When a machine operates in material that packs into the root of the sprocket's teeth, the sprocket, in effect, becomes larger in diameter. As a result, the chain becomes tighter and exerts greater pressure on the sprocket teeth, idlers and rollers, resulting in accelerated general wear.
When a machine with severely packed sprockets moves forward, the chain's bushings can be forced into initial contact with the reverse-drive side of the sprocket tooth (near the tip), causing accelerated wear on the tooth and the sprocket. As the bushing slides across the tooth to engage the forward-drive side, added wear can occur.
When the same machine operates in reverse, bushings are picked up more on the forward-drive side of the tooth and will slide under load to the reverse-drive side.
Packed sprockets, therefore, can result in abnormal wear on both sides of the sprocket tooth and on both sides of the bushing.
When a crawler is operated in reverse, the bushing at about the 12 o'clock position rotates and slides against the sprocket tooth's reverse-drive side, just when the bushing is under maximum load. As a result, the reverse-drive side of sprocket teeth will wear, as will the corresponding surfaces on the bushings.
Eventually, wear will progress to form a pocket in the root of the tooth. Directional changes also contribute to root wear, since the bushings slide across the bottom of the sprocket teeth when the machine changes its direction of travel. Elevated-sprocket machines exhibit less of this wear, because fewer bushings are engaged in the sprocket.
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