Every compact track has a rubber track, which is included for a particular use. You can only get the best out of this track if you choose the proper tread. Depending on the type of job, you may need minimal ground disturbance or simple traction. So, how do you know when to choose either?
We have put this detailed track selection guide to make the right choice always.
Why is maintenance important?
There are different angles to equipment maintenance. In the case of compact track loaders, maintenance includes keeping your tracks in excellent condition. The individual components of your machines are likely to last longer if you ensure adequate overall care. Running your equipment efficiently, ensuring it is clean, and sticking to the guidelines in the Operations and Maintenance Manual (OMM) can help you get more years out of your tracks. Most manufacturers include the OMM in the pouch behind the machine’s seat, where you find important details on servicing and maintaining your equipment.
Experts recommend starting your workday with machine walk-arounds. Most compact track loaders usually have a unique service chart that guides your scheduled service intervals and maintenance points. Cleaning and greasing the undercarriage of your compact track loader are essential aspects of maintenance. Doing it daily helps to maximise component life. You should also inspect the machine for any damage or wear and tear. The track extension is another part to pay attention to—your OMM will provide specific instructions on how to proceed.
How frequent should maintenance be?
As mentioned earlier, proper maintenance will help you get the longest possible lifespan out of your compact track loader or steer loader. The maintenance steps differ across manufacturers, and sticking to these steps is vital to keep your machine performing optimally. In most cases, the frequency of maintenance depends on a few factors, including the operator, form of application, soil conditions, condition of the undercarriage parts, and climate. That is why we recommend paying close attention to the track tension—it is key to maximising the lifespan of the track’s undercarriage components.
Assess the track tension while the machine is on a levelled surface and supported such that the whole track is just two inches above the surface. If the tracks are too tight, it can lead to premature failure of the tracks, loss of power, and bearing failures. Similarly, too loose tracks put the machine at risk of derailing and damage from drive lugs misfeeding on the drive sprocket.
Remember that your OMM is your most reliable source of guidance on track adjustment and maintenance. It contains information specific to your machine model instead of generic instructions you find online.
How do you know when the tracks are due for replacement?
On average, a set of well-maintained rubber tracks are expected to deliver between 1,200 and 1,500 hours of use. However, the exact number may vary due to a few factors. Experts have classified the impacts on track life into four groups: application, operating techniques, underfoot conditions, and maintenance practices.
The track life of any compact track loader depends on the application because various job sites require different performance levels from the components.
Therefore, the extent of wear and tear differs with the type of materials.
Another determining factor is how the operators handle the machine. Moving constantly at high speed will most likely wear the machine faster. Quick turns and counter-rotations also cause more wear than simple and gentle turns. The wear rate is higher when spinning tracks, for instance, when pushing into a pile.
Regarding the underfoot conditions, the wear rate differs across the surface types the tracker is working on. For example, snow, rock, dirt, and grass all task the tracker differently. This is another reason maintenance is essential. Regular inspection and cleaning of your undercarriage and ensuring proper track tension will extend the lifespan of your rubber tracks.
Now to answer the question of when a replacement is due, the best time to replace your tracks is when the tread is no longer delivering at the level you expect. A drop in performance is an indication that you need new tracks. This may manifest in different ways, including poor traction, the inability of the track to hold tension, and more.
What are the available track options?
Are you shopping for new tracks for your machine? One advantage is that you have a few excellent options to choose from. You must examine them and find the best fit for your model and the intended applications.
Let’s start with these two considerations;
- Block vs Bar Tread
- General Duty vs Heavy Duty
Block vs Bar Tread
The block tread is known for its good quality and durability. It is excellent for a wide range of use, except for snow removal, where it does a below-par job. The bar tread, on the other hand, is the ideal all-season track. It comes in handy if you expect to use your track on different terrains, including snow. Its ground disturbance level is low and leaves behind a good finish always. With the bar tread, your operator will also get a smoother ride on asphalt, concrete, and other hard surfaces.
General Duty vs Heavy Duty
You may also have to choose between general-duty and heavy-duty tracks. What separates both are the pricing, expected service life, and hours of operation. The general-duty rubber tracks are more suitable for users who want to lower their costs of ownership and operations. Heavy-duty tracks come in wide or narrow track widths and block or bar tread patterns. Your choice between the wide or narrow track widths will depend on what you use the machine for.
For example, the wider track option is more suitable if your application requires a low ground pressure with improved floatation. Conversely, if your application requires the narrowest overall machine width, the narrow track operation will be ideal. Once you have decided what to go for, check in with your local dealer to confirm the availability of the CAT parts.
Alternatively, you can reach out to your manufacturer directly to confirm the availability of new tracks for your compact track loader. For instance, owners of CAT compact track loaders can check with their local CAT dealers to discuss their specific CAT parts needs depending on their applications and receive expert guidance on available options.
Like other parts of your machine, adequate maintenance is the only way to get the best output and longest possible lifespan out of your compact track loader’s rubber track. In addition to the maintenance tips provided in this article, we recommend consulting your operations and maintenance manual for instructions specific to your track loader’s make and model.
Finally, your rubber tracks cannot serve forever, even with the best maintenance culture. When ready for a change, ensure you choose the correct replacement that suits your intended applications.