No universal track chain options? Build or buy no brainer?

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AddamsonFlint
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No universal track chain options? Build or buy no brainer?

Post by AddamsonFlint » Wed Oct 14, 2020 1:32 pm

So, I’ve been hunting the interwebs high and low, and amazed to not find one dude on the planet doing this. After all, it’s just links and pins. Sprocket tooth specs, the only variation factor Run a couple different width options, at a couple different tooth gaps, and you’ve got the universal track link e-store.

Now, I’m not going to be starting said store, but I was amazed there were no aftermarket options. I could barely find a picture on the web of an individual track link. It’s not hard machining.

But as a result of this bewilderment… and with track chain almost a grand a side as my only other option- I am going to look at making some links.

If anyone knows of someone, a web page, etc, that has already invented this wheel, so I don’t have to re-invent, please let me know lol.

If anyone else is interested in this endeavor, also let me know, cuz my material costs will naturally be better. Plus, I’m only gonna be doing set-up and first-part for one run of machining. As many as I rip off, will be what it will be.

Anyways, let me know and thanks for reading.

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Lavoy
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Re: No universal track chain options? Build or buy no brainer?

Post by Lavoy » Wed Oct 14, 2020 2:57 pm

There are no direct aftermarket options TODAY. There used to be options, but they all discontinued production because there is just not enough demand to justify offering them any longer. Hence why you don't find anyone doing it, it is not cost effective, and they will never sell in any quantity great enough to amortize the production cost, carrying cost, advertising cost, insurance cost, etc.. If there was, they would still exist. A couple different manufacturers spit out not insignificant quantities of 350 rails.
I will take exception to your statement that they are just links and pins, that is a substantial understatement. They are cast steel links with more than a little machining involved. They are not just something that you are going to machine out of A36. It will need to be a better grade of steel, and then require at least a small amount of heat treat of some sort.
The pins and bushings are hardened alloy steel. I have been looking at getting them made for years, and even in higher quantities, up until recently I could not get the price down to a point that I feel they will sell. Even at that, I am looking at 1000 piece plus quantities to try and get the cost down lower.
Do you have ready access to heat treating nearby, if not shipping is an additional cost.
There are a lot of factors involved, I simply do not believe it is as simple as you think, but I could be wrong.
Lavoy
Parts and restoration for antique and late model John Deere crawlers.
Owner and moderator www.jdcrawlers.com

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Lavoy
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Re: No universal track chain options? Build or buy no brainer?

Post by Lavoy » Wed Oct 14, 2020 3:01 pm

I should clarify one statement. There were NEVER "universal" replacement tracks, just like there is no "universal" rollers, sprockets, etc. All manufacturers made specific pieces relative to a specific crawler. There can be or is crossover within a given brand's models, but that is it.
There are some tracks that will fit these old crawlers, such as Mitsubishi tracks, but that requires welding on sprocket rims, new chains, pads, and bolts. Right now,in the $4000 and up range, not including freight and machining. Still not a universal fit, just adapting an existing product to a different brand machine.
Lavoy
Parts and restoration for antique and late model John Deere crawlers.
Owner and moderator www.jdcrawlers.com

Jim B
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Re: No universal track chain options? Build or buy no brainer?

Post by Jim B » Thu Oct 15, 2020 5:46 am

Is the driving factor behind your thoughts of making links that you have some real bad links on your machine and want to replace just those few links? If that is the case and you can't justify or spring for new chains and sprockets (ideally doing a complete rebuild of the undercarriage) currently; have you checked salvage yards for used links/chain? You might even find a complete set of chains that are better than yours. That would be far from ideal but I would do that before trying to make links. John Deere parts catalogs show the components of the links available as separate parts, likely they won't be in a dealers stock, but it appears you could get new individual links that way, if you want. But mixing old and new can have problems.

Lavoy covered the reasons, you don't see what you are thinking of doing, very well. He has personal experience with track chain components. There is science, design, and history, as well as economics behind "just links and pins". You didn't mention if you had any plan for lube and sealing, or were you thinking all are just dry pins and bushings? If you realistically track materials, tooling, and treatment processes (not to even mention labor/time involved), as needs to be done if selling them and making a profit is the goal, I don't think you could make a quality chain for one side for a grand. JMHO
Jim

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Stan Disbrow
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Re: No universal track chain options? Build or buy no brainer?

Post by Stan Disbrow » Sun Oct 18, 2020 5:29 am

Hi,

My brain says Buy 350 rails and rim sprockets and head to the machine shop with the old sprockets and the rim sprockets. I am usually all for the Build option for old unobtanium parts. But, while the original bits are unobtanium, there is a substitute which needs just a little Build. So, in this case Buy and then Build.

Stan
There's No Such Thing As A Cheap Crawler!

Have: '58 JD 420c 5-roller w/62 inside manual blade
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