Steel or Rubber Tracks: What should I use?

Steel Undercarriage Auckland. With many different sizes of rubber tracks and steel tracks in stock invariably we get asked the question on what is the best type of tracks to operate on a digger? The answer must be made after considering a number of variables as below:

What environment do you plan to be working in? 

Typically we would advise that steel tracks are the best option for rough, rocky or demolition applications whereas rubber tracks are best suited to applications where ground preservation is a concern such as paved or grassed surfaces. In hilly or steep terrain, rubber tracks can be more prone to de-tracking so a conversion to steel tracks can help mitigate this concern when working on slopes

Heavy sand can also cause problems with de-tracking and in turn, put a lot of pressure or excess load on final drives. In this situation, we would typically recommend using steel tracks with rubber pads removed, which will enable the sand to run freely through the undercarriage. As a general rule for excavators 1.5t up to 4t, rubber tracks are generally the most cost-effective option. If the steel track is preferred based on above application of use but you still have projects which hold a concern around ‘marking’, then we have a large range of rubber track pads available to fit almost every machine make and model.

How much tracking do you do? 

If your machine uses a blade and a lot of tracking, rubber tracks will typically serve you better in terms of working hours because ultimately steel tracks on mini diggers are a dry pin, steel on steel assembly and in the instance of high tracking time (35% and above as a % of working hours) this can result in high wear.

What is the machine currently fitted with?

We must advise of the implications there can be in trying to change from rubber tracks to steels or vice versa.  If your machine is happily running on steel or rubber tracks and you are getting good wear life, then our advice would be to leave it as it is.  Converting from steel to rubber or vice versa can sometimes be problematic as many machines have different track spring tension settings between steel and rubber track machines and other machines run alternate sprockets, idlers or even rollers.  Unless the correct parts are fitted, and adjustments made, you could experience problems such as de-tracking or excess wear. Sometimes a change in tracks will involve also changing rollers or other undercarriage and whilst we can assist with this it should be a consideration if you feel the benefit may only be marginal.

If in doubt, give us a shout: Use Mainline Track

Feel free to pick up the phone or email the Mainline Track team – our experienced product managers will know and understand your machine and make a best practise recommendation to ensure you make a purchase that offers best value for money – that means a purchase you will still say in 2 years time was the right one!

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