C magazine

High-quality grease pays off for farming and construction equipment

Man in hard hat in front of quarry

With projects underway year-round, Mark Nelson relies on high-quality products to keep his fleet of crushers, backhoes and excavators ready for action.

Sep 09, 2022

By Megan Gosch

From weather setbacks to crop yield analyses and tight harvest turnarounds, farmers have plenty of priorities competing for their attention. There’s no off season, no room for downtime and no space for delays — especially when it comes to equipment.

“Farming’s a tough business and you can’t afford to miss out on a chance to get in the field because of a breakdown. That lost time will cost you,” says Wisconsin producer Mark Nelson.

Always on the move

That’s a tenet he knows all too well as both a farmer and owner-operator of Nelson Diesel & Dozing, a construction operation based in Ettrick, Wis. With a team of 10 working to complete a full slate of projects year-round, Nelson knows a breakdown can leave key equipment out of commission and cause a domino effect of costly downtime and logistical bottlenecks.

“It’s the same in the corn field as it is in the quarry. When your operation hinges on your machines, you have to keep that equipment running in peak condition or you’re shooting yourself in the foot,” he says. To keep his equipment — and his operation — running smoothly, Nelson uses high-quality products to ensure his full fleet of crushers, backhoes and excavators is ready for action.

When Nelson launched his construction business nearly 20 years ago, he turned to Allied Cooperative for his operation’s energy needs. He started using Cenex® Superlube TMS® engine oil for his heavy-duty construction equipment and Qwiklift® HTB® hydraulic fluid to keep his tractor’s hydraulic system running smoothly.

A few years ago, when he wanted to find a high-performing grease, Nelson spent a lot of time on product comparisons. “I’m not an easy sell. I like to do my homework, research my options and give products a road test before I commit,” he says.

While comparing his options, Nelson hosted demonstrations in his workshop to show other producers how each grease held up. He also tapped Russell Bortz, Allied Cooperative certified energy specialist, to better understand his grease options.

“I’m a see-smell-taste-touch kind of person,” says Bortz. “I’d rather let a product speak for itself, so I sent Mark home with plenty of samples to try.”

Looking down at construction equipment in quarry
The construction team at Nelson Diesel & Dozing in Ettrick, Wis., works year-round, through all kinds of weather.

Proof in performance

HD Moly Xtreme proved to be the product Nelson had been searching for.

“I’ve used a lot of greases and just couldn’t find a product with enough moly (molybdenum disulfide) to withstand the heavy-duty applications I see with my construction equipment,” says Nelson, whose construction team works year-round, through all kinds of weather. “We’re doing everything from concrete and earthwork to digging culverts, with a specialty in excavation. You see pretty quickly if the product is working and holding up like it should under pressure.”

How to know whether your grease is performing

A quick assessment using your senses can help determine if your grease can hold up through the toughest conditions.

Sight

An adequately lubricated component should show no signs of excess wear. Visible signs of corrosion can be a signal of subpar performance.

Sound

A quiet job site is a high-performing job site. If you’re hearing abnormal noises such as grinding or squeaking, your equipment is not being greased properly.

Touch

A well-greased machine should stay cool. If a component such as a wheel bearing is too hot to touch, it could be an indicator of a lack of lubrication and a need for more grease.

For Nelson, the proof that a grease is performing under pressure is in what’s missing: construction noise. “You know your grease is doing its job when you’re not hearing clanging and grinding and gnawing of metal on metal,” he says. “That’s what keeps HD Moly Xtreme as my go-to grease.”

Through the years, Nelson says he’s focused on product performance rather than price. “I like to think about long-term costs. When my equipment is working and I haven’t been wrapped up with repairs or a project isn’t put on pause while I get my fleet back up and running, then the product has paid for itself,” he says.

Nelson, who also uses Cenex premium diesel fuel to power his on-farm equipment and his fleet, says he hasn’t experienced any engine failures since switching to Superlube TMS engine oil 20 years ago. And since he’s switched to HD Moly Xtreme, he’s seen a decrease in the daily maintenance his fleet requires.

“We’ve gone from having to stop a job to grease equipment four or five times per day down to two times,” says Nelson. “That’s something you can spot in real time and see the efficiency in action.”

Investing for the long run

“Mark is focused on keeping his equipment in top condition,” says Bortz. “It’s not about price; it’s about demanding performance from the best product that can match his operation’s needs. He knows that will pay off in the long run.”

While Nelson appreciates the convenience of purchasing fuel and lubricant products from a central, trusted source, what he says he values most is the customer service he can count on from Bortz. “Mark knows I’m watching out for his operation and keeping an eye on how we can set him up for success,” says Bortz. “He isn’t afraid to challenge what he’s seeing in the market and he knows I’m invested in getting him the tools he needs.”

The ability to tap a product expert as questions arise gives Nelson peace of mind. “I know I can reach out any time a need or question comes up and he’ll do the same. Russ comes to me with proactive solutions, which gives me confidence that I have a partner in my corner who’s going to connect me with the products that can move my business forward.”

Pinpoint your product needs

Selecting the right lubricants and greases for your fleet is no small feat, but finding the ideal match can keep your equipment moving for the long haul. These expert tools can help:

Reliable recommendations

Whether you need engine oil for an excavator or transmission fluid for your truck, the Cenex® Lubricants Equipment Lookup Tool can help match the best products to thousands of vehicles and pieces of equipment with just a few clicks.

Expert analysis

Like a soil test for your engine, the LubeScan® used-oil analysis program, which you can purchase from your local Cenex distributor, goes under the microscope to catch issues under the hood.

With a LubeScan kit, it’s easy to take a used oil sample, then drop it into the mail to the testing lab. Technical experts will study the results and provide an analysis of components found in used oil and a customized diagnosis of actions needed to keep equipment in peak condition, plus alert you to equipment issues before they become catastrophic.


Related story:
A LubeScan analysis offers an inside look at equipment health.