Proper maintenance saves money, minimizes safety risks and prevents downtime.

By Jerome Hall

Hoists work hard to perform day-after-day in the most extreme environments imaginable. With electrical systems, controls, switches, hydraulic systems and more, it is easy for a hoist to malfunction from daily wear and tear, especially if it is not maintained properly. A truck that is off the road due to a malfunctioning hoist is both costly and aggravating and it could also bring risks and unsafe conditions for both the hoist and the operator. Therefore, it is critical to keep hoists in working order. Preventative maintenance is less costly and takes less time than emergency repairs, and it is the most important thing you can do as a hoist owner to keep your hoist hassle-free for the future. With proper care and a preventative maintenance plan, you can save money, minimize risks and prevent downtime by following these simple recommended steps.

Step 1: Proper Hoist Selection is Key
A hassle-free hoist begins with the purchasing and selection process. When selecting a hoist, it is beneficial for haulers to have a solid understanding of key features and benefits. Improper hoist selection can make a huge difference in the lifecycle of the hoist.
“Having the right hoist is critical for us,” said Michael Taylor, purchasing manager of Premier Truck Sales and Rental, Inc. “As a rental and sales operation focused on vocational equipment needs, our roll-off trucks have to be robust and operate with minimal downtime, which means we are compelled to up-fit our trucks with proven, 75,000 lb.-rated cable hoists that can take these severe duty jobs head-on.”
Taylor advises haulers to make a simple checklist of fundamental hoist features during the purchasing process in order to have a solid understanding of hoist strengths and weaknesses to select the right hoist for their specific needs and applications.

22′ and 24′ versions of the Galbreath U75 Outside Rail hoists are paired up with Pioneer’s recently-updated RP4500SARG automatic tarping system to set the standard for Premier’s fleet of heavy-duty roll-offs. Photos courtesy of Galbreath.

“From waste hauling, construction and debris, scrap and recycling, to environmental hauling, our customers use hoists for a variety of applications, so there are necessary features that will keep safety in mind for the customer while sustaining the lifetime of the hoist. Some of the features that we insist upon are two sets of sliding nylon ratchet hold-downs, a rear cross-member covering the tail roller, outboard-supported side rollers, rear skid plates, automatic tarps and electronic ground speed programming to protect our customers from driving over 10 mph with the hoist in a raised position.”

Step 2: Follow the Daily Inspection and General Maintenance Checklist
It is essential to inspect your hoist every day to uncover unexpected issues that could arise. It is just like getting regular checkups at the doctor—the daily inspection gives you a chance to keep your hoist in good working order and to catch anything serious before it becomes a major problem.

“Our service department excels in providing routine, thorough hoist inspections and timely preventative maintenance to help ensure that our customers have a positive experience with our equipment,” said Taylor. “Among other things, roll-off hoists need daily visual inspections of the frame, sheave blocks, cable, side rollers and hoist-up alarm as part of a driver’s routine pre-trip inspection of their truck at the beginning of the shift. It is also essential to grease all grease fittings weekly and replace the oil filters every six months.”

Premier’s well-organized and well-lit shop encourages their skilled technicians to thoroughly inspect and perform timely preventative maintenance to their busy roll-off trucks.

Taylor recommends haulers schedule check-ups for inspection of their backup and hoist-up warning systems, cable and cable ends, electrical wiring, front stops, rear hold-downs/container securement system, hydraulic and air leaks, hydraulic components, lamps, nuts and bolts, oil level, pivot points and more on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis. The basics, like changing your oil and getting scheduled inspections and work done, are essential to keep your hoist up and running for the long haul.

Recommended Daily Inspections
• Verify proper and safe operation of backup and hoist-up warning systems.
• Examine hoist cable and cable ends, clamps, and pins for breakage, unraveling or flat spots.
• Check front and rear stops to ensure proper, safe working condition.
• Check nuts, bolts, shafts, and cotter keys to ensure proper and safe working condition. Make sure wear is within normal guidelines and all items are within proper torque guidelines.
• Check rollers, sheave blocks, rear hinge and pivot points to ensure proper lubrication, adjustment and operation.
• Check container hold-down devices to ensure proper and safe working condition.
• Inspect the hydraulic system daily for leaks, loose hydraulic lines and fittings, oil level and proper operation of hydraulic system.
• Inspect all lamps and reflectors daily to make sure they are clean and in proper working order.
• Inspect all visible electrical wiring to ensure that it is not frayed, that it is properly supported and protected, and that all connections are tight.
• Examine oil level to ensure proper, safe working condition.
• Check structural and weld integrity to ensure proper and safe working condition of structural members. Make sure wear is within normal guidelines. Inspect weld joints.
• Clean and replace all warning labels as necessary.

Recommended Weekly Maintenance/40 Hours of Service
• Lubricate your hoist at least once per week. Proper lubrication is essential for all types of bearings, gearing and friction-producing mechanical devices. Lack of adequate and proper lubrication results in premature wear and failure of components due to increased abrasion or excessive heat.
• All grease fittings should be properly greased after 40 hours of service, and a minimum of once per week for average use.
• Inspect hydraulic cylinder rods, fittings and operation. Apply grease to the grease fitting on the hydraulic cylinder.
• Conduct a thorough inspection of cable hoists for breakage, unraveling or flat spots and lubricate cable frequently to prevent rusting.

Recommended Monthly Maintenance
• Check structural and weld integrity to ensure proper and safe working condition of structural members. Make sure wear is within normal guidelines. Inspect weld joints.

Recommended Three-Month Maintenance
• Inspect hydraulic oil for proper color, odor and feel. Replace oil if it is milky or dark in color, begins to have an odor or lacks lubricity to your touch. Inspect and clean suction strainer when changing hydraulic oil.

Recommended Six-Month Maintenance
• Replace air breather.
• Replace oil filter.

Recommended 12-Month (Yearly) Maintenance
• Replace hydraulic oil with MV36 anti-wear hydraulic oil filtered through the return filter, or filter existing oil to ISO Code 18/15, and remove water with water separation media filter (water less than 50 parts per million). Inspect and clean suction strainer when changing hydraulic oil.

Step 3: Safety First
Safety is key when maintaining your hoist in order to avoid injury to the hoist or the owner and/or the costs associated. The owner must be alert to all possible hazards and follow safety standards when servicing and operating equipment. Minimize your risks by following these tips to properly care for your hoist while meeting all safety standards and operation requirements:

  1. Always provide hoist operators with instruction and training on safe methods of operation before assigning them to operate, clean, service, maintain or repair equipment. The hoist owner should maintain detailed records with names of operators who have been trained, and dates of training.
  2. Consistently monitor equipment operation to ensure proper use and safe practices.
  3. Establish a program of periodic and regular inspections of all equipment to ensure that all parts, component equipment, and safeguards are in safe operating condition and adjusted in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. This includes keeping all malfunction reports and records of inspections and maintenance work performed.
  4. Repair any/all mechanical malfunctions, breakdowns or normal wear and tear that affects safe operation of equipment before allowing the equipment to be used (i.e., cracks, lights, hoses, latches, hitches, hold-downs, missing labels, etc.).
  5. Ensure appropriate lighting requirements are in place before attempting to operate the equipment during hours of darkness.
  6. Ensure equipment will not be used to lift, haul or move weight than exceeds the load rating capacity.
  7. Ensure hoist is adequately supported when it is raised for service or maintenance.
  8. Always use a lockout procedure when cleaning, servicing, maintaining or repairing a hoist.
  9. Affix a sign or similar communication that states the minimum overhead clearance required for the vehicle and container for any equipment that carries detachable containers.
  10. Inspect safety equipment and protective devices to ensure that they are not disabled or bypassed in any way.
  11. Most importantly, never permit operation of equipment that is not fully functional. Failure to comply could result in severe injury or death to operator and surrounding persons and/or damage to the truck, hoist or other equipment.

Having a Plan in Place
A malfunctioning hoist is no longer a money maker. Haulers can face unexpected downtime, lost productivity and the associated risks and costs if they do not maintain their hoist properly. When it is time for scheduled maintenance or daily inspection, the decision to follow the preventative maintenance plan should be simple. By maintaining hoists properly, hoists should last for many years, reducing collection costs while safely hauling waste, recycling and scrap materials. Waste haulers can realize all the benefits of hoist ownership by selecting the correct model for their application, doing regular inspections, scheduling preventative maintenance and following the safety guidelines. With this preventative maintenance plan, haulers will save money, avoid downtime and extend the life of their valuable equipment.

Jerome Hall is the Product Manager for Galbreath, a brand of Wastequip (Charlotte, NC). During his 18 years of experience, Jerome has worked as a Heavy Equipment Technician for ROMCO Equipment, Technical Support Specialist at Volvo Construction Equipment and most recently, as the Product Manager for Volvo Construction Equipment, focusing on product and program management. He can be reached at For more information, visit