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An Overview of a Career in Heavy Equipment Mechanics

Aug 19, 2008
The work profile of heavy equipment mechanics includes repair and maintenance of backhoes, graders, loaders, tipping trucks loading shovels, etc. Heavy trucks, used by logging companies, need to travel long distances on bumpy forest roads away from towns and cities. Anyone who has traveled these trails is well aware of the difficulty of driving a logging truck on these roads. During their normal use, logging trucks have to travel over steep elevations, and on narrow serpentine roads winding along mountainsides.

This puts the truck engine under tremendous strain, causing excessive engine wear and tear. The strain also has a deleterious effect on the clutch, brakes, and suspension system, and other parts as well. This leads to frequent breakdowns at far out, inaccessible places, and most times requiring on site repairs. The heavy equipment mechanic needs to carry out these repairs on the spot, with the tools at his disposal.

The job of heavy equipment mechanics involves repairs of all types of construction and logging machines, and similar machines used by other industries. They also require to regularly maintaining these machines, to ensure they operate safely without snags and breakdowns. When breakdowns occur, heavy equipment mechanics are required to examine equipment, and trace the reasons for defects that led to the breakdown.

Nowadays, with advanced technological aids to help them, heavy equipment mechanics use various gauges, meters, and even make use of hand held computers for diagnosing faults in components that need repairs. They may need to dismantle complete systems in heavy equipment machines to examine and repair damaged parts or sub-assemblies. Being extremely heavy, moving such systems, assemblies, or sub-assemblies is difficult, and requires jacks or hoists to lift and move them.

Heavy equipment mechanics need to check parts for damage and wear using various gauges and meters. They need to clean parts by spraying or soaking the parts in cleaning agents or solvents. They oil and grease various parts as per the lubrication schedule, or as required. They need to be proficient in the use of hand and power tools for dismantling and assembling machine parts and components. Wherever necessary, they require welding broken frames or other components. After completing reassembly, repair, or service of the equipment, mechanics test them for optimum performance and safe operation.

Heavy equipment mechanics working in large equipment repair shops undertake jobs that are more complex. They may be required to rebuild engines, repair electrical faults, service or repair hydraulic equipment, including hydraulic motors and pumps that operate under high fluid pressures. Large workshops have a specialized work force, and the mechanics working there are usually specialists in specific type of repairs. For example, there may be specialist mechanics for working on transmissions, and others for major repairs on engines or electrical systems etc.

Job prospects for heavy equipment mechanics are good. The job pays well and as per the data available with the US Bureau of Labor Statistics pertaining to the first quarter of 2008, the National average of hourly wages for heavy equipment mechanics, except engine mechanics was $21.08.
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