Renting a front loader is an effective way to get a piece of equipment that is well-maintained and ready to go at a moment's notice when doing large construction jobs, but you still have to perform regular routine maintenance on the loader to make sure it runs well while you have it. One area that needs regular attention is keeping the spark plugs clean. Dirty spark plugs will slow the loader down and make it run ineffectively. If you are renting a big front loader or other heavy construction equipment and aren't familiar with how to keep the spark plugs clean, here is what you have to do.
Removing the Spark Plugs
You have to remove the spark plugs to clean them. The spark plugs are typically located down a long shaft in the engine block and you'll need an extension tool to reach them. Open the caps over the spark plug slots. Take a ratchet socket that will fit over the spark plug and put it on an extension rod. Slide the socket down into one slot at a time and place it over the top of the spark plug and turn the socket counter-clockwise. The spark plug might be a little tough to loosen. If this happens, gently twist the spark plugs back and forth to loosen it. Pull the spark plug out of the slot once you have unscrewed them. Repeat this process for all the other spark plugs on the loader.
Cleaning Spark Plugs
You can use a metal brush to clean the spark plugs. Run the brush over the threads and around the ground electrode (the "L" shaped metal piece at the very bottom tip of the threaded end of the spark plug) and in the gap between the ground electrode and the center electrode tip. The center electrode is the metal piece that goes into the body of the spark plug. After brushing, take some brake cleaner and spray the bottom end of the spark plugs to dissolve any grease or other debris that has gotten on them. Wipe the spark plugs down with a clean rag. You want to make sure you clean any metal bits that may have broken off of the brush while you were cleaning the spark plugs – these metal bits can cause the plugs to short out.
Re-gap Spark Plugs
Check the space between the ground electrode and the center electrode once you are done cleaning the spark plugs. You will use a spark plug gap tool for this process. If you don't know what the measurement of the gap should be, you should contact the rental company or look up the manufacturer online for the specifications on the type of spark plugs you are using. Place the tool into the gap and check to make sure the space between the ground and center electrode is correct. The gap tool will have strips of metal of different measured thicknesses. Place the metal strip that matches the width of the space you need for the gap to make sure there isn't any extra space between the electrodes, or conversely, to make sure is enough space to fit the metal strip into the gap. If you have to, bend the ground electrode up or down to adjust the space between the electrodes so the metal strip fits right into the space.
Replace Spark Plugs
Put the cleaned spark plugs back into the socket and re-insert them into the slots on the engine block. Tighten the spark plugs until they are snug, but don't try to over-tighten them. You could break the porcelain on the spark plugs if you tighten them too hard. Cracked spark plugs need to be removed and thrown away.
Start up the front loader and make sure it is operating as it should before putting your spark plug cleaning tools away.