Choosing The Right Rubber Skid Steer Track Tread
Choosing the Correct Tread Pattern on your Rubber Skid Steer Tracks for Common Terrains and Weather Conditions
There are many different rubber skid steer track tread styles with varying widths available to choose from. No wonder then that it can be quite overwhelming trying to figure out the perfect tread design and track size for a particular job and environment.
There are so many factors to consider when trying to determine the best type, style, and size of the tracks to go with for a certain project:
- Should I use wide or narrow rubber tracks?
- What tread pattern works best in a certain terrain?
- How can I be sure that I am maximizing productivity with the rubber track I eventually choose for a specific job?
These are the types of questions we get at Monster Tires all the time and yes, it can be a bit confusing if you do not have a professional to guide you. So let's break it down a bit so it can be easier for you to decide what track to go with.
Wide or Narrow Rubber Track?
Some compact track loaders can be outfitted and operated safely with either wide or narrow tracks. However, not all can so it’s crucial to find out first which compact track loaders actually do.
Go with a wider track for lower ground pressure and increased flotation. For higher ground pressure, increased traction and a stronger grip, a narrower track should be used instead.
The standard CTL track widths available are:
- 320mm (12.59″ wide)
- 400mm (15.74″ wide)
- 450mm (17.71″ wide)
To better understand when to use a wide or narrow track, let’s take it a step further by showing the correlation between the ground contact area (which varies depending on the width and length of a track) and ground contact pressure.
Ground contact pressure (measured in pounds per square inch or PSI) is calculated by dividing the operational weight or load of the machine by the contact area.
- So: PSI = Load/Area
To calculate the ground contact area, you simply multiply the width by the length.
Let’s use an example of a CTL that can be outfitted with tracks with different widths. Take one of the equipment for which we offer premium rubber tracks like the Bobcat T200 for instance. You can use either the 320mm or 400mm with this equipment, depending on what you are looking to accomplish.
You would use the 320mm if you are looking to get higher ground pressure and thus a better grip while the 400 mm would be suitable for enhanced flotation and lower ground pressure and disturbance.
The footprint area of the Bobcat T200, using the 320mm rubber track, is calculated as follows:
- Area = Width x Length
- Area = 12.59” x 59.5” = 749.1” (which translates to 1498.2” for two tracks)
- The ground pressure is calculated using the formula:
- Ground Contact Pressure (PSI) = Operating Weight/Area
- PSI = 8080/1498.2 = 5.39 psi
Using the 400 mm track, the ground contact area is 1053.74” (17.71” x 59.5”) for one track and 2107.49” for two tracks. With the 400mm track, the ground contact pressure is calculated to be 3.83 psi (i.e. 8080/2107.49), much lower than the pressure when using the narrower track. This allows for better flotation over softer terrains such as clay, mud and sand.
Even though premium rubber tires tend to be very durable, they need to be maintained properly to maximize performance and preserve their service life. For optimal performance, here are some factors to consider:
1. Proper Track Installation
Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s specifications and guidelines when installing your track system to avoid slippage, punctures and unnecessary wear. Rubber tracks tend to be heavy and you can expend a lot of energy installing them so it is also important to follow safety precautions to avoid personal injury.
2. Type of Job-site Terrain
You must keep in mind the nature of the environment and terrain you are working on with your Compact Track Loader (CTL). Make sure you are using the right rubber track for harsher terrains to preserve the service life for your tracks. As mentioned earlier, a wider track is better for muddy terrains, for instance, than a narrow track because of the increased flotation wider tracks offer. You do not want a situation where your CTL gets stuck in the mud!
3. Quality of Undercarriage Components
Undercarriage parts must be in great working condition to enhance the performance of the rubber tracks and your overall equipment. Drive sprockets and lugs must be checked on a frequent basis to make sure that they are working properly.
4. Operator’s Expertise and Experience
A compact track loader (CTL) or any other heavy equipment is really only as good as the person operating it. A common cause of premature track wear and tear is the operator’s technique. For instance, an experienced operator would not run a CTL like he or she would a skid steer. Counter-rotation spin turns might be ok with a skid steer but not a CTL, which has enough traction already. A good operator is also aware of the terrain and environments he or she is operating his equipment on and practices good maintenance.
If these factors are taken into account and implemented, the overall service life of your tracks is greatly increased. Contact a professional at Monster Tires if you need more information about these factors on how to sustain your rubber track’s service life.
So now that we’ve answered the question of what track width you should use on your compact track loader, let’s take a look at the available tread patterns for CTLs and see what works best for what particular terrain or environment you need to operate on.
There are four major types of tread patterns and Monster Tires offers them all!
The types of tread patterns are:
1. C-LUG Tread:
The C-Lug tread has a staggered tread pattern with notches cut out to give it a “C” look. This tread pattern offers a smooth ride and can be used on both highway sites and off-road sites. The cutting edges on this track increases traction for your equipment and also offers high performance. Due to the notches, splits are prevented when constant flexing occurs on the tracks while the CTL is in operation.
2. Staggered Tread:
This is a popular option and is used by the major manufacturer brands we offer such as John Deere, Volvo, Mustang and CASE among others. Staggered tread tracks are great on rocky and gravelly terrains as well as other abrasive surfaces like highways. The staggered pattern tracks we offer here at Monster Tires are highly durable and heat-resistant, made of Carbon Black content. They do not flake and tear easily under harsh conditions compared to other styles.
3. Straight-Bar Tread:
For muddy, wet terrain, we would recommend the Straight-Bar Tread. It is an aggressive option and tracks with this tread prevent your CTL from getting stuck in muddy environments by maximizing traction. On harder surfaces though, we would not recommend this tread pattern as it does not offer a smooth ride on hard surfaces like the C-LUG and Staggered tread would.
4. Multi-Bar Tread:
This type of tread pattern also provides increased traction like the Straight-Bar tread. The Multi-Bar tread works great on loose ground as well as hard surfaces. You should use this tread if you are working on job sites that require you to constantly move from hard surfaces to loose ground or vice verse. They offer a smooth ride on hard surfaces and increased traction on loose grounds and are a popular option for snow removal.
These are the major types of tread patterns on the market but this does not mean these are the only tread patterns we carry! We also offer many more options. Call the staff at Monster Tires today to work with you on picking tracks with the appropriate tread patterns that work the best on the terrains you are operating on. Keep in mind that one tread option can work on a variety of applications - gravel, turf, mud, pavement, sand etc. - but it is best to choose the best option for the particular terrain you are working on to maximize efficiency and performance as well as to lower your operating costs.