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Updated 2-26-18

Freeze Ups?

Your Meyer Plow Pump is Frozen?

With all the single digits and sub zero temperatures lately, the dreaded freeze up has been a problem for many plow owners. Most don’t seem to understand why. It seems those that do not have freeze up problems DO understand why, and they have taken the necessary steps to prevent being the victim of the dreaded freeze up. So I think it is safe to say those who experience a freeze up, do not understand why it happens.

There are a few reasons for it besides the low temperature, though they are caused by the low temperature. The problem is at the low temperature, the fluid becomes thicker, due to water in the fluid turning into slush, or the paraffin (wax) in the fluid gels or solidifies.

What are the symptoms?

Plow does not move in any direction, motor runs.
Plow went up once, now it is stuck raised, and will not drop or angle.
Plow worked fine last week (when it was warmer) and it is definitely full of fluid.
It is below about 15° outside.
If you warm up the hydraulic unit the plow magically works.

In the past week, I had three customers in here at once, all with a freeze up problem. They all had one thing in common, they did not change their fluid...

Customer #1 bought a used plow in the fall. Fast forward to the first single digits. The unit froze up. He dumped hot water on it, and it worked. He got lucky in that he did not crack any of the castings (Top Cap or Sump Base). He e mailed me and I told him to drain and flush the system to get the water out. He did drain the fluid in the unit when he was done plowing and added the one quart he had on hand. Fast forward to the next single / sub zero day. Unit froze up again. He took the drain plug out, and nothing came out. He poked with a screwdriver and he said it looked like cold bacon grease. That is the wax gelling up. He drained it again, but did not bring it indoors to allow it to warm up so he could get it all out. He came here for more fluid ,and bought two quarts, I told him to go home, take the unit off, and bring it inside. Let it warm up for a couple of hours, then fill it about half full with Kerosene, and let it sit for a half hour. Shake the unit, and let it sit for 10 minutes, shake it again, let it sit for 10 minutes, then shake it again, and drain it. Fill it with about a cup of Kerosene, and give it another shake, and dump it. Repeat until the Kerosene comes out looking the same as when he poured it in. The plow, that is another story, because he has no place to bring it in to warm up the fluid in the PA Rams which also needs to be dumped and flushed (Videos near the bottom of this page to help explain "how to").

Here are some pictures of a unit I rebuilt a few months ago, I have never seen gel like this in a unit at 60° before.

Water in Meyer Plow Fluid

If you pull the Drain Plug and see this, you have water in the system.

Meyer Plow Fluid Milky
As you can see, it gets in the whole system.

Meyer plow fluid milky in system

It also plugs the Suction Strainer

Meyer E-47 Suction Strainer plugged

If you pull a Filter plug, and it looks like this, you have water in the system.

Meyer Plow Filter water in system

Customer #2 came in and bought a quart of fluid. This was before the cold spell. It got into the single digits, and it snowed. He came in because his E-47 froze up. I asked if he changed the fluid just the other day, he said no, he just topped it off? I asked when the last time he changed the fluid was, and he said he didn’t think he ever changed the fluid. He bought two more quarts, hopefully he went home and changed the fluid!

Customer #3 came in, he was here a month or so ago, and had trouble with his plow. I determined it was a bad battery, because it was in an old Jeep he only uses to plow, he said he charges the battery before he uses it. After a ½ hour or so, the plow stops working. This is because the alternator cannot charge the weak battery (that probably has dead cells) as fast as the plow is sucking it up. So when he came in this time, he said he changed the battery, and now was having problems that pointed to a freeze up. I asked when he changed the fluid last… “I have had the plow 9 years and never changed the fluid”.

So these three examples above are self inflicted. Some lessons are hard lessons. Hopefully these three learned from their mistakes. All 3 counted on using their plows, but did nothing to ensure they would be able to, they took for granted the plows would work. Customer #1 is new to plowing , but he will definitely learn from this. The other two I am not so sure.

Now these three above all have Meyer E-47 units. The one thing all of them share is the Strainer on the suction side of the pump. EVERY E-47, E-57 rebuild I do here, I take the suction strainer out and throw it away. Why? It is redundant, there is a strainer (filter) on the discharge side. Why does it need to be filtered first? The Strainer on the suction side you need to disassemble the unit to access. The filter on the discharge side you can pull a plug, pull the filter, clean it and put it back in. ALL of the fluid leaving the Gear Pump goes through the filter first before going through the system. There should be nothing inside the unit that would harm the steel gears inside the Gear Pump. Starving the Gear Pump of fluid is far worse than letting whatever is inside go through the steel gears. When you starve the pump, it will cavitate and suck air in around the Pump Shaft Seal. Eliminating the Strainer on the suction side will help eliminate starving it of fluid. For any of you naysayers out there, the beloved E-60 NEVER had a Strainer on the suction side….

Meyer Plow Filter Plugged

Plugged and clean:

Now we can move on to the filter on the discharge side. Both the E-47/57 and E-60 have a filter on the discharge side which I refer to as the high pressure filter. This is because these units have two filters, one filters the fluid from the Lift Cylinder as it returns to the Sump Base, and the other filters all the fluid leaving the Gear Pump, so it is under high pressure… Since it filters ALL the fluid leaving the Gear Pump, it can tell you what is going on with the unit by pulling it and inspecting it.

When you find it loaded with bits of metal, it can indicate wear inside the Gear Pump. When you find it crushed, you know that the fluid in the unit got thick, or turned to slush, and since the Gear Pump is a positive displacement pump, it will pump slush, and when the semi-solid tries to pass through the fine mesh of the filter, it crushes it. The filter was designed to filter fluid, not solids. So finding the crushed filter means at some point it froze, or turned into a slurpee.

Meyer E-60 Crushed Filter

Meyer E-60 Filter Crushed from slush

I know two things about fluid. Meyer M1 does not gel. I know this because I have at least 100 plows that I have sold new with Meyer M1 in them, and not one has ever called, e mailed, or come in with a freeze up. My personal plow, I run synthetic fluid that I get from Jerre at Jerre’s Service in Erie, PA. I have never had a problem with gel. All the units I rebuild here in the shop leave with the synthetic fluid from Jerre. None have ever come back with a freeze up. I have had numerous customers walk in, or call who bought “blue fluid in a blue bottle” at an auto parts chain store who had freeze ups. One even changed his fluid, and the next morning it was frozen. He came here and bought M1, a half hour later the phone rang, he called to tell me his plow was now working perfectly, and to tell all my customers not to buy the blue fluid. On that note, Meyer M1 has been yellow since 2001. So if you hear someone talking about “Meyers blue fluid” either it is 20 years old, or it is NOT Meyer M1.

Filling PA Rams with Meyer M1 Fluid. Yellow, like Corn Oil.

Filling Meyer Plow PA rams with Meyer M1 Fluid

I just got this e mail the other day:

> Subject: Plow fluid
> Message: Hi chuck just bought brand new Chevy truck it came with a western
> plow. I have had nothing but problems with it. Anyway the blue fluid froze
> I had to drain it warmed it up then I put Meyers m1 fluid will it harm the
> plow I don’t think it will but I would like your input thank you and
> have a happy and prosperous new year!!!

My reply was simple, drain ALL of the blue out, flush it, and refill with ALL Meyer M1 and he would be fine. I was a little surprised, because I have not heard of any problems with Western fluid freezing. ALL fluid meant to be used in a snow plow hydraulic unit is meant for operating at low temperatures. All are not created equal. Part of the snow plow use includes an anti-icer of some sort, that typically will absorb about one ounce of water per quart. Basically alcohol in some form, because it allows water and oil to mix.

You can’t use “hydraulic oil for your tractor”, or “Jack Oil” or (unbelievably I was asked) Brake Fluid! Because “plow oil is so expensive” and Brake Fluid is cheap. Honestly, if you can’t afford $20 a year for the correct fluid, you should not own a plow. Using ATF (Automatic Transmission Fluid) is also a bad idea, because it contains detergents, it is abrasive, it gets thick when it gets cold, and it does not contain any anti-icer. Back when the hydraulic pump was mounted under the hood, and was driven by a belt off the engine, the fluid stayed nice and warm. Those days are gone. Someone reading this still swears by ATF I am sure. I can tell you when it is -10° the electric motor on the hydraulic unit does not like to run, I put my truck in drive, and it does not lurch. I tap the gas and it rolls up a few inches, and stops without having to brake. For the first few miles it feels like I am towing a trailer. NOTHING mechanical likes sub zero temperatures. Why make it harder on your equipment?

For 50+ years, Meyer told us to use Kerosene to flush out the hydraulic system. It is a good solvent that will not hurt the O Rings in the system. You should always flush afterwards with M1 fluid to get out / dilute any Kerosene residue. Meyer M2 flush is what they recommend now (and they also tell you to run it through the system), but in my experience, it is not enough of a solvent to really get the crap out of your hydraulic system. NEVER RUN IT THROUGH THE SYSTEM. You want to loosen the crap, and get it out, not loosen it and send it through the system. No worries with the M2, because it will not dissolve crap like the Kerosene, so if you want to run it (M2) through the system, that is up to you, but why chance putting more crap into it when the whole object is to get out as much as possible?

NEVER use Diesel, or Gasoline to flush your hydraulic system!!! Diesel contains paraffin (wax) and that is the last thing you need. Gasoline contains all sorts of bonus chemicals (like Xylene, and Toluene to name a couple) that will eat and or soften the O Rings in the hydraulic system. Use Kerosene, Naphtha, or Meyer M2.

Meyer OEM Pump Filters
SKU: M15619
Meyer OEM Pump Filters
Pair of filters for Meyer E-46, 47, 57, and 60 pumps. Including older E-46 and E-47 units that had the filter attached to the plug.
Manufacturer: Genuine Meyer

Meyer M1 Hydraulic Oil (OEM MEYER)**MUST SHIP UPS**
SKU: M15134
Meyer M1 Hydraulic Oil (OEM MEYER)**MUST SHIP UPS**
Genuine Meyer M1 Hydraulic Oil - 1 Quart bottle. Click on Related Items to order Meyer Hydra-Flush! *****MUST SHIP UPS***** CANNOT BE SHIPPED VIA USPS PRIORITY MAIL!
Manufacturer: Genuine Meyer

Meyer M1 Hydraulic Fluid (CASE OF 12 Quarts) **MUST SHIP UPS**
Meyer M1 Hydraulic Fluid (CASE OF 12 Quarts) **MUST SHIP UPS**
A case of 12 Quarts of Genuine Meyer M1 Hydraulic Oil/Fluid. Click on Related Items to order Meyer Hydra-Flush. *****MUST SHIP UPS*****
$122.38 $105.00
Manufacturer: Genuine Meyer

Meyer Hydra-Flush (CASE OF 12)
SKU: M15902case
Meyer Hydra-Flush (CASE OF 12)
12 Single Quart bottles of Meyer Hydra-Flush. OEM Meyer. *****MUST SHIP UPS***** Click on Related Items for Meyer Hydraulic oil.
$119.99 $95.00
Manufacturer: Genuine Meyer
Meyer Hydra-Flush -** MUST SHIP UPS**
SKU: M15901
Meyer Hydra-Flush -** MUST SHIP UPS**
Meyer Hydra-Flush. Hydraulic system flushing fluid. Also for storage of hydraulic units. ****MUST SHIP UPS.****
Manufacturer: Genuine Meyer

More help:

Checking and Changing Fluid

Video - Checking Fluid Level

Video - Flush Angle Rams Part 1    

Video - Flush Angle Rams - Part 2

2-26-18 New Video. Why do the E-47, E-57, E-60, etc. take on water? Just my opinion.....



Smith Brothers Services, LLC
3212 State Route 94
Suite 9
Franklin, NJ  07416
(973) 209-PLOW
We are open 9 - 5 Eastern Time M-F

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Author: Chuck Smith

Common Misspellings: Meyers, Mayer, Mayers, Myer, Myers, Maier, Maiers, Meijer.