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Load & Haul, Maintenance, Maintenance Products, Tips & Advice

Articles from CONSTRUCTION PLANT & EQUIPMENT (420 Articles), LOADERS (399 Articles), EXCAVATORS (375 Articles)












Operators should conduct inspection and maintenance methods on tracked earthmoving equipment at regular intervals.
Operators should conduct inspection and maintenance methods on tracked earthmoving equipment at regular intervals.

Tuned track tensions – How to dodge the damage

Maintaining the correct tension on your tracked earthmoving gear – including tracked-type tractors, dozers and excavators – can reduce wear and unnecessary downtime. It is even more critical when up to 50 per cent of lifetime repair costs can relate to the undercarriage.

Too tight a track tension and components, roller and idlers wear faster. Power and productivity suffer, plus there is the risk of tracks tearing. Too loose, and track loss during turns or while travelling on uneven ground can be unsafe for operators and site personnel.

Local operating conditions steer track tension. As a rule, in soft, muddy conditions, slacker tracks are best. For rocky, harder ground, you need tighter tensions. You should always consult your machine’s operating manual for recommended tension levels.

Mindful of the conditions, machine application also impacts wear. Non-packing tensions (sand, gravel) in packing situations (clay, mud) will tighten too much – and vice versa. Cleanliness can also have an impact (see seven steps to “clean out” your machine’s undercarriage).

Unlike friction-drive track systems, Caterpillar undercarriages don’t depend on high tensions to drive. Some slack in the track is normal. The machine’s operation and maintenance manual will specify proper tensions and procedures.

COMPACT TRACKED LOADERS

A simple recoil grease tensioner allows easy track tension modifications. The operating manual contains specific tension levels and instructions for use.

Once adjusted, new tracks shouldn’t need constant correction and should be checked at least monthly, or as operating conditions change. Running tensions outside of recommended specs speed component wear.

Compact tracked loaders with too loose a track risk “ratcheting”, where the track drive embeds jump over sprocket teeth, damaging both. Too tight and you speed undercarriage wear.

Over-tensioning to solve derailments caused by improper operating techniques is also not the solution.

MULTI-TERRAIN LOADERS

Rubber tracks are critical for the multi-terrain loader undercarriage. Best performance and service life come from proper tension. The slack between drive sprocket and front roller wheel, for example, is normal.

There should also be a break-in period for new, replacement tracks. It gives time for the embedded cord length to settle. How much and how fast depends on the application, the machine model, and operating techniques. The tracks should be watched for the first weeks of use for signs of break-in.

Multi-terrain loaders use a turnbuckle arrangement to adjust track tension. The turnbuckle should be lubricated with good, penetrating oil spray on the threads and nut weekly. This will prevent rusting and seizing, and make for easy adjustments when needed.

Once adjusted, the new tracks shouldn’t need constant correction and should be checked at least monthly or as operating conditions or applications change. Again, it should be remembered that running tensions outside of recommended specifications speeds component wear.

It’s important not to run too loose a track. Doing so risks “ratcheting”, with track drive lugs damaged from jumping sprocket rollers. Too tight tension only speeds unneeded wear.

Over-tensioning to solve derailments caused by improper operating techniques is also not the solution.

DOZERS, EXCAVATORS

Again, tension adds load and wear on all matching undercarriage components. Incorrect tuning causes needless damage to the steel track system.

Tight tracks increase bushing and sprocket wear, which is triggered as the bushing rotates and/or slides in the sprocket.

The steel link, track rollers and idler are also affected.

Loose tracks can lead to de-tracking, component failure, breakage or compromised site safety. The result is unplanned, unwanted stoppage that costs money and time.

At least monthly, operators should check the tension via the track adjuster behind the front idler. Pumping or draining grease through the adjuster valve alters tension. Tiny adjustments in track sag have a massive impact, eg a 2.5cm to 1.2cm sag change increases tension by about 1360kg.

The adjuster valve should be inspected to ensure it works as part of the equipment service procedure. If it shows signs of leakage, book it in for repair. Leakage leads to loss in tension, then to bigger issues.

See your operation and maintenance manual for proper track tensions and procedures, plus conduct inspection and maintenance methods at intervals.

 

Seven Steps to “clean out” your machine’s undercarriage

It is recommended you remove materials such as mud at day’s end rather than waiting until the following morning.
It is recommended you remove materials such as mud at day’s end rather than waiting until the following morning.


Cleanliness improves performance, reduces wear and cuts cost. Most undercarriage component and track wear is a result of lodged debris.

Often, by the time you notice a performance issue it’s too late, and the damage is done! So let’s avoid unnecessary wear and delve into the undercarriage “clean out” process.

When you clean out influences how easy or difficult the clean becomes. How often to clean out depends on the material worked. It’s recommended to clean out your undercarriage daily. Cohesive and abrasive materials (mud, sand, clay, gravel), however, pose more risk. They should be cleared as often as possible, even several times a day.

Service technicians should pay particular attention to cleaning between and around the roller, idler wheels and sprocket.

For more reliable, productive equipment follow these seven steps:

  1. A simple walk around represents the first step. Remove rocks, etc, by hand if possible, ensuring, of course, the machine is stationary and not in operation.
  2. If you cannot see it, clean it! Have a blocked view (by mud or dirt) of any section of the undercarriage or components? Then clear it out. It is unlikely to be operating at an optimal level as a result. Caked-on mud, for example, can conceal sizable rocks or wire, affecting the roller/idler operation. A task like this saves time and money spent on unnecessary parts and downtime.
  3. When working scrap piles, remove loose strands of material. Items such as steel wire can wrap around wheel axles, causing irreversible damage!
  4. Remove materials such as mud at day’s end. It is easier than attempting to remove it the following morning after it has dried.
  5. Use a water pressure washer to dislodge and remove foreign materials from the undercarriage. If not available, use a small shovel or similar tool instead.
  6. Be careful not to damage any undercarriage components. If foreign material is lodged in hard, don’t force it. You could cause the same damage you are wishing to avoid. Instead review your operator manual or call your dealer for support.
  7. Undercarriage maintenance through regular clean outs will ensure components continue operating efficiently and reliably. This will avoid surprise failures, field service costs, replacement parts and time lost.

Source: Hastings Deering




















Friday, 22 June, 2018 12:10am
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