If you have ever been caught without a needed part on a weekend, you know why critical spares are bought and stocked to support a company’s equipment fleet. Normally, we expect that we can control downtime by having spares ready to go at a moment’s notice. And aftermarket industry pros—like Dominion Equipment Parts—typically are 100% in favor of fleet managers stocking those spares.
There are exceptions. Let’s talk about one of those exceptions: rubber tracks.
We certainly hate to discourage the purchase of rubber tracks, but as always, we’ve found that upfront honesty is the best policy.
No one knows more about the people who buy our rubber tracks than our Parts Manager, Bryan Maul. He tells us that there are two primary reasons that you probably don’t need to buy spare rubber tracks. Those are based on the unique way that rubber tracks wear, and a practical observation regarding warranties.
The analogy that Bryan often uses is to consider the way that rubber track wear mimics the wear of a tire. You can look at your tire, see how much tread you have left, and know roughly how long it will be before it will have to be replaced. If you really let it go, the tire will at some point reveal its steel cord. At that point, you know it is way beyond time to replace it!
The same is true of rubber tracks, with the proviso that rubber tracks can take much more abuse than a pneumatic tire. There is no fear of a “blowout” with rubber tracks, of course. And the rubber, as well as the steel cables inside the rubber, are likely to prevent any kind of catastrophic failure. In other words, you will almost always have plenty of time to plan the purchase of a replacement.
Here is the issue: most of the time your warranty starts from the date the tracks are purchased, not from the date you start using the tracks. What that means is that if you buy a set of spare tracks and you don’t need them right away, remember that warranty days are still ticking down. When you finally use them, your warranty may have expired.
As Bryan says, “I would rather talk about this at the time of sale, not a year later when an angry customer asks how his newly installed spare tracks can possibly be out of warranty!”
Another common problem is the storage of spare tracks. They are seldom stored properly at customer parts depots. The tracks should never be left outside or in direct sunlight. They must always be stored in a cool, dark, dry place. They should be laid flat, not hung on a hook or chain.
Ignoring any of these steps will result in a track that is not dependable. It will be cracked and weathered, or weakened by improper storage, and could fail prematurely. The proper storage and handling of the spares then become another pain point for your parts manager.
However, there are some specific instances where having spare rubber tracks on hand is a good idea.
If you have a gray market machine or a machine that takes an odd size, not commonly stocked, you may want to have spares on hand. You have to factor in the warranty issue. That said, if you understand your situation, having unused tracks as spares even though they are out of warranty may be your best solution. Just be very sure to store them properly.
Another rare exception to the “no spare tracks rule” depends upon the location of your job site. Rubber track carriers are commonly used in remote areas in support of pipeline construction. Others are used in forestry applications, in isolated areas far from a road, let alone a town.
In such cases, it may be necessary to have spare tracks on hand in case of some unforeseen failure. But as Bryan often points out, a rubber track failure should be something that you see coming well in advance.
In the event of a track failure requiring replacement, most customers in the continental U.S. can rely on Dominion Equipment Parts for storage and inventory control of replacement rubber tracks of all kinds. Delivery in that area, and parts of Canada, is often “next day.” That is, if the order comes in early enough in the day, we’ll ship it out the same day for next-day delivery from one of our coast-to-coast network of warehouses.
And to make sure that your tracks last as long as possible, we’ve prepared a handy worksheet that will guide you through the maintenance of the tracks you already have, just click below to check it out.
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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.