Lack of Power in Your Machinery?
Lack of power is a common complaint when a final drive or travel motor is in need of service. It reveals itself when your machine is unable to climb a steep grade or it keeps steering to one side. There are six potential causes behind a lack of power, and not all of them are the fault of the final drive.
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Reason #1: Lack of Hydraulic Pressure
A lack of hydraulic pressure is one of the most common causes behind a weak final drive or travel motor. This can be either confirmed or eliminated by checking the hydraulic pressure at the final drive and referring to manufacturer guidelines for what the expected pressure reading should be. If this is indeed the cause, then the problem is not your final drive.
Reason #2: High Friction
When friction is high it requires more power to overcome it, causing it to seem like your final drive is weak. Excessive friction can be a problem for tracked equipment, and is usually caused by high track chain tension or rollers and idlers that are in poor condition.
Reason #3: High-Speed Mode
If the machine is steering to one side or is having issues climbing a steep grade, it could be that one of the final drives is trapped in high-speed mode. This would be a problem with the speed control system itself and not with the final drive.
Reason #4: Weak Charge Pump
If you notice the final drive or travel motor making an unusual screeching noise along with an apparent lack of power, the problem most likely lies with the charge pump. If the charge pump is weak, then it cannot provide enough pressure to disengage the internal brake on the travel motor resulting in the equivalent of driving with the emergency brake on. While this problem is not in the final drive, failure to address it will severely damage the final drive.
Reason #5: Final Drive
Another possible reason for a weak final drive is that either the gearbox or the final drive itself has simply exceeded its useful life. As you know, all mechanical parts have a finite life and do eventually wear out. While maintenance extends the life, it cannot prevent expected wear and tear. If you have eliminated all other possibilities, then the cause of a weak final drive is probably the final drive itself.
Finding the Reason for Weak Final Drive
Your final drive might be weak for a variety of reasons: there could be a lack of pressure reaching the final drive, excessive friction, a weak charge pump, the final drive could be trapped in high-speed mode, or it might simply be worn out. If it is weak, then there may something wrong with your final drive -- but before you assume the cause if the final drive itself, don't forget to check out those other four possibilities.
Want more information about keeping your heavy equipment machinery in tip-top condition? Check out the 6 Fascinating Facts About Gear Oil Infographic for quick tips and best practices provided by Texas Final Drive.