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Continuous Track Tractors Explained

Continuous track or tracked treads are a system of vehicle propulsion used in tracked vehicles, running on a continuous band of treads or track plates driven by two or more wheels.


The large surface area of the tracks distributes the weight of the vehicle better than steel or rubber tires on an equivalent vehicle, enabling continuous tracked vehicles to traverse soft ground with less likelihood of becoming stuck due to sinking.


Modern continuous tracks can be made with soft belts of synthetic rubber, reinforced with steel wires, in the case of lighter agricultural machinery.  The more common classical type is a solid chain track made of steel plates (with or without rubber pads), also called caterpillar tread or tank tread, which is preferred for robust and heavy construction vehicles and military vehicles.


The prominent treads of the metal plates are both hard-wearing and damage-resistant, especially in comparison to rubber tires.  The aggressive treads of the tracks provide good traction in soft surfaces but can damage paved surfaces, so some metal tracks can have rubber pads installed for use on paved surfaces.  Other than soft rubber belts, most chain tracks apply a stiff mechanism to distribute the load equally over the entire space between the wheels for minimal deformation, so that even the heaviest vehicles can move easily, just like a train on its straight tracks.


The stiff mechanism was first given a physical form by Hornsby & Sons in 1904 and then made popular by Caterpillar Tractor Company, with tanks emerging during World War I.  Today, they are commonly used on a variety of vehicles, including snowmobiles, tractors, bulldozers, excavators and tanks.  The idea of continuous tracks can be traced back as far as the 1830s, however.


If you need any further help or have any questions about service, tractors, implements, or anything else equipment-related, please contact your dealer, local mechanic, or call us at 602-734-9944.  Please ask about our current new and used tractor supply.


If you are looking for old, vintage, classic, or new tractor parts, send us a part request


Team Tractor Ranch - #1 Tractor Dealer in Arizona. We sell and service most major brands of tractors including Yanmar, Kubota, John Deere, TYM, Mahindra, Kioti, Case, New Holland, Massey Ferguson, Ford, Deutz, Case IH, Farmall, International Harvester, Branson Tractors, LS, Shibura, Claas Tractor, McCormick Tractors, Valtra, Solis, YTO, Montana, and Nortrac.





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