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Skid Steer Motion and Hydraulic Motors

Skid Steer Loader Popularity

Skid steers, also known as skid loaders and skid steer loaders, have been around since the late 1950s.  They are among the most versatile pieces of construction and landscaping equipment on the market today, and their popularity has not waned over the years. In this bog post, we are going to talk about hydraulic motors and how skid steers move.



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Skid Steers

From their earliest beginnings, skid steers have been known for their versatility and their maneuverability.  Today there are many skid steer manufacturers – Caterpillar (CAT), Bobcat, Gehl, and New Holland, just to name a few – and many different features available, but there is one thing they pretty much all modern skid steers have in common:  the concept behind how they manage to be so maneuverable and how hydraulic motors are key.


Hydraulic Motors

A typical skid steer loader, like the CAT 248b skid steer shown below, has two hydraulic motors that provide power to the wheels, but not through a typical transmission system.  Instead, each hydraulic motor is responsible for one side of the skid steer.  These hydraulic motors are also referred to as wheel drives or final drives.


The hydraulic motor is the key to keeping a skid steer moving:  if one of the hydraulic motors fails, the best you can hope for is a machine that can go in circles.  That’s why the maintenance on hydraulic motors and final drives is so very important.


Chains & Sprockets

Chain and sprocket.gifEach hydraulic motor has a sprocket on it which connects the front and back wheels through a pair of heavy-duty chains, forming a chain and sprocket system.

The chains serve two unique purposes.  First, they evenly distribute the power to both wheels while making sure that the wheels are being driven at the same speed.  Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, they achieve the needed speed reduction to achieve the required torque at the wheels.

The chains and sprockets are usually in a sealed compartment and immersed in an oil bath.  This protects them from the elements and keeps them optimally lubricated, but can make maintenance rather challenging.  However, some skid steer manufacturers like Caterpillar take maintenance into account during the design phase so that it is as painless as possible.

The chain system keeps the wheels on each side synchronized, e.g., the left side wheels are in sync with each other and the right side wheels are in sync with each other.  The drive sprockets connect to the wheel hub through a relatively short shaft.  The shaft, in turn, passes through some seals before it connects to the actual hub.  The hub, of course, holds the wheel.



skid-steer-loader-steering.pngNow let’s talk for a moment about the technology behind the name of the skid steer.  First, you will notice that the wheels on a skid steer have a fixed orientation – they can’t turn left or right. The wheels don’t have any kind of separate steering mechanism.  The skid steer is steered by having operating the left side wheels and right side wheels at different speeds.  This means that the fixed-orientation wheels are drug – or skidded! – across the ground as the skid steer changes direction.  Hence the term “skid steer.”

This type of steering allows the skid steer perform zero-radius turns and makes it incredibly maneuverable even in the tightest of spaces.





Conclusion: New Hydraulic System Has Positive Impact

While the basic design of skid steer propulsion hasn’t changed much in the last twenty years, the engineering behind the hydraulic systems that provide the power has.  Increased pressure and flow, along with more efficient hydraulic systems, have had a positive impact on the working power of these machines.




Keep that skid steer loader running efficiently with best in class reman hydraulic motors from Texas Final Drive.... Check it out!

Need a CAT Skid Steer Loader Hydraulic Motor? 

Topics: Heavy Equipment 101, Skid Steers, Excavators

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