Maximizing the Life of Your Undercarriage

When you purchased your Cat® forestry machine with genuine Cat Undercarriage, you made a smart investment.

A significant portion of the owning and operating cost of your machine is undercarriage related.  Following these simple tips will help you keep costs down.


  • High forward travel rates (idlers first)
  • Heavy lifting and grading must occur over the idlers.
  • Light lifting and grading, any other location around the machine.
  • Occasionally, slightly lift tracks to clean soil from bushings:
    –  maintains proper track tension.
    –  minimizes track indexing due to packing.
  • Minimize travelling with heavy lift over side.
  • Contact between shoe and shoe support wears away leading edge of shoe and can cause shoe crossing/breaking.
  • Typically short distances
  • Idlers in downhill position so heavy loads are transferred from shoes to links to idlers, not shoes to links to bushings to sprockets.
  • Do not travel with grapple full of logs over side. This can cause leading edge of shoe to contact shoe supports, wearing away the leading edge much faster.
  • Minimize stump jumping on edges of shoe. If you must climb over stump, approach in dead center of shoe to minimize shoe deflection/crossing.
  • Minimal travel
  • A smooth bench is key to long life:
    –  Undercarriage life is not typically limited due to wearing out.
    –  Structural failures are common as the machine sits in one location, used only for impacts/load shifting.
    –  If your machine is rocking back and forth, the bench is not adequately built.
  • Rotate track occasionally to spread the loading evenly across the undercarriage.
  • Heavy lift over idlers; load truck over side:
    –  Keep boom and stick close when over side to minimize tilting/leaning.
    –  Minimize travel with machine leaning over side. Contact between shoe and shoe support wears away leading edge of shoe and can cause shoe crossing/breaking.
  • High travel with heavy lift, one of the most difficult applications:
    –  Idlers first – for both wear and structural concerns.
    –  Do not travel with loads.
    –  If you can’t avoid a stump, approach it center of shoe (between bolts). Do not clip edge of stump with edge of shoe.
    –  If clear-cutting small trees over side, switch sides of machine frequently to share load from right track to left; do not swing cab 180 degrees.


Some of the highest load cycles are seen during loading the machine on the trailer.

  • Approach trailer square on, both tracks at the same time.
  • Make sure your shoes contact the trailer in the center of the shoes, not between the shoes.
  • Use boom/stick to assist in setting machine down easy:
    –  Free falling a couple of feet can send loads many times the machine’s weight into the undercarriage.
  • It is vital to the machine to avoid contact between shoe and shoe support.
  • Ice lugs should be applied only when absolutely necessary:
    –  Minimize length and height of ice lugs.
    –  Apply only to leading edge grousers – pattern of 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, 1 or staggered. Do not apply too far outside of track bolts.
  • Daily cleanouts are necessary, especially during freeze-thaw situations:
    –  Special focus around carrier rollers (minimizes roller seizing) and between bushings (allows proper sprocket-to-bushing contact).
  • For machines with track over 1,500 hours and parked for a month or more:
    –  Exercise the track for a few minutes each month so track joints do not seize up.
  • Inspect daily for loose hardware, broken shoes, etc. Hammer to listen for loose hardware and repair/replace immediately.
  • At every track replacement, inspect shoe supports for excessive wear. Repair/replace as necessary.
  • Maintain track tension daily.
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