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Thread: Removing and installing skid steer rubber tracks

  1. #1
    Super Moderator willie59's Avatar
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    Removing and installing skid steer rubber tracks

    Here's a trick I use to remove and install rubber tracks on skid loaders and crawler dumpers. Rubber tracks on mini excavators are a little different as the steel center bars are made different. Although the rubber tracks on skids are relatively small and not terribly heavy, the tall center bars are a slight obstacle in removing and installing the track at the front idler. There is a simple and easy trick to do this with little effort.

    Support the machine off the ground just enough for center bars to clear bottom rollers and no higher. Open the grease fitting on track adjuster. Now I avoid making messes when possible, and grease from a track adjuster can be a real mess. On this Bobcat T190, the grease release valve was just like a brake bleeder fitting. I simply put a piece of clear vinyl tubing on the fitting and opened the fitting with a crowfoot wrench.

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    As grease came out of the tubing, simply let it flow into a cardboard box.

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    The track was trashed so I used fork lift to lift track and retract front idler.

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    Now find you some steel pipes or solid round bar stock that when fit between track center bars it is just slightly higher than center bars. Place a pipe/bar in every other center bar space, I typically use 4 pieces.

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    Super Moderator willie59's Avatar
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    Now simply start machine and reverse the track. Roll the bars until all four are on the front idler. This raises the center bars clear of the idler.

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    I just grabbed the front of the track with a hook on a chain and pulled it off with the forklift. Once you get the idler end off, the rest is pretty easy.

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    When you go to put track back on, get it onto the drive sprocket and rear idler, then work the inside of rubber track on the front idler. Put your pipes/bars back in place on bottom of track, roll the track back, then simply push track onto front idler. Roll the track forward and remove the pipes.
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    That's pretty slick ATCO.

    I had a story to add but I don't want to clutter a great post.

  4. #4
    Senior Member bill5362's Avatar
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    Atco, that is pretty close how we do it with the pipes, then we use a couple of digging bars and pry them off. That is a slick idea on the hose. We have also put down some floor dry or floor sweeping compound under the track to make it slid. Thanks for sharing you ideas.... Bil

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    I also like/use the pipe idea. Is that DOM tubing? Or what size / type is that? The only issue that I have is that it is not always strong enough, and sometimes crushes in the process.

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    Super Moderator willie59's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ncso935 View Post
    I also like/use the pipe idea. Is that DOM tubing? Or what size / type is that? The only issue that I have is that it is not always strong enough, and sometimes crushes in the process.
    Actually, that material I'm using is blast hole drill rod Ncso935, it doesn't crush.
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    Super Moderator CM1995's Avatar
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    Slick trick Willie using the tubing on the front idler. Similar in concept, I stick a cheater bar between the sprocket and the track and rotate the track forward to compress the idler cylinder instead of using a forklift. However I have struggled with spud bars to slide the track off the front idler, from now on I am using your 3 pipe method to bring the track off the roller. Thanks for posting that, if only I would have seen this back in '10...
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    I wish I would of gotten pics. of how we just changed ours on our JD332. We pull the plug on the track adj. then run a short chain through the center hole then around the outside of the track. Now you have a loop of chain around the track we then hook the to another chain hanging from our excavator bucket. Pull up on the track and the front idaler moves back. Next we lift the back of the machine and set the back on the two foot bucket then use the machine to pick up the front. This gives you alot of room to work. Now you go back to the loop of chain in the tracks put right infront of sprocket. Pickup on the track while pulling out and back. The track will pop off the sprocket and then it's easy sailing to pull off the rest of the way. When we put the new on back on we use the D-ring on the coupler to work the track on working the front, then the back, then up onto the sproket. We can change them without a hand tool or breaking a sweat. Unfortanatly we've learned this from changing more then a couple of tracks and the damb things aren't cheap.

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    You are right about them not being cheap. We have a small 247B caterpillar skid steer that gets used for everything and a bunch it probably should not be used for. Being a smaller unit the manufacturer did not use the metal inlayed track guides and just went with rubber. Life is much shorter with this setup. We change them a lot and use the same method as atco. Seems to work well on this style too. It needed new idlers the last time we did it. I ordered some from a supplier in new Mexico and they were much cheaper than caterpillar. They were supposed to be the same thing but when they showed they were made out of aluminum. No time to send them back so we installed them. Not a good deal. Original set ran about 5000 hours. These haven't got 1000 on them yet and they are worn out. Not sure about the price per hour.

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    Ccondog, we're those aluminum wheels from trackloaderparts.com? I've heard good reviews about their aluminum, which have grease fittings. I have a customer who is very hard on their 247 and am considering trying the aluminum so that they will be able to try the preventative maintenance route for a while.

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    Ncso935, Yes they are on that sight. Bair products I believe. Make for sure positive if you do this to let your customer know the installer should not torque the axle nuts to cat specs. And I had to call the manufacturer for their specs. I did not get any in the packaging. I just was not too pleased with the performance of the aluminum myself. Kind of a soft material or the application in my eyes.

  12. #12
    Junior Member wallacet3397's Avatar
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    Hi Wullie95

    Great tip thanks, if I had only seen this before the weekend, would have saved a lot of sweat and tears.

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    i'll add a couple of things to willie's ideas.

    i've been using an old excavator bucket pin 3"d or so in place of the multiple pins.

    i raise (and support) the loader arms, once the track is loose, slip a tanker bar ( or pipe) between the inside of the track and the front idler, lift up and use the machine to drive the track forward and peel the track off. continue to run the track forward use leverage to move the track away from the front of the track frame,
    if you then run the track in reverse it will climb up on the sprocket. may take a little prying to move the rear of the track away from the frame, pull the front of the track away from the machine to approx a 45* angle.

    instlalling a new track just reverse the removal
    let the track lay "relaxed" next to the machine on the same (approx) 45*
    i hook a come-a-long to the top edge of the loader arm (and track) and hoist it into place, push it under & around the rear idler and onto the sprocket, start machine and run track forward until it contacts the outer face of the idler.
    i use a smaller prybar through one of the center holes, and hook on the inside of the front idler, and again run the track forward until it installs itself.

    i do t300 tracks in the field, by myself, in under 3 hrs.

    it usually takes me longer to jack up & block the machine, and load everything back up in my truck, than it does to mess with the tracks.


  14. #14
    Super Moderator willie59's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crewchief888 View Post
    i do t300 tracks in the field, by myself, in under 3 hrs.

    it usually takes me longer to jack up & block the machine, and load everything back up in my truck, than it does to mess with the tracks.

    You sound too much like me chief, someone will ask "do ya need a hand?"

    Reply..."nope."
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    Quote Originally Posted by willie59 View Post
    You sound too much like me chief, someone will ask "do ya need a hand?"

    Reply..."nope."
    exactly !!

    seems like everytime someone tries to help, especially running the track, i end up getting banged up in the process.

    last spring/summer we had a bunch of recalls on track drive motors, one saturday myself and my serv manager removed tracks & drive motors, disassembled the motors, replaced a couple plugs, reinstalled motors and tracks on 4 machines in 6 hrs...
    paid 7 hrs per unit !!
    monday am one of our shop mechanics started on machine #5
    he finished in 10 hours and needed help


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