CHEAP RUBBER TRACKS – WHATS DIFFERENT NOW?
LETS SEPARATE THE B—SH–T FROM FACTS
THE TRACK CAN ONLY BE MADE CHEAPER BY – LESSOR GRADE MATERIAL – SMALLER LUG SURFACE – RECYCLED RUBBER OR THINNER LAYERS
HOW DOES THE MANUFACTURE DIFFER THE QUALITY or LOWER THE PRICE?
REMEMBERING LIKE OIL THE RUBBER PRICE IS AT A HIGH.
We have seen a glut of new track resellers enter the market with product, most customers being ignorant to what makes a good track and what needs to be known to the changes that have been made in manufacture.
We have seen the Chinese, Sri Lankan, and Korean after market suppliers plying for representative agents within Australia to sell their product. Many of us remember the early days of early China manufactured product and many like ourselves have paid an enormous price for being the guinea pig to the cheaper offered product, whilst trying to remain credible to the end user. Check the lug size. Note how cheaper tracks are with smaller lug surface – less rubber.
I have in my 39 years in this industry, seen the introduction – the reinvention and improvement to the manufacture of this Rubber track product. Like the tire on a truck or car it depends on the application or performance asks, when we decide what quality we buy. Rubber compounds differ enormously and the mix or blend is dependent on many aspects of quality control. A rubber track has laminar layers and the outer tread must have a mix to combine elasticity, ductility and wear ability. With many after market manufacture there is deviation from the quality and blend controls set down by OEM Machine manufacturers.
I know of manufacturers who make for OEM, then market an inferior quality product to after market supply. Why? Because OEM supply is with strict control to blend and process. The cost of blend is remarkably different as any Rubber manufacturer will tell you. I know of manufacturers who use recycled rubber to the inner layers. Any rubber manufacturer will tell you that recycled rubber will not blend into a viscous emulsion even when mixed in a grinding tub. This means it is with hard aggregate like particles within the mix.
Recently I have worked along side an Australian Rubber manufacturer and have spent much time in understanding the process and importance this blending change makes. There are many processes which differ in how the rubber compound is molded which also makes a difference.
Humidity and temperature is with major affect to rubber manufacture, which if not controlled with exact detail, can change the bond and durability of the end product. Ask an O’ring supplier about grades to that product. Ask a Caterpillar service technician why some O’Rings are different in color.
The hardness of the compound is critical and not unlike wearable steel, where it is dependent on all factors being controlled. To hard – to brittle. To soft – fast wearing.
INNER CORDING – WHATS DIFFERENT?
The cording needs to be of a corrosion resistant and tensile blend. This is where many manufacturers do not use the same material. OEM manufacture calls for a grade of steel cording of a set size, set number of strands and of a set tensile and corrosive quality. Many use an inferior cording which will rust when geive plate wear exposes the cords to water. This is important in saline water and sand mix as we find in Australian coastal regions.
In OEM brands the cording is insulated from corrosion and fret from the movement of the steel geive plates in their radial motion. This is done with a wear insulator layer of a set and controlled quality. Many after market manufacturers use no insulator layer or cheaper quality laminar insular covering.
WHATS THE BIG DIFFERENCE IN JOINED OR CONTINUOUS CORD TRACKS ?
All tracks are continuous as is a rubber band. What differs in manufacture is the winding of the cord continuous, or with a join meaning this is the biggest change and improvement in years.
“Many Tracks manufacturers still join their tracks”. What this means is a length of track is being manufactured continuous and is docked to the required number of links to the order size. I.E. 72 links, 70 links etc. This then requires a second bonding process to join the track. Every time the rubber is vulcanized or affected by heat, the quality changes. This is why a hard stiff spot is noticeable in a joined track. This is where the exposed cords of equal length are laid together and the track joined by the vulcanizing process. All tracks are continuous – but the cording is not.
When a continuous cord track is manufactured it takes a separate mold for every size track. This is where the cord is wound into the mold with no join.
The cost of tooling to this manufacture is where only few factories have committed. It is only where OEM supply to the machine manufacturers has placed pressure to the approved suppliers to this requirement.
Many new model mini excavators are interchangeable from steel to rubber or visa versa without any other component change through this change in manufacture process. The rubber and steel machine is now able to work at the same recoil tension. The continuous wound cord type rubber track is 40 – 60% stronger than a join type track. The join has always been the weakest spot which was always noticeable by the even ended cords at failure time.
THE QUALITY OUTLASTS ANY QUESTION OR ARGUMENT TO THE PRICE