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Old 07-20-2004, 09:37 PM
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Rubber track drive loaders

I am going to a seminar at our local Cat dealer Saturday adressing maintenance concerns and operational tips for making undercarriages last on rubber tracked machines.

Tone of owners as well as Cat engineers will be on hand to address questions pertaining to these relativley new machines. My own concerns are the cost of overhead recovery from a rubber track vs a skid steer. Two things are imperative to longevity on these machines. Track tension, and track alignment. I will further post what I gleaned from the seminar.
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Old 07-20-2004, 10:37 PM
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Bring it on, Bill!

My nearly new Dingo TX 425 (40 hours) shed its right track twice in one day while traversing a 15% pitch under load. The teeth on the track were all chewed up, and seemed to offer no resistance to popping off. Took about 4 man hours total to get the damn track back on twice and wrap the job. Wasn't nice to the lawn either. Considering how new the machine is, and that all I've done with it is move mulch, dirt and gravel, I think it's safe to say...

HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM

We will see if Reindeers and Toro step up and honor the warranty.

Oddly enough, the Dingo 322 loaner (which might be the most dangerous and clumsy piece of equipment ever devised, excepting the International Farmall's M series tractor) tried to do the same thing the other night while merely turning 180 with an empty bucket on a gravel drive, but I caught it in time and managed to back the track back-on...

For now,
TORO DINGO BUYERS BEWARE!!!
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Old 07-24-2004, 08:13 PM
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I just spent the better part of a day at a Cat training seminar for what they label as MTL's, Multi terrain Loaders. Before going to this seminar, speaking to other owners, seeing the demos, hearing the engineers and seeing design capabilities, I was somewhat leary about these machines. I learned alot and the following are some outtakes.

First, there are definite advantages to these machines. On a stright on, straight off drive, you can run buckets of materials over exisiting lawns and all you will do is cruush grass blades. If you turn or make repeated runs off and on, the lawn will trash just like a skid steer.

My biggest question was overhead and the recovery there of. Fact is, all track drive loaders require more maintenance than rubber tired, and how well you perform that will determine how much overhead you will need to recover. So, we will need to charge $150.00 per hour for the machine and operator to recover operating costs and profit from the usage.

Let us first mention the myths about a track, and this holds true to ALL tracks. Over tight track tension will help the track live longer. This is false. What will occur with a rubber track is similar to an over inflated tire. you will wear groves on the top side of the track, where the rollers are sitting. The way to adjust a CAT track is by setting a 100 lb weight on top the track and measuring no more or less than 1/2" of flex in the rubber. Tensioners on the 257B which we are getting next week are adjusted with a 1 1/4" wrench and a turn bickle. Loose tracks under load will cause the planetary drive wheel to spin inside the cleats and eventually break them off. Cracking and tears depending on how, and where, can be from superficial to waranteeable, depending on how, what etc.

Full tilt 360 turns such as in your skid steer should be avoided. 3 point turns are recommended. What occurs when you do a 360 is that rock and dirt can get jammed into the wheels and cause abrasion. And since we are on that subject, you must clean the tracks nightly after running the mac hine. ASV/CAT style tracks have more clean outs than any other brand.

You should also avoid running on transitions., where one track is on the flat, and the other is on the slope, as this will place undue pressures on the alignment blocks and caster sides.

How long your track lasts depends highly on what surface you are running on. Try to avoid running on steel, demo, abrasive such as gravel, and asphalt streets, but on average, you can get 2500 plus hours out of tracks, and even longer out of rollers. Tracks for the 257 cost $4,000.00, rollers about a grand.

The Cat compared to Bobcat, Gehl, Tachehuchi, etc. Cat uses a bias ply fiberglass track. All other use vulcanized rubber onto steel. I can't tell you how many motor mounts i have broken when I dump a clutch, and this is what can happen with a steel vulcanized track. The ride is worse on a bobcat style since there is not suspension, and the steel gear builds alot more heat than the planetary drive rollers of the Cat. There are no areas to clean out the track on Bobcat/Gehl or Tachehuchi machines. On the plus side for bobcat, it is virtually impossible to throw a track due to the way they have been designed. Where you can run torn Cat tracks if you cut off the flapping rubber from the cut, when a bobcat track gets ripped, the steel will work it's way out and eventually render the track useless.

Slopes. These machine will work on a 3-1 slope for cutting pads and such. They will crawl over trenches, and provide years of life. The B seriies has an automatic attachment uncoupler, so, by flipping a lever, you can connect anything you want to run.

We got ours with a tooth bucket, 6 way angle blade, set of forks and an auger. Delivered price was $49,670.00 tax frieght and out the gate. We are going to run the GPS style lazer grading tool, it uses satelites to tell us how deep we cut or how high we need to fill. Two other guys who grade with them swear by this system because you don't need to move any tripods or se thtem up in the tight spaces our area offers with houses.

We are now certified operators of CAT MTL's, and i can easily see that by taking this course, there are do and don'ts of these style machines. I spoke to over 15 owners, some that had the series one ASV, that uses the two handle style stering it used tio run before Cat. That machine has over 2300 hours and the tracks still looked new. I think as these machine become more popular, the cost of rubber is going to drop. Right now production is less than it could be, so the cost will be higher.

Anyhow, if there is any questions that I may be able to answer, I can look it up in the book and see what they got to say!
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Old 07-24-2004, 09:50 PM
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Bill, your saying that it going to cost you about $1.00 per hour more to run the Cat than a rubber tire machine, plus about 1 hour each day for maintenance? Thats not too bad they are making improvements to the system.

What is Operator training is going to run you? How many operators are you training on it.

I had tried a ASV before and didn't like the controls, but Cat's new system which takes after their dozer line of controls is going to take the other manufactures by storm! I ran a Cat 312 all last week and it's a nice machine but a bit under powered for it's size. I did enjoy it's comfort and options. The throttle control sensors on the joy sticks really make it nice. Did you order your machine with the A/C option?

What is the GPS system going to run? How many channel system is it? Does it have a radio control from the main station to the equipment?
Have you heard of any problems with buildings interfering with signals? Here we run into problems unless we have a clear view of the sky.
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Old 07-24-2004, 10:36 PM
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Wow Bill! That's got to be the post of the month!!!
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Old 07-25-2004, 12:18 AM
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That was a ton of info Bill. Thanks. I will say this - after reading all the limitations of a tracked machine, I wonder if we'd just be better off buying tracks to go over the tires of our existing skid steer. Seems like it'd be the better option for us.

skid steer info page

Last edited by Stonehenge; 03-02-2007 at 05:31 PM..
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Old 07-25-2004, 09:45 AM
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What is the rated 1/2 tipping capacity of the 257B?

You mentioned the rollers being priced at $1000, is that per each, per side, or to do the whole machine? Also, are the rollers sealed or greasable?

Thanks! I'm anxious to hear how you will compare it to a skid steer after some field time. I've had my eye on these as a second machine.
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Old 07-25-2004, 12:43 PM
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To answer a few questions...

I will have more info on the GPS system next week, I meet with the Cat guys for orientation. We chose GPS for reasons mentioned, and yes there are spots where GPS wil fail, buildings, and certain areas in some canyons. When we have thos eissues, we can go to old school, or, rent a slope lazer from our dealer, or maybe buy one...I'm doing sticker shock for a week or so these next days. We are going to have a rasio control from the mainstation, and I beleive the GPS has 16 channels, unless I confused that with all the other info I have absorbed. Our team has alot to learn, and I'm sure it will take some field time before we really have any answers as o the exact how's and what's, so, bear with me here.

We did not get A/C on the unit. The temps we run in ar from 40 to 85 farenhiet, and occasionally we see 90 or 100 for a day of two at a time. For those few days a year, I did not feel the extra coin on A/C and a cab enclosure was granted, and felt that money could best be spent on grading tools such as the GPS system, which. is going to bounce around the $10,000 figure by the time we add all the bells whistles and goodies, traning classes etc.. Time it will save? Well, how long would it take us to set up a lazer, then move the lazer, get new readings, move it again and again and again all through a day? Everyone there pretty much said to go GPS first, and add other types of grading tools as you see the need for them.

The part that really excits me is small. The hydraulic operated tool connectors, which is at the time of delivery, only an $800.00 option. Just imagine the time it takes to climb in, climb out, flip two levers, then climb back inside and repeat that process several times a day, expecially when you are doing a segmental wall, one load is gravel, the next is a pallet of block, then gravel then block. Lots of time spent a day just changing attachments.

We will be training 2 operators on this machine. The cost through CAT/Hawthorne equipment is $250.00 for the class, and we could send up to 5 people, so that is pretty minimal, and now that I have been trained, I could also put together a presentation for our guys, but this way, they will have a certificate from CAT and if any issues arrise, there is no denying they were trained.

1/2 tipping load is between 23 and 2400 lbs, according to the brochure, but you and I both know they usually rate well under what the machine can really lift for liabilities sake. All we need to lift is a pallet of Keystone at a time. The $1,000 cost is for all undercarraige parts. And they can go a long way before they need replacing. Typically, two sets of tracks for one set of rollers.
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Old 07-25-2004, 05:45 PM
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$10K on a GPS is cheap........... the last slope laser we bought went $7K add in the machine control and receiver and your close to the $10K.

what we could never get right for the GPS was the exact elevation. those have to be programed into the box on the equipment, too much time for us just to grade out a ball field. I know some here will say why, I have never been on a dirt job that balanced out right. The last one ended up being a foot higher than was planned. Now tiring to grade something that was programed in one foot lower would cause a lot of problems!
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Old 07-25-2004, 08:43 PM
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Good info to know Paul. After I get all the particulars, I'll post again. I thought 10K was cheap for GPS from what I have read and ehard, and, with all the new "stuff" I was absorbing, maybe I missed something in translation. I'll see soon enough
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In the year 1491, if the Naturescape Landscape Company did the site work in Pisa, Italy, they would not be calling it the "leaning" tower.

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Old 07-26-2004, 03:47 AM
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I have worked out that the extra-ordinary running costs on my ASV RC30 are $22 per hour.

That is why I am so !@#$% off with my machine.

If I had to pay for all of the parts done under warranty I believe that the cost would be more like $40 per hour. This machine has only done 850 hours work.

I was the first to by an ASV RC30 in my state. I have learnt not to be the first to buy a new type of machine. You end up being the guinea pig.

Make sure that you check your tracks regularly for cracks and tears. If you report these early you may not have to pay for a new set. If you report deterioration later you will probably have to pay a pro-rata price on a new set.
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Old 07-26-2004, 10:40 AM
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BJR:

If it available, can you go in and get trained with the tracks you have? If it is not available in the land down under, I can send you off a disc which tells all the dos and dont's of your machine. And if your running area is abrasive etc.

Do you run on transitions or do you side slope the machine? By simply changing direction you can take wear off one side and balance it on the other. Things like that make big differences.
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In the year 1491, if the Naturescape Landscape Company did the site work in Pisa, Italy, they would not be calling it the "leaning" tower.

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Old 07-26-2004, 05:29 PM
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I'm talking about the fact that my machine came with duro 80 tracks which only lasted 360 hours and stressed the deive system due to ASV telling me to overtighten the tracks to help stop the misffeding that was happening.
Also having 2 sprocket drives and 2 drive motors replaced. They replaced them with the duro 90 tracks and exactly the same problem occurred. At 750 hours the tracks were useless and the drive motors and sprocket drives failed again at separate times.

In total, the keys on the drive shaft sheered through 4 times, twice both sides, the sprocket drives broke 4 times, twice both sides, the front tortion bar had to be replaced with a newer version, the bucket mounts snapped 2 times. And eventually the front and back wheels stressed from the overtightening of the tracks and I had to replace 8 wheels and bearings and one stub axle, at a cost of $3000. When they fitted the 3rd set of tracks at approx 750 hours, they eventually admitted that they made a mistake and fitted duro 80 tracks the secont time instead of 90's.
No one has offered any explanation as to why my machine has had so many problems with the drive system. Sure the tracks were overtightened to try to stop the misfeed on the 80 tracks, at ASV request, but would this stress the drive motors and sprocket drive? I have repeadly asked the Importer to take the machine away and have it checked out. I have also asked them to tell me if it is the way that I operate the machine. No response. As far as I can tell we operate the machine as you have briefly detailed above.

No one has blamed me for the machines problems. The company that sold me the machine and the importer have both admitted that there is a problem with the duro 80 tracks and the sprocket drives. The importer recalled all RC30's and replaced the 80 tracks with 90's. They are also going to the trouble of having a modified, heavier sprocket drive designed in Australia. Now if this is the case, why am I having to pay for the repairs on parts that the importer deems to be faulty or inadequate?

Over here tracks are over $5000 and the wheels and bearings are a similar price. Another operator I know who has a lot more hours on his RC30, has calculated that his tracks will last, as you say, for approx 2500 hrs, he has already replaced front wheels and bearings and recons that he will have to replace the whole lot when the tracks are replaced. He estimates that this will cost approx $9,000 for parts and the labour to do the job. I calculate, from the bills I have received for similar repairs, that the labour would be around $3000.
The company that sold me my machine is having major problems with repairs to these track machines, as everything takes a long time to do.

There are no training programs that ASV have in Australia. When I purchased my machine, no one told me that it had to be driven any differently to a tyred machine, except for the 3 point turns instead of spinning. But this was only to save the grass, not the machine.

I am still getting up the nerve to spend $10,000 to take the matter to court.
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Old 07-26-2004, 07:28 PM
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2500 hrs on a set of tracks.........hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!!

I would have to really question that one.

Here in Jersey I have to say that 1000 hrs is probably doing extremely well.

Then again, it is all sand in CA. This makes a HUGE difference.

Ever try washing mixed 3/4" gravel and clay soil out of the tracks.............in the middle of DEC!?????? Good luck.

Winter can be one of the worst scenarios for tracked machines.......plan on a lot more hours cleaning every night........or EVEN more hours trying to get the machine to just move in the morning.

Love the track machine though. Would never buy a wheeled one again.

If you really want to be impressed, take a palet of versa lok straight up a 2:1 mud covered hill........it does it, and nothing else will.

I'd take all that info your learned at the seminar with a teaspoon of sugar though.......most of that track info and roller info is EXTREMELY interesting.

The thing with tracked machines is this............one bad job and the whole machine gets beat up. Kind of their own fault. Tracked machines are just incredible and go through anything!......thing is, they probably shouldn't be.......but they do. Rainy days are just too inviting for tracked machines............they don't miss a beat....they also don't miss that 2ft of mixed mud clay being ground into their undercarriage.


and stop busting on the dingos.........another machine I would never do without.

Last edited by PSUscaper; 07-26-2004 at 07:37 PM..
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Old 07-26-2004, 07:38 PM
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Hey Pennscapes,
Yeah the Dingo is indispensable; don't know how I got along for ten years without it...

Oh yeah, I do know, cause after a mere forty hours the Dingo is in the shop, and my knees and thighs ache again...
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