Undercarriage monitoring and upkeep is critical, and there are several basic maintenance practices that owners and operators can engage in to extend undercarriage life.
Operators should perform daily inspections of their machine's undercarriage, looking for excessive or uneven wear and damaged or missing components. Check for proper clearance between the track chain and idler roller. Also, be sure to check the drive sprockets and track pads for damage and wear.
When steel tracks are too tight, it creates added load on contact areas, which can accelerate component wear. A track that is too tight also robs the machine of its power and fuel efficiency, as it actually takes more effort to turn the track. If a track is too loose, it can create instability and potentially cause the tracks to derail, while also causing wear on other components of the undercarriage.
It is important to keep the undercarriage clean. At the end of a workday, operators should clean out any mud or debris from the undercarriage. This is particularly important in northern climates where material can freeze inside the track during the winter months.
Correct track alignment is necessary in order to prevent wear of the undercarriage components. Misalignment problems will affect more undercarriage components than any other issue. Track links, idler flanges, track and carrier roller flanges, sprockets and rock guards can all suffer from increased wear when the tracks are not properly aligned.
Equipment owners can better tackle undercarriage costs and needs if they know where they are in the life of their undercarriage. Measure the bushings and rollers and, if these components have been reduced to 85 percent of their original diameter, rotate them 180 degrees. Gauging this pace of wear over time will give the equipment owner insight into the life expectancy and wear patterns of the undercarriage.
Conduct a complete undercarriage inspection in keeping with the manufacturer's recommendations. More frequent inspections should be performed if the machine is used in conditions that are more demanding than normal. Adhere to routine maintenance guidelines, including oil changes for final drives and checks on undercarriage bolt torques.