Daily Maintenance

Checklist: Edgers
1) Blow them out with an air hose.
2) Check carbon brushes and replace when needed.
3) Check the pad for flat spots or bent areas.
4) Check wheels to make sure they are clean and spin freely.
5) Check power cords for loose connectors, screws or bad spots.

A typical wood flooring contractor is trying to juggle many things at once, so routine machine maintenance is one of the easiest things to let fall by the wayside. But oh, what a mess when it does. Not just a literal mess—dust filling your buffer motor, fire in your edger, perhaps—but a mess of your schedule and your life. When a machine goes down and you can’t fix it on the spot, your job profits walk out the door. Every hour you waste taking the machine in, waiting for repairs and going to pick it up is an hour you could have been making money ... and an hour your customers wouldn’t have been annoyed that you’re off schedule.

On the following pages we’ve created a collection of real wood flooring sanding machines, and their parts, gone wrong. The vast majority of the problems shown could have been prevented by quick, simple, low-cost or no-cost maintenance practices. Take a look and make sure your machines couldn’t be mistaken for the examples we’ve gathered for this article.

We’d like to thank service gurus Mike Brown at Blake-Stevens Wood Flooring; Alex Gilszmer of Palo Duro Hardwoods Inc.; Wayne Lee of Middle Tennessee Lumber and Mike Rocher of Bona US for sharing their expertise for this article.

Drum Problems

Service techs say the No. 1 problem with big machines is the drum. If there’s a problem with your drum, there’s no two ways about it: You’re going to see problems on your floors. Some drums can be dressed, i.e., flattened, but others should never be dressed (it depends on the manufacturer of the machine). Here are some examples of problem drums:

Don’t Do This

Since Hummel drums have a very, very slight football shape, some people have been known to try to dress the drum by putting a credit card under one side of the wheel, sanding the drum, then doing the other side. But the drum isn’t centered on the machine, so that homemade dressing technique will just ruin the drum.

Daily Maintenance Checklist: Big Machines

1) Blow the machines out! (Not just off, but out, inside out, etc.)
2) Inspect drive belts to make sure they are in good condition and (depending on the manufacturer) release the tension nightly.
3) Check wheels and clean or replace if needed.
4) Check the top roller and clean if necessary.
5) Check power cords for loose connectors, screws or bad spots.
6) Check for smooth operation of the control rod (the rod that raises and
lowers the drum).

Upper Roller Issues

The upper roller on your big machine is what keeps your sanding belt working. When it gets dirty, bad things can happen, particularly with your paper tracking (see the two photos on the bottom of this page). Unevenness in your upper roller will cause your abrasive belt to “hunt,” or constantly go back and forth trying to find center. That in turn causes premature wear on your drum and upper roller, which can give them a cone shape, forcing the abrasive to one side of the drum.

Edger Essentials

You’ve probably heard machine experts telling you to make sure you “change your brushes” on your edger on a regular basis. What does that mean? What is a brush? What does it do? The carbon brushes on your edger don’t look like “brushes”­—they are solid rectangles of carbon—and they are responsible for conducting the electricity through your motor. When you turn the switch on, the electricity travels through the brushes, which contact the commutator face, making it spin. When brushes get worn down, or when the springs in the brush block assembly are worn out, the brushes don’t contact the commutator, creating a gap like a spark plug. Then you basically have arc welding happening inside your edger motor, and the motor will start to burn.

In the commutator on the left, you can see where the motor has actually been burned from being run with worn-out brushes. The one on the right shows what it should look like. (Click to enlarge)

Out of Round

Big machine wheels aren’t cheap, and any imperfections in them transfer to the floor, so it’s surprising more people don’t take better care of them. Service guys say the biggest complaint they get about big machine wheels is that they get out of round. This can happen when the machine is being transported in your truck or van—going over potholes or railroad tracks can create flat spots. It’s a good idea to make a platform so your machine isn’t resting on its wheels. Some other typical problems are below.

Don’t Do This

Filler, pine pitch and more can build up on your wheels, and the buildup can be hard to remove. But don’t resort to using abrasives or files on your wheels, which could permanently damage them. Blow the wheels off, and if they aren’t soft rubber, you can use mineral spirits to remove any buildup.

Destructive Dust

Dust is unavoidable on a wood flooring job site. If left in your machines, though, eventually it will cause damage and seize up all the moving parts.

HF Online logo Videos:

Quick Tip for Clarke Super 7R Edger

Maintenance Tip for the Gear Box on a Clarke Super 7R Edger

RELATED: Sanding 101: Wood Floor Sanding Basics



Kim Wahlgren

Kim M. Wahlgren is the longtime editor of Wood Floor Business. Based in Madison, Wis., she manages the day-to-day operations of the WFB print magazine, website, E-News and social media. She holds degrees from the University of Wisconsin in journalism and Spanish. Away from the office, she’s busy enjoying her family, including two beautiful children, a sassy ex-racehorse, an extraordinarily silly black Labrador mutt and her husband, Brent, whom she met at … yes, wood flooring school.