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Over-The-Tire Tracks: Why and How They're Used

Over-The-Tire Tracks: Why and How They're Used

Over The Tire Tracks on a Skid Steer

Over-The-Tire Tracks: Why and How They're Used

Reading time: 6 min

In the world of heavy equipment, operators are constantly seeking innovative solutions to tackle diverse terrains and challenging working conditions. Over-the-tire (OTT) tracks, a revolutionary advancement in heavy equipment technology, have emerged as a game changing tool for skid steers and various other heavy machinery.

As the name suggests, OTT tracks are rugged track systems designed to be mounted over the existing tires of skid steers and other types of heavy equipment. These specially engineered track systems consist of rubber tracks that securely wrap around the machine’s existing tires, enhancing its traction and stability.

The invention of OTT tracks stems from the need to overcome the limitations posed by conventional tires on heavy equipment. Traditional tires often struggle to maintain traction and stability on uneven surfaces, loose soil or challenging terrain.

To address these challenges, equipment manufacturers designed OTT tracks, which can be fitted to non-tracked machines, enhancing their capabilities across diverse environments. These tracks enhance machine stability, mitigating the risk of tipping or losing control. By providing a wider footprint and improved grip, OTT tracks offer an efficient solution to conquer challenging surfaces and optimize machine performance.

In this article, we’ll go over the main advantages of OTT tracks and how they can be used to improve the performance and efficiency of your heavy equipment fleet.

Installing Over-The-Tire Tracks

Machines That Use Over-The-Tire Tracks

Over-the-tire (OTT) tracks can be attached to a wide range of heavy equipment, providing enhanced performance and versatility. While the specific compatibility may vary among manufacturers and models, OTT tracks are commonly used with the following types of machines:

  • Skid Steers
  • Compact Track Loaders
  • Backhoe Loaders
  • Wheel Loaders
  • Mini Excavators

How Long Does it Take to Install OTT Tracks?

OTT tracks are designed for easy installation and removal. While the installation time for OTT tracks can vary depending on several factors, including the specific machine, the track system design and the operator’s experience, the process typically takes between 30 minutes to two hours.

It's important to note that the installation time may be influenced by factors such as the operator's familiarity with the process, the complexity of the track system and any specific requirements or challenges posed by the machine itself.

Choosing OTT Track Size

Selecting the correct OTT track size is crucial for ensuring optimal performance, stability and safety. It's always recommended to consult the manufacturer's guidelines, seek professional advice and rely on accurate measurements to make an informed decision.

While specific guidelines may vary based on the manufacturer and model of the equipment, some important factors include the size and configuration of the machine, machine weight and application.

What is OTT Track Flotation?

Flotation refers to the ability of the tracks to distribute the machine’s weight over a larger surface area. This distribution reduces the ground pressure exerted by the skid steer, which helps prevent sinking or damage to sensitive surfaces such as lawns, asphalt or other delicate terrain.

When OTT tracks are attached to a skid steer, they create a wider footprint by extending the track system beyond the original tire width. This wider footprint effectively spreads out the weight of the machine over a larger area, reducing the pressure exerted on the ground. As a result, the skid steer experiences increased flotation, meaning it’s less likely to sink or leave deep tracks on fragile surfaces.

The added flotation provided by OTT tracks offers several benefits for skid steer operators. It allows them to work in environments where standard tires would struggle, such as muddy or sandy terrain, marshes or loose soil. The increased surface area provided by the tracks improves traction and stability, enabling the skid steer to navigate challenging conditions with minimal slippage.

Additionally, the enhanced flotation reduces ground disturbance, making OTT tracks ideal for applications where surface preservation is crucial. For instance, when working on lawns or landscaped areas, the tracks help prevent tire ruts and minimize damage.

Over-The-Tire Tracks vs Dedicated Tracks

OTT Tracks and dedicated tracks each come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. OTT tracks offer versatility as they can be attached and removed as needed, allowing operators to switch between tires and tracks based on job requirements. 

However, OTT tracks may have slightly reduced traction compared to dedicated tracks, since the weight distribution is spread over the existing tires. Their durability may also be shorter, especially under rigorous use or in challenging terrains.

Dedicated tracks, on the other hand, offer specific advantages. They are purpose-built for particular machines, providing superior traction and stability in various terrains. Dedicated tracks are designed to withstand demanding conditions, constructed with heavy-duty materials to ensure prolonged lifespan and durability. 

With dedicated tracks, the machine's weight is evenly distributed over the track system, offering optimal flotation and reducing the risk of sinking or surface damage. However, dedicated tracks lack the versatility of OTT tracks. Once installed, switching back to tires may require more time, effort and potentially the assistance of specialized equipment. Additionally, the upfront investment for dedicated tracks is generally higher, considering their specialized design and construction.

Cost Differences

OTT tracks generally offer a cost-effective alternative to dedicated tracks. Typically, the initial investment for OTT tracks is lower since they can be used with existing machines, eliminating the need to purchase a dedicated track machine. Additionally, OTT tracks can be easily removed and stored when not in use— reducing long-term maintenance costs.

In contrast, dedicated tracks often require a higher upfront investment due to their specialized design and construction. Furthermore, dedicated track machines may incur additional costs for maintenance, repairs and replacement parts specific to the track system.

Track Types and Materials

OTT tracks and dedicated tracks are available in various types and materials to suit different applications. Both types utilize rubber or rubber compound tracks, often reinforced with embedded metal or steel for added strength and durability. 

However, dedicated tracks may offer a wider range of options tailored to specific machine models, including variations in tread patterns, lug heights and track widths.

Track Functionality

OTT tracks primarily provide increased traction, stability and flotation, improving a machine's performance on challenging terrains while reducing ground pressure. They are especially useful for machines that require versatility and quick adaptation between tires and tracks.

Dedicated tracks, on the other hand, are purpose-built for specific machines, delivering optimal traction, stability and weight distribution. They excel in demanding applications where consistent track performance and durability are essential, such as excavation, forestry or construction projects.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, OTT tracks offer a unique way to improve your machine’s versatility and functionality. By using OTT tracks, operators can transform their wheeled machines into capable track systems, conquering challenging terrain and expanding their range of applications.

Regardless of the type of tracks your machine features, it’s crucial to pay close attention to the maintenance requirements of your equipment. The EquipmentShare Shop carries OEM and aftermarket replacement parts from many of the top brands in construction. Can’t find the part you need? Contact one of our parts experts and get personalized assistance.

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