When it comes time for track replacement, a few simple tips can translate to longer life. This is not the time to get cheap — the sprocket and chains should always be replaced together. “People will skip that, but they are asking for fast wear,” says Koester. “You have a mismatch of pitch at that point.”
“One of the rules is never put an old surface against new. Always change the sprockets when you change the face of the bushing, whether that is through turning the bushing or putting a new bushing into an existing chain,” says Schaeffer.
Also check the alignment. “The alignment is often overlooked when changing the undercarriage,” says Schaeffer. “If you look under a crawler tractor and see something shiny that shouldn’t be shiny, it’s an indication of alignment.” Left unchecked, this can cause problems elsewhere.
Finally, turn to your dealer to help select the most appropriate undercarriage components. Caterpillar lists over 300 part numbers just for shoes, according to Neeley. It’s important that you consult an expert to pick an undercarriage that offers the best balance between cost and productivity.
Both Caterpillar and Komatsu also offer computer software that helps you maximize the return on your undercarriage investment. Seeking this type of expertise can mean the difference between profit and loss in today’s competitive earthmoving industry.