Skid Steers

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Tracks or tires?
Considering a skid steer for the ranch. Maybe. Would eventually use it with a brush cutter for fence lines, driving posts, loading bales into the silage wrapper, cleaning pens, some small snow removal etc. I like tracks so I'm leaning that way. I figure they are more expensive maintenance wise but I'm prepared for that.
Other than expense is there any good reason to not have tracks?
 
Expense is the one major downside to tracks. But for off gravel work a tracked machine or a wheeled machine with OTT tracks is what you need.

I have 2 wheeled machines with steel tracks when needed. Tires work great around the yard loading/unloading hay, moving stuff around, forklifting, etc. Also 95% of the summer I run plain tires to load hay in the field, mow fencelines, pound posts, etc. Heck I cleared 11 acres of brush this fall without tracks because it was dry.

Wheeled machine with tire chains will almost always push more snow than a tracked machine.


With about 45 minutes time I can put steel tracks on and go places you really shouldn't.
 
I had a case 1845C (wheels) for 3300 hrs. I now have a TR320 Case 1100 hrs. (tracks) there is no comparison in smooth and steady with the tracks. Tracks might tear up the ground in the boneyard more than wheels and i never had luck with the over the tire tracks especially in snow or mud.
 
Tracks, hand down, not even a discussion. For what you are talking about it is all I would consider. It will drive crossways on a slope or straight across mud you can't hardly walk on. Only place a tire machine is any good is concrete, asphalt or gravel. They push snow marginally better on asphalt although chains may make a big difference there.

As far as cost goes if you are the one running it and have some sense then the cost on tracks isn't any worse than tires. Where the cost part comes in is when people think you have to slide it hard to turn it or sweep by a pile of #3 rock and fill the tracks with granite baseballs. They don't last long like that. IMO buy a CAT if you are running it personally, they are the most comfortable to run. JD would be second and is a beast of a machine. Case, Kubota and Bobcat are decent machines, run like hell from a NH. I bet you find you use it more than you think and wonder how you ever went without it.
 
Newer Case and NH are the exact same machines....

Funny I've had 2 wheeled machines for 7500+ combined hours and only probably 500 of those hours are on concrete or gravel... I've cleared miles of fencelines and stumped a lot of acres of timber with bare tires or with OTT tracks.

As a mechanic who works on them a tracked machine will cost you more to maintain no way around that. Just did a set of tracks on a JD CT322 and just the tracks were 2600 bucks (I did my own 14-17.5 tires for 1100 bucks). Then there is a planetary on each side, front idler, and boggy wheels $$$.
 
I mostly grade out driveways, small parking lots and other areas for concrete construction. I also feed 3x4 1300# bales on the farm. Maintenance is Maintenance, I can fine grade significantly better with my tracked machine. My over the tire tracks were "Loergreing" I can't spell, and we're very heavy
 
I'm surprised nobody has mentioned what a B!tch it is when you throw a track off.
I had one come off in the summer. That was bad enough. I can't imagine how much fun it would be if it's zero outside.
It sucks but if you pay attention and keep them tight like you should they are pretty hard to throw off. No worse than if you break the bead on a tire with the OTT style.

I ran a tire machine for years with Loegering tracks. While it is far better than tires alone it wouldn't hold a candle to what a rubber track machine will do. Plus the bars inside them wear pretty fast and constantly need adjusted and rebuilt. Not to mention initial purchase cost. Mine were $4,000 almost 20 years ago. I am sure they haven't gotten cheaper.
 
It sucks but if you pay attention and keep them tight like you should they are pretty hard to throw off. No worse than if you break the bead on a tire with the OTT style.

I ran a tire machine for years with Loegering tracks. While it is far better than tires alone it wouldn't hold a candle to what a rubber track machine will do. Plus the bars inside them wear pretty fast and constantly need adjusted and rebuilt. Not to mention initial purchase cost. Mine were $4,000 almost 20 years ago. I am sure they haven't gotten cheaper.
Oh I'm sure we were behind on greasing the pistons that keep the tracks tight. I was in a tight barnyard unloading a trailer of round bales. Turned to short in a dry dirt driveway and BANG that was it.
 
Newer Case and NH are the exact same machines....

Funny I've had 2 wheeled machines for 7500+ combined hours and only probably 500 of those hours are on concrete or gravel... I've cleared miles of fencelines and stumped a lot of acres of timber with bare tires or with OTT tracks.

As a mechanic who works on them a tracked machine will cost you more to maintain no way around that. Just did a set of tracks on a JD CT322 and just the tracks were 2600 bucks (I did my own 14-17.5 tires for 1100 bucks). Then there is a planetary on each side, front idler, and boggy wheels $$$.
Your a sharp mechanic and I respect your thoughts on this type of stuff. I get what your saying and did a pile of work with a tire machine the last 18 years. Tires just don't run with a track machine period. As for maintenance cost those tires won't last as long as a set of tracks under a good operator and those steel tracks are not cheap and maintenance free. With drive motors and chains vs. 2 planetary's. Bottom line productivity level factored in a track machine is as cheap or cheaper to run than tires if you have a good operator.
 
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No question tracks are more expensive. The question is whether or not that expense would be worth it to you. For guys that make a living with them, seems to be a no-brainer as I pretty much never see a tire machine on a jobsite. On the farm, I'm not sure that the difference in productivity would be.

We did some clearing work with a Kubota track machine, losing a track was pretty much a daily occurrence. Likely a combination of the uneven, rocky ground and a bad operator. Had one flat with the tire machine in the same time period.

For the average farm operation I don't see tracks as being worthwhile unless you do a lot of work on wet/muddy ground. Even then tire tracks are an easy solution, as mentioned.
 
We have an older NH wheel machine and a newer Cat tracked machine, just purchased the latter last year. Had all intentions of selling the wheeled machine after buying the tracked unit, but wound up keeping it around as it's a smaller 60hp machine and really handy in tight quarters - and easier to load/haul. Plus it's all mechanical and I like having it around so that I have a backup plan when the inevitable electrical gremlin decides to rear its head on the Cat.

If I could only have one or the other, it would definitely be the tracked machine.
 
Bottom line productivity level factored in a track machine is as cheap or cheaper to run than tires if you have a good operator.

We can agree to disagree on that.

Most in the industry will tell you undercarriage cost on a CTL ranges anywhere from $5-10 per operating hour depending on conditions, while a wheeled SS its less than $2 in most cases.

I maintain a guys fleet of 8 machines 4 CTL and 4 SS and from nearly 15 years of service records I can tell you those numbers are fairly accurate.

So your CTL "good operator" needs to do 4 or 5 times the amount of work as a SS so be equal running costs. That's not likely.

Beauty of OTT tracks if you only have wear them out when needed. In my case for the 90% of the time I run bare tires I can operate for say $2 per hour, when I need tracks 10% of the time I'm closer to $7 per hour VS a tracked machine a $7 an hour 100% of the time.
 
A lot more parts to maintain on a set of tracks. And the machine we ran had a terrible time with popping the tracks off. NH C190 You learn to never turn on rough ground. I'm guessing some of the newer machines are designed better. If I got another one I'd go newer or get one with tires. Although it was pretty impressive where you could go with tracks. Swampy ground, lots of snow, cleaning up junk piles where there could be nails and such
 
I put tire sealant in my tires i rarely have issues with tires going flat (one tire has 11 pole barn screws in it currently and hasn't lost air in 2+ years) Also weld a pipe nipple over the valve stem and thread a cap on.

Tracked machines can be a pain in cold weather. Have to keep the undercarriage cleaned out or they freeze up just like a steel undercarriage machine. Drive thru some slush or mud you better clean it out when your done for the day or your done.
 
We can agree to disagree on that.

Most in the industry will tell you undercarriage cost on a CTL ranges anywhere from $5-10 per operating hour depending on conditions, while a wheeled SS its less than $2 in most cases.

I maintain a guys fleet of 8 machines 4 CTL and 4 SS and from nearly 15 years of service records I can tell you those numbers are fairly accurate.

So your CTL "good operator" needs to do 4 or 5 times the amount of work as a SS so be equal running costs. That's not likely.

Beauty of OTT tracks if you only have wear them out when needed. In my case for the 90% of the time I run bare tires I can operate for say $2 per hour, when I need tracks 10% of the time I'm closer to $7 per hour VS a tracked machine a $7 an hour 100% of the time.
I get your point but truth is that even using the biggest cost difference a track machine only has to do $9 an hour more work to put you on the plus side. That is no great feat for even an average operator if you are moving material to amount to anything.
 

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