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Rubber or steel tracks?

Discussion in 'Heavy Equipment' started by Boondox, Feb 11, 2007.

  1. Boondox

    Boondox Senior Member
    Messages: 146

    For tracked equipment that will NEVER be on pavement, but rather will spend its entire life on soft dirt (meadows, forest floor, streambeds, etc) is there any advantage to steel or rubber? It seems like all my local dealers recommend rubber, but most of them use steel in their rental fleets. I'd appreciate first hand knowledge about traction, durability, ease of maintenance, etc.

    Pete
     
  2. payton

    payton Senior Member
    Messages: 470

    both will tear up the ground espically in turning.. but as far as str8 tracking rubber is more friendly. but there also more costly.

    as far as which is better its really justa judgement call.
     
  3. Boondox

    Boondox Senior Member
    Messages: 146

    I think cost depends on the brand. Kubota tracks cost the same, steel or rubber. But at my Volvo dealer steel is an $1800 option. Steel will probably last longer, but in checking out the rental fleets the rubber tracks still have plenty of life in them at 2000 hours. For me, 2000 hours is about seven years. And while rubber gets little chunks cut out now and then, nobody in my area has heard of a set of rubber tracks failing. They just wear out eventually.

    Last summer I borrowed a Kubota mini-ex for two months. It had rubber tracks and the traction was excellent. A couple of times I got stuck in mud while working in a stream but it was a cinch pulling myself out with the working group. Where it really excelled was traversing some pretty soggy ground. Sure it tore it up a bit, but those rubber tracks flexed and cleared themselves of clay pretty effectively. So I'm pretty happy with rubber.

    That said...my local Kubota dealer has a KX121 mini ex for sale from their rental fleet. The price is $10k less than new. It has only 400 hours on it, is a 9 out of 10 condition wise, but it has steel tracks. I've heard that steel isn't so good at self cleaning when passing thru clay, but have no first hand knowledge of that.

    Can anybody out there address that question..?

    TIA, Pete
     
  4. Mr frosty

    Mr frosty Member
    from canada
    Messages: 40

    rubber sucks

    I had rubber tracks on a 331 bobcat and i wasn't very impressed. I put on 3 tracks in the span of 1500hrs. The rubber tracks are very weak when it comes to virgin ground. rocks falling into the track, doing demo work, running a breaker. They do have there advantage tho to. I love how you can drive on asphalt with nobody getting excited and also travelling across cement walkways.My last set never wore down the pads but wore out on the inside.
    Steel last 4000hrs rough service to 7000hrs well kept. Rubber last from 100hrs rough service to 2500hrs well kept. The sun also plays a big factor, I never had much luck with the aftermarket rubber tracks. They promise you a 1000hrs warranty but never ask how many hours are on your machine, My last track was from solid deal and it lasted about 600hrs. it started throwing out cleats. I should my machine needing a new track.

    If your on a budget i would go with the steel. If you have a hole in your pocket rubber is a nice option. What i would do is buy the steel tracks and buy the aftermarket rubber bolt on pads over the steel pad. I haven't run them my self but i hear that they are wicked! Plus if you tear one of you can replace just one pad.
     
  5. magnatrac

    magnatrac PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,055

    You can have the best of both worlds with Mclaren industries tracks. I have a set of their rubber protrac's on my skid and love them. I never have to worry about crossing delicate surfaces ( asphalt, concrete ) . I had a set of cross bar tracks before and had to lay plywood all of the time. Mclaren also offers a hybrid track for excavators. They have a steel chassis with rubber pads. Just another idea for you guys to consider! My skid tracks are rated for a 5,000 hr. life ,but they can be rebuilt also.
     
  6. Boondox

    Boondox Senior Member
    Messages: 146

    I've heard that about rubber tracks on Bobcats, but not about other brands. It was the main reason I cut Bobcat from my potential choices. But not all rubber tracks are that fragile. Those Volvo rentals I referred to earlier had seen 2000 hours in our granite quarries, driving back and forth across sharp stone fragments, and they were still in good shape. On my land, which is 90% soft soil, 5% sand and 5% worn granite, they ought to do quite well. There is no concrete or asphalt within half a mile of my land.

    And I hear you about the durability of steel tracks. My point is what good are they if they turn into slicks the moment I go thru a bit of clay? Those McLaren tracks look interesting, but the tread design is better suited to pavement than to forest.
     
  7. MIDTOWNPC

    MIDTOWNPC PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 4,452

    Steel

    We have steel tracks on our s300 bobcat and they are great. Turns that machine into a tank. Only problem we have ever had to watch was getting golf ball sized stones stuck in between and it wants to shoot them out. Other then that there are a few marks on the tires from the tracks but they are great.
     
  8. The Dirt Doctor

    The Dirt Doctor Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    I have owned a mini excavator for several years now and only run rubber tracks. Here is a bit of information I have found to be helpful...
    Rubber Shoes (Vibration) excellent Metal Shoes average
    Smooth travel excellent good
    Little Noise excellent average
    No Dmg. Paved Surface excellent average
    Easy to handle excellent average
     
  9. The Dirt Doctor

    The Dirt Doctor Junior Member
    Messages: 8

    I have owned equipment much of my life and worked construction a number of years. Here is a bit of information I have found to be helpful...
    Rubber Shoes (Vibration) excellent Metal Shoes average
    Smooth travel excellent good
    Little Noise excellent average
    No Dmg. Paved Surface excellent average
    Easy to handle excellent average
    Easily Damaged average excellent
    Strong Drawbar Pull excellent excellent

    The primary failure of a rubber track is gouging and damage to the area around the steel chords. If this area gets exposed, water will enter and cause enough damage (rust) for a track to break. Avoid these situations and a rubber track will last equally well.:)