauges. We can offer a very thorough examination of the condition of used hydraulic excavators in various countries. Of course, we are also responsible for any other construction machine and for large equipment from the mining industry. The guide can be downloaded here.

How to measure swing bearing play?

Excavator swing bearing play measuring

The swing bearing is one of the weakest points in the structure of an excavator. At this point, the stable undercarriage, the so-called X-frame, is connected to the superstructure. The superstructure rotates endlessly on this pivot. On a larger excavator, you will find a counterweight weighing perhaps 15 tonnes. It balances the whole machine and is designed to keep the machine stable and balanced with the arm extended and the bucket full. On the other hand, this means that when the bucket is empty and the arm is close to the machine, the rear side of the machine is loaded.

To ensure that everything runs well, the pivot bearing, also called the slewing ring, has several lubrication points. Ideally, these are supplied with grease of the right consistency by an automatic lubrication system.

Swing bearing play measurement for excavator

The rollers or rolls of the large bearing now run permanently over the running surfaces, generating wear through friction and pressure. At some point, the play becomes so large that machine safety is endangered. When inspecting a used excavator, it therefore makes sense to measure whether the play is still within the permissible tolerance.

How to measure?

To do this, the slewing ring must be loaded once and then unloaded again after the dial gauge has been placed on it. The play is measured between these two states. Most inspectors for construction machinery know the procedure. Depending on the equipment of the machine, one must decide whether a filled excavator bucket is sufficient to achieve the load on the front, or whether additional weights are required. Also the use of a hydraulic jack can be considered.

When to measure, cost for replacing?

Our inspectors have the necessary knowledge to carry out a measurement correctly. During used machine inspection process the inspector does a functional test. Experienced technicians can feel already at this stage if a measurement is required. After the measurement, we can help to decide whether the play is acceptable or whether you need to replace the slewing ring. The Liebherr R964 excavator pictured above had 5mm clearance across the front of the frame and 4.7mm across the side. It is not safe to continue working with this slew ring. Exchange will cost probably more than 12.000 $

Bauma 2022

After long time it was good to be on Bauma exhibition again. Meeting with friends and customers, watching the shows and being amazed by the big iron. Although we have been to the fair several times, we are always overwhelmed by the dimensions and the amount of material that is brought there. There must be over 2000 machines, cranes and trucks on site. And in two months the place will be empty again. Anyway, it was good to meet our customers and friends at Caterpillar, Hyundai, Liebherr, Komatsu, Manitowoc, Tadano and the independent dealers and contractors. As always the time on site was too short to see everything and to meet with all contacts.

Experts for used concrete equipment

Is there an inspection service available for used concrete pumps and trucks?

Did you know we are supporting buyers of used concrete pumps with pre-delivery inspections? Experiend engineers check the visual condition for all components and perform a functional test including a water test. With our inspection report you get an overview of whether the machine is in very good condition, if minor repairs are needed or whether the pump requires major repairs.

You will receive a detailed inspection report, photos and a video one day after the inspection.

Machinery Inspections in the U.A.E.

Who can offer inspections for used heavy machinery in the Emirates?

Most people in the machinery industry know Mevas as a German inspection service with inspectors in Europe. Did you know we also have a technician in Dubai? Engineer Anas is covering the Emirates for us and is a really experienced guy. Just recently he inspected for us a CAT D8R bulldozer including measurement of undercarriage and download of the CAT-PSR from machine ECM.

We can offer inspections in all areas of the UAE. Our inspector can be present on the auction site of Ritchie Bros. Dubai to support your business. On auction sites we offer a special kind of inspection for a lower fee. Call us for more details.

CAT D8R bulldozer