A track loader is an important piece of heavy equipment for any contractor, and it's not always easy to understand which model will suit your purposes best. There are numerous manufacturers of track loader with different build qualities and engineering approaches. Some track loaders are much heavier, while others are lighter and more mobile. You'll also need to find a model with an engine that has enough power, and a more reliable model will help to keep productivity up because there will be less downtime for fixes and repairs.
But one of the most important elements in choosing a track loader is the undercarriage. The two main types of track loader undercarriage are rigid-mount and suspended. There's also the option for a rigid-mount with suspended rollers. Each of these offers different benefits and drawbacks.
A rigid-mount undercarriage track loader is a sturdy, reliable undercarriage that allows this type of track loader to perform a multitude of handy jobs around the worksite. Rigid-mount undercarriages have fewer moving parts and a very simple design, and simplicity in mechanics often results in durability. For many manufacturers, rigid-mount undercarriages sell very well and you'll find rigid-mount track loaders on job sites all around the country.
So what makes a rigid-mount undercarriage useful? The best use for this type of track loader is projects where you want a finer grade. Because of the rigid mounting system, the loader arms won't move as much relative to the chassis. This means you can scrape and grade to very fine tolerances with no trouble at all.
The downside to rigid mount track loaders is they aren't as smooth riding as suspended undercarriage models. When the ground is extremely uneven, or the material being moved is less stable, such as mud or sand, a rigid-mount track loader can have some traction problems.
The other main type of track loader undercarriage is the suspended undercarriage. This type of undercarriage can still provide a solid platform for many types of jobs, but it offers slightly different driving dynamics. These loaders are sometimes more expensive than their rigid-mounted counterparts, which is something worth considering. They also can have higher owning and operating (O & O) costs because they have more moving parts to get broken.
What's the real benefit of a suspended undercarriage? These loaders are much softer to ride, meaning your workers will be able to work longer without fatigue and they'll be more comfortable along the way. They also provide much better traction on a variety of surfaces and materials. If you're riding long distances on a larger job site, or have a job site with extremely uneven surfaces, a suspended undercarriage is the right choice.
What's the downside to suspended undercarriages? Well, as we said above, owning and operating costs can be higher on these loaders. They also aren't capable of producing as fine of results as rigid-mount undercarriages because the loader arms will have some degree of movement relative to the chassis. Choosing the right loader is a big decision. The tracks on a loader can make up around 20% of its initial cost and as much as 50% of its maintenance costs, so make sure you do your research. If you have more questions about these different models of loaders, stop by Everglades Equipment Group.