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Rubber Tracks vrs Steel Tracks w/ Rubber pads

Discussion in 'Heavy Equipment & Pavement' started by Dirty Water, Sep 3, 2006.

  1. Dirty Water

    Dirty Water LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,794

    As most of you know, I'm still shopping. I'm curious about all rubber tracks, and how long they last, versus steel tracks with rubber pads.

    Its seems to me that the steel tracks would last longer, and you couldn't replace individual links if you had too, instead of the entire track.

    But perhaps they are harder on the rollers and sprockets?

    Since I'm pretty sure I'm going to buy used, there are a lot of options around the same price, and I want something that I can test the waters with without being socked for another few grand for new tracks in a month.
  2. Tigerotor77W

    Tigerotor77W LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Germany
    Messages: 1,892

    In theory, rubber tracks are worse for the drivetrain because there is no slack in the system. Any debris that gets between the tire and the track adds a lot of tension to the track, the axle, and finally, to the chaincase. Steel OTT, on the other hand, compensate for this because there is [supposed to be] slack in the track. Therefore, I'd assume that you would want steel tracks with rubber inserts rather than rubber tracks.

    Of course, this is on the speculation side. Perhaps someone has evidence otherwise.
  3. Scag48

    Scag48 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,067

    We're referring to mini ex's, right?

    Here's my .02. Rubber tracks last for about 1,200-1,600 hours, give or take. On a smaller machine, you're going to be dogging it with steel tracks plus the weight of the pads, just too much for the machine to be pushing. Your ability to climb a slope would be diminished, plus the bolt on pads are flat which take a lot from your tractive effort. Steel tracks with rubber pads are great if you're doing a lot of street work where you don't need to climb any slopes. The cost of replacing those pads is way less than a dedicated rubber track as when running on pavement all the time you'd probably only get a year or so of life out of rubber tracks.
  4. Dirty Water

    Dirty Water LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,794

    I'm looking at 50 size machines. I think it should handle the steel tracks ok.

    To me, it seems like steel/w rubber would grip better than just rubber.


    The rubber pads are almost like grousers compared to the mostly flat surface of a rubber track:


    But it may actually handle different.
  5. mastercraft

    mastercraft LawnSite Member
    Messages: 38

    Steel tracks with rubber pads are the best of both worlds, and cost more new than either rubber or steel. If you find a machine that has them, thats great. As for weight, the rubber and steel tracks are not all that much different. On my 75 size machine, it was only about a #100 per track.
  6. Gravel Rat

    Gravel Rat LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,544

    Those steel tracks with rubber pads are horrible as Scag says if your running on pavement and doing utility work they work fine. You see them alot overseas its one of the reasons why you see gray market machines. Rubber tracks will conform to the ground those steel tracks with the rubber pads don't conform to the ground they are actually slippery because the rubber is so hard.

    One thing to consider with the steel tracks with the bolt on rubber pads is you replace one it sits higher than the rest so it bears most of the weigh it will also cause the machine to teeter totter on a hard surface.

    Have to decide are you going to be operating in areas sensitive to ground disturbance or running on peoples sidewalks and driveways then go with full rubber tracks. If you spend 99% of the time in dirt go steel and use plywood for protection on concrete and asphalt
  7. janb

    janb LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 254

    I looked at some of these grey market machines with bolt on pads, before I bought mi Rubber track.

    seems the 'bolt-on' rubber would be poor off road, especially mud, grass, or rain slick side hills. I'm pretty happy with the traction of my rubber tracks, as it can propel through deep mud / marsh, and climbs good. Since I don't have 'staggered' lugs, it will slide on a side slope, and it is agressive enough to tear up the grass on lawns, so I have to be pretty careful with turns in those conditions. Since mine is a bit of an 'antique' for a mini, I don't go anywhere too fast...

    A friend found a near identical Nissan mini-x to my Yanmar 551x (same structure / different motor) He has paid it off ($6800) in 6 weeks, (part-time) just cleaning a couple ponds and doing some walls and terracing. He bought one of the mini-tracked 3-way dumps, ($3000) very popular in BC, and a 10,000# 6-way rubber tracked Mitsu crawler. All three combined under $20k, and all three paid off this season. (net $$ !! (minus expenses and wage) since April, with a 3 week break for haying) They are quite economical to run, less than gal / hr. I ran the rubber tracked dozer for awhile on Saturday, it is very nice and quiet too. (the exhaust is rear, and helps with operator comfort)

    The mini-ex with steel would not be too noisy, (slow speed) but it really is a plus on a dozer or skid
  8. minimax

    minimax LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 734

    Where to start! I have steel tracks with bolt on pads and would not go back to rubber tracks,Scag and gravel rat say the is traction horrible is petty much are wrong ( not to be rude!), I run a 35c deere steel w/t rubber pads and it has way more traction then rubber tracks ( I ran rubber tracks on same machine for about 800 hr's).It only costs about $1300 to replace pads on 35 size machine.Steel track PRO'S,added stability because the outside edge of the track does not flex like rubber tracks,less risk of buying a new track because of a broken track,can run over concrete,rocks,garage,stumps without damage,can have the STRENGTH OF STEEL WITH THE ADVANTAGES OF RUBBER,the steel track chain lets the dirt and rocks out of the chain so there is less wear to sprocket teeth and bushings,and last twice as long as rubber tracks.CON'S more noise,not as easy on grass. Check out McLaren hybrid steel tracks with rubber pads Watch the video.
    It is Not the pad that gives you the traction it is the space between pads!!
  9. Dirty Water

    Dirty Water LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,794

    Scag and Gravel Rat, have you ever ran steel tracks with rubber pads?

    I've got a few people here WHO HAVE THEM, saying they are great, and two people on here saying they suck. I'm inclined to believe the people that actually use them.

    Then again, if you guys have ran them, let me know.
  10. murray83

    murray83 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 347

    Dirty Water,man once you use these you'll never wanna go back.

    other than the best of both worlds,if a rubber pad wears,you replace one pad,after 1500 hours with complete rubber tracks,you replace the whole track.

    one complete track varies in price from area to area i get mine though a local guy from goodyear about $4500 with tax for one track,a pad from that same guy was around $500 with tax,thats canadian,it would be cheaper for you folks in the south.

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