Soucy exhibited its ST-900 heavy-duty track modules on a JCB telehandler at Conexpo 2008 as its official introduction to the construction market aftermarket. The Quebec-based company has been making rubber track, drive wheels, idlers and rollers for ASV, Caterpillar, Bombardier, and other OEMs for quite some time. They began marketing complete track modules directly to ag-equipment users about five years ago.
One of the primary differences between the Soucy track module and most other rubber-track systems is that Soucy doesn't use belt tension to transfer drive torque to the belt. Instead, they mold their track belt with two or three rows of drive lugs projecting to the inside. Lugs interlock with horizontal bars placed around the circumference of the drive wheel. The drive wheel is a spinning cage, rather than a toothed sprocket. With multiple rows of lugs, there are always 10 or 12 lugs engaged with the cage wheel at the same time.
“We've got each lug boxed off (between the bars of the cage wheel) so the belt can't slip on the sprocket,” says Peter Watkins, Soucy's U.S. sales manager. “Dirt can't get packed in between the wheels and the belt and cause slippage, and you don't have to worry about losing pressure in a tensioner and then getting slippage or the belt coming off the sprocket.
“The track module uses less horsepower because there is not the great tension on the belt.”
Soucy engineers estimate that a tractor on Soucy tracks in a drawbar application — doing heavy backfilling or vibratory plowing — will use about 10 percent less fuel than the same machine on tires.
Kits are designed to bolt to the ends of a machine's axle using the wheel studs. So a rubber-tired machine converted to tracks using these modules can be switched back to tires again, if desired. Changing the tires for tracks and back is about as easy as changing tires, for those who have a hoist to lift the track modules.
The ST-900 heavy-duty track modules are mostly custom projects. Those on the JCB telehandler in the accompanying photo are 25 inches wide and weigh about 2,000 pounds each. Outfitting the whole machine like this costs about $55,000.
Soucy makes track kits in 15-, 20-, 25-, and 32-inch widths to fit everything from 30-horsepower tractors or utility vehicles up to 500 horsepower articulated tractors. The biggest 32-inch-wide kits weigh 3,000 pounds each. It costs about $75,000 to fit all four corners of a big tractor.
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