Winter is on its way out, and that means a fresh start on lawn care. Here’s what you need to check when getting your Billy Goat aerator out of storage so you can break up compaction caused by snowfall and prepare turf for reseeding and repair this spring.
Before You Begin
Before you move your aerator, stop to take a look at the ground where it was stored. If you see oil or fluid leaks, trace them to the machine so you can fix them later.
If the aerator was stored with fuel, it needs to be drained and replaced with fresh fuel, even if the gas was treated. Use a siphon to remove gas from the tank. Honda engines have a drain plug on the debris cup, located directly below the engine controls. Remove this plug, then open the fuel valve to drain the remaining fuel into a suitable container. On Briggs & Stratton engines, simply run the engine to burn off the remaining fuel.
Gasoline should be used within one month of its purchase, or three months if it has been treated with a stabilizer. Fuel injection systems have no problem burning fuel that’s too old for your aerator’s engine, so it can be safely used in your car or truck.
Check the fuel cap for debris build-up, making sure the holes on the top are clean. This lets air in as gas enters the fuel line and carburetor.
The oil level in a Honda engine should be checked by inserting the filler cap/dipstick without screwing it in, while the dipsticks on Briggs & Stratton engines should be fully inserted. 5W-30 or 10W-30 is recommended for most operating conditions.
Honda engines come with their “Oil Alert” system, which will disable the ignition if the oil level is too low. If you’re having starting problems, it’s a good idea to check the oil level to make sure this system hasn’t been activated.
On some models, the engine has a reduction gear inside a large case on the side of the motor. The reduction gearbox uses the same oil as the engine.
The drive chain should be coated with non-detergent SAE 30 oil. This chain is almost fully protected from debris, but if there are signs of dirt, it can be cleaned off using a solvent like a chain degreaser or brake cleaner. Try to avoid any contact between these solvents and painted parts on the aerator. Once dry, a new coat of oil can be applied.
The transmission is maintenance free, but it’s still a good idea to check the seals around the axles for leaking hydraulic fluid. If there are signs of seepage, the transmission needs to be serviced or replaced.
The recommended tire pressure will be written on the sidewall. For walk-behind aerators, this is typically 8.5 psi.
Make sure the reel is clear of debris and check the general condition of the tines: they should be replaced after they’ve worn down one inch, even if they still cut through the soil. Check the tightness of the bolts holding the tines onto the reel.
Check the belts for cracking that may have occurred in storage. On AE-series aerators, the belt can be accessed by unbolting the top cover next to the engine.
Check the grease on the cam bearings, shaft bearings, and wheel bearings: if there is no grease visible along the edges, or the grease is dirty, it should be replaced with new lithium grease. Always clean the Zerk fitting before pushing new grease into a bearing.
These trailers may not have engines and drive systems, but there are a few areas that should be inspected before you put them to work:
With the tines in the raised position, chock the wheels and lubricate the grease fittings on the bearings using a grease gun. Billy Goat recommends standard lithium grease.
Check the tine reel nut torque. It should be set to 100 ft-lbs. Check all tine bolts for tightness.
Check the tire pressure. The recommended pressure will be stamped on the sidewall.
Examine the water tanks for signs of leaks or cracks.
Getting Parts for Your Aerator
Billygoatparts.com is a certified dealer for Billy Goat, Hydro-Gear, Honda Engines and Briggs & Stratton so we can supply you with parts for everything on your aerator no matter where you are in the U.S. or Canada. Not quite sure what you need? Our site can show you exploded diagrams and factory descriptions of parts specifically for your model so you can see exactly what you’re ordering.