Experts’ Tips: Tracks versus tires

May 14, 2019 -  By
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ASV machine with tracks (Photo: ASV)

Photo: ASV

The challenge: Choosing and using tires versus tracks

Tracks

Buck Storlie

Buck Storlie

ASV

Buck Storlie
Product line manager

Tracks have natural advantages over tires in landscaping applications, including less ground disturbance and surface damage, the ability to handle soft conditions, more slope stability, better traction, improved ride quality and less impact to seed and soil. DO amplify these benefits by choosing tracked machines with low ground pressure, high ground clearance, flexible tracks with multiple guiding surfaces and a nonaggressive bar-style or smooth tread. DO use proper three-point turns to minimize the need for turf rework and maximize undercarriage life. DO clean your tracks often during hardscape or concrete applications. DON’T fill undercarriage with concrete.

Britta Kopp

Britta Kopp

Bobcat

Britta Kopp
Marketing manager

Compact track loaders are versatile machines. DON’T overlook track maintenance when selecting tracks for a compact track loader. DO consult the operation and maintenance manual to see how often the track tensioning should be checked. Loose tracks can result in detracking which causes unplanned downtime. DON’T use tracks that are too tight. This can reduce loader performance and can cause accelerated wear to the rollers, sprockets and drive motors.

Lee Padgett

Lee Padgett

Takeuchi

Lee Padgett
Product manager

When choosing the right track option for your compact track loader, DO consider the application and surface you will be operating on as well as tread pattern. DO choose a more aggressive track pattern like a bar style when operating in a lot of grading and dirt work. Or if you are working on a surface that you want to keep intact with minimal disturbance, DO go with more of a flotation or pad style track. DON’T ride over curbs with tracks. This can cause cuts and chunking, exposing internal steel cables, which can let moisture penetrate and cause the cables to weaken and eventually fail.

Matt Hutchinson

Matt Hutchinson

Vermeer

Matt Hutchinson
Product manager – tree care rental landscape

Compact utility loaders with a tracked undercarriage are almost always the right option for landscape contractors doing design/build work. DO remember that tracks will provide better floatation when working on turf or wet, muddy ground conditions. Using tracks can help extend the working season. DO be sure to lay down plywood in heavily traveled areas. DON’T take turns too tightly; this can tear up grass and leave ruts.

Tires

Debbie Townsley

Debbie Townsley

Case Construction Equipment

Debbie Townsley
Product marketing manager

DO consider where the machine will be working. If it’s a softer soil base, tired machines will cause significantly more rutting than tracked machines, and contractors will have to factor in the repair and rework of returning that landscape back to its original condition. If it’s a harder/rockier working surface, tires will be fine and will hold up better than rubber tracks over the long run. DO consider a mixed fleet of skid-steers and compact track loaders — no two job sites are identical. DON’T forget to maintain upkeep. It’s as simple as checking for proper tire inflation and making sure that the rims are not damaged, which can lead to eventual tire damage and downtime.

Justin Stegar

Justin Stegar

John Deere Construction & Forestry

Justin Steger
Inside district manager, compact construction equipment

There are more tire options to choose from than tracks. DO realize it’s important to choose the tire that works best for you; the options range between entry-level dirt, premium dirt, hard surface or even solid tire. DO maintain proper inflation and take care of your tires to avoid punctures and/or premature wear. Tires have lower acquisition and replacement costs. DO consider that tires have higher ground pressure but are good for pushing heavy dirt or operating on hard surfaces in design/build applications. DON’T forget that tires will give the machine a greater top speed.

Bill Grundy

Bill Grundy

Multione

Bill Grundy
National sales manager

DO consider that tire loaders have a lower purchase price, lower parts costs, less frequent maintenance and use less fuel doing the same work. DO realize that tire loaders are a good choice when working on hard ground, pavement and concrete, as well as sensitive surfaces, and they leave little to no pavement markings or surface damage. DO choose tire sizes that provide more or less ground pressure and good floatation. DO use tires for less wear on hard surfaces compared to tracks. Generally, the replacement ratio is six sets of track replacements for every set of tires. DON’T overlook the fact that wheeled unit maintenance is easier, since no time is spent cleaning the undercarriage or checking track tension.

Jay Quatro

Jay Quatro

Wacker Neuson

Jay Quatro
Field application & training specialist

DO use tires for snow removal applications to aid with traction. DO use caution when crossing over curbs or other obstacles, especially when transporting a load, as stability can be decreased. DO check for proper tire inflation daily to avoid premature wear and for safe, stable operation. DON’T operate on excessively soft ground — there is an increased risk of damage to the turf requiring more rework after the job is complete. Consider using plywood or poly mats when crossing soft turf.

This article is tagged with , , and posted in 0519, Current Issue, Design/Build+Installation
Danielle Pesta

About the Author:

Danielle Pesta is the associate editor of Landscape Management. She started writing for the green industry in 2014 and has won multiple awards from the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA). She can be reached at dpesta@northcoastmedia.net.

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