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Undercarriage Care: Sprockets


In the world of heavy equipment, it is easy for someone to get lost in the day to day struggles of maintaining your machine. Let us help you gain a better understanding of what is needed to keep your undercarriage in great working condition and also when to replace it.

A sprocket (as defined by Merriam-Webster) is a toothed wheel whose teeth engage the links of a chain. Also known as Drive Sprockets, these steel wheels are one of the main driving forces in moving a track. As such, it is best to check your sprockets often for any external debris, wear, and/or excessive sharpening of the teeth. If a machine’s sprockets are allowed to operate under bad to unacceptable conditions, the resulting damage done to the track could (and eventually will) increase the cost of the undercarriage repairs. 

Whenever a sprocket pulls on a rubber track, it causes friction between the sprocket and the metal flanges that are located in the center of the track. As long as the sprocket has a smooth angle to it, you are sitting in a pretty good condition. However, after time, your sprocket will start to wear down and have more of a sharp, hooked appearance. The longer that you operate your equipment in this state increases the likelihood that you will destroy your rubber track. As a rule of thumb, if you are replacing your rubber tracks, replace your sprockets at the same time.

I personally have seen rubber tracks where the sprocket sliced through the metal flanges after prolonged exposure to a bad sprocket. As such, many manufacturers won’t warranty the track because the track was destroyed due to end user negligence. The outcome was that gentleman had to not only buy another track, but a sprocket as well. No one wants to throw away money. Remember, proper machine maintenance will prevent costly repairs.

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