To prepare your batting cages for the upcoming season, the following spring startup procedures are recommended. First and most important is to train new employees or retrain existing employees in the safe operation, proper care, and use of the equipment. Available on our site is the Safety & Maintenance training video. Also available are Service Manuals that include safety and maintenance procedures and checklists. You will refer to this manual often and it is useful when calling ABC for service. Our maintenance section has information on adjusting the ball drop chute to servicing the lightbox electronics and everything in between. It also has a very helpful troubleshooting section and complete parts listing for easy ordering. If you don’t have a copy of our Service Manual or Safety & Maintenance video, call 1-800-854-3140 and order one!
Spring Startup Tips to Remember:
- Remove all equipment coverings.
- Re-install all equipment that was removed for the winter.
- Re-tie all perimeter pole net ropes and raise the net. Inspect net for rips, tears, holes, etc. and repair as needed.
- Check center pole collar hook release rope for dry rot, fraying, or wear and replace if needed. Check winch cable for fraying and replace it if needed.
- Inspect all pitching machines and clean/adjust the following components (refer to your service manual for procedures on how to do this). Clean all wheels. Lubricate the variable speed pulley and adjust each machine to the fastest speed and then slow down to the desired speed. If the variable speed pulley does not open and retract then it needs to be replaced. Inspect the drive belt for wear, fraying, or dry rot and replace it if needed. Lubricate the wheel shaft bearings and check for any movement in the bearings to shaft, replace if needed. Lubricate the speed adjust arm collar, the left/right adjuster knob threaded rod, the speed adjust crank handle, and the hi/low adjust handle.
- Adjust “feeding chutes” and ball count micro switches. Verify the chute “tongue” is aligned so that the balls are delivered to the center of the pitching wheels. Clean all feeding troughs. Verify that the troughs are hung properly and that after the balls are released from the pinch roller assembly they exit the 90-degree drop without sticking in the feed chute. Check for proper spacing between the 90-degree drop and the chute, there should be a minimum of 3 ½ inches for baseball and 4 ½ inches for softball. Check pinch roller wheel for missing chunks or gummy texture and replace it if needed. Check the pinch roller set screw and verify it is tight and installed correctly (the pinch roller wheel should not be able to spin on the motor shaft).
- Inspect Conveyor/Distributing System and adjust the following components – Adjust belt tension on conveyor belting; there should be about 6 inches of play in the belt. Check conveyor drive belt motor pulley and belt, replace the belt if dry rot or fraying is visible. Lubricate conveyor pulley upper and lower bearings. Remove Chinese hats from the baseball and softball hoppers and clean out debris. Check the distributing system for proper operation. Check gear oil on conveyor drive motor; use heavy-duty gear oil (about 21 ounces by weight).
- Inspect Warning Light Boxes for proper operation. Replace any light bulbs and lenses if needed. Check that the lens guard is installed and is in good condition. Replace any relays/logic blocks as needed. Position light boxes so that the lights are towards the batters, tighten lightboxes to the mounting posts. Check all cords for fraying, bare wire, or bad connections and replace them as needed. Verify circuit boards are secure and that all ground connections are clean; if corrosion is present, use a wire brush and clean it off.
- Inspect Coin Boxes/Mechanisms for proper operation. Adjust and replace coin mechanisms and micro switches as needed. Inspect all wire leads and replace terminal connections as needed. Drop tokens and verify each machine operates properly and is throwing in the strike zone, adjust if needed. Check coin boxes for faded or missing decals and replace them as needed.
- Inspect Master Control Panel or BC-2 or MP04A1 computers for proper operation. Start and stop all machines from the panel. Verify each machine is counting down balls on the panel. Verify ball and coin count is correct.
- Inspect warning signs for damage. Replace any signs that are missing or not legible.
- Check roof cover over pitching machines for wear, replace if necessary.
- Inspect all baseballs and softballs for wear. Balls that show dimple and groove wear should be replaced. We recommend beginning each season with new balls! This will ensure the most accurate pitching of all machines. Very important!
- Check the home plate and “do not cross” line. Re-paint if faded.
And, remember, if you have any questions feel free to call us!