FIVE TIPS on how to properly maintain your log loader undercarriage

FIVE TIPS on how to properly maintain your log loader undercarriage

Contractors can extend undercarriage life on their log loaders by following some routine maintenance procedures.

Log loader tracked undercarriages consist of many moving components. Maintaining them is important for the undercarriage to function properly. If the undercarriage is not maintained, it can cost you time, money and decrease the track’s lifespan.

Follow these five tips and you can get better performance and life out of your log loader’s undercarriage, says Aaron Kleingartner, product and dealer marketing manager, Doosan Infracore North America.

FIVE TIPS on how to properly maintain your log loader undercarriage Keep the undercarriage clean

At the end of each workday, operators should clean out dirt, sticks and other debris that may lead to undercarriage buildup. Regardless of the application, if the undercarriage is dirty, clean it. If the undercarriage is not cleaned, the faster it will lead to premature wear on components. This is especially true in colder climates.

“If operators neglect to clean the undercarriage and are working in a colder climate, the mud and other debris could freeze,” Kleingartner says. “Once that material freezes, it can start to rub on the bolts, move undercarriage components, loosen track guides and seize up the rollers, leading to potential premature wear and then failure later on. Cleaning the undercarriage helps prevent unnecessary downtime.”

Also, debris can add extra weight to the undercarriage, thus reducing fuel economy. Use shovels and pressure washers to help clean the undercarriage. Many manufacturer’s undercarriages are designed for easier track carriage cleanout, helping debris fall to the ground rather than become packed in the undercarriage.

Routinely inspect the undercarriage

It’s important to complete a full undercarriage inspection for excessive or uneven wear, as well as look for damaged or missing components. According to Kleingartner, if the machine is being used in harsh applications or other challenging conditions, like driving over stumps, the undercarriage may need to be inspected more frequently.

Inspect the following items on a routine basis:

  • Drive motor
  • Drive sprockets
  • Idlers and rollers
  • Rock guards
  • Track bolts
  • Track chains
  • Track shoes
  • Track tension

During a routine machine walk-around inspection, operators should inspect the tracks to see if any components look out of place. If so, this could indicate a loose track pad or possibly a broken track pin. In addition, they should inspect the rollers, idlers and drives for oil leakage. These oil leaks could indicate a failed seal which could lead to a major failure in the rollers, idlers or track drive motors.

Always follow your manufacturer’s Operation and Maintenance Manual for proper undercarriage maintenance.

FIVE TIPS on how to properly maintain your log loader undercarriage Follow basic practices

Certain jobsite tasks can create more wear on log loader tracks and undercarriages than other applications, so it is important that operators adhere to the manufacturer’s recommended operating procedures.

According to Kleingartner, some tips that can help minimize log loader track and undercarriage wear include:

  • Make wider turns: Sharp turns or pivoting the machine can lead to accelerated wear and increase the potential for de-tracking.
  • Minimize time on slopes: Constant operation on a slope or hill in one direction can accelerate wear. However, many forestry applications require slope or hillside work, so when moving the machine up or down a hill, make sure that the drive motor is in the correct position to reduce track wear. According to Kleingartner, the drive motor should be facing the back of the machine for easy maneuverability up a slope or hill.
  • Reduce unnecessary spinning: Train your operators to make wide, less aggressive turns. Track spinning can lead to accelerated wear and decrease productivity.
  • Alternate turning direction: Alternating a log loader’s turning direction can extend undercarriage life.
  • Select the correct shoe width: Choose the proper shoe width by considering the weight of the machine, application and geographical location. For instance, if your machines are working in B.C., it may be beneficial to use narrower shoes because they are better suited for hard soil and rocky conditions. However, wide shoes may be needed in some areas, because they work well in soft underfoot conditions.
  • Pick the correct grouser: Consider the application before choosing the number of grousers per shoe. A single or double grouser may work well in forestry applications but may not work well in other applications. Typically, the higher number of grousers the track has, the more contact the track will have with the ground, vibration is reduced and the longer it will last when working in more abrasive conditions.

FIVE TIPS on how to properly maintain your log loader undercarriage Maintain proper track tension

Incorrect track tension may lead to increased track wear, so it is important to adhere to the proper tension. As a general rule, when your operators are working in soft, muddy conditions, it is recommended to run the tracks slightly looser.

“If steel tracks are too tight or too loose, it can quickly accelerate wear,” Kleingartner says. “A loose track could cause the tracks to de-track.”

Kleingartner advises referring to your manufacturer’s Operation and Maintenance Manual for correct log loader track-tensioning procedures.

Adhere to proper loading procedures

Your log loader operators should follow basic operating procedures—outlined in your manufacturer’s Operation and Maintenance Manual—to minimize excessive wear and track degradation. Improper operating procedures can cause stress to the track shoes and track links.

The log loader undercarriage consists of expensive components. Adhere to these five undercarriage maintenance tips and maintain proper track outlined in your manufacturer’s Operation and Maintenance Manual, to help keep your overall cost of ownership down and extend the life of your tracks.

About Aaron Kleingartner

Aaron Kleingartner is the product and dealer marketing manager for Doosan Infracore North America, LLC, headquartered in Suwanee, Georgia. Kleingartner has 18 years of product development, analytics and strategic marketing experience with Doosan.

About Doosan Infracore North America, LLC

Doosan Infracore North America, LLC, headquartered in Suwanee, Georgia, markets the Doosan brand of products that includes crawler excavators, wheel excavators, mini excavators, wheel loaders, articulated dump trucks, material handlers, log loaders and attachments. With more than 160 equipment dealer locations in North America, Doosan is known for its dedication to service and customer uptime, and durable, reliable products, says the company.

Logging and Sawmilling Journal

September/October 2021

On the Cover:
The last 18 months have been challenging times, with sawmills looking to meet record-high lumber demand. And for a few firms that were expanding, such as The Westervelt Company, they faced the challenge of how to go about building a new sawmill at a time of COVID. But the company was able to meet that challenge, and in fact were able to finish building their new sawmill ahead of schedule, thanks in part to its project partners, such as B.C.-based BID Group, who built the new mill on a turnkey basis. Read all about the project beginning on page 14 of this issue (Cover photo courtesy of The Westervelt Company).

What’s next with the beetle in B.C.?
After a period of exponential growth, and then a slowdown, a big question lingers about the beetle situation in British Columbia—what’s coming next?

A more flexible Lakeview sawmill
Tolko Industries’ Lakeview sawmill in B.C. has completed an upgrade that will result in increased flexibility, while working with a changing wood basket.

Delivering the goods—ahead of schedule
The Westervelt Company was able to build its brand new sawmill ahead of schedule, thanks in part to its project partners, such as B.C.-based BID Group, who built the new mill on a turnkey basis.

Upgrading the family logging operation
Ontario’s Devlin Timber has a proud history—with the fourth generation of the Devlin family now working for the company—and has recently upgraded operations with the addition of new Kenworth trucks that are helping it tackle long hauls in northwestern Ontario.

Low grade wood = high grade benefits
Seaton Forest Products has a focus on utilizing low grade wood at its mill operation in the B.C. Interior, and it’s generating some high grade benefits from fibre that no one else wants—dry, decadent balsam.

Five tips on how to properly maintain your log loader undercarriage
Contractors can extend undercarriage life on their log loaders by following some routine maintenance procedures.

Tech Update: 
We take a look at chainsaws, bars and chainsaw safety equipment in this issue’s Tech Update.

Included in this edition of The Edge, Canada’s leading publication on research in the forest industry, are stories from the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre (CWFC) and FPInnovations.

The Last Word
Jim Stirling says there seems to be a misplaced calm in B.C.’s forest industry as the winter log harvesting season approaches, as there is no lack of concerns.


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