Tokai Premium Rubber Track Replacement on Bobcat E45 Mini Excavator
How to Install Rubber Tracks on a Bobcat Mini Excavator E 45 (Step by Step Overview and Walkthrough)
Today we'll walk you through the process of step-by-step installing tracks on a Bobcat E45 Mini Excavator. We are going to cover the complete in-depth guide on how to replace mini excavator rubber tracks in a step-by-step format that will be easy to follow.
Mini Excavator Tracks Step by Step Installation
- Remove Zerk Fitting Cover Plate
- Release Pressure in the Piston Assembly
- Lay Down Cardboard to Catch Grease
- Remove the Zerk Fitting
- Jack Stands Under Unit
- Using Bobcat Blade & Boom
- Block of Wood Near the Sprocket (Optional)
- Remove Tracks from Tunnel Assembly
- Remove Tracks from Sprocket Side
- Place new tracks on Tunnel Assembly
- Reinstall Zerk Fitting
- Pump Grease & Measure Track Gap
- Reinstall the Zerk Fitting Cover Plate
- Inspect Your New Rubber Tracks
If you are looking to install rubber tracks on a mini excavator for the first time, you might think it’s harder than it actually is. If you have the right tools and a little patience, you should have your old tracks off and a new set on within an hour. Follow along with our install and let us know if you have any questions in the comments section below.
Depending on the type of track you're looking for, you can start your search in our mini excavator rubber track section, through our online store. In our store, you will find all major brands including the new lineup of Tokai tracks available in many tread patterns, among many others.
Preferred Tools & Time to install
Time: 1 hour
- Metric Wrenches
- Grease gun
- Grease rag
- Pieces of cardboard
- Pry bar
- Safety glasses
- Jack stands
- Tape measure
- Skid Steer
- Two people
Depending on the machine and the brand of mini excavator, you will have certain measurements. Some measurements are metric and some are standard. On the E45 mini excavator, our cover bolts are 13mm and the Zerk fitting is 12mm.
Step 1: Remove Zerk Fitting Cover Plate
The first thing you want to do is take off the Zerk fitting cover plate on the side of the tracks tunnel assembly. If you are unsure about the parts on a mini excavator or a skid steer, please refer to our guide on skid steer tracks. Although it’s not model- or machine-specific, it will give you an idea of the assembly layout.
Once you remove the Zerk fitting cover plate, you’ll want to take out the actual grease fitting. While you have the Zerk fitting cover plate off, using a set of shop towels or grease rags, clean out and remove the debris from the Zerk fitting access port.
Step 2A: Release Pressure in the Piston Assembly
Start by switching from a 13 mm socket to a 12 mm socket in order to remove the Zerk fitting.
The grease piston assembly and coil spring keep tension on your sprocket and idler. Your rubber tracks tension on the sprocket and idler can be controlled through the amount of grease you put into the piston assembly through the Zerk fitting. Depending on your unit, the Zerk is about 1-2.5" long with one side threaded into place.
Once you remove the Zerk, the pressure inside the grease piston assembly will dispense grease from the exposed Zerk hole, thus allowing the grease piston assembly to collapse and ultimately retracting the idler. With the Zerk head fully removed, and your unit off the ground (step 4), the grease piston assembly will lose lots of greases. But, for the sake of the install, the process is much easier with the Zerk completely removed, along with a fully open grease piston assembly line.
The goal here is to remove the tension on your idler which is accomplished by releasing the pressure within the piston assembly.
Step 2B: Lay Down Cardboard to Catch Grease
Although this portion of this step is optional, we recommend placing a piece of cardboard below the tracks to prevent grease from hitting the ground. This part is optional but will catch grease once dispensed from the tunnel assembly.
Step 3: Remove the Zerk Fitting
Using your grease rags, clean the area around the Zerk fittings to prevent debris from entering the cylinder. If debris enters the cylinder, it may cause excessive wear that may result in premature failure and cause a need to repair or replace.
Also, while loosening in the Zerk fitting, it is important to wear gloves and safety glasses to prevent eye injury.
Please keep your face out of the line of sight with Zerk fitting. Proceed to remove Zerk fitting from the unit. It’s important to remove the Zerk fitting from the unit before you lift the unit off the ground.
This will ensure that not too much pressure will build up in the piston assembly line. If you have too much pressure in the piston assembly line, then after you remove the Zerk fitting, grease will aggressively shoot straight out causing a mess or, worse, causing an injury.
Step 4: Jack Stands Under Unit
As a safety precaution, place jack stands underneath the unit. The last thing you want to happen is for the boom or blade to fail and have the whole unit come crashing down, either on you while you’re working on the machine or the tracks.
There have been many cases of this happening where the machine drops down and damages the idler and/or the sprocket, and then ultimately those parts need to be replaced. Do yourself a favor and take the safety measures of placing jack stands underneath your unit.
Step 5: Using Bobcat Blade & Boom - Lift the unit off the Ground
Using the knockdown blade and boom on the mini excavator lift the unit up about 6 inches.
Step 6 (Optional): Block of wood near the sprocket
If the idler is giving you a hard time, then try the block of wood.
Using a block of wood, place the block of wood in between the sprocket and the track. The wood has enough play so that the sprocket won’t get damaged. Once the block of wood is in between the sprocket and the track system, gently rotate the tracks forward. This will cause the block of wood to get stuck in between the track and the sprocket, pushing the grease out of the open fitting.
By pushing the grease out of the open Zerk fitting, it gives us more slack to remove this track easily. Again, the grease tensions the whole line which causes the track to tighten onto the assembly. By removing the grease, the track becomes loose and is now able to come off.
Step 7: Remove tracks from tunnel assembly on idler side or front tunnel assembly
You want to start by removing the tracks from the tunnel assembly on the idler side, otherwise known as the front tunnel assembly.
Using a heavy-duty chain, loop one end of the chain underneath the rubber track and loop it up and over the rubber track. Lock the chain in place and then pull the rubber track off and over the idler.
With smaller units, you may be able to manually pull the track off the tunnel assembly.
With larger units, such as this mini excavator that weighs 500 pounds and other units that weigh more, use another piece of equipment, like a skid steer with forks attachments, preferably.
Step 8: Remove tracks from sprocket side
At this point, the tracks are loose on the front and rear tunnel assembly. Using your skid steer forks and a chain, loop the chain around the rear tracks, and instead of pulling up and out, pull straight away.
Step 9: Place new tracks on Tunnel Assembly
In order to place the tracks on the tunnel assembly, you want to loop the tracks around your skid steel fork attachments. Once your tracks are positioned on top of your skid steers fork attachments, position the tracks horizontally against the mini excavator's tunnel assembly.
After your tracks and unit are horizontal with each other, drop the tracks on the ground. Using one fork, grab a corner of the rubber tracks and position one side over the sprocket. Using the other fork, grab the other end of the track and loop it up and over the idler. This is where things can get tricky and patience goes a long way here.
Be patient as you position the rubber tracks into place over the idler. With another person guiding you, lay the machine and tracks into place. It may take a couple of tries in order to correctly position the mini excavator tracks into place. And be careful not to rip or tear the tracks as you're adjusting them. Ripping your tracks while installing them may cause unsafe job site performance and possibly void your warranty.
Step 10: Reinstall Zerk Fitting
Step 11: Pump Grease & Measure Track Gap
By adding grease into the Zerk fitting, this will apply pressure into the track tensioner (grease piston assembly) which tightens the track to the tunnel assembly.
Before you apply grease, your gap between the bottom roller and your track will vary but average at around 4-5”.
Preferred Mini Excavator Rubber Track Spacing Gap
We want to reduce this gap down to 2-2.5” inches. This is a general rule of thumb.
Too much grease in the grease piston assembly line will cause exceedingly tight tracks, and if ran will cause premature failure, and may possibly void your warranty. If you do accidentally add too much grease, just remove the Zerk to bleed the grease, and then start over.
Step 12: Reinstall the Zerk Fitting Cover Plate
Step 13: Inspect your new Rubber Tracks
You'll want to run the machine in, both, forward and reverse, full rotation in both directions while looking out for problems that may arise. While inspecting the tracks, listen for unusual noises, like popping or knocks. These may be a sign of incorrect installation.