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Age old problem, plow freezing up

Discussion in 'Western Plows Discussion' started by GONZO911, Jan 12, 2016.

  1. GONZO911

    GONZO911 Member
    Messages: 41

    I have a Western Ultra mount MVP plow-older one with the plow motor above the valve block. Fluid was changed several weeks ago-outside with temperature around 35 degrees. Last night with temps at zero to 5 degrees plow work ok for 2-3 driveways then slowed so badly the plow hardly moved. Driver heated fluid tank and plow worked good for short time. Then was heated in shop with torpedo heater. Same results, 3 driveways and then slowed again. The storm we had before-10 inches of wet heavy snow, temperature just at freezing, plowed for 8 hours.

    I think its icing up, we are using the blue Western fluid. The question is anyone have a known fix for this? Will be draining and flushing fluid in plow again before next storm. Have tried to do the service outside in the temps we use it to keep moisture to a minimum. (looking for the thinkers who think outside the box), or ???
  2. SnoFarmer

    SnoFarmer PlowSite Fanatic
    from N,E. MN
    Messages: 7,908

    Are you getting all of the old fluid out of the rams?

    Electrical system up to to job?
  3. kimber750

    kimber750 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,147

    I would start with vent cap, one of most common places for moisture to enter pump. Inspect all ram seals. Clean/replace pump filter, dirty filter will clog/ice faster than a clean one.
  4. GONZO911

    GONZO911 Member
    Messages: 41

    pump filter and fluid changed 2 weeks ago before 1st storm. Have ordered breather and will replace with fresh fluid when changing the fluid. Electrics seems to be ok. going to flush the rams again.
  5. johnhenry1933

    johnhenry1933 Senior Member
    Messages: 256

    Well, it was subzero last night, and is barely above that now. Virtually any hydraulic fluid will coagulate at these temps.

    I would first ascertain that water is getting into the system...after a thorough flush. Did you flush the rams at last fluid change (per previous post)? The likely culprits are the motor mount and hose connections. You could cover these during a storm...unless they're faulty, in which case replace. Mine was a little slow last week at 10' with transmission fluid...and a thorough flush weeks before. I can live with it.

    We don't plow much in SE WI at subzero temps, so maybe warm up the truck in a heated garage for an hour or two before your next plow.
  6. GONZO911

    GONZO911 Member
    Messages: 41

    We are just north of Milwaukee and have the same weather-so this is more frustrating than anything. not the Artic, using the normal precautions. Am tempted to fix a cover over the tank to shield from cold air blasting over it while driving. Had hoped someone out there found a different procedure that is working for them. Minnesota, out east, or maybe Alaska. A place that really GETS COLD, and where the Western plows work all night without getting froze.
  7. OneBadDodge06

    OneBadDodge06 Senior Member
    from Iowa
    Messages: 731

    Did you replace the o ring that go between the reservoir and the hydraulic manifold?
  8. GONZO911

    GONZO911 Member
    Messages: 41

    Yes I did, thing was we serviced the plow with new filter and the Western fluid that is made for cold. I did research on that fluid. it actually is air craft hydraulic fluid made for cold temps. Obviously the fluid has moisture in it, and that is freezing on the intake filter.

    The dealer that I work for during the day has people calling in when it gets cold to see if there is a solution. I had thought that servicing the fluid in the warm shop and then taking outside was allowing the moisture to get in, main reason we service the plow fluid outside at cold temps with my small service business to take that out of the equation.

    Still hope that there is someone out there who has had success with keeping the plows running when cold.

    Thank you all for the responses. Will advise if I come up with a fix.
  9. mishnick

    mishnick 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,243

    As mentioned above, it is a good idea to purge the rams when you change the fluid. Second thing to do is test your vent cap. If you have a uni with the integrated ram then you have a solid plug but if you have the grey plastic vent cap wipe it off and try to blow through it. If you can then the check valve is toast. It has a 5 psi pressure relief valve that stops the reservoir from "breathing." That plow fluid is so highly modified it is a desacant, that means that it suck moisture right out of the air. So with the 5 psi the reservoir actually becomes a sealed unit with a bladder like air bubble in the top. As the fluid level goes up and down that bubble expands and contracts. If the reservoir is over full it will allow excess fluid out but then it will just do the bladder thing after which no air will come in or out.

    You will notice that after your plow has been run a few times, if you take the vent plug out you will hear a bit of a pop kinda like when you open a pop bottle. That is a good thing because it demonstrates that 5 lbs of pressure being held in.

    Further to this it is important NOT to leave your bottles of blue fluid open to atmosphere. It doesn't matter what temperature you store your fluid at or at what temp you do your services. if the fluid has been sitting in an open container then consider it contaminated. At our shop we have a barral of bulk fluid but we keep it closed as much as possible. We have a spigot like on a beer barral and we only open the other bung once in a while to let a bit of air in so the fluid comes out. Our temps here go well under -20 C and we have no trouble normally. When we do the first thing we check is that vent cap.....

    Finally, when I do a service I don't just drain the fluid. I take the whole reservoir off (the non-multiplex systems) and pour the fluid into a clear container while it is still very cold. If the fluid is contaminated you will see the ice in the bottom of the container, in the reservoir and on the sump screen. On the sump screen it looks literally like snot (off white slime).
  10. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,419

    Sea Foam for a quick and temporary fix.
  11. mishnick

    mishnick 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,243

    Sea Foam? Is that some sort of anti-freeze? Please elaborate....
  12. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,419

  13. GONZO911

    GONZO911 Member
    Messages: 41

    Just an update for those who are following along, changed the fluid last night. pulled tank off the plow while still out in the cold (unheated shop). Looked at fluid in catch container, clear, didn't see any moisture. There wasn't any ice on the filter screen. Flushed out hoses, thought I saw several spots of moisture in fluid, although it might have come off the plow frame and dropped into catch pan. Changed the vent. Tested vent-holds blowing pressure, but seal was torn, could hear noise from inside the vent valve.
    Refilled with Western blue fluid. Tested operation at 15 degree temperature and all seems ok. The plow definitely is not as fast as the newer ultra mounts. Think the next step if it acts up is to check pressure relief valve and pump pressure as was advised earlier.

    Waiting for snow!
  14. johnhenry1933

    johnhenry1933 Senior Member
    Messages: 256

    You say you flushed the hoses. You mean the rams? Which will by extension purge the rams if you use virgin fluid to flush.

    I wouldn't wait for snow. It is getting subzero Sunday. I would check it then to see if it operates as it should.
  15. GONZO911

    GONZO911 Member
    Messages: 41

    Yes, you are correct, will be trying when its cold, just need to find some snow to push, seems to all be melting:
  16. bliz&hinikerDLR

    bliz&hinikerDLR Senior Member
    Messages: 467

    As a general rule of thumb I have found that if a pressurized system like this has water getting into the system, it is likely entering through a hydraulic cylinder. Most times I can see a sign of trouble such as leaking fluid, loose gland nut, damaged wiper seal, chipped chrome on rod, etc. I would look for these tells. If there are none, you may rebuild the cylinders anyway since it is usually pretty easy and cheap to do so.