Adjusters are designed to absorb shock, provide proper track tension and protect track systems and idlers. It’s critical to maximize track life by maintaining proper track tension.
Improper tension: Loose tracks can de-track. Over-tightening can cause power loss, excessive track roller and idler wear, and could tear the tracks. It can stretch the rubber track. Contaminants can deteriorate the rubber, too.
How to adjust: Track tension is controlled by a track adjuster. Tension adjustments are made by pumping or draining grease through the track adjuster valve.
Jason Goodson, Regional Service Manager for Hyundai Construction Equipment Americas shares some easy steps for achieving proper track tension for your crawler excavator:
- “Turn the upper structure of the excavator so that the boom is perpendicular to the travel direction.
- Position the arm perpendicular to the ground, with the bucket floor level to the ground. Use the boom to press down and elevate the track on one side so the entire track is suspended above ground level.
- Operate the travel on the elevated side/track and let the track make several complete revolutions to remove debris and loosen binding links. Bring the tracks to a complete stop and engage the excavator’s hydraulic safety switch with the tracks still suspended. Stay in the cab. Have an assistant kneel next to the hanging track at its lowest point and use a standard measuring tape to measure from the bottom of the track frame to the upper face of the track shoe.
- Compare this measurement with the proper tension specifications listed in your Operator’s Manual.
The grease within the adjuster cylinder maintains the track tension. Locate the adjustment grease fitting in a small hole on the track frame near the idler. Inject grease with a grease gun to tighten the track. Use a wrench to carefully loosen the fitting and release grease to loosen the track. Never loosen the relief valve more than one turn. Grease and oil are under extreme pressure and can penetrate the body, causing serious injury, so wear proper personal protection equipment, such as gloves and safety glasses.”
Inspect adjuster valve periodically: Make sure your adjuster valve is working properly. Visually check it. If the valve shows signs of leakage, bring your machine in for repair. Leakage can lead to a loss of track tension and increased wear.
Match Tension to Operating conditions
Adjust track tension on-site: Make tension adjustments on the job site. A track that is properly tensioned in the shop may become too tight when packed with mud.
Test packing conditions: To match track tension with the specific packing conditions of the job site, run your machine for a short while on the job site, and then make the necessary adjustments.
Make frequent adjustments: Weather changes can change the packing conditions of the job site throughout the day. Tension adjustments made during these changes can help reduce track wear and costs.
Do not operate your machine with frozen tracks: If you try to use power to force the tracks to move, you could destroy them.
Avoid abrupt turns and high speeds: Do not make abrupt or aggressive turns. They place unnecessary stress on the track and undercarriage.
Continuous turning to the same side can cause uneven wear. Try to alternate the direction when turning. Increased speeds cause more wear on the undercarriage, too. Use the slowest speed as possible for the job.
Driving over curbs puts excessive stress on the tracks, which can cause de-tracking. Even if the tracks don’t de-track, the stress could cause the rubber to crack. Once cracked, chunks of rubber break off, parts are exposed to moisture, and this leads to corrosion and track failure.
Avoid excessive reverse operation: Reverse operation wears tracks much more quickly than forward operation. Tracks and undercarriage components are designed for forward motion. Don’t operate in reverse unless necessary.
Avoid repetitive operation on the side of a hill/slope: This will cause accelerated, uneven wear of undercarriage components. Unless the job requires otherwise, climb slopes straight up and down. Don't travel unevenly with one track on a slope and the other on a flat surface.
Caterpillar’s Undercarriage Management Guide, shares:
- “Working uphill shifts the weight and load balance to the rear, causing higher wear on rear rollers and increasing forward drive side sprocket and bushing wear.
- Working downhill shifts weight and load balance forward causing a relatively higher wear rate on front track rollers and idlers.
- Working on a side hill shifts the weight and load balance to the downhill side of the machine. This increases the wear rate on the components and parts on the sides that are on the upper side of the hill.
- Working on a crown shifts the load to the inboard components, increasing wear on inner links, inner roller, idler treads, and grouser ends.
- Working in a depression shifts the load to the outboard components, increasing wear on outer links, outer roller, idler treads, and grouser ends.”
Don't operate in corrosive, abrasive or contaminant material, such as fuel, oil, fertilizer, manure, chemicals, or salt: They can cause the rubber to deteriorate. Look for oil and grease that may drip from the machine onto the tracks, too. If the tracks do become exposed to any of the above materials/elements, rinse them as soon as possible.
Inspection: Have your undercarriage inspected annually by a trained technician to catch problems early.
Maintaining track and undercarriage
Clean the undercarriage: Mud will harden and cause premature wear on the inside surface of the track and potentially cause additional problems with lines and hoses.
You can use a pressure washer to remove the mud. A shovel can be used, too. Cleaning is especially important in colder temperatures. If you don’t take the time to simply clean the undercarriage, the recoil mechanisms can fail and the track cables can break.
Caterpillar’s Undercarriage Management Guide, also shares information on packing: “During operation, materials can stick to and pack between mating components such as rollers, links, sprocket teeth, and bushings. Packing prevents parts from engaging correctly. This can cause higher loads and increased wear rates. Packing is inevitable in many applications; however, there are things you can do to reduce the effects of packing.
• Use center punched shoes in certain situations to help relieve extrudable materials such as wet sand, clay, or snow.
• Clean out your undercarriage as often as possible. Garbage, twigs, stones, and demolition debris cannot be extruded through the center punched shoes.
• Use roller guards only when necessary because they may trap debris and increase the effects of packing. They are designed primarily for use in high-impact underfoot conditions.”
Check sizes: Track size needs to match the machine’s hp. Slippage and wear damage happens when there is more hp than track tension.
Rotate regularly: Rubber tracks should be rotated for even tread wear. When it’s time to replace the tracks, do both at the same time. Replacing only one track at a time may cause alignment issues and damage the undercarriage.
Store tracks properly: When the tracks are not in use, store them in a cool dry environment. Avoid direct sunlight. Covering can extend the track life. To prevent folds, allow them to rest on their sides. If the tracks are left on the machine, operate the vehicle at least once every couple of weeks for a few minutes to help maintain flexibility and hold their proper shape.
Highway and Heavy Parts provides a wide range of Track Adjuster Assemblies, recoil springs, seals and components for use on a broad range of popular applications.
These components are all constructed of superior quality materials to maximize wear life and to meet OEM specifications. Our parts are manufactured to rigid quality standards and inspected to insure a proper fit and function in field.
Our adjusters and recoil assemblies are engineered to provide proper tension, excellent service in demanding applications and extreme operating conditions.
Track frame components we provide include: