Steel Tracks or Rubber Tracks?

Discussion in 'Heavy Equipment' started by WALT, Feb 8, 2001.

  1. WALT

    WALT Junior Member
    Messages: 22

    On the Bobcat (or like mini) excavators you have the option of getting steel tracks or rubber tracks. I have used both,and have noticed that the steel does not tear up the asphalt like most think, only leave white scratch marks with the small cleats. Just wondering, what is th benifet of using (what I think) the cheaper and weaker rubber tracks? Around here the majority use rubber tracks, my shop is the only that uses the steel around here. A couple things that I can think that rubber would be better if (hope I don't JINX myself)the track sliped off, then it would be easier to get back on. Or a job on a fine landscape e.g golf course. Your experiances or opinions?
  2. guido

    guido Veteran
    Messages: 261


    First off Walt, welcome to lawnsite!

    To answer your question:

    "At my last base" We had a Bobcat Ecavator with the rubber tracks and it worked great on lawns and fragile work environments. It had much better floatibility also.

    At my shop here, one of the boss's decided he was going to buy one with steel tracks. Its okay, but the rubber was much better. As a matter of fact I just used it tonight for some airfield repairs and there were a couple of things I noticed:

    It slid around on the asphalt while I was working much worst than the rubbber tracks have ever done. The rubber had a much better grip on the asphalt than the steel tracks.

    It has a much rougher ride than the rubber tracked model

    And it does slice up a lot of asphalt when turning and maneuvering in tight work areas, which is less than disireable in some "high class" area.

    The one plus I am aware of is the durability of the steel tracks compared to the rubber. I've heard of rubber tracks catching on rebar, or stray metal, etc and actually tearing the track which eventually leads to an expensive replacement.

    This is just my opinion!

    Hope this helps!
  3. OP

    WALT Junior Member
    Messages: 22

    Thanks Guido for the welcome!
    By the way is that your real name? Don't hear to may Guido's around. It's an old Italian name isn't it?

    I am grateful of your opinions. But just have a few questions/comments about them.

    1) It has a much rougher ride than the rubber tracked model

    I would not take that into consideration, due to the fact that the "ride" should not be long enough for it to consider as a factor when purchasing. Long "rides" cause much wear and tear for such a machine and is not recomended by Bobcat (with any type tracks), I am sure. But if for some reason my trailer was broke or my hemroids were acting up that day, rubber tracks would be the better option. Young men like yourself should be able to take the slight inconvience of a rough "ride" for the sake of durability. Transportation "IN" the machine was not the intent, or?

    2) And it does slice up a lot of asphalt when turning and maneuvering in tight work areas, which is less than disireable in some "high class" area.

    In my experiances with steel tracks on the asphalt it never has done that. The worst i seen was slight suface damage that ware away in some weeks. I CAN see how it CAN happen but only with the help of operator inexperiance, knowledge of the machine and lack of better judgement. For example NEW asphalt that hasn't completely set, would tend to be a little softer, and therefore this might happen. Tight areas, where this may be more difficult, I believe can be done with only minimal damage to the earth with proper knowledge. That's what makes the Bobact (and like) excavators a plus and joy to operate, with the boom swing option. This equals the less the machine has to move in the "tight" areas. If thats what you specialize in, or do that type of work often then again, it may be better. If it's only a minimal part of the scope of work you do, you have to ask yourself if it's worth not having that durability.

    3)"At my last base" We had a Bobcat Ecavator with the rubber tracks and it worked great on lawns and fragile work environments. It had much better floatibility also

    Like I stated in the original thread, that was one plus about the rubber tracks. The example I gave was golf courses, but lawns and fragile work broadens it up some more for the not so "sharp" folks. By floatibility, I assume you meen the ground psi the machine produces. While I don't know the true numbers, I do know that steel tracks are impreesive because they are wider than the rubber tracks, increasing the floatation. It does increase the overall weight, but once again you think about the life of the tracks after heavy use or severe conditions, I would have to go ith the steel tracks. Now if it ran over my boot, or I was on the 18th green at Augusta, GA? I think I would choose the rubber tracks.

    All in All it depends on the work you do. As you can tell I am a little biased towards steel tracks. Different stokes I guess. Once again thanks for your views on this. I think your boss may have made the right choice and you should let him know that. I am sure he feels your pain when you have to deal with such a rough "ride". By the way how long have you been operating equipment? You sound fairly experienced in this field. Experiance is the key to successful venture in this line of work. Don't you think?

  4. guido

    guido Veteran
    Messages: 261

    Like You said.....

    Its personal prefrence I think. I don't think I'm doing any excessive damage to aspahlt compared to anyone else with the steel tracks, but its just that some people look at small details like that on a job with different attitudes. As for the "ride" I was talking about, I didn't mean driving it down a 4 mile mile stretch, I'm talking about around a job site. Not as much for my butt, but the rougher ride will have its effect on the machine sooner than if it wasn't rumbling all over the place. All in all I think the pro's and con's are even when speaking in General construction terms, but they both have their place in different speciality areas.

    Well I'm tired and going to catch some z's now, lots more work to do tonight. I have to pick up the slack and get caught up with work while my boss has his day's off. When he comes back to work tommorow I'll let him know how close your opinions are to each others. Thanks for the good debate!

    BTW -

    Walt, see at work Saturday! :)
  5. guido

    guido Veteran
    Messages: 261

    Okay, Seriously!

    Now that we're done arguing with ourselves, what do the rest of you guys think? We'd like to hear some opinions that count (not ours! ;) )

    Thanks in Advance!
  6. OP

    WALT Junior Member
    Messages: 22

    yeah yeah. See how I spend my days off? HA HA
  7. Rex Mann

    Rex Mann Junior Member
    Messages: 7

    Our mini X has rubber tracks. We do mostly residental work. Therefore, we do not want to repair the turf. The rubber does give you better floatation. Steel tracks are used on new construction sites where it is still all soil. Because the steel tracks give you much better traction on soil than rubber ones do.

  8. paul

    paul Veteran
    Messages: 151

    We use rubber on ours, because if we tear up any new asphalt I would have to pay for it:( Some times I wish we had steel tracks, like working in rivers, the guys can't see a rock that gets caught or a peice of concrete with rebar in it can cause a lot of damage to rubber.
    Now some rubber tracks are smoother running than steel, it depends on the pitch 1/3 to 1/2 pitch are smoother running than 3/4 to full pitch. Talk to your dealer on this option, of course you could buy both and have your guys change them out :) It takes about an hour to change them per track.
  9. OP

    WALT Junior Member
    Messages: 22

    Interchaging I would think is the way to go! Is it a real PITA to change them out? An hour isn't so bad to that and have in case one of "those" jobs arise for us. Good option to have around if it's not so difficult. I say that because laziness suggesets that if it's to difficult; one set would go on and stay on even if it's not right for the certain job. Good Idea, definatley going to look into it. Thanks!
  10. LeoS818

    LeoS818 Junior Member
    Messages: 1

    We have an 873 bobcat with steel tracks, and a 7753 with rubber tracks. The 873 is used only in the dirt. The steel tracks are rough and noisey. But they do have very good traction off road. If an employee got caught driving it on pavement,it would be their job. The 7753 is set up with a tree spade.The rubber tracks help the floation in the field. And I think they dont tear the ground as bad as even tires. If we have a large tree in it or are on pavement and try to turn too sharp or fast, it will drive out of a track. They are not much fun to put back on.
  11. diggerman

    diggerman Senior Member
    from Ames
    Messages: 702

    We had rubber on a Cat 313bsr, one side got a cut in it and was deep enough to reach the cords.They rusted and then the track broke,replacements were $7000per side.That machine now has steel at $4000 for the pair and we are much happier with the performance. There are places for rubber but there were not enough of them for us,if we did more utility repair then maybe, but we don't and when we do usually a TLB will work.There is a company that makes a bolt on rubber pad that is what I think alot of machines use,they are alot like what is on a paver.
  12. r_river7272

    r_river7272 Junior Member
    Messages: 3

    Try calling this company called McLaren. They have a steel track with bolted on rubber padding. From my understanding you can use it as a rubber track or a steel track. The cost is about 20% more than a regular rubber track and they'll never break on a job cause it's steel.
  13. accipiter12

    accipiter12 Senior Member
    Messages: 223

    I'd have to agree with Guido on the track stuff. I work with a rental company and the worst thing about rubber tracks is they fall off and apart too much, personally. But, none of our mini's are steel, the biggest rubber tracked is a Kubota 121-3 and after that, it's JD 120C's and they're all steel of course. I've seen how both machines benefit and "suck" in certain work situations....just having to replace a whole rubber track cuz it's torn is a pain and getting them back on takes forever.