Seven Concrete Pump Repairs That Increase Your Pump Value and Uptime

The versatility and efficiency of concrete pumps have made them indispensable in the construction industry. Not only do they speed up the concrete placement process, they also ensure better precision and quality in the final result.

The indispensable nature of concrete pumps makes them a valuable asset and large investment. Keeping a pump running efficiently is key to getting the maximum return on that investment.

Mike and Jerry Anderson are veteran pump inspectors for SCHWING America. SCHWING is a leading manufacturer of concrete pumps and equipment, renowned for its high-quality products, innovative technologies, and exceptional customer service. With a strong reputation in the industry and a wide range of pumping solutions, SCHWING has established itself as a trusted partner for concrete contractors and construction professionals seeking reliable and efficient equipment for their projects.Mike noted that when he inspects pumps, he looks for one thing in particular: whether previous repairs have been of high or low quality. This can be crucial because it directly impacts the pump’s performance, reliability, and longevity, as well as its resale value.“When we do inspections,” said Mike, “the visual comes at you, and you can see if prior repairs have been done properly or not.”

Mike and Jerry singled out the following repairs as especially important to maintaining a pump’s value.

Pipe Repair
Pipe repair for concrete pumps involves addressing wear and damage to the pipes through a series of systematic steps. These pipes can degrade due to the abrasive nature of concrete and the pressures of the pumping process.

“I see it all the time,” Jerry said. “You can tell if they’ve put cheap pipe on, other cheap parts. If you can tell right away something’s been added, that means it was done quickly and cheaply.”

Both specialists highlighted that high-quality components endure the rigors of concrete pumping, delivering dependable and uniform performance even amidst changing circumstances. Conversely, opting for inferior or subpar components may result in untimely deterioration, reduced effectiveness, and possible safety risks. Allocating resources toward superior components not only guarantees seamless functioning but also amplifies the overall security of the concrete pumping procedure, shielding both personnel and the machinery involved.

“Bad welding,” Mike said, “sticks out like a sore thumb.” Welding plays a vital role in repairing concrete pumps by addressing structural damage and restoring the integrity of the equipment. Concrete pump pipes, being subjected to high pressure and wear, can develop cracks and leaks. Welding is employed to mend these issues effectively. After the damaged area is identified through inspection, the damaged pipe section can be cut out, and a new piece of pipe can be welded in its place.

Additionally, welding is used to attach reinforcing elements such as steel sleeves or clamps to the concrete pump pipes. These reinforcements strengthen weakened or damaged areas, preventing further degradation. Proper welding procedures and safety protocols are crucial during these repairs to ensure a secure and reliable repair job. Skilled welders with expertise in working with construction equipment are essential to execute these repairs effectively and maintain the safety and functionality of concrete pumps.

Vehicle Repairs
A well-maintained truck contributes to the overall reliability and safety of the concrete pump. Maintaining the truck component of a concrete pump is essential for ensuring the overall functionality, safety, and longevity of the equipment.

Jerry said seemingly minor vehicle elements can be critical to successful operation of a pump and completion of a job. “Tires, the rear suspension, they’re all important,” he said. “I’ve seen vehicles where if you turn it sharply, the rear end will actually pivot, on a trunnion. It’s a big expense, but it has to be done. Cracked leak springs, cracked trunnions themselves are all safety hazards . We look for cracks in the truck frame too.”

Repairing cracks on a concrete pump is a critical maintenance task that ensures the equipment’s structural integrity, performance, and overall safety. Cracks can develop due to factors like the constant pressure of pumping concrete, exposure to external forces, and the natural wear and tear associated with construction equipment. The repair process starts with a thorough inspection to assess the extent of the cracking.

“Cracks are maybe more important than anything else,” Jerry said. “You get a big crack in the boom, it could lead to a catastrophic failure, with the whole boom coming down.”

Small cracks can often be repaired using specialized sealants or patching compounds designed for concrete, while more advanced repair techniques are required for larger ones.

For instance, epoxy injection is a common method used for larger cracks. It involves injecting epoxy resin into the crack, which binds the concrete together and restores its strength. In cases where the crack affects the structural integrity of the equipment, welding may be employed to reinforce the damaged area.

These repair procedures, when executed by skilled technicians, not only restore the pump’s integrity but also extend its service life. By addressing cracks promptly, operators can prevent the cracks from expanding and potentially causing catastrophic failures during operation. This proactive approach enhances the safety of the equipment and the construction site, reduces downtime caused by unexpected breakdowns, and ultimately contributes to the efficiency and success of construction projects.

Ensuring there are no leaks in a concrete pump holds immense importance, as leaks can have a profound effect on the pump’s operational effectiveness, efficiency, and safety. Given that concrete is an extremely abrasive substance, even minor leaks can result in the wasteful loss of valuable material throughout the pumping procedure. This contributes to both resource waste and escalated project expenditures.

Leaks within the hydraulic system could undermine the pump’s capacity to achieve seamless and precise concrete placement. Hydraulic leaks impact the quality of the overall construction project. Additionally, leaks in the hydraulic fluid can give rise to contamination and harm to other integral pump components, potentially leading to expensive repairs and possible operational downtime.

Jerry said, “That’s another issue that can cause a bigger problem than you might realize. Cylinders leaking, the boom center leaking – those are things that also can cause the boom to fail, and that means someone could be killed. Things like that are looked for by the buyer, but it’s also a safety factor, and anyone looking to resell a pump must account for it.”

For smaller leaks, sealing compounds or patching materials designed for concrete are often utilized. These substances are applied to the leaking area, forming a barrier that prevents the escape of concrete slurry or hydraulic fluids. In cases of more significant leaks or those that compromise the structural integrity of the pump, pipe replacement might be necessary. This involves cutting out the damaged section and installing a new pipe segment, which is then welded or secured into place.

Boom Remounting
Remounting a concrete pump’s boom onto another truck is a complex process that requires specialized equipment and skilled technicians. The process typically involves the following steps:

Preparation and Dismantling
The first step is to thoroughly prepare both the original truck from which the boom will be removed and the new truck onto which the boom will be remounted. The boom’s hydraulic lines, electrical connections, and any other attachments are carefully disconnected. The boom is then secured to prevent any accidental movement during the dismantling process.

Boom Removal
Using specialized equipment such as cranes or heavy-duty lifters, the boom is carefully lifted off the original truck’s chassis. This requires precision to ensure the boom is balanced and does not sustain any damage during the lifting process. Once lifted, the boom is carefully positioned and lowered onto a stable surface to await remounting.

Chassis Preparation
The new truck’s chassis must be properly prepared to receive the boom. This involves ensuring that the chassis is compatible with the boom’s specifications and dimensions. Any necessary modifications to the chassis or mounting points are made to ensure a secure fit.

Boom Remounting
With the new truck’s chassis prepared, the boom is carefully lifted and positioned above the chassis. Skilled technicians guide the boom onto the mounting points while ensuring proper alignment with the hydraulic connections and other attachments. Hydraulic lines, electrical connections, and any other components are reattached according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

Testing and Calibration
Once the boom is securely mounted, comprehensive testing and calibration procedures are conducted. Hydraulic systems, electrical connections, and all moving parts are thoroughly inspected to ensure proper functionality. The boom’s movement and stability are tested under controlled conditions to ensure safe operation.

Remounting a concrete pump’s boom onto another truck is a precise and intricate process that requires expertise to get it right. Proper execution is crucial to maintain the safety, performance, and reliability of the equipment, and it’s typically carried out by experienced professionals to ensure a successful outcome.

“At SCHWING, I’ve actually done four boom remounts, truck mounts that were done at other shops,” said Mike. “The owner didn’t come to us first, but he wanted a very quick job, and we’re very thorough. But when he had someone else do it, it didn’t work, and he wound up coming to us anyway.”

Pins are critical components that facilitate the movement and articulation of various parts, such as the boom sections and hydraulic arms. Over time, due to the constant stress, pressure, and friction they endure, these pins can wear down or become damaged, leading to reduced precision and compromised structural integrity.

Both experts noted addressing worn or damaged pins is crucial because they directly influence the precision and stability of the concrete pump’s movements. Loose or worn pins can result in undesirable movements, imprecise positioning, and decreased pumping accuracy, affecting the quality and efficiency of concrete placement. Furthermore, compromised pins pose safety risks to both equipment operators and the construction site. Excessive play in these components can lead to unexpected movements or failures during operation, potentially causing accidents or damage to the surrounding environment. By regularly inspecting, maintaining, and promptly replacing worn or damaged pins, operators ensure that the concrete pump maintains its operational accuracy, reliability, and safety, contributing to the overall success of construction projects while minimizing the potential for costly downtime and safety incidents.

Finally, Mike and Jerry stressed how important it is to keep documentation of repairs, especially if you may someday resell the pump. Obtaining a comprehensive record detailing the pump’s historical background is important to many purchasers, as it grants them invaluable understanding pertaining to the pump’s maintenance, servicing, repair schedule, and examination instances. A thorough history shares vital details regarding the general state of the pump, any prior complications or remediations, and whether it has been subjected to regular scrutiny and upkeep.

“I’ve seen sellers who bring out this huge stack of papers documenting every time the pump was worked on,” said Jerry. “That’s a very good sign. It shows they’ve been taking care of the machine, and usually indicates everything is going to be working the way it should.”