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Posted: 10/10/2017

6 Tips to Extend the Life of Your Undercarriage

Bobcat E35 compact (mini) excavator and undercarriage.

There’s a lot riding on the undercarriage of your Bobcat® equipment. Literally. In fact, it’s one of the hardest-working parts on your compact excavator or compact track loader.

With many moving parts – including idlers, rollers and sprockets – you shouldn’t chance skipping a routine inspection or maintenance. It can easily cost you valuable time, money and potentially decrease the track’s lifespan. Follow these tips to get the most performance and life out of your undercarriage.

1. Keep it clean.
Your compact excavator or compact track loader doesn’t sit around on the job very often. In fact, it’s busy working in mud, dirt and rock, which can build up in the undercarriage.

If you’re looking to increase your uptime, Bobcat compact track loader and excavator undercarriages are designed for easier track cleanout, helping debris fall to the ground rather than becoming packed in the undercarriage. The result? Less component wear and the reduction of additional weight to the undercarriage, helping increase fuel economy. Use shovels and pressure washers to clean remaining debris at the end of each workday.

2. Routinely inspect components
To get the longest life from your equipment, complete a full undercarriage inspection for excessive or uneven wear, as well as damaged or missing components. Inspect the following items:

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

Check the tracks to make sure the components don’t look out of place. If they are, this could indicate a loose track pad or possibly a broken track pin. Inspect the rollers, idlers and drives for oil leakage. Oil leaks could indicate a failed seal, which could lead to major failure in the rollers, idlers or track drive motors.

3. Practice the basics
Undercarriage management is not black and white. Conditions and situations vary but here are some universal basic practices.

  • Make wider turns: Sharp turns or pivoting the machine can lead to accelerated wear and increase the potential for de-tracking.
  • Avoid harsh environments: Rough asphalt or concrete or other abrasive materials can cause damage to tracks.
  • Reduce unnecessary spinning: Track spinning can lead to wear and decrease productivity.
  • Select the correct shoe (track) width: Choose the proper width by considering the weight of the machine and application. Narrower excavator shoes are better suited for hard soil because they have better soil penetration and grip. Wide excavator shoes typically work well in soft underfoot conditions because they have more flotation with lower ground pressure.
  • Pick the correct grouser: Consider the application before choosing the number of grousers per shoe. Typically, the higher number of grousers the track has, the more contact the track will have with the ground, and the less vibration there will be – and the longer the track will last.

4. Maintain proper track tension.
Incorrect track tension may lead to increased track wear. As a general rule, when working in soft, muddy or sandy conditions, it is recommended to run the tracks slightly looser.

5. Tailor your track.
Select a track that matches your need and the application. Wide tracks are a good choice when lower ground pressure and flotation is desired, such as operating on established surfaces. Looking for increased ground pressure, added traction and pushing force? Choose a machine with a narrow track. Some compact equipment dealers provide non-marking tracks to avoid leaving marks on finished concrete. Your local compact equipment dealer can help you select the right rubber tracks for your application.

6. Adhere to proper digging procedures.
Lastly, minimize excessive wear and track degradation by following the basic operating and digging procedures that are outlined in your Bobcat Operation & Maintenance Manual.
These undercarriage maintenance tips, as well as proper track and operation outlined in your Bobcat Operation & Maintenance Manual, will help keep your overall cost of ownership down and help extend the life of your compact equipment tracks.

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