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At Fortis we understand the time constraints contractors are under and how a poor quality track can undermine your schedule by shredding or breaking. Having important pieces of equipment sitting idle on the jobsite because of track failure is the type of waste that should never happen. This is why we source every one of our products only from premium vendors and get them to you without delay. When you purchase mini excavator or compact track loader tracks through Fortis you can be sure that once installed on your mini excavator or compact track loader (CTL) they’ll stay put until the job is done so you can minimize waste and reduce costs in order to stay competitive.
We also understand that many of our customers have questions about rubber tracks; how they work and how best to install them as well as the purchase and delivery process. So on this page we’re going to attempt to answer as many of those questions as possible. If you don’t see your question here feel free to give us a call and talk to one of our humans who will do their level best to provide you the information you need. That said, let’s dive into the Frequently Asked Questions about our rubber tracks.
What are the risks of buying rubber tracks online? – Purchasing rubber tracks through the Fortis website is absolutely safe and secure. We adhere to the most rigorous security standards when it comes to processing transactions including the use of 128-bit SSL technology for all Internet purchases. Beyond the technical aspects of our secure shopping platform we’ve gone to great pains to arrange our site in a way that insures you get exactly the track you need every time. As such the odds that you’ll encounter a problem when purchasing rubber tracks through our website are slim and none.
How long does it take for my tracks to be delivered? – If you order by 1pm CST we can arrange same day shipping on orders within the contiguous 48 states. Otherwise it typically takes 1 – 3 days with some exceptions for areas not regularly served by major shipping companies. For deliveries within Canada please allow 5 – 7 business days. Again, with exceptions for out of the way places.
Why choose Fortis to supply your CTL or mini-excavator tracks? – It’s simple: Peace of mind. No matter who you purchase your rubber tracks through those tracks need to be dependable and built to last regardless of the terrain they’re subjected to or the stresses they endure. Some companies pay lip service to those concerns while we provide only the top tracks from leading manufacturers that will allow you to reduce your operational costs and maximize profit. The rubber tracks we provide our customers are fabricated from a blend of all natural and high quality synthetic rubber products which provide them both amazing flexibility and best-in-class toughness. Our tracks are:
- Slash, gouge and tear resistant
- More stable than discount rubber tracks.
- More manoeuvrable than those sold by the competition.
- Designed to reduce vibrations which extends your loader’s life.
- Sure to provide an iron grip regardless of the terrain, temperature or precipitation.
How do I know the correct size track for my CTL or mini excavator? – The simplest way is to look at your current track. It should have the size stamped into it on the inside part of the track. If you are unable to find the size stamp then all you need to do is take a few measurements. These will allow you to determine the size of the track you will need. Because the size of a rubber track is an expression of width x pitch x number of links those measurements are:
- The width of the track (in millimetres).
- The distance from the centre of one link to the centre of the next (pitch).
- The number of links* contained in the inner portion of the track.
*The links are those square-ish knobs on the inside of the track that the loader or mini excavator sprocket grabs in order to move the track forward or backward.
Is it okay to store rubber tracks outdoors? – As with just about everything else the lifespan of your rubber tracks is dependent in large part on how well you take care of them. If you store your mini excavator or CTL outdoors all the time the weather plus the daily exposure to sunlight is going to shorten the life of the track. It is much preferred that you store your equipment under cover or indoors. Also if you have unused tracks you should never store them outdoors, even if they’re in a safe place. You should always bring them indoors to store them until they are needed. In addition you should never leave your piece of equipment in one place for extended periods of time as this will greatly reduce the lifespan of the track. If you don’t use the equipment often at least start it up occasionally and take it for a short spin around the yard before parking it again.
What exactly will cause a rubber track to fail? – There are any number of reasons why tracks fail including but not limited to:
- Damage caused by metal fatigue.
- Damage caused by the track being too tight.
- Slicing, puncturing or gouging by jobsite hazards.
- Separation of the rubber from the metal core.
- Loss of integrity caused by extreme stress applied on extremely hot days.
Note that typically it is low cost discount tracks and not the kind of high quality tracks we sell at Fortis that are affected by extreme heat. Also, if the track has been compromised by sitting around outdoors without being used for extended periods of time it will be more susceptible to the above listed types of damage.
How do the steel cords inside the rubber track rupture? – The steel cords inside the track that are used to buttress structural integrity are not immune to damage. They will typically rupture if:
- The rubber surface of the track is penetrated in some way. This will allow water to penetrate to the interior of the track where it will corrode the steel core and the metal lugs eventually causing them to rupture.
- Foreign materials whether stones, broken pieces of concrete, gravel or other materials get wedged into the cavities of the track, roller, idlers or sprockets. This will cause undue tension on the track and the metal cords within, eventually causing them to fail.
- Repeated sharp turns and fast driving will also bring too much stress onto the metal cords, compromising their structural integrity. You should never drive the equipment too fast or make unnecessary or unnecessarily sharp turns.
- The bonding agent used to adhere the rubber to the metal cords wears out over time. This is typically a bigger issue with cheap cords that use cheap bonding agents.
What are the most common ways the rubber lugs are damaged? – The lugs are literally where the rubber hits the road, or in this case the terrain. As such they are first in line for all types of damage including but not limited to:
- Damage caused by sharp stones, pebbles, jagged pieces of concrete, glass, rebar fragments, large nails and screws and jagged pieces of metal debris on the jobsite.
- Repeated fast turns on roadways, particularly if those roadways are hot, can cause severe damage to the lugs.
- Flex fatigue – where the track is subjected to continual stretching and shrinking over long periods of time – can cause cracks in the rubber track that slowly grow and eventually cause failure.
- If tension on the rubber track is too high or too low it will bring unusual stresses on the track that will eventually undermine its integrity and cause it to fail.
How can I prolong the life of my rubber tracks? – As we mentioned above you should never store unused tracks outdoors, nor should you store equipment with rubber tracks on it outdoors exposed to the elements, nor should you leave equipment with rubber tracks sitting in one place for prolonged periods of time. All of these will undermine the integrity of the track and shorten its life. In addition you should take the following steps in order to ensure good track health and long life:
- Avoid sharp debris whenever possible when operating your equipment.
- Avoid driving the equipment for long distances to and from the jobsite. Instead make sure you transport the equipment to and from the site on a trailer.
- If you have recently replaced an old track with a new one make sure to check the tension in that new track after 50 hours of operation and make any adjustments necessary.
- Clean the tracks on a regular basis to remove objects that may compromise the track.
- Practice good operating technique by never driving aggressively and avoiding unnecessarily fast turns. Any turns should be wide and slow.
- Be wary of things like broken concrete fragments and rebar protruding from debris when navigating demolition sites. Also, avoid driving over tree roots.
- Check the undercarriage of the mini excavator or CTL when replacing any tracks to see if there are any issues that need addressing like worn or broken sprockets, idlers or rollers.
Is it economical to recondition rubber tracks? – Rebuilding a track usually costs nearly half as much as simply buying new tracks. In addition replacing the links can run as much as 20% of the price of a new set of tracks. So if you want to rebuild the track and replace the links or guide blocks you’re probably better off just buying new tracks outright.
Do rubber tracks need to be in excellent condition to work effectively? – Rubber tracks can work effectively even if they exhibit a considerable degree of wear. The most important thing is how well they’ve been cared for. If they’ve been subjected to unnecessarily harsh treatment older tracks will loosen and won’t grab the terrain very well or produce crisp turns. In addition if they’ve been repeatedly driven over dangerous debris the steel cords inside may be corroded and ready to rupture.
Is it okay to change just a single rubber track rather than both? – If that’s what you want to do you would not be the first but you should be aware that having one good track and one old track will cause an imbalance in the way the mini excavator or CTL operates. It may even escalate to a safety issue depending on where you are operating the machinery. It’s always preferable to replace both tracks at the same time if possible.
What is the lifespan of a typical rubber track? – This is a common question but not one with a simple answer. That’s because everyone operates their equipment in different places and therefore subjects them to different environmental stresses and different types of jobsite hazards. Other factors that influence the life of the track include the manner in which the equipment is operated, whether it’s constantly stored outside exposed to the elements and what sort of condition the CTL or mini excavator itself is in.
Do you rebuild or recondition worn rubber tracks? – We sell only new, high quality CTL and mini excavator rubber tracks to our customers and do not currently rebuild or recondition worn tracks.
Installing New Tracks on your Equipment
Before proceeding it’s necessary to remind readers to always practice good safety habits when working on or around heavy equipment. Make sure you are wearing a hard hat, safety gloves and steel toe work boots and that there are two people performing the task of replacing the rubber tracks on your equipment. That said, replacement of the rubber tracks on your mini excavator or CTL is usually performed in the following manner.
- Using the appropriate wrench, remove the grease fitting. Then move down to the idler and collapse it. This will release the track tension. Before proceeding inspect the grease fitting to be sure it doesn’t need replacing itself. Then move on to the next step.
- Have anyone next to the equipment stand back and then have the operator push downward on the front blade until the front of the rubber track is lifted off the ground. The operator should then move the boom around to the rear of the excavator and press down as well. This will lift the rear portion of the mini excavator. The excavator should now be suspended.
- When it comes to a CTL there obviously isn’t a boom to lift the rear portion of the equipment so compensate in this manner: before pushing downward with the front blade go to the back of the loader and place heavy wooden blocks under a solid portion of the frame. The blocks should contact the frame. Then, when you push down on the front blade the CTL will push back onto the wooden blocks, effectively lifting the rear of the loader off the ground enough to remove the track. Once your mini excavator or CTL is suspended move on to the next step.
- It’s advisable that once the equipment is suspended in the above described manner that heavy duty jack stands are placed under it to prevent it from crashing down should there be a hydraulic failure. Once the jack stands are in place proceed to the next step.
- Try manually removing the track from the sprocket teeth at one end. If it won’t come loose have the operator slowly advance the track while you insert a pry bar that will walk the track off of the teeth. It should effectively release the track from the teeth quickly and easily. Once the track is released from the sprockets the operator should halt the advance and turn off the equipment. Once the track is loose it’s time to proceed to the next step.
- Pull the track toward you away from the mini excavator or CTL until it is clear of the machinery. Remember the track is very heavy so don’t pull it so hard that it falls into you once it is clear of the equipment. When it is completely off the track you can have your partner remove it and store it somewhere out of the way using a forklift or another loader or excavator. Once it’s safely out of the way proceed to the next step.
- Inspect the exposed undercarriage for dirt, debris and damage. Replace any damaged parts that need replacing and then clean the area thoroughly before installing the new track. Once everything is clean and ready to go move on to the next step.
- Move the new track into position beside the CTL or excavator. With the help of someone else hook the track on the teeth of the sprocket. The track is very heavy so don’t try to do this alone. Once the track is hooked onto the sprocket move onto the next step.
- Have the operator advance the track slowly while you use a pry bar to guide the track onto the idler. The CTL will have both front and rear idlers so once the track is securely affixed to the front idler move to the back and use the pry bar to guide the track onto the back idler as well. Remove the pry bar and set it aside then move onto the next step.
- Have the operator run the track several times completely around to ensure it’s properly set and then stop and adjust the idler tension to OEM specs. Once that is accomplished your track is now properly installed.
- Remove any jacks from under the equipment. Then, on the CTL, lower the front blade until the loader is returned flat to the ground. Then remove the wooden blocks from under the rear of the loader. With a mini excavator lower the rear of the excavator by releasing pressure on the boom, then lower the front by releasing pressure on the front skid. The excavator should now be flat on the ground, ready to go.
Some helpful tips:
- Always clean out the grease hole before reinserting the plug.
- You may want to replace the grease fitting when replacing the track though it’s not necessary.
- Remember not to position yourself under the equipment at any time when it is elevated.
- And again, never attempt to replace tracks by yourself.
We hope you found this FAQ section helpful. If you have any questions that were not addressed here give us a call on 855-434-5552 to speak to one of our experts.