December 14, 2012

4 Months To Get Everything Fixed

I generally consider the period from December 1 - April 1 our annual 4 month "vacation" away from the golf course.... and into the confines of the shop.  With the soil frozen already a foot deep out on the course, and at least a decent blanket of snow on the ground, Andy and I have begun our annual pilgrimage into the heart and soul of each piece of equipment in our fleet.

While most golf courses would employ at least a part time, if not a full time mechanic, we unfortunately do  not have one here due to budget constraints.  With that, Andy and I do our best during the golf season to keep the equipment serviced, fixed, running, and sharp, but there is really only such much we can get done since the turf on the golf course is our primary focus during the summer months.  During the winter months however, we dig deep into each piece of equipment to try and make sure that it is as best prepared as possible for the coming summer.

We start with the basics on each piece:  engine oil and filter change, suspension, steering, and driveline lubrication, clean or change air filters, clean or change spark plugs, change fuel filters, change hydraulic filters, check hydraulic hoses and replace damaged ones, and check and top off any other fluids (transmission, differential, hydraulics, radiator, etc.)

Next we start a more detailed diagnosis of each piece by:  fixing any leaks, tightening bolts, repairing or replacing tires, checking or changing belts, replacing burned out headlights, tightening cables, etc, etc, etc.

Lastly, at least on the mowing equipment, we dive into the reel cutting units.  All cutting reels and associated rollers utilize ball bearings in all of their rotating parts.  These bearings take a serious beating over the course of a few growing seasons.  To put it into perspective (based on some rudimentary numbers that I just crunched) a reel on one of our fairway mowers will make 290,400,000 revolutions during a single growing season.  The bearings inside the reel housing take the full force of each one of those revolutions.  After a few years and a couple of billion rotations, the tight tolerances of the small balls inside of the bearings start to wear down and develop a little bit of play. It doesn't take much wear to produce a few tenths of thousandths of an inch of play, which will produce unacceptable variations in cut quality when we are talking about mowing grass at about 1/10" on a putting green.  Every reel and roller will have all of their bearings checked, bad ones will be replaced, and then the reel and bedknife will be sharpened, setup, and reinstalled on the mower ready to start cutting grass first thing next spring.

Our first project was fixing the side chute for our material handler.  This piece
is 12 years old, and the steel hinge that holds on the swinging arm literally
broke right down the seam this fall and the entire thing fell off!

Next, the rear rake attachment on the sandpro (bunker rake).  Years of raking
bunkers and pushing piles of sand had bent the connection point to the machine.
I do enjoy welding and fabrication projects, so this one was right up my alley.

While we were working on the sandpro, we replaced the
worn down steel tines on the rake attachment.  This picture
is a pretty good illustration of how much sand can wear
down a piece of steel over just a few years.

Andy has all of the fairway mower reels loaded up and ready to go outside for
a thorough pressure wash.  Last winter we replaced all of the bearings in the
rear rollers, this winter we will be replacing front roller bearings, and most likely
next winter we will be putting on new cutting reels and replacing their bearings.

We've made a pretty good dent in the equipment repair process thus far actually.  My goal is to be done with all the equipment by the middle of January, at which point we will converting to a woodworking shop for the next month and half to restain tee markers and yardage stakes, and then start building our new course accessories for next summer.

December 10, 2012

Snow! Melt. Snow! Melt. Snow! Melt. Snow!

This has been the pattern for about the last 2 months.  We received our first good snow on October 4th this fall.  That of course melted, which I expected it to.  We then received another good snow on November 3rd, about 4 or 5 inches.  I halfway expected that one to stick around for the winter, but of course it melted about a week later also.  Finally, we received another 2" on Thanksgiving, and I was sure that it would stick with us for the rest of the winter.  But low and behold, the first week of December brought RAIN of all things to North Dakota, and that of course melted the snow.

Now another 2" of snow over the weekend, and of course behind it comes the 30mph north winds and the bitter cold.  Certainly a little snow is better than none at all, such a small amount accompanied by such strong wind still blows a lot of areas bare out on the course.  The snowfence is helping keep some of the snow on the greens, but there are still a lot of areas on the course that are uncovered right now.  Temperatures that barely grazed 0 yesterday, and then dipped to -9 last night are surely are starting to take a toll on some of the Poa in the exposed areas out there.

We really need to get that one good burying snow here soon....

That "feels like" temp of -23 is a brutal combination of cold
and wind on the exposed turf on the golf course.

Just a little over an inch of snow on 16 green provided a decent amount
of protection keeping the turf canopy closer to 11 degrees.