One benefit we sometimes forget to mention is that, although they might have a greater upfront cost, tracks generally last longer than tires and require less frequent reinvestment – that is, if they’re treated sensibly.
Taking advantage of some industry best practices can help you extend the operating life of your rubber tracks and can significantly improve your bottom line. The following seven tips will widen your margin by reducing the overall cost of ownership and improve productivity by maximizing track performance and preventing unscheduled downtime.
Place training your operators on how to properly drive a rubber-tracked machine high at the top of your list when it comes to getting the most out of your tracks. Discourage zero-radius turns. Counter-rotating the tracks to perform this skid steer-like maneuver is one of the surest ways to induce premature wear, especially on abrasive surfaces. Make three-point turns instead.
Travel directly up and down steep slopes. Running fast across steep slopes horizontally or making sharp turns on them with your CTL, mini-excavator, or other tracked vehicles places abusive side loads on their tracks and undercarriage components and is the most common cause of derailing.
Use proper ramps to load and unload a tracked vehicle on or from a trailer. Clear the path of all sharp debris like jagged concrete fragments and projecting rebar. And place boards down to ease the machine up and over curbs.
Cleaning and inspecting a tracked machine’s undercarriage should be any user’s standard operating procedure. When possible, use a pressure washer to clean the undercarriage components, making sure to remove all dirt, salt, oil, fuel, and debris buildup in and around sprockets, rollers, and idlers that were picked up from the worksite.
Schedule prompt replacement of undercarriage parts showing signs of wear. Worn sprocket teeth can pull out the links from the tracks. Worn rollers can cut into the rolling area, causing serious damage.
Ensure that replacement tracks you order are the correct size and type for your machine and that they fit exactly to the manufacturer’s specifications. Also consider replacing undercarriage components when you replace the tracks, since well-worn components may no longer be within tolerance for a proper fit with the track.
Whether due to poor track manufacture or worn undercarriage parts, a poor match between the sprockets and the track lug length and pitch will result in poor performance and a shortened useful life.
Check track tension at least once a week to eliminate what is easily preventable wear and damage. Refer to your owner’s manual for proper track tension of your make and model. Too little tension leads to damaged lugs and cleats. Yet do not over-tension your tracks, which will also lead to excessive wear.
Be mindful that your tracks are made of a rubber-based compound and are therefore vulnerable to certain chemicals as well as to substances like salt, oil, and fuel. While sharp objects and abrasive ground surfaces themselves can physically slice off and wear down the rubber track material, the presence of chemical contaminants makes a powerfully destructive combination that can diminish a track’s expected useful life much more rapidly.
When possible, limit the operation of your rubber-tracked machine in such an environment, choosing perhaps a steel-tracked machine for this job instead. And after exposure to such an environment, thoroughly clean its tracks and undercarriage as soon as possible.
Also, avoid as much as possible prolonged exposure to the sun. Whenever possible, park your rubber-tracked machinery that’s not in use in the shade or protect it with a tarp.
Obviously, the use of a trailer to relocate tracked machinery instead of driving it from site to site will help reduce the rate of wear not only of its tracks but of its undercarriage parts as well.
Rubber tracks that are not on a machine should be stored in a relaxed position on their sides in a cool, dry, protected environment. Tracks that are left on a machine in storage should be moved every one or two weeks. Periodically driving the machines for at least five minutes a couple of times a month will help to maintain the tracks’ flexibility.
Keep your machines running safely and productively with properly performing rubber tracks.
Here at Dominion Equipment Parts, we have experts standing by to get you OEM-quality rubber tracks and components at aftermarket prices precisely made to perfectly fit your exact make and model of machine.
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Dominion Rubber Tracks are available for all mini excavators, compact track loaders and tracked Carriers. Our replacement undercarriage parts include a fully stocked line of sprockets, rollers and idlers, manufactured to the highest quality control standards. Dominion Equipment Parts is also the exclusive OEM parts distributor for Morooka Rubber Track Carriers in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central and South America.