Tip No. 1: Keep the Undercarriage Clean

The need to keep the landing gear neat and tidy. At the end of each workday, the excavator operator should take the time to clean out any dirt and other debris that may have caused the landing gear to build up. A shovel and pressure washer can be used to help clean the landing gear. If the landing gear is not cleaned regularly, it will accelerate premature wear of the components. This is especially true in cold climates. If the operator neglects to clean the landing gear and works in cold climates, mud, dirt and debris will freeze. Once the material freezes, it will begin to rub the bolts, loosen the guides and catch the rollers, leading to potential wear later. Cleaning the landing gear helps prevent unnecessary downtime.

Tip No. 2: Routinely Inspect the Undercarriage

It is important to complete a full undercarriage inspection for excessive or uneven wear, as well as look for damaged or missing components. If the machine is being used in harsh applications or other challenging conditions, the undercarriage may need to be inspected more frequently.

The following items should be inspected on a routine basis:

  • Drive motor
  • Drive sprockets
  • Main idlers and rollers
  • Rock guards
  • Track bolts
  • Track chains
  • Track shoes
  • Track tension

During a routine machine walk-around, operators should check the tracks to see if any components look out of place. If so, this could indicate a loose track pad or possibly a broken track pin. In addition, they should inspect the rollers, idlers, and drives for oil leakage. These oil leaks could indicate a failed seal which could lead to a major failure in the rollers, idlers, or track drive motors.

Always follow the manufacturer’s operation and maintenance manual for proper undercarriage maintenance.

Tip No. 3: Follow Basic Best Practices

Certain construction site jobs can cause more wear and tear on an excavator’s tracks and undercarriage than other applications, so it’s important that operators follow the manufacturer’s recommended operating procedures.

Some tips that can help reduce track and undercarriage wear include.

1. Widen the turning range. Making sharp turns or turning the machine can cause accelerated wear and increase the likelihood of derailments.

2. Minimize the amount of time spent on slopes. Continuous operation on a slope or hill in one direction can accelerate wear. However, many applications require slope or hill operations. When moving the machine up or down a hill, make sure the drive motor is in the correct position to reduce track wear. The drive motor should be facing the back of the machine for maneuverability on slopes or hills.

3. Avoid harsh environments. Rough asphalt or concrete or other abrasive materials can cause damage to the tracks.

4. Reduce unnecessary rotation. Train your operators to make wide, less aggressive turns. Track rotation can cause wear and tear and reduce productivity.

5. Pick the right grinding wheels. Consider the application before choosing the number of abrasive wheels per shoe. A single or double layer of grizzly may work well when laying pipe, but may not work well in other applications. Typically, the more grids a track has, the more contact it will have with the ground, the less vibration it will have, and the longer it will last when working in more abrasive conditions.

Tip No. 4: Maintain Proper Track Tension

Incorrect track tension may lead to increased track wear, so it is important to adhere to the proper tension. As a general rule, when your operators are working in soft, muddy conditions, it is recommended to run the tracks slightly looser.If steel tracks are too tight or too loose, it can quickly accelerate wear. A loose track could cause the tracks to de-track.

Tip No. 5: Consider Rubber Tracks for Sensitive Surfaces

Rubber tracks are available on smaller excavators and these models excel in a variety of applications. Most noticeably, rubber tracks provide good flotation, allowing excavators to travel across and work on soft ground conditions. The rubber tracks have minimal ground disturbance on finished surfaces, such as concrete, grass or asphalt.

Tip No. 6: Adhere to Proper Digging Procedures

Excavator operators should follow basic operating procedures as outlined in the manufacturer’s operation and maintenance manual to minimize excessive wear and track degradation.

The undercarriage makes up a large portion of track replacement costs. It consists of expensive components. Adhering to these six undercarriage maintenance tips, as well as proper track maintenance can help keep your overall cost of ownership down and extend the life of your tracks.

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