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6 Tips to Extend the Life of Your Undercarriage

Published on October 10, 2017

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

1. Keep your loader or excavator 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 all build up in the undercarriage

To help increase your uptime, Bobcat compact track loader and excavator undercarriages are designed for easier track cleanout, letting 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 undercarriage components

To get the longest life from your equipment, complete a full undercarriage inspection for excessive or uneven wear on undercarriage parts, 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

Loader and excavator undercarriage management is not black and white. Conditions and situations vary, but here are some universal basic practices.

  • Make wide turns: Making sharp turns or pivoting the machine can lead to accelerated wear and increase the potential for de-tracking.
  • Avoid harsh environments: Rough asphalt, concrete or other abrasive materials may damage 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 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 – meaning the track will last longer.

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 specific needs and applications. Wide tracks are a good choice when lower ground pressure and flotation is desired, such as when 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 nonmarking 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

Minimize excessive wear and track degradation by following the basic operating and digging procedures that are outlined in your Bobcat Operation & Maintenance Manual.

These loader and excavator undercarriage maintenance tips, as well as proper 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.

Looking for more ways to keep your equipment running strong? Read these six tips for maintaining your compact loader.