Three main factors affect the life of a track. They are ground conditions, how the operator runs the machine, and track tension. Paying attention to those three areas will help extend the life of your tracks.
There’s only so much you can do about the ground you’re running the machine on. However, driving your track machine over terrain the tracks are not meant to perform on will obviously wear the tracks down faster.
When it comes to machine movement, an operator can vastly improve the life of the tracks by limiting movement when possible, varying stops and turns, control the amount of track slip, limiting high speed reverses, not operating on the same side of the machine too much, and limiting downhill operation.
A tight track is the top reason tracks wear out quickly. A tight track will also wear down idlers, links, bushings, and sprockets. The sealing system can also be damaged by a tight track. Track tension is an ongoing observation. The terrain your machine is running on, the conditions of the weather, and the age of the tracks all contribute to track tension. Because these factors change constantly, it is important to check track tension periodically. It makes sense to check tension before running the machine, once after a few hours of operation, and perhaps before shutting down for the day.
It’s better to run a track a little on the loose side in case packing increases during operation however a track that is too loose also creates problems. You will know the track is too loose if it drags on the top of the roller frame. Check your OEM manufacturer for the right sag setting.
Today’s machines move fast, putting a lot of stress on undercarriage. A good operator will compensate for this by moving the machine in strategic ways that benefits track wear.
A good operator will avoid sharp turns and counter rotations at higher rates. Instead, if operators slow down these movements, track wear will be reduced. Not much time is lost in the process, only a few seconds. By the end of the work day, operation is slowed by only a few minutes which is definitely worth the reduced cost of replacing tracks before their expected life ends. Track inspections will easily determine if the machine isn’t being operated properly.
With fixed bushing tracks, high-speed reverses will wear down the bushings and sprockets faster. Rotating bushing tracks are much more tolerant with high-speed reverses.
Even when your tracks aren’t in motion they can be worn down simply by how your machine is positioned during operation. One of the top ways to eat up your track sis with side-hill operation. This position is especially stressful on an under carriage on the downhill side of the machine.
A machine operating on side-hill applications will have the link side working constantly against the roller flanges, which creates accelerated wear on both the links and on the roller flange. Operating on flat ground wears the undercarriage mostly on the rail surfaces of both the links and rollers.
Obviously, side-hill operation is often needed to complete a job. For that reason, it’s best to alternate the side of the machine’s orientation as often as possible.
KEEP TRACKS CLEAN
Tracks should be cleaned often, usually just before or after operation, especially when the tracks are packed with mud. A packed track will rob horsepower to the ground and will reduce undercarriage life due to heat and additional stresses. Debris stuck between undercarriage components is never a good things so be sure to clear everything out before operation.
Eventually, chains, sprockets and idlers need to be replaced. Running any of those components beyond their life is going to adversely affect the entire undercarriage. For instance, new rollers will increase the life of the chains, new chains will increase the life of the idlers, and so on.
There are a lot of good aftermarket undercarriage parts available for a cost much less than OEM parts so a little investment in new parts will eventually save you money down the line. With proper inspections, maintenance, and operation machine owners can expect to get a full life out of their undercarriage and perhaps even more.
Need a new part for your heavy machine? Click below to get a quote today!