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Cost analysis skidsteer on rubber track vs. tire with tracks

Discussion in 'Heavy Equipment & Pavement' started by swanny, Jun 6, 2009.

  1. AWJ Services

    AWJ Services LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Ga
    Posts: 4,276

    The reality is added maint cost of a CTL is really only a couple bucks an hour over a tire machine with all things considered.That added cost can be made up easily in ability to work in adverse conditions.

    So they give you OTT and tires for free when you buy a Tired machine?
  2. ksss

    ksss LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,129

    No they don't and OTT was not part of the original statement, although even adding in OTT combined with tires the costs are less per hour. Higher purchase price and steeper depreciation on the CTL's don't help either. I would agree initially that tracks only cost a couple dollars an hour more to run than tires (factoring in only the money to cover replacement of tracks not depreciation or higher initial purchase costs). That number however is not constant as the track machine ages, more component rebuild or replacement is necessary. As far as productivity out producing the added costs, I would generally agree that a CTL has the potential to do that, however that depends on the operation and the application. If I was landscaping with the machine, I would go CTL and factor in the higher operating costs, as you are likely going to have jobs that will be hard on your tracks. If I was not operating on improved surfaces but in tough conditions, I would look at the OTT. It is pretty hard to argue the cheap up front costs and the Caveman simplicity of OTT. The productivity per dollar is pretty attractive.

    My costs per 700 hours are about $1.50 an hour with 12X 16.5 Firestone DT's or Galaxy Beefy Baby II's. That number doesn't vary except with the cost of tires. A CTL will continue to cost more per hour until the undercarriage is completely new or rebuilt and then you will see a return to the lower cost per hour as the process repeats itself.

    My only point being that the costs are not fixed and a difference of a couple bucks an hour is correct initially but does not represent the the additional component wear.
  3. jefftb

    jefftb LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 563

    I'll weigh in here since I am a utility contractor. There are lots of utility contractors that are purchasing CTL's but as an addition to the tire machines already owned. The improved productivity of the CTL is important on some jobs-some; but not most, unless you are behind or just going to be mucking it for days on end in a wet environment & that can and does happen. Some jobs you spend day after day in a crap environment and you need to either get back on schedule or finish to move to the next job and the weather has screwed you for the last six weeks. When you are staring down a $500/day potential liquidated damage penalty and you've run out of weather days, tracks can begin to look good no matter what the increased cost. Generally, we do not get concerned over damage to landscape since we're tearing it up for the most part so that part of the evaluation process is not critical.

    However, CTL/MTL's will never be replaced on utility projects. Here's a great example, I'm working on an estimate this week that has 5,000'+ of 3" and 4" fused HDPE. Lots of this work will occur in the ROW. We'll need to travel back and forth down the asphalt to ferry rock for backfill. After we move off the asphalt we'll transfer to an improved road with 3/4"- 1" gravel on the top for erosion control. There are two costs here: 1) rubber track reduced life & 2) track machine cycle times. The first is plainly obvious; we'd eat rubber track at a rapid rate in the environment of asphalt. #2 is less obvious-look at the difference between most 2-speed wheel machines and track options (excepting ASV). Cycle time (50% greater 2 speed travel rate over track machine) significantly affects labor rate. For big jobs the travel cycle time can add multiple week's worth labor when they are waiting on gravel or loading trucks. The job environment & scope is too big for a wheeled loader, i.e. country road and smaller pipe.

    There are other reasons to use a track machine for utility contractors but they are becoming less and less with better OTT options out there. You've got complete rubber track OTT (New Solideal Lifemaster), rubber pad OTT (Mclaren), and plain old steel (you know the candidates).
  4. jefftb

    jefftb LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 563

    ...should have also listed VTS. I think VTS may be the ultimate answer over a dedicated track machine. I'd love to have 1-2 sets of VTS for the skids and at the end of the day if you run the numbers on VTS I believe you'll find a better ratio of cost to profit with VTS over the dedicated track machine. I've never personally run a VTS equipped machine but have watched one run by a landscaper on a job for many, many hours.
  5. 74inchShovel

    74inchShovel LawnSite Member
    Posts: 108

    One other thing to think about, on a CTL the greatly increased traction puts more strain on drive train, I hear of alot more drive motors going out on CTL's than SSL's. Planetaries are not immune either, there is a post on another site where a guy might have to dump $4,000 into one side, on the planetary alone. At 1100 hours.
  6. AWJ Services

    AWJ Services LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Ga
    Posts: 4,276

    I have said this a hundred times.
    If you where on a job that needed major excavation would you use a wheel loader?

    If you where on a job that needed material moved over a distance would you use a track loader?

    I have been in conditions for 5 of the last 6 months that needs tracks.
    The OTT tracks are not a solution just a compromise.
    VTS is way to expensive and too much trouble for a single skid steer operation.

    Depreciation? Who cares.If your machine brings 10K more than mine after 3 years but my machine has allowed me to work 20% more than yours well you do the math.
    I live in the south where it goes without rain for months on end and still think they are a necessity for everything but riding around with a bucket of material.

    But if I was doing What Jeff mentioned I would just get a wheeled machine.
    If I was putting a 1000+ hours a year on a machine then maybe the CTL would not be my pick either but maint cost on the CTL machines are over exaggerated if you look at the whole picture.
    Your skid should earn 600+ a day so if it allows you to work just 10 more days a year(which is not many) that is 6000 extra dollars min.

    Just my 2 cents.
  7. Canon Landscaping

    Canon Landscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 259

    I have a wheeled ss and ctl the cost difference between them is not much and after you factor in the added productivity the ss loader is costing you more. I can out bid guys with ss because I can finish the job in half the time. I am on to the next job while they are screwing around taking tracks on or off or avoiding a wet spot, concrete, asphalt or sharp objects on a job or fixing a flat the list goes on forever.

    You have to pay your operator you have to pay for fuel and there are only so many days in a year you can work so if you have a ss taking longer to complete the same job (just about every job you would use one for) using the same amount of fuel and you are paying the operator the same you are going in the hole. Tracks are getting cheaper everyday. Anyone arguing against this probably does not own a ctl. Being able to finish a job fast saves money in many hidden areas. I would much rather be at home than running around on my ss.

    A ctl will load the bucket faster
    can back drag more
    grade smoother
    can go from 2 ft deep mud to concrete
    more stable when loading trucks
    lifts more weight than the same size ss
    operates on slopes ss only dream about
    can pull your truck or other equipment out of the mud
    doesn't get flats
    rides smoother
    digs like a dozer
    has less ground pressure
  8. Gravel Rat

    Gravel Rat LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 9,544

    Around here wheeled skid steers sit with no work while tracked skid steers have work.

    Many people in my community tried the skid steer service and failed because a wheeled skid is very limited that was with the building lots of 10 years ago. The building lots of today you would be taking your life in your hands running a wheeled skid on. As I said many times the access roads are steep you could roll over very easy in a wheeled skid.

    Some of you guys must have some awfull easy jobsites that a wheeled skid can be used on.

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