Adjusting Track Tension on Mini Excavators

  • Written by Luis
A mini excavator with one of it's tracks lifted in the air

When replacing the rubber track on mini excavators, such as a John Deere 35G, the tension on the track will need to be adjusted so the track doesn’t slip off when in operation.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to adjust the track tension.

Step 1: Lift the Machine

Heavy duty equipment operator using the blade and bucket to lift a mini excavator off it's tracks

How the mini excavator will be lifted into the air will depend on whether it has a blade. If the machine has a blade, you want to have the operator push the blade into the ground first. Then push the boom and bucket into the ground to lift the mini excavator completely into the air.

If the machine does not have a blade attached, you will have to lift up one side at a time to adjust the tension. Rotate the boom and bucket to the side of the machine. Push the boom and bucket down until the track is clear of the ground.

A heavy equipment operator uses the bucket on a mini excavator to lift the machine up on one side

Step 2: Lift Safety Lever

Have the operator lift the safety lever before work is performed on the track. This safety measure will prevent the operator from accidentally bumping into the lever that could case someone to become seriously or fatally injured when adjusting the tension on the rubber tracks.

Step 3: Clean Grease Valve

There is an access hole on the side where the grease valve (grease nipple) is located. This grease valve allows for the track to be held on tight to the machine. Clean the access hole and grease valve with paper towels beforehand so that your hand doesn’t become covered in grease. Then check the grease valve to ensure that it is on tight.

HD mechanic cleans the grease out of a grease valve on a mini excavator

How to Change Mini Excavator Tracks

Step 4: Pump in Grease

You can use any type of grease gun to pump grease into the grease valve. Before starting, check the owner’s manual to understand the proper tensioning for the particular machine that you are working on.

heavy duty mechanic pumps grease into the grease valve on a John Deere 35G

Attach the grease pump to the valve and pump in the grease. As the grease enters the channel, you will see the track getting tighter as the tension is increased. Leave an inch of play (space) between the rail on the rubber track and the lower roller that is in the center of the machine.

Step 5: Run the Track to Check the Tension

demonstration of testing track tension on a John Deere 35G mini excavator

Have the operator run the track forward and back for a few minutes to check the tension. The operator should end the run with the track going backwards. If there is more space between the rubber track, readjust the track by pumping in more grease from the grease gun so that there is an inch of space.

After the machine runs for a few hours performing work, the new track will begin to break in and loosen. If it loosens too much, the tension will need to be readjusted.

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