As Sharplin points out, one of the main reasons for wear, even with carbide shoes, is lack of proper adjustment. "Because drag shoes are sliding along the surface, they should be checked daily," he notes. "Each machine has its own set of rules for shoe adjustment. Operators need to be familiar with them."
They also need to be aware of obstacles that can knock off the carbide on the shoes leading edge. "If one piece of carbide goes, the rest will likely follow," says Sharplin. "It's the domino effect, and it can start when the shoe hits a manhole or a curb. One way to protect the carbide is to protect the leading edge of the shoe with more metal on each side of it. Some of our shoes are wider, too, which offers a degree of protection."
Sharplin says carbide shoes will cost anywhere from $100 to $350 each but last anywhere from one to two years. That's not bad, he points out, considering that some are used on equipment that sells upwards of $40,000. Contractors can save some coins, too, by going with the company's double-row shoe that can be bolted onto the wear plate instead of buying a shoe/plate combination. The move can save upwards of $100 when replacing both shoes.
A cut above
Carbide is also a key ingredient for adding life to scarifier cutters. Kut-Rite Manufacturing located in Romulus, MI, manufacturers a full line of steel, carbide, and full-face carbide cutters. The full-face carbide cutters have been on the market for two years now, according to Kut-Rite's Travis McCutchen. "These cutters are one-quarter inch wide and are designed without a cutback for long life," he explains. "They leave behind a very smooth surface, ideal for removing traffic lines, but they're also tough, extremely long lasting, and good for any scarification project."
As McCutchen points out, these cutters cost more than standard cutters, but they will last upwards of five times longer. Considering the fact there are between 50 and 200 cutters on a scarifier drum, the long-lasting, full-face cutter would appear to be a good purchase for contractors concerned about keeping their equipment up and running.
But the more expensive cutters aren't for everyone, McCutchen adds. Steel cutters will do most jobs, and they're inexpensive; they just won't last as long. Cutters with carbide tips are a cut above their steel cousins. They last longer, cutting down on changeover time, and they are better suited for working on hard surfaces. Then, there's the top-of-the-line model full-face cutter.
Good, better, best is a mantra that precedes nearly any buying decision. For track pads, drag shoes, scarifier cutters, idlers, flights, pulleys, and other wear parts, good is good enough for some replacement situations. But when the job calls for more durability, or when wear part replacement time and overall downtime are issues, then the better and best scenarios are more sensible options.
Based in Neenah, WI, Rod Dickens is a freelance writer specializing in the construction industry.