When to replace CTL Rubber Tracks and Common Problems that Cause Rubber Tracks to Fail
When it comes to working on a construction jobsite, project completion time and jobsite safety are two very important factors to consider. The replacement of your compact track loader’s rubber tracks can increase the safety of your jobsite and decrease project downtime. However, because your compact track loader’s tracks are constantly running over dirt and mud, it can sometimes be hard to see the signs of deterioration. Therefore, it may not be very clear when it is time to replace your CTL’s rubber tracks.
In this article, you will learn when to replace CTL rubber tracks and common problems that might additionally lead to premature failure. The last thing you want is to be left in the dark when it comes to your time and your money.
If you have been thinking about replacing your compact track loader’s rubber tracks and want some guidance on how to measure your rubber track size, feel free to refer to this similar article on measuring a mini excavator’s rubber track size to guide you in the right direction.
If you find that you need high-quality rubber tracks for your compact track loader or you have any questions about replacing your CTL’s rubber tracks, please feel free to contact us and one of our knowledgable staff members will help you.
Four Most Common Signs of Wear and Tear
Listed below are the four most common signs of wear and tear that can occur on your compact track loader.
Rubber Track Damage
Lack of or Excessive Track Tension
Unsafe Tread Depth
#1 Exterior Track Damage (Cracks, Missing Lugs, Exposed Cords)
When you notice exterior damage such as cracks, missing lugs, and or exposed cords on your CTL’s rubber tracks, this is usually the first sign that your rubber tracks need replacement. The rubber tracks of a compact track loader are very susceptible to exterior damage because of the constant usage on rough and rocky terrains.
Exterior damage can also accumulate if your compact track loader’s rubber tracks are constantly scraping walls or driving over curbs. Consistently coming in contact with a curb can cause de-tracking, but if your tracks stay in place the excessive stress from those curbs will eventually cause exterior track damage.
A common mistake that some contractors make is leaving their compact track loaders in direct sunlight where the rubber tracks are exposed to the ultraviolet rays of the sun. These ultraviolet rays can cause dry-rotted tracks and you will also notice cracks and stress marks on your rubber tracks.
It’s easy to argue that exterior cracks on your CTL’s rubber tracks are not a convincing enough reason to replace the rubber tracks. However, one of the main reasons for replacing your compact track loader’s rubber tracks when you notice exterior cracks, missing lugs, and or exposed cords is track failure. Here are four steps demonstrating how quickly this track failure can occur.
From Exterior Cracks to Track Failure in 5 Steps
Visible exterior cracks four or more inches deep
Chunks of rubber fall off
Internal wires and steel core are exposed to moisture
As you can see, exterior tracks can ultimately cause unforeseen track failure. It is a smart idea to replace your compact track loader’s rubber tracks as soon as you notice even just exterior cracks. Replacing the rubber tracks on your CTL before you experience complete track failure, will save you valuable time and money in the long run.
#2 Worn- Out Sprockets
The condition of the sprockets on your CTL’s rubber tracks can play a big part in determining the need for the replacement of the rubber tracks. Sprockets work just like gears in the sense that they are powered by a hydraulic motor that propels the compact track loader. Sprockets wear out quicker than any other part of the rubber track and this wear and tear can be caused by something as simple as continually turning your CTL to the same side. Please note the above photo is not a worn-out sprocket but something for you to reference.
Below are some indications that your sprockets are worn out
The sprockets are interlocking sloppily and skipping over the lugs
The teeth of the sprockets are hooked or pointed and no longer round
The sprockets are derailing
I want to pay close attention to number two on this list. When the sprocket teeth are no longer round and have become hooked or pointed, you may have already damaged your rubber tracks. To elaborate further, worn out sprocket teeth become like fish hooks and they can quickly tear out the drive links of your compact track loader’s rubber tracks.
If you look on the underside of the rubber track and notice missing drive links, chances are that worn-out sprockets are the culprit. A compact track loader running rubber tracks that are missing drive links can cause the track to slip and the loader to not be as effective. By becoming aware of these worn sprockets and replacing your rubber tracks ahead of time, you can potentially avoid a catastrophic problem with your compact track loader.
#3 Track Tension
The tension in compact track loader rubber tracks tends to change and you may notice a lack in tension. This lack of tension is attributed to the fact that rubber tracks stretch overtime. One thing to consider regarding the tension of the tracks is how much or how little tension there is. Rubber tracks with too little tension start jumping off of the undercarriage. This loss of tension is caused by the idler being extended too far causing the track tensioner to develop tiny leaks.
Many contractors also make the mistake of overtightening the rubber tracks which can cause just as many problems as having rubber tracks with loss of tension. Too much tension on your CTL’s rubber tracks can cause power loss, tears on your rubber tracks, and excessive roller and idler bearing wear.
Checking the Tension on Your CTL’s Rubber Tracks
It is highly recommended that operators and owners of these compact track loaders check the track tension every day if not at least every five days. To check the tension, lift the track frame off the ground and then check the sag between the track roller and the top of the track lug. It is not recommended to rectify the loss of tension on your CTL’s rubber tracks by tightening the tracks beyond the recommendations of the manufacturer. The best and most logical option would be to replace your compact track loaders rubber tracks.
#4 Unsafe Tread Depth
It’s important to check the tread depth of your CTL rubber tracks. People often change their car tires when the tread on those tires become flattened or is no longer visible. We do this because tires provide us traction on the road especially on rainy wet roads. The same idea can also be applied to compact track loader rubber tracks. Contractors are constantly running their CTL over soft ground and they need the rubber tracks to provide enough traction and stability.
A brand-new set of rubber tracks typically has a tread depth of one inch deep. Measuring your tread depth is a good way to understand how much traction you have left on your rubber tracks. For example, if your tracks about halfway worn out, you probably would get a tread depth of 3/8 of an inch if you are even able to get that much.
Compact track loaders have raised portions and gaps on the exterior rubber. A simple way to tell that your tread is almost gone and that your compact track loader tracks need replacement is the raised portions will flatten or will no longer be visible.
As demonstrated in this article there are many telltale signs indicating the need for the replacement of your compact track loader’s rubber tracks. It is best practices before using the CTL to examine your rubber tracks closely. If you notice that you have missing links, exterior cracks, hook-like sprockets, and or a big change in tension, you will want to consider replacing your rubber tracks as soon as possible. It is very often that the cost of damage is more than the cost of replacement.