Custom Coupler simplifies the lubrication and maintenance for track tensioning system

Time is money when managing routine maintenance and lubrication of drive tracks on excavating equipment. Efficiency of the filling and flushing of the lubricants that optimize equipment uptime is vital. To make this work, the successful design required a reliable and durable mechanism to inject grease into the system and then reverse pressure to allow the grease to be flushed from the system and recharged with fresh grease.

A globally recognized manufacturer of excavating machinery developed a single zerk hydraulic system designed to deliver and bleed grease used to set/adjust track tension on their equipment. SafeWay engineers at the Specialty Manufacturing Co. were engaged to examine the hydraulic zerk design for its overall function and manufacturability. After design review and testing, SafeWay engineers responded with recommendations to improve durability and ensure leak-free performance.

After thorough review, two concerns with the original design were identified.

  1. The ball seal in the zerk design was suspect and had the potential to leak which presented a possible environmental hazard, as well as reliability concerns.
  2. The coupling end of the zerk was too soft and was susceptible to damage and accelerated wear.

To address these issues and optimize both function and manufacturability, Safeway Engineers offered two important recommendations.

Recommendation #1.

Set an acceptable leakage rate and adopt design and control features to achieve it. A modified steel check valve (ball and seat) to seal the grease reservoir and maintain pressure was recommended to hydraulically activate adjustment of track tension systems. Engineers recommended a customized ductile base metal body for the fitting with an integrated ball that when put under pressure seals against the zerk body to create a seal that holds up through routine use and lubricant cycles.

Recommendation #2.

To address the softness in the metal on the top of the zerk body a dual hardening process was identified that would harden only the topand allow for a consistent connection with grease delivery tools and maintain the required ductility to satisfy recommendation 1.

“We are confident that our recommendations improve the reliability and performance of this component under the most rugged use conditions and cost expectations.” Commented Nick Goenner, SafeWay Hydraulic Engineering Manager.

Result – The design recommendations were implemented and prototype parts were produced that were tested and approved by the OEM. Today this single zerk system has been adopted on the company’s equipment and continues to exceed expectations for performance, durability and cost.

This problem solution scenario is a hallmark of Safeway Hydraulics and The Specialty Mfg. Company. The company takes pride in adding value to customer designs and designing-in improved manufacturability and performance within defined cost objectives. The SafeWay product line includes a broad foundation of agricultural interchange products as well as numerous industrial interchange quick couplings. These include various ISO interchanges, heavy duty connect-under-pressure designs, extreme high pressure designs and innovative flush-face, non-spill models.

The Specialty Mfg. Company’s, engineering, testing, assembly and customer service is all housed on one campus in near St. Paul, Mn.