How To Maintain and Store a Seamless Gutter Machine
You have invested a lot of money in your seamless gutter machine. It is the very cornerstone of your gutter business. So long as it is working well you can have a successful operation producing good, quality gutters that will satisfy your customers and bring in those sales dollars. If the gutter machine isn’t working correctly, you find you have bad gutters, dissatisfied customers, and missed deadlines that can affect your business reputation. How you maintain and store your gutter machine can make the difference between smooth operations and constant frustration.
The manufacturer and/or dealer want you to be happy and productive. They want your machine to have a long and trouble-free life. They will have provided you with an operating manual that includes information on what to do to keep your machine clean, properly lubricated, and correctly adjusted. The principles are simple and straightforward:
- Keep the machine clean
- Perform regular inspections
- Regular lubrication with recommended lubricants
- Timely service and repair
- Proper storage practices
Few things are as important in keeping your gutter machine happy and healthy as keeping it clean. Any kind of material loose in the machine can be carried through the rollers with the metal stock. Such material can act as an abrasive and accelerate wear (that’s how the Colorado River made the Grand Canyon). It can damage rollers and guides. It can damage the gutter you are trying to make.
Important Cleaning Issues
- Your efforts to assure the cleanliness of the machine should have started before you installed the machine in a truck or trailer. The floor under the machine should have been made tight so dust and dirt from roads or construction sites cannot come through cracks and holes and up into the bottom of the machine. If you did not provide such protection, go back and fix it before too much damage is done.
- Regularly clean the machine and the rollers. This should be done with a solvent that will not damage the machine and will not leave a residue on the parts. Any residue of the solvent can catch and hold new dirt, which is exactly what you don’t want. Acetone and paint thinner are generally recommended, but check the operating manual for your machine and follow the directions.
- If there are any signs of paint flakes from the gutter inside the machine, shut down immediately, correct the problem, and clean the machine before proceeding. Paint flakes in the machine may cause damage to both the rollers and the gutter.
- Whenever loading a coil onto the machine, make sure the loading area is clean and free of any debris.
- The shear chip bin should be emptied regularly.
Carefully inspect sections of gutter from the machine and note any irregularities or defects. If there are any signs of surface damage to the gutter or flaking or chafing of paint from the gutter, shut down the machine to immediately correct the problem.
Regularly inspect the machine in accordance with the operating manual.
- Check the machine for general cleanliness. Perform cleaning if required.
- Inspect the entrance guide system, in particular checking for any burr deposits that might have developed.
- Check guide bars and rollers for damage, markings, burrs, or any buildup of materials which might mark or damage the gutter.
- Inspect the rollers for damage or foreign material. If you find any, get it fixed immediately.
- Machines that are adjustable can also experience parts vibrating loose. When they loosen - the critical adjustments that produce good gutter, instead of scrap, are lost. Regularly check to make sure all the bolts and nuts remain tight.
The operating manual will identify lubrication points, lubricants, and frequency. These may include:
- Chains should be lubricated with the recommended chain lube monthly.
- The guillotine or shear parts should be lubricated daily.
- The shear blade should be lubricated daily
- The adjustment screws should be lubricated monthly so they will afford easy adjustment, if required.
- Other items as specified in the operating manual.
Service and Repair
Some manufacturers claim that if you properly maintain your gutter machine, you may not require a factory service call for as long as five years. Some say their design goal is a machine life of 35 years or more. In any case, prompt service and repair will keep your machine on line and earning money for you.
The manufacturers generally recommend you store your machine indoors if possible. This will protect it from blowing dirt and dust and precipitation in the form of rain, snow, sleet, etc. Whether stored outdoors or indoors, it is a good practice to cover the machine with a tarp when not in use. You also want to protect the machine from condensation due to humidity and temperature cycles. Also, before storing a machine, be sure to apply fresh lubricant to all the areas requiring lubrication to give them an extra margin of protection.
You have invested a lot of hard-earned money in your gutter machine. With some careful maintenance and handling it can be with you for many years.