Safely Changing a Mini Excavator Track

  • Written by Luis
Heavy duty mechanic standing next to a 35G mini excavator that the equipment operator has lifted in the air

You can perform the track replacement on your mini excavator. You will need to have at least two people. One person will remove and replace the track as the other person will run the machines. Check out the following steps to safely change a mini excavator track.

Tools You Need:

  • chisel bar
  • 19 mm open end wrench
  • grease gun (electric, pneumatic or manual will work)

Step 1: Lift the Machine’s Track

a heavy equipment operator uses the blade and bucket on a mini excavtaor to lift the machine off of its tracks

There are two methods you can use to lift the mini excavator off the ground.

If the machine comes with a blade, have the operator push the blade into the ground. Then push the bucket into the ground to lift up the machine.

If there is no blade attachment, you’ll need to position the boom and bucket on one side of the machine. Push the bucket against the ground until the machine’s side rises and the track is off the ground.

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

Step 2: Push Safety Lever Up

The operator should push the safety lever up to prevent the machine from accidentally dropping, which can injure or kill anyone who is working on the replacement track.

Safety lever on a John Deere 35G mini excavator

Step 3: Release Track Tension

Remove the grease hole access cover on the side of the idler. You will need a 19mm ratchet or manual ratchet to remove the bolts. Then loosen and remove the grease valve. With the grease valve removed, grease will come out as the track will loosen.

mechanic releasing the track tension on a John Deere 35G excavator

Step 4: Moving the Idler

On new machines, the idler will come in and the track will loosen immediately once the grease valve is removed. However, for older machines, the idler may not move much due to the piled dirt. To get the track looser, stand up on the track as your body weight will help bring the idler in more and loosen the track.

Heavy duty mechanic using a pry bar to pop a rubber track off a mini excavator

You can also use the chisel bar to loosen the track. Place the chisel bar along the sprocket. Have the operator fire the machine as the track travel backwards. The bar will create more tension, bringing in the idler more as a larger gap will appear and loosen the track.

Step 5: Walk the Track Off

Place the chisel bar under the track. As the operator fires the machine and moves the track forward, the chisel bar will help to walk the track off. Keep your body from from the chisel bar in case it kicks back at you. Remove the track from the front and back idler.

Using a chisel bar, the excavator operator is walking the track forward while Keith remove the track from the sprocket and idler

Step 6: Place on the New Track

Lower the machine and lift the track up on the sprocket and carrier roller. Then have the operator lift the machine up. Kick or push the track on the idler. Then use the chisel bar and have the operator move the track forward so the track pops fully on.

Step 7: Adjust Tension

Clean the grease valve and screw it back on tight. Pump grease into the valve with the grease gun. Leave an inch of space between the roller and the track. Check the tension by running the track forwards and backwards, ending the run with it backwards.

demonstration of testing track tension on a John Deere 35G mini excavator
Learn How to Change Your MINI EXCAVATOR Tracks in Minutes!
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