Starting the work on the undercarriage
Today marked the first day of the undercarriage replacement. With all of the parts in hand the first step was to remove the old track. The job will be done one side at a time. The “easiest” way to remove the track is to cut it in half using an acetylene torch. It took me a couple of tries to find the right spot to cut the link assembly in four places, however, it cut quickly once I had found the sweet spot. Then it was time to use the pressure washer to clean off the mud and grit. Once it was clean and the track was pulled clear, I blocked up the machine and used a wire brush on the exposed ends of the bolts that held the bottom rollers, top carrier roller, track pads and sprocket in place.
This greatly aids in allowing the penetrating oil to get into the threads. I then applied a cocktail of Deep Creep, WD40, and PB Blaster to all of the bolt ends, followed by multiple repetitions of the same, coupled with hammer hits throughout the day to help loosen up the bolts and break any scale rust away . I also pulled out the idler assembly and unfortunately found that the coil spring had broken some time ago. I say unfortunately, as this is something I cannot replace myself. The coil spring is under incredible compression and is too dangerous to attempt myself. Disassembly requires a safety cage and hydraulic press, which only Milton Cat has. The replacment coil spring is $750 and usually requires a new “bolt” for another $250 plus 2-4 hours of shop time. This new discovery is bound to be another $1,500, however, this is the time to address the problem. Meanwhile the bolts and nuts continue to soak in penetrating oil.