Undercarriage and track shoe maintenance

The undercarriage is about a fifth of a complete crawler crane, but the maintenance of this part is roughly as much as the maintenance of the complete crane. When a component of the undercarriage gets damaged it can stagnate the operation of the entire crane. When you don’t regularly subject the undercarriage and components to maintenance it can cost you valuable time, money and potentially decrease the crane’s life span.

Prolong the wear life of your parts

The undercarriage of tracked heavy equipment, such as crawler cranes, consists of many moving components, such as: a drive motor, drive sprockets, idlers and rollers, rock guards, track bolts, track chains and track shoes which need to be maintained to keep function properly.

Although wear cannot be eliminated, you can prolong the wear life of components. When you don’t regularly subject the undercarriage and components to maintenance it can cost you valuable time, money and potentially decrease the track’s life span.

What causes wear?

The undercarriage of a crawler crane works as a system. You will always have unavoidable wear when the crane is in motion, but with good maintenance and operating techniques, the rate of the wear can be reduced. Cleaning the undercarriage regularly, routinely inspecting the crane, maintaining track tension and the way you use the crane are a few of the techniques we will explain further.

Keep the undercarriage clean

The most controllable factor in undercarriage wear is cleanliness. To keep your crane functioning properly the undercarriage of your crawler crane should be cleaned daily. The operator of the crane should clean out the dirt that the undercarriage collects during operation. When the undercarriage doesn’t get regularly cleaned, it will most likely hasten wear on components.

If operators show carelessness about cleaning the undercarriage, the dirt will harden out. This will lead up to weary bolts which on its own can loosen the guiding and seize up the rollers, leading to potential wear later. Eventually not cleaning the undercarriage can lead up to unnecessary downtime. Not cleaning the undercarriage regularly can add weight to the undercarriage, reducing fuel economy.

Routinely inspect the crane’s undercarriage

Routinely inspection of the undercarriage of a crane is very important. This way you can fix or replace damaged, missing or excessive or uneven wear of components early on. This way the crawler crane doesn’t has unnecessary downtime. If the machine is being used in harsh environments frequently the undercarriage needs to be inspected more often.

When inspecting the undercarriage, the following items should be checked for out of place components and damages such as broken parts; drive motor, drive sprockets, rock guards, track bolts, track chains, track shoes and the track tension.

In addition, when checking the crane’s undercarriage, the operator should inspect the rollers, idlers and drives for oil leakage. Oil leaks could indicate a failed seal which could lead to a major failure in the rollers, idlers or track drive motors.

Maintain track tension

Proper track maintenance for crawler cranes is often overlooked. Check if your tracks aren’t to lose or too tight. Tight tracks can increase wear significantly.

The tracks bear the weight of the crane hence their importance and why they shouldn’t be forgotten. A tight track increases the impact of the load and sets off a chain reaction. It causes more wear on the contact areas with the teethes, idlers, rollers and sprockets.

Incorrect track tension means your track shoes leads up to increased track wear, so it is important to adhere to the proper tension. As a rule, when your operators are working in soft, muddy conditions, it is recommended to run the tracks slightly looser. If steel tracks are too tight or too loose, it can quickly accelerate wear. A loose track could cause the tracks to de-track.

Prevent misalignment of the tracks

When the tracks and idlers of the crawler crane aren’t aligned properly it will accelerate the wear on the undercarriage components. Always make sure you check the alignment when you’re preforming a routine inspection. You can check the alignment by looking at the wear patterns on the rollers and idlers. By preforming a visual inspection regularly you can prevent misalignment of the tracks.

Operate your crawler crane as a pro

How you operate the crawler crane affects the wear of the undercarriage components. By applying the right control techniques, you can extend the life of the undercarriage. Fast movements with the crane speed up the wear on the undercarriage components.

Constantly turning to one side also reduces the life of the track shoes, sprocket teeth, bushings, track links, idlers and rollers. The distance that a crawler crane travels, determines the wear. Plan your work and the movements of your machine carefully at to fit the construction site and make travel productive and your tracks last longer.

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