Traction devices for heavy machinery go by various names including grousers, lugs, cleats, track pads and track attachments – all of which are attached to the track or rollers of machines such as excavators and skid steers. These devices typically aim to provide reliable and safe traction on tough terrain or surfaces like snow, ice, rock and mud.
Traction is a fundamental condition for all vehicles and without adequate grip, the wheels or tracks will spin, and the vehicle will not move. Traction on hard icy conditions will be different to the traction needed for wet or muddy surfaces. Traction for heavy machinery adds another layer of complexity – since the machines are larger and heavier and the sites (construction, forestry, mining etc) require them to manoeuvre into and out of more difficult areas.
Traction equipment designed for tracked vehicles range in size, quality and installation and can have varying impact on the machine depending on fit and usage. We’re breaking down the different types of traction devices to provide better clarity over each product and review usage, benefits, installation and limitations that should be considered when looking to buy a product of this kind. Read on for a closer look at grousers, lugs, cleats, track pads, and track attachments.
Grousers are probably the most used device for heavy machinery. A grouser bar is a steel flat bar that sticks out from the track and helps to penetrate the ground to provide more traction. It can be used to restore tread and is mostly found on construction vehicles like excavators, bulldozers, hoes and loaders. For example, a worn track shoe can be regrousered to extend the life of the shoe. Grousers were in fact developed during World War 1 as extensions to tracks or track shoes on armoured vehicles to improve performance in snow or mud – so there is a long history of their use in providing better traction for heavy machinery.
There are three types of grouser, a single, double and triple – each with its own benefit to the machine and its operator.
- The single grouser is where the track shoes have a single spike. This provides the highest level of traction on tough terrain. Machines using a single grouser gain higher penetration but will reduce the manoeuvrability of the vehicle.
- A double grouser has two spikes on the track shoe and is designed to provide less traction than the single grouser – but higher manoeuvrability when turning since there is less resistance on the track.
- The triple grouser is designed with three spikes which is considered to offer the least traction but the highest manoeuvrability.
Grousers are designed to provide excellent forwards and backwards traction but they don’t provide sideways protection. Sideways protection is important when working on slopes or hills to reduce slipping. The installation of a grouser is one of its key limitations. Grousers are installed by being welded onto the tracks of heavy vehicles making them a permanent or semi-permanent fixture to the machine. Welding parts to tracked vehicles makes them limited to a single terrain or job for that period until they can be welded off. Welding is timely, costly and can also reduce the integrity of the tracks.
Ice lugs are mostly used in winter months in hard icy terrain. They are short pieces of bar (approximately 2-6 inches or 5-15cm long) that are welded onto a grouser bar to provide enhanced traction in low or frozen temperatures. Ice lugs enable machines to cut through harsh ice to provide better control and grip. Lugs are typically welded onto vehicle tracks but will wear down with use. At the end of the winter season, ice lugs have to be either ground down or cut off because they are only able to be used on ice and will damage any other terrain. Removing lugs can be very time-consuming – meaning a higher downtime of your machine with installation and removal, it can also risk damaging the track. Ice lugs do not provide any side-ways protection to your machine.
Cleats are similar to grouser bars. They are designed to be attached to grousers to provide extended traction. They can be bolted or welded on which impacts the integrity of the track. They support tracked vehicles with forwards and backwards traction but they don’t provide sideways protection. This is particularly important when working on slippery slopes and on ice, permafrost and snow.
Track pads are usually made from rubber and are designed to fit over the vehicle’s existing track shoe and can be installed either bolt-on or clip-on. Rubber track pads help reduce damage to terrain and are often used on steel-tracked vehicles to protect the road and concrete surfaces. They help to reduce noise and vibrations from the machine and provide enhanced traction on hard and wet surfaces. Rubber pads enable you to get a better grip on hard or slippery surfaces. Track pads come in many sizes and styles to suit your machine’s make and model.
Track attachments by TrackGrip are steel bars that fit over the top of your tracked vehicle to provide enhanced forward and sideways traction on all types of terrain. They offer enhanced traction, stability and safety for excavators, hoes, skid steers and rubber-tracked vehicles.
Perhaps the most unique feature of TrackGrip’s track attachments is that they require zero drilling or welding. Track attachments can be bolted onto an existing grouser bar or simply bolted onto the track of your machine – making them quick, simple and easy to take on and off (in under 30 minutes!) while maintaining the integrity of the tracks. Rest assured track attachments will not easily come loose or come away from the track.
There are four track attachments in the TrackGrip product range that enable operators to work all year round – no matter the conditions. These innovative products offer an alternative and superior solution to the traditional grousers, lugs, cleats and track pads on the market today.
1. MightyGrip – an alternative to a traditional single, double and triple grouser – Provides the highest level of traction in mud, snow, clay, rock/shale & forestry and offers the ultimate in forward and sideways protection preventing your excavator or tracked vehicle from slipping and sliding on slopes. MightGrip additional wear plates and gussseting add strength for use in the most punishing environments.
2. IceGrip – an alternative to ice lugs and cleats – Engineered for frozen, subzero conditions, the IceGrip track attachment provides traction for excavators and steel-tracked vehicles working in ice, permafrost, snow, rock and shale.
3. RubberGrip – an alternative to track pads – Providing good depth and bite, enabling you to run on soft, muddy, wet ground, snow and forestry. RubberGrips extend the lifetime of your rubber tracks and allow you to repurpose worn-out tracks. Manufactured from high tensile steel, these rubber track attachments also assist with sideways protection.
4. ChainGrip – an all-purpose track attachment for added traction – Designed to multi-fit across 95% of tracks, ChainGrip supports work in all conditions and is the most versatile of the TrackGrip products. These traction control devices provide the same benefits as chains on a rubber-tyred vehicle and is great for clearing car lots and driveways. Ideal for terrains requiring less aggressive traction.
All TrackGrip’s track fit the entire width of your track, providing even weight distribution across your machine and reducing side-to-side rocking. This enhances the safety for operators and reduces the risk of tipping or sliding.
Track attachments are made from quality high tensile steel – they are engineered to withstand the elements as well as extreme temperatures and conditions. They offer an enhanced level of safety, stability and traction in all terrains and weather conditions – simply choose the correct attachment for the job.
How to choose what product is best for you?
While there will always be a place for grousers, cleats and lugs – we believe – if traction, stability and safety are a priority, then you should consider TrackGrip’s track attachments for the job. Whether you work in construction, farming, mining or forestry – our range of track attachments have you covered. No matter the terrain and no matter the conditions.