Undercarriage Maintenance

Decrease Undercarriage Costs with Proper Maintenance

A robust and proactive maintenance plan is key to elongating the lifespan of your excavator undercarriage and money invested in maintaining the undercarriage decreases the chance of component failure, thereby decreasing replacement costs and downtime.

Find out what the life expectancy is of the undercarriage components. Mark it on a calendar. Environmental conditions affect undercarriage wear/life. If you are operating in more abrasive material, expect a shorter undercarriage life.

If you plan to rotate your pins and bushings, mark their half-life on a calendar; that is when they will need to be rotated.

The best maintenance programs include a lot of preventative maintenance, and preventative maintenance begins with daily inspections.

Operator maintenance

Operators should complete a full daily inspection at the beginning of their shift. This inspection includes the following steps.

  • Remove debris from the undercarriage. This will increase the life of the undercarriage and help you clearly see the components.
  • Inspect track pads for signs of damage and look for missing or loose bolts in the tracks. The machine will need to be moved the approximate length of the tracks, so that all the track pads can be inspected.
  • Check the track tension. You will not need to measure it with tools on a daily basis, but the operator should have an eye for what the track  looks like when it is properly tensioned.
  • Check the rock guards to make sure they aren’t damaged; they are more crucial than they appear in keeping the tracks aligned.
  • Look for signs of damage to other undercarriage components (idler, roller, sprocket).

It is wise for operators to quickly observe the tracks just after exiting the cab or just before entering the cab; they should look for material in the undercarriage or for any obvious signs of damage.

You can’t ignore one bent shoe. A shoe that is bent will affect the shoe next to it and that shoe will misshapen, which will affect the shoe next to it. Stop the spread. Change shoes as soon you can schedule it.

When working in material that frequently gets and stays stuck in the undercarriage, operators can increase the life of the undercarriage by frequently cleaning it.

There are several ways that are effective at removing debris from tracks. If sandy or dry dirt is in the tracks, the operator can remove it by swinging the arm over one side of the tracks and pushing into the ground with it until one track lifts slightly off the ground. (Too much tilt can damage the opposite track.) Then rotate that track in both forward and reverse gears. For wet or compact material, it is best to use a shovel to remove it.

Use the arm of the excavator to lift one track slightly off the ground. (Raising it high off the ground can damage the other track.) Rotate the tracks in one direction and then in the opposite direction. Then, do the same on the opposite side.

Pivot Provides Cost-Effective Quality Choice for Undercarriage Replacement

“Pivot Provides Cost-Effective Quality Choice for Undercarriage Replacement”

Technician maintenance

Although the operator is the first line of defense in undercarriage maintenance, undercarriages need to be maintained by a skilled professional on your team whose job it is to manage your fleet.

The most common maintenance activity is checking/changing the tension in the tracks, and this time, tools will be necessary.

Improper tension leads to premature failure of not only the tracks, but other components in the undercarriage.

Through use and over time, tracks loosen (called elongation), so they must periodically be tightened. But, you can’t just tighten them to their maximum; the manufacturer of the machine outlines the appropriate amount of tension in the tracks. Check the machine manual to find out what the appropriate amount of tension is for the conditions in which you are working the machine.

Besides tension, look for missing bolts, damage and wear. Make note of any unusual marks or uneven or premature wear. The chains on tracks may need to be greased depending on whether they are dry chains or SALT (sealed and lubricated tracks).

SALT tracks cost a little more and are more popular on excavators, but they tend to last longer. With SALT tracks, oil is sealed inside so the space between the pin and bushing is constantly lubricated.

When it comes time to check the track pad and track shoe widths, check with the manual to determine what is the minimal diameter. Working an undercarriage beyond component specification, can lead to premature failure of that component and increased wear on other components.

Several other components need to be greased. Putting grease in the grease idler pushes a section of the undercarriage forward, thereby elongating it and making the tracks tighter. Ensure the tracks have sufficient slack to accommodate it. 

Besides looking for damage and premature wear, check for leaks near and below fluid openings.

Turn pins and bushings in order to increase their lifespan.

And, if you don’t operate a machine for a long period of time, start it up once in a while. Drive forward for a few minutes; this is beneficial to the undercarriage.

By properly maintaining your undercarriage, you can extend the life of your undercarriage.

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