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Track Maintenance Tips
From dozers to crawler excavators, tracked equipment is crucial on many types of jobs. Often, these machines go where wheeled vehicles can't and provide the necessary traction on a variety of terrains. Owners and operators have a large influence on the lifespan of the undercarriage and tracks. Ensuring the correct chain tension, proper driving and operation, regular cleaning, and routine maintenance are necessary to minimize downtime and keep your machines working productively every day.
Choose the right tracks
The first step to maintaining a machine's tracks is ensuring you have the right tracks. Consider where and on what type of terrain you will be operating for the majority of the time. ?Firmer ground like hard packed soil or rocky terrain calls for a narrower track width or "shoe width". However, muddy or soft ground will require a wider shoe width for even weight distribution and to keep your machine from sinking.
Maintain correct track tension
For longevity, you should always adjust track tension to the manufacturer's specifications. It's important to check the tension regularly, especially when working on soft surfaces like sand, mud, or snow. Those materials can become compacted in grooves, putting excess tension on the tracks and leading to avoidable damage. When working in such conditions, it's important to clean your machine's tracks at the end of each work day.
Inspect your undercarriage before operation
It's important to inspect all equipment before beginning work each day. Part of that inspection for tracked machines should include checking the undercarriage for loose bolts, leaky seals, and any abnormal wear patterns. A loose track shoe bolt can quickly lead to a shoe or link failure and costly repairs. Also look for deep cuts or cracks that can allow moisture into the cords, which will shorten the life of the tracks.
Ensure careful operation
One of the biggest factors that determines how long your tracks will last is how the machine is operated on a day to day basis. Avoid counter rotating the tracks whenever possible, as it accelerates wear on the entire undercarriage. Turns should always be accomplished gradually while moving slowly. Also, drive with the idlers forward as much as possible. Driving in reverse causes the top half of the track to be subjected to the full tractive pull, which will add extra stress on the pins and bushings.
Inspect the jobsite
Rocks, stumps, and obstacles can damage your machine's tracks and the undercarriage in general by creating excessive concentrated loads on its components. Always check the ground you're working on for these types of obstructions, and remove or avoid them as much as possible.