Improve your undercarriage life

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  • Earthmovers & Exacavators

Like any major component, your machine’s undercarriage requires the right amount of care and attention to deliver maximum operating life

Undercarriage

Up to 50 per cent of your machine’s repair costs over its lifetime can be attributed to the undercarriage, so it is important to get the maximum value from your machine's undercarriage system. A poorly functioning undercarriage can also adversely affect other parts of your machine and decrease overall productivity, so the importance of undercarriage management can never be undervalued. Here are some tips to improve your machine’s lifespan and performance.

Take a closer look

Just because you can’t see what’s underneath your machine doesn’t mean that everything’s a-ok. A daily walk-around and regular inspections by operators will improve safety and increase your machine’s life. It’s always a good idea to do a visual check for any debris, missing or lose bolts, damaged components or unusual wear patterns. Make sure there are no oil leaks, or cracked or bent track shoes. When you spot potential problems early, you can often prevent them from turning into bigger issues that reduce component life significantly or cause unscheduled downtime.

Check the tension

Incorrect track tension or ‘track sag’ is the major cause of accelerated undercarriage wear. Too tight and the components fight each other and will cause excessive wear and tear on the entire undercarriage system. Too loose and they may come off! Check out the undercarriage track tension of your machine in regular operating underfoot conditions – then follow the track adjusting procedures in your machine’s manual, or contact us and we'll take care of it. Be sure to check your tension regularly, particularly when changing work sites as different underfoot materials affect track tension in different ways.

Go easy on the gear

Whether your machine travels on steel or rubber tracks, its undercarriage components take a beating. You can’t prevent them from wearing out altogether, but there are ways to slow the process. One of the most important things you can do is improve operating technique. Be sure to make gradual turns instead of counter-rotations; work up or down a slope whenever possible; watch transition areas and back-drag with loader arms in the float position.

Counter-rotating a multi-terrain loader accelerates wear on the tracks and other undercarriage components. Don’t use that technique unless job conditions demand it. Instead, turn the machine gradually while slowly moving forward or reverse. Gradual turns minimise cuts, tears and excessive wear in the undercarriage. They also reduce damage to soft or sensitive work surfaces.

Working across a slope can shorten undercarriage component life, so try to structure the job with minimal cross-slope activity.

A transition is any place where you encounter a change in slope or elevation. It could be a curb, ledge or spot where a level surface turns into a sloped one. Try to minimise travel over transitions as this accelerates undercarriage wear.

If you must go across a transition, position the machine 90 degrees to the transition. Avoid working along a transition where one track is not fully supported by the ground. Without ground support, the undercarriage is subjected to side stresses that can result in rapid, excessive wear.

Some skid steer operators like to apply enough down force on the loader to raise the front tires off the ground, maximising down pressure on the bucket when backdragging.

Don’t use this technique with a multi terrain loader. You’ll just lose traction and reduce undercarriage component life. Instead, keep the loader arms in the float position while backdragging. If more pressure is needed, add enough to smooth the surface, but not so much that the front of the machine is lifted off the ground.

WesTrac offers a free undercarriage assessment that will assess the general health and wear life of your machine’s undercarriage. Visit the WesTrac website for more information.

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