Skid Steer Tracks & Mini Excavator Tracks – Complete Guide
A complete guide on skid steer tracks, compact track loader tracks, Multi-terrain loader tracks, and Mini Excavator Tracks.
Skid Steer Tracks & Mini Excavator Tracks – Key Terminology
It is important to be familiar with common rubber track terminology used within the rubber track industry. Without a good knowledge of key terms, it can be difficult navigating the ins and outs of the rubber track industry and the compact equipment industry in general.
Below is a list of key terms and their definitions. Refer to this page when reading through this tutorial for clarification.
- Embed: Refers to the core metal piece molded inside the rubber track. The embed is often referred to as the link.
- Pitch: The distance from the center of one embed to the center of the next embed. The pitch, multiplied by the number of embeds, will equal the total circumference of the rubber track.
- Sprocket: The sprocket is the gear of the machine, usually powered by a hydraulic drive motor, that engages the embeds to propel the machine.
- Long Pitch Track: Embeds that land on every other sprocket tooth. Also known as “full pitch.”
- Short Pitch Track: Embeds that land on every sprocket tooth. Also known as “short pitch.”
- Tread Pattern: The shape and style of tread on the rubber track. The tread pattern is the portion of the rubber track which comes in contact with the ground. A rubber track’s tread pattern is sometimes referred to as lugs.
- Idler: That portion of the machine which comes in contact with the rubber track to apply pressure to keep the rubber track properly tensioned for operation.
- Roller: The part of the machine which comes in contact with the running surface of the rubber track. The roller supports the weight of the machine on the rubber track. The more rollers a machine has, the more the weight of the machine can be distributed over the rubber track, lowering the overall ground pressure of the machine.
Guide systems for rubber-tracked machines and steel-tracked machines are essentially the same in makeup. Each has a sprocket to engage the track for motion. Each also has bottom rollers to support the weight of the machine and act like a tire to roll on the surface of the track. Both track types also have an idler wheel. In most cases, skid steer tracks have multiple idlers, while mini excavator tracks have one idler. The idler wheel is usually attached to a hydraulic cylinder. This cylinder telescopes forward and back to apply and relieve tension to the track to keep the track on the machine.
Although the components of skid steer tracks versus multi terrain loader tracks or MTL Tracks are the same whether steel or rubber tracked, the designs can be very different.
Steel Track vs Rubber Track Undercarriage Guidance Systems
Steel track undercarriage guidance systems create a constant flat surface for the roller to move freely in either direction. Much like a railroad track and train, a steel undercarriage is the railroad system for the machine.
The first rubber track guidance system could not be made like the steel track “railroad” system due to a lack of industry knowledge at the time. The embeds in the rubber track were designed differently from their steel counterparts. The steel track links, known as embeds in rubber tracks, had a dual function. Not only did the links engage the sprocket for travel but they also created the roadway for the machine. The original rubber track embeds also engage the sprocket for motion but have no part in creating the roadway like the steel track links.
The first link designed rubber tracks were known as “conventional style” designs. The term “conventional” can be used when referring to the rubber track or the undercarriage. Conventional describes how the roller of the machine contacts the track.
The roller does not run or sit on the embed of the rubber track as it does on the steel track chain. The roller contact directly on the rubber of the track and not on the steel embed. The rubber track will have a built up rubber platform that supports the weight of the machine. This platform also creates the constant flat surface the rollers need to run smoothly.
Another conventional style roller design has the roller running down the center of the embed only. The roller will contact the center base of the embed and will not contact the top of the embed. The tall sides of the embed assist in reducing derail hazard.
Types of Skid Steer, MTL & Mini Excavator Track Guide Systems
Another guide system type for rubber track machines is the Interchangeable Style system. The interchangeable system has a somewhat self-explanatory name. With advancements in technology, engineers were able to design an embed system that allows the rollers to operate on the embed like the rollers do on a steel chain.
Our design shows the differences in the designs of the conventional embed systems and the interchangeable embed systems. The differences are noticed visually and are easy to distinguish. The tall spike appearance of the conventional system embeds and the shorter, flat embeds of the interchangeable systems are easy to identify.
The interchangeable system rubber track can be used on a steel track designed undercarriage. The conventional system cannot be used on a steel track undercarriage without extensive modification to the undercarriage of the machine.
The costs associated with modifying a conventional undercarriage system to an interchangeable undercarriage system will usually outweigh the value of the machine. This is why most compact excavators are now designed with an interchangeable undercarriage system. This provides flexibility, allowing the user of the machine to easily alternate between steel or rubber tracks, depending on the nature of the job. This alternating may sometimes require only minor changes in undercarriage components. In most cases, no modifications are required. In a few instances, only the idler may need to be changed. Due to the fact that only minor modifications may be needed to switch between rubber and steel tracks when using the interchangeable undercarriage system, the costs associated with changing between steel and rubber tracks is greatly reduced.
Conventional Style Rubber Track Guidance Systems
Conventional type rubber tracks can only operate on track undercarriages that are specifically designed to operate a rubber track. Conventional style undercarriages cannot operate on a steel track.
This is an example of a conventional style rubber track. Roller does not contact rubber track Embed Roller runs on built up area of track
Conventional Style Rubber Track Guide Types
- CT1 Roller Design
- CT2 Roller Design: Where the roller contacts the surface area of the track will be a built up rubber platform.
- CT3 Roller Design: Where the roller contacts the surface area of the track will usually be a built up metal embed.
Interchangeable Style Rubber Track Guidance Systems
Interchangeable type rubber tracks can operate on undercarriages designed to operate steel tracks. This flexibility has allowed the compact equipment market to grow at unprecedented rates without interruption due to limitations in manufacturing the same model machine with two different undercarriage styles.
This is an example of a conventional style rubber track. Notice the load distribution of the roller is directly on top of the embed. This embed style design allows the rubber track to act like a steel track link, thus enabling the rubber track to operate on an undercarriage designed to run steel tracks.
Interchangeable Style Rubber Track Guide Types
- IT 1 Roller Design
- IT 2 Roller Design: Where the roller contacts the surface area of the track will usually be a built up metal Embed.
- IT 3 Roller Design: Where the roller contacts the surface area of the rubber track will usually be a built up metal Embed.
HANDLING & OPERATION DO’S AND DON’TS FOR USERS
- DO maintain the correct tension on your tracks at all times. Check your vehicle operating manual for details, or ask your dealer for information.
- DO check the undercarriage components (i.e. sprocket, rollers and idler) for wear and damage periodically. Wear and damage of undercarriage components can affect rubber track performance and durability.
- DO limit the use of your vehicle on sharp rocky surfaces, gravel and fields with crop stubble.
- DO avoid too many fast and sharp turns or side slope turns.
- DO prevent large foreign objects from becoming entangled in your undercarriage.
- DON’T drive with track sidewall edges pressing against hard walls, curbs and other objects.
- DO clean off oil or similar products that get on the tracks immediately.
- DO keep your vehicle sheltered, away from rain and direct sunlight when storing your vehicle for extended periods of time. This protects against undue oxidation.
Types of Rubber Track Damage
Rubber tracks are used for various applications under a wide variety of operating conditions. During a rubber track’s service life, various types of damage may occur. Some types of damage do not affect continued use of the rubber tracks. However, others cause fatal damage requiring replacement of the rubber track.
This informational guide will show examples of different types of possible rubber track damage, depicted by our illustrations. These illustrations describe the possible causes of damage as well as the recommended preventative steps which need to be taken to extend the service life of rubber tracks.
Types of Rubber Track Damage During Operation
EXAMPLE 1: Severed Steel Cords
- Damage: Embedded steel cords are cut off
- Result: Replacement is required
Causes of Damage:
- When the tension of the track is in excess of the breaking strength of the embedded steel cords, this can cause steel cords to be cut.
- When the rubber track is derailing, the idler or sprocket rides on the projections of the embedded links and causes what is termed a catastrophic failure.
The following preventative measures should be taken to minimize the risk of severed steel cords:
- Regularly perform an on-site checking of the recommended track tension level.
- Avoid making quick turns on bumpy and rocky fields.
- Machine operators should carefully drive to avoid having stone or other particles clog the rubber track and undercarriage housing.
- Avoid driving over sharp objects in fields. If this cannot be avoided and the work site is littered with sharp objects, avoid making turns while driving over sharp objects as much as possible.
EXAMPLE 2: Abrasion of Embedded Metal Pieces
- Damage: In proportion to the service time, embedded links are gradually abraded.
- Result: Replacement is required when the width of the embedded link (D1) becomes 67% of their original width (D).
The cause of Damage:
When the track rollers roll over embeds, and sprocket and idler gears with them, abrasion of embeds is inevitable. The following cases sometimes accelerate their abrasion:
- Sprocket configuration does not properly correspond with the design of the embeds.
- Rubber tracks are operated under extraordinarily heavy loads.
- Rubber tracks are used in very sandy soil conditions.
- Over-tensioning of the rubber track can cause accelerated wear of the embeds
- An excessive reverse operation of the rubber track machine can cause accelerated wear of the embeds.
As long as rubber tracks are used under normal operating conditions, abnormal abrasion is unlikely to occur. The level of abrasion should be carefully checked when the machines are mainly operated for towing and dozing works which generate a heavy load for rubber tracks. The level of abrasion should also be checked when the tracks are used in sandy conditions for an extended period of time.
EXAMPLE 3: Expulsion of Embed Due to External Forces
- Damage: Extraordinary outer forces applied to embeds cause their expulsion from the rubber track’s body.
- Result: Even a partial separation of the embed requires replacement of the complete track.
Causes of Damage:
Embeds have adhered between the steel cords and the rubber body. The following cases generate external forces greater than the adhesion strength, causing separation of the embedded metals:
- When a rubber track is derailed, it becomes stuck between the guide frame or the undercarriage frame, causing separation of the embeds.
- Abnormally abraded sprockets as shown in the sketch will cause expulsion of the embeds prematurely.
- Sprockets should be checked regularly for premature wear.
Similar to the prevention against the cut of steel cords:
- Recommended tension level should be maintained at all times.
- Quick turns on bumpy and rocky conditions should be avoided.
- If abnormal or excessive abrasion of sprockets is observed, replace the parts immediately and check rubber track embeds for damage.
EXAMPLE 4: Separation of Embeds Due to Corrosion
- Damage: Due to corrosion of embeds, the adhesion to the rubber body deteriorates, resulting in complete separation.
- Result: Even partial separation of embeds requires a complete track replacement.
The cause of Damage:
Embeds have adhered to the rubber body. The following operating conditions cause embedded metals to corrode, causing deterioration of the adhesion and finally resulting in separation of the embedded metals from the rubber body:
- Excessively salty environments, such as beachfront areas
- Strongly acidic or alkali containing terrains
- Compost spread grounds
In case of an outside roller design such as roller type IT 2, IT 3, CT 2 or CT 3 arrangement, track rollers gradually abrade the rubber surface at track roller side, resulting in exposure of the embeds. Consequently, the embeds will corrode resulting in their separation from the rubber body. This is not a defect but normal, gradual wear and tear of the rubber track.
If rubber tracks are used under the field conditions just described in the causes of damage section above, they should be washed with a lot of water. Once dry, they should be stored properly. When the cover rubber is separated from the embed projections and the metals in the rubber body become loose, it is time to consider replacing the rubber track but keep in mind that this is not mandatory.
Example 5: Cut on Lug Side of Rubber
Damage: Cut on lug side of rubber often occurs as one of the most typical failure modes.
Result: When a cut on the lug side rubber reaches the embedded steel cords, it should be immediately repaired.
The cause of Damage:
When rubber tracks drive over projections or sharp stones, the concentrated forces applied cause cuts on the lug side of the rubber surface. When making turns on projections, the lug side rubber surface will have an even higher chance of damage. If the cuts run through the embedded steel cords, it might result in steel cord breakage due to corrosion. We recommend repairing the cuts with cold vulcanization rubber as soon as they are observed.
Machine operators should always drive carefully, paying attention to the surface of the ground especially in terrains of the following type:
- Construction sites
- Demolition sites
- Paths covered with rocks and wood
- Concrete ridges
- Stump covered areas
When operating on the terrains just mentioned, high-speed drive, quick turns and overloading should be avoided.
Example 6: Cut on Lug Side of Rubber
- Damage: Small cracks around the root of the lug as a result of operation fatigue.
- Result: When the cracks reach so deep that they expose the steel cords, whole track replacement is required.
The cause of damage:
Wound stress applied to rubber tracks around the undercarriage parts during operation causes fatigue. This, in turn, leads to cracks on the lug side rubber surface. Once the cracks occur, they gradually deteriorate, further damaging the tracks.
Rubber tracks are designed with special rubber compounds to prevent cracks that can be caused by fatigue. However, external damage on the lug side of the rubber can sometimes increase the risk of cracking. Machine operators should use extreme caution when driving, so as to not cause damage to the lug side of the rubber track. In order to minimize the occurrence of the ozone cracks, pay attention to the following instructions for optimal maintenance:
- Avoid exposing stored tracks to direct sunlight
- Avoid exposing stored tracks to direct rain and snow fall
- Store tracks in well-ventilated warehouses
- Use the tracks at least once a month
Types of Rubber Track Damage Due to Improper Tension
Proper tension is the most critical part of a rubber track’s life expectancy. If tension is too high, the embedded steel cord inside the rubber track can be stressed to the point of failure. Continually maintaining proper track tension is imperative to maximizing the amount of operating hours of the rubber track.
Observing the illustration to the left, we can see the tread of the rubber track developing a curve on one side. This shows the failure of the steel cords inside the rubber track on only one side of the embeds.
In this illustration, notice the elongation of the rubber track has created a severe curvature in the track. This will result in immediate derailment of the track due to improper tracking ability.
This illustration demonstrates the result of improper tension on a rubber track.
Although this illustration shows a rubber track made using steel cord overlap technology, the result is similar for rubber tracks made using continuous steel cord technology.
Rubber tracks operated under too much tension inevitably fail as shown in these illustrations. Far too many rubber tracks fall into this category, suffering catastrophic failure long before the expected amount of hours the track should have operated.
ITR has worked diligently to offset the effects of over-tensioning rubber tracks. One way this has been done has been by creating a track with no steel cord joint. By making a continuously wound steel cord the “weak link” in the track was eliminated.
Continuous Steel Cord Technology
Continuous steel cord track systems have been touted as the ultimate solution to joint failures in rubber tracks. Keep in mind, however, that this does not mean that rubber tracks designed with continuous steel cord technology will not fail. There are still failures due to issues such as over-tensioning, abuse, wrong or harsh environments and high travel speeds. A continuous steel cord simply eliminates the major failure hazard caused by over-tensioning – steel cord joint failure. Even with continuous steel cord technology, steel cords will fail. Tension, load factors, and speed all combine to create havoc for a rubber track.
It is the responsibility of the equipment salesperson, rubber track producers and the parts and service personnel who service these machines to educate the user on proper machine care. Having sufficient expertise on how to operate and maintain rubber tracks is crucial to maximizing track life.
In addition to proper tension, undercarriage maintenance is critical. Sprocket wear is a serious problem for the embeds of a rubber track. As illustrated in the picture below, excessive wear causes sprocket teeth to act like a fish hook and grab the links and pull them out of the track. Keeping good sprockets on a machine is crucial to the life of a rubber track.
Rubber Track and Undercarriage: Wear and Care Guide
The cost of the undercarriage makes up approximately 20% of a tracked machine’s overall purchase price. More importantly, nearly 50% of maintenance costs will be attributed to the undercarriage over the course of its service life.
This is why all ITR components are integrally designed. All components are carefully matched in tolerance, strength, hardness, and wear limits for overall optimum wear life. Although wear cannot be eliminated, we can prolong the wear life of components, minimizing maintenance costs.
Keep undercarriage systems running strong with certified ITR parts. An ITR Certified Support Advisor can help manage undercarriage system costs.
This strategy guide explains how to get the most out of undercarriages and tracks. This is not a repair manual. This will give a good look at what causes wear and provide information on how to better manage the machine for maximum production. By understanding what causes wear and by consistently checking wear patterns on key components, you will have the information you need to make the best maintenance decisions possible.
An undercarriage works as a system. When a machine is in motion, there will be normal, unavoidable wear. With good undercarriage maintenance and operating techniques, the rate of wear can be reduced.
Guidelines For Maintaining Rubber Tracks
- Regular Inspection
Regularly inspect the components of the undercarriage for possible signs of wear. This is crucial as wear affects the performance of your equipment and in turn, affects productivity on job sites. Components that should be periodically inspected include the rollers, idler and sprockets. Replace worn out components promptly.
- Proper Track Tension
Refer to the manufacturer’s specifications for the correct track tension for your track. Track tension should be maintained at the appropriate level always, to avoid damage, accidents, and injury.
- Avoid Sharp Turns
Making sharp turns or turning too fast can adversely affect the track’s service life over time. Avoid making sharp turns to preserve the work life of your tracks.
- Limit Operation on Hazardous Surfaces
Rocky, sharp and other abrasive surfaces should be avoided as much as possible to prevent punctures and damage to your tracks.
- Clean Tracks Regularly
On a regular basis, clean the tracks with water to get rid of unwanted debris and soil in the tracks. A pressure washer will do the job. Debris and soil can cause packing which affects your machine’s performance and adds extra load on the undercarriage. Also clean up oil (and other substances that could soil the tracks) immediately, if it gets on the tracks.
- Equipment Storage
Protect your equipment from natural elements like rain and sun when not in use by storing it somewhere sheltered. A dry, cool environment is an ideal storage space. Do this especially if the equipment needs to be stored for a long period of time. This way, you prevent oxidization which can cause corrosion of metallic components.
- Proper Driving Techniques
Take particular care when operating your equipment. Watch out for the sidewall of the tracks, making sure that the edges of the sidewall do not bang into objects like a curb, for instance, or hard wall. You do not want too much stress on the rubber as this could lead to cracking. Also, when turning, make gradual turns. A three-point turn is ideal.
- Prevent Large Objects from Lodging into Track
While operating the equipment, an operator should be aware of the job site requirements, making sure that foreign objects do not get stuck in the track. A lodged object can damage the tracks and also lead to machine downtime.
Below are maintenance practices that can help reduce wear:
- Maintain Proper Track Tension or Track Sag:
- Correct tension on smaller rubber track machines is about ¾” to 1”.
- Correct tension on larger rubber track machines can be as much as 2”.
- Track width
Track Tension and Track Sag
The most important, controllable factor in undercarriage wear is correct track tension or sag. Correct track sag for all smaller mini excavator rubber track units is 1” (+ or – ¼”). Tight tracks can increase wear up to 50%. On large rubber-tracked crawlers in the range of 80 horsepower, a ½” track sag results in 5,600 pounds of track chain tension when measured at the track adjuster. The same machine with the suggested track sag results in 800 pounds of track chain tension when measured at the track adjuster. A tight track magnifies the load and puts more wear on the link and sprocket tooth contact. Increased wear also occurs at the track-link to idler contact point and track-link to roller contact points. More load means more wear on the entire undercarriage system.
Also, a tight track requires more horsepower and more fuel to do the job.
Follow these steps to adjust track tension:
- Move the machine forward, slowly.
- Let the machine roll to a stop.
- A track link must be centered over the carrier roller.
- Put a straight edge over the track from the carrier roller to the idler wheel.
- Measure the sag at the lowest point.
Track width makes a difference. Select the narrowest tracks possible for your machine. The O.E.M. provided track for your machine has been chosen because it optimizes that particular machine’s performance. Make sure the track gives the flotation needed.
Wide tracks used on hard surfaces will put an increased load on the track link system and can affect link retention in the rubber track. A wider than necessary track also increases stress and loads on the idlers, rollers, and sprockets. The wider the track and the harder the under-track surface, the faster the track treads, links, rollers, idlers and sprockets will wear.
When working uphill on a slope, the weight of the equipment shifts to the rear. This weight translates to increased load on rear rollers as well as an increase in wear of track link and sprocket teeth on the forward drive side. While reversing down the hill, there will be some load on the undercarriage.
The reverse is the case when working downhill. This time, the weight shifts to the front of the machine. This affects components like the track links, roller and idler tread surface as the extra load is placed on them.
Reversing up the hill causes the track link to rotate against the reverse-drive side of the sprocket tooth. There is also extra load and movement between the track link and the sprocket teeth. This expedites track wear. All links from the bottom of the front idler to the first link contacted by the sprocket teeth are under heavy load. Additional weight is also placed between the track links and the sprocket teeth and the idler tread surface. The work life of undercarriage parts like the sprockets, links, idlers and rollers, is decreased.
When operating the machine on a side hill or on a slope, weight shifts to the downhill side of the equipment which results in more wear on parts like the roller flanges, track tread and sides of the track links. Always change the working direction on an incline or slope to keep wear balanced between the sides of the undercarriage.
Working on Crowns and Depressions
While navigating the machine on a crown, all the load is placed on the inner ends of the links of the track. The inside roller, track links, idler tread surfaces and sprocket contact areas have to bear the extra weight. Frequent operation of equipment on a crown will expedite wear on the contact surfaces of the inside track.
On the other hand, working in a depression transfers the machine weight and all the load to the outer ends of the track links. Parts like the outside roller, outside track links, idler tread surfaces and sprocket contact areas bear the weight of the load and machine. Working in a depression frequently will speed up wear on the contact surfaces on the outside.
If the front idler and track frame are misaligned, wear in undercarriage components is accelerated. Regularly check to see if there is proper alignment by inspecting front idlers, carrier rollers and bottom rollers to see of you notice any wear patterns. Look at both the front and back ends of the equipment and always consult your equipment’s owner’s manual for manufacturer’s instructions on how to adjust for alignment.
Continuous Rubber Track Installation and Removal Guide
For Skid Steer Tracks, Mini Excavator Tracks and Multi Terrain Loader Tracked Equipment
This manual outlines removal and installation procedures for machines such as mini excavators as shown in Figure 1 with drive types as shown in Figure 2 utilizing sprocket systems.
This manual describes the removal and installation of rubber tracks on sprocket driven machines. Rubber tracks, just like tires, are wear items that must eventually be replaced. Using the procedures outlined in this manual, the operator can remove the used rubber track and install the new rubber track with common shop tools. The instructions may also be used to reinstall a derailed track in the field.
Note that the access plate and track tension device of your specific machine may be located in a different area than the illustration used in this manual. This is simply a difference in the chassis configuration of the various makes and models of track mounted machines. The overall procedure is the same no matter whether the track tension device is located toward the front or back of the track assembly.
It is recommended that only one rubber track be removed at a time. This will allow the operator to refer to the assembled track if a question should arise when installing the new rubber track.
- (1) Rubber Track
- (1) Ratchet/Wrench Set (Sizes will depend on the version machine)
- (1) Socket Extension
- (1) Allen Wrench Set
- (1) Manual Gr ease Gun
- (1) Tape Measure or Ruler
SKID STEER & MINI EX TRACK REMOVAL
The machine must first be raised off of the ground approximately 6 inches (152mm) to allow removal of the track assembly. Fortunately, most machines will have foot and outriggers that can provide the necessary lift needed to work on the machine. Most mini and mid size excavators will have a blade which can be used to lift one end of the machine while the backhoe arm can be used to lift the other end.
CAUTION: YOUR MACHINE CAN WEIGH SEVERAL THOUSAND POUNDS. AVOID INJURY IN CASE OF HYDRAULIC FAILURE BY SUPPORTING THE MACHINE WITH PROPER BLOCKS OR JACK STANDS APPROVED FOR THE WEIGHT BEING SUPPORTED AFTER RAISING THE MACHINE. THE OPERATOR SHOULD NEVER POSITION THEMSELVES UNDER THE MACHINE WHILE PERFORMING THIS PROCEDURE.
- The machine will need to be raised 6 inches from the ground surface. This is the general height needed to remove and install rubber tracks on most machines. Depending on the size of the machine being worked on it may need to be raised more. Track tension is provided by pumping grease into the track tension assembly through the zerk located behind the tension device cover plate.
NOTE: The specific machine being worked on may not have a cover plate. The grease displaces a cylinder which pushes the tension wheel/idler out from the track frame to tighten the rubber track. Grease must be relieved from within the tension device to loosen the rubber track for removal.
- Remove the tension device cover plate from the side of the track frame.Most machines will have a cover plate. Do not be alarmed if the machine does not have a cover plate.
- Unthread the grease zerk from the track tension device. Unthread the zerk slowly as some machines do not have a check valve to relieve track tension. This will prevent the zerk from expelling too quickly and stripping the threads.
- On many machines, there may be a check ball inside the tuber from which the zerk was removed in step 3. Depress the check ball with an Allen wrench usually, a 3/32-inch or other object of similar size will suffice. This will allow grease to escape from the track tension device so the track may be loosened for removal.
- While continuing to depress the check ball in the grease tube, push down on the center of the rubber track with your foot. This should cause the tension/idler wheel to retract toward the center of the track frame and loosen the rubber track. If no check ball is installed simply apply pressure to the center of the rubber track with your foot. Grease will escape from the tube as the wheel is retracted (Fig. 7).
CAUTION: NEVER PUT PRESSURE ON THE TENSION/IDLER WHEEL WITH ANY MECHANICAL DEVICE. USE DOWNWARD PRESSURE ONLY ON THE CENTER OF THE TRACK TO RETRACT THE TENSION/IDLER WHEEL. APPLYING ARTIFICAL PRESSURE DIRECTLY TO THE TENSION/IDLER WHEEL MAY CAUSE DAMAGE TO SEALS LOCATED WITHIN THE TENSION/ IDLER WHEEL CYLINDER.
Grease will escape from the tube as the tension wheel is retracted to loosen the track.
- It may be necessary to get a second person to help push down on the rubber track in order to fully retract the tension/idler wheel. On most machines the tension/idler wheel is fully retracted when it is in contact with the track frame (Fig. 8). The rubber track can now be removed.
SKID STEER & MINI EX TRACK INSTALLATION
The following procedure may be used to install a new rubber track or reinstall a thrown track and is best performed with two people. The lugs of the rubber tracks can be directional, non-directional or bidirectional. It is imperative the rubber track be installed correctly according to the tread design used.
- Begin installation by placing the rubber track on the drive wheel sprocket. The followers (embedded metal pieces or links) on the inside of the rubber track should straddle the sprocket and will fit into the valleys of the sprocket teeth.
- While a second person holds the middle of the rubber track up from the frame, start the edge of the track over the tension/idler wheel.
NOTE: Depending on the size of the rubber track, sometimes it may be necessary to use a pry bar to force the track over the tension/idler wheel. Be careful not to damage the rubber track or tension/idler wheel in the process.
- With the second person still holding the middle of the rubber track, push the rubber track completely onto the tension/idler wheel using your foot.
The track followers (embedded metal pieces or links) should straddle the wheel.
- Reinstall the grease zerk in the track tension device grease tube.
- Apply grease to the track tension device to tighten the track. Pump grease through the zerk using a hand operated grease gun (Fig. 10). This extends the cylinder on the tension assembly which in turn moves the tension/idler wheel out from the track frame and tensions the rubber track.
NOTE: Occasionally during the tensioning process, measure the track sag at the middle of the track frame. Stop pumping grease into the tension device when the track sags about 2.5 – 3 inches (65 – 75 mm) from the bottom of the track frame to the inside surface of the rubber track. This distance is different for every machine and can be greater on machines operating larger rubber tracks and lower for machines operating smaller rubber tracks. Always consult the owner/operators manual provided by the manufacturer.
- Start the machine and set it to idle rpm. Using the rubber track control lever, rotate the track in both directions for two to three revolutions. Shut off the engine.
- Again, measure the track sag. Be sure to measure at the point of greatest sag.
- It is extremely important to maintain proper track tension to prevent premature wear of the track assembly. If, after rotating the tracks, the sag is 2.5 – 3.0 inches (65 – 75 mm) then proceed to step 9. If the track sags more than the recommended amount repeat steps 5 through 7 until the track sag is in the range specified by the manufacturer.
- Replace tension cover plate.
- Remove jack stands or blocks and lower machine to the ground.