We all know that cold weather thickens your sweeper’s hydraulic oil and slows down broom speeds and hydraulic functions. However, did you know that “too” cold can easily damage your sweeper’s engine components?
How cold is “too” cold?
As a general rule, consider any start in which your sweeper components are below 32°F to be a “cold start,” and you sweeper needs some time to warm up and get going full speed, but any start below 20°F is nothing short of a capital offense against your sweeper.
When an engine is started cold and comes up to temperature, the piston, and cylinder barrel do not warm up at the same rate. The piston heats up very rapidly after start, while the cylinder barrel may take quite a long time to warm up. This is because the pistons are small and light, while the cylinders are big and heavy, and when both are exposed to the heat of combustion, the piston heats up a great deal faster.
The result is that the piston expands to its full size quickly after start, while the cylinder takes a lot more time to expand to its full diameter. If it is cold enough, the piston-to-cylinder clearance can even result in metal-to-metal scuffing between the piston and cylinder barrel, destroying your engine.
So it’s essential to preheat your sweeper components during sub 20-degree weather.
The easiest way to pre-heat your sweeper components is to park the sweeper in a heated building overnight. This preheats every part of the sweeper to an even temperature. After 8 to 12 hours in a 40°F garage, the hydraulic oil is at 40°F, the cylinders are at 40°F, the pistons are at 40°F, your windshield is at 40°F (so it won’t fog up the minute you exhale), and even the driver’s seat is at 40°F.
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