Walk Behind Power Trowel are a very common piece of equipment used for finishing concrete slabs. They come in a variety of sizes and there are power trowels that you ride on as well. If you are in the concrete finishing industry, I am sure you know what these units are and even possibly how to use them. This blog is more geared to beginners, but there may be some good tips or refreshers for a seasoned pro.
Before You Start
Majority of Walk Behind Trowels are gas powered. Because of this, there are a few key things to remeber before starting up your machine. Ensure that there is an appropriate amount of oil in the engine. I know this sounds ridiculous to state, but the number of people who forget this is not insignificant. Another thing to check is your gearbox oil. On Bartell trowels, there is a view area on the side of the gearbox with a white mark. That is where the oil should be filled to every time you trowel. This will ensure that you get long life out of your gearbox and machine. Finally, make sure that your spider arms are greased every time you use your power trowel. This will make pitching the blades easy and make sure that your trowel rides over the concrete properly. If you check these 3 things often you will always have a power trowel in good condition.
Starting Your Walk Behind Trowel
Most engines will start the same. Remember if the engine is cold to use the choke. Most power trowel will start without any throttle needing to be applied and will idle without spinning their blades. Once the power trowel's engine is started you are now ready to get those blades spinning. To do this, increase the speed by adjusting the throttle control located on the handle. You should now see the blades starting to spin on the floor. To speed up or slow down the blades, simply adjust the throttle control.
Operating the Trowel
Once the trowel blades are moving, you will now be able to get a feel for how the trowel steers. To move the unit to the right, put a little bit of pressure down on the handle. This should gently move the trowel to the right. If you would like to move the trowel to the left, lightly lift the handle. This is the basics of using a trowel. As you operate it more, you will get a better feel for how much pressure is needed to steer the unit effectively. Note that operating a trowel is much different depending what type of surface you are on. If you are trying it out on hard concrete, you may need to get a feel for it on wet concrete before feeling comfortable. There is much less resistance when the concrete is dry, resulting in a very different experience.
If you want more info on actually troweling wet concrete, you can check out our blog titled "A Beginners Guide to Troweling Concrete: Part 2". This blog covers the process when finishing concrete and will be a great next step to look into.
Our Walk Behind Trowel training video covers many of these points and a few more specific to Bartell power trowels. You can watch it below.
At the end of the day, the best way to learn how to use a walk behind power trowel is to get behind one and learn as you go. Hopefully this blog gives you a bit of information that will help you get started.