throwing a track

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The Axis WWII discussion group is hosted by Tom Cockle and is dedicated to Axis armour of the Second World War.

throwing a track

Joined: March 5th, 2010, 4:11 am

April 6th, 2012, 1:26 am #1

when a tank 'throws' its track is is usually a more a matter of slipping off the drive wheel or off the idler? thanks Greg
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Joined: March 1st, 2009, 1:52 pm

April 6th, 2012, 2:10 am #2

The term 'throwing track' is generic for the track becoming disengaged with the sprocket. Breaking track is the generic reference when the crew takes the track apart on purpose. Track can be 'thrown' in various ways:

1) Track can break - usually pins fail and any associated parts, such as end connectors and center guides loose the ability to hold the track together. In the case of most German tanks (pinned track) a broken pin will do the trick. Depending on when the track decides come apart, and what the tank is doing is a big factor on how nasty the track ends up. Tanks can drive off the track if it breaks under the road wheels. Sometimes the crew may not know until they attempt to turn, or the tank is moving on soft ground.

2) Thrown to the inside or outside - This is where the track stays connected, but the road wheels jump up on the track guides and the track becomes disengaged with the sprocket as the tank keeps moving. The result is the sprocket spins on the track and the tank goes nowhere. An even worse situation is one side thrown to the inside and the other to the outside. Both sprockets will spin on the tracks, but no movement, and little control results. This is rare, but does happen, especially on slippery surfaces like mud, snow and ice. Sideways slides and hard hits can bounce the road wheels onto the track guides. If the driver doesn't catch the feel, or sound, and keeps driving the track can be thrown to the inside/outside or both. Breaking track is the only way out. Lay it out on the ground and reel it back on. Most crews will catch a track that is trying to do this. The driver will stop and a crewman will get on the ground and see what's going on. If the track is trying to do this he can guide the driver to 'pop' it back on with the tanks engine and still engaged sprocket; pulling forward, or backward and turning to manipulate it back on. No tanker want's to break track when it's not a planned event, and not many then.

3) Dang track falls off - This is nearly impossible without damage and suspension parts going with it. The track stays connected but the suspension allows it to fall off to the outside and flop on the ground. I suppose there are some tanks out there that could do it with super loose track, but moderately maintained track tension generally isn't enough to cause it.

Walking track is another tanker term; normal and constant tank maintenance. The tank is slowly pulled forward, via guiding the driver, and the crew carefully checks each track connection. Better to fix broken components at leisure than on an attack.

Let's see, thrown track, break track, and walk track, oh yeah, hate track. Most tankers do.


HTH Kent
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Joined: December 21st, 2011, 10:03 pm

April 6th, 2012, 2:51 am #3

when a tank 'throws' its track is is usually a more a matter of slipping off the drive wheel or off the idler? thanks Greg
Other side effects are: if the track breaks, you can kiss the fenders on that side of the tank goodbye. If the track is thrown, you are likely to have some seriously chewed up road wheels when the center guides bite into them. Finally, Murphy's Law says that the muddier the terrain, the more likely you are to throw a track.
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Joined: August 3rd, 2006, 11:59 pm

April 6th, 2012, 4:18 am #4

when a tank 'throws' its track is is usually a more a matter of slipping off the drive wheel or off the idler? thanks Greg
This is the labour of love of man and machine, with re building/ replacing the track back on the tank buy pounding end connectors/ pins / track pads back onto the track pads.

Im my 22 years of light/heavy track time ,never through a track.......................

Cheers

Anthony
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Joined: March 1st, 2009, 1:52 pm

April 6th, 2012, 5:26 am #5

I, however, was not so fortunate. My time at Knox was all a blur. Not many ways I haven't seen track fail.

I had always wondered how a photo of a German tank, like a Pzkw IV, would have one track missing. In some cases there was a good amount of the surrounding terrain captured, but no track.

Then I saw how it happens. Not horribly rare when tanks are run to death. Changing from hard to soft surfaces frequently helps deteriate the situation. The tracks gives up to ghost under the road wheels and the tank simply drives away. If it's a hardball surface, and straight, the tank can go quit a ways before the crew notices. One thing I noticed was the front fender jumped as the end of the track cleared the front idler/sprocket. Most TC's catch that, or a driver hears it. When the driver attempts to turn the gig is up, the tank reacts with no brakes on one side sending it in a spin.

I can only imagine a Pv IV running for its life and one track fails on some dirt road. All the driver can do is attempt to keep it moving. Maybe they get somewhere, maybe they don't. If it drifts onto soft ground the road wheels send the tank into a spin after digging in. No way to get the track back without help.

One of the 'other' reasons I wondered why Tiger track cables are so long, other than reeling track on in half the distance of other tanks; recovering track from a short distance. Smaller track can be manhandled with enough help. Tiger tracks can't, something mechanical is needed.

Kent
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Joined: January 16th, 2009, 8:38 am

April 6th, 2012, 7:27 am #6

when a tank 'throws' its track is is usually a more a matter of slipping off the drive wheel or off the idler? thanks Greg
A track thrown on the inside of the drive sprocket is very difficult to rectify. Two is a nightmare! The only way to get the track back on, usually is to split it. The track becomes so tight though, that it is almost impossible to knock out the track pins. The only alternative then is to use oxy acetylene cutting equipment which can take hours & attract fire at night. Or use plastic explosives which is great fun & takes seconds. Unfortunately, plastic was withdrawn from REME recovery kit before the second Gulf War because of 'Health & Safety' concerns!

Slightly off subject, you will often see AFVs 'half tracked'. Lots of pics of German vehicles in this mode. This is done to move a tank on its own tracks when a final drive or idler is damaged. The shortened track is re-routed leaving the damaged item out of contact. Would make a good dio, that one.
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Joined: February 16th, 2008, 3:20 pm

April 6th, 2012, 1:32 pm #7

I, however, was not so fortunate. My time at Knox was all a blur. Not many ways I haven't seen track fail.

I had always wondered how a photo of a German tank, like a Pzkw IV, would have one track missing. In some cases there was a good amount of the surrounding terrain captured, but no track.

Then I saw how it happens. Not horribly rare when tanks are run to death. Changing from hard to soft surfaces frequently helps deteriate the situation. The tracks gives up to ghost under the road wheels and the tank simply drives away. If it's a hardball surface, and straight, the tank can go quit a ways before the crew notices. One thing I noticed was the front fender jumped as the end of the track cleared the front idler/sprocket. Most TC's catch that, or a driver hears it. When the driver attempts to turn the gig is up, the tank reacts with no brakes on one side sending it in a spin.

I can only imagine a Pv IV running for its life and one track fails on some dirt road. All the driver can do is attempt to keep it moving. Maybe they get somewhere, maybe they don't. If it drifts onto soft ground the road wheels send the tank into a spin after digging in. No way to get the track back without help.

One of the 'other' reasons I wondered why Tiger track cables are so long, other than reeling track on in half the distance of other tanks; recovering track from a short distance. Smaller track can be manhandled with enough help. Tiger tracks can't, something mechanical is needed.

Kent
10 years in Mech Inf taught me that tracks will only need attention when stopped in mud,sleet,slush or at night in a rain storm. Never on a clear sunny warm day on a hard dry surface!! LOL I cannot tell you how much I still hate tracks!
A good driver will always be checking the tracks as to try to prevent trouble and that hasn't changed and is true in any army at any time. I just saw a film of LSSAH in Stoumont and there was a kid with his hat on backwards,eating an apple and checking his PvIV tracks during a quick stop in the middle of town,right after they just captured the place.
It makes for a very realistic dio but you don't see that much,track maint. I mean.
J
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Joined: August 12th, 2004, 7:30 pm

April 6th, 2012, 3:08 pm #8

A track thrown on the inside of the drive sprocket is very difficult to rectify. Two is a nightmare! The only way to get the track back on, usually is to split it. The track becomes so tight though, that it is almost impossible to knock out the track pins. The only alternative then is to use oxy acetylene cutting equipment which can take hours & attract fire at night. Or use plastic explosives which is great fun & takes seconds. Unfortunately, plastic was withdrawn from REME recovery kit before the second Gulf War because of 'Health & Safety' concerns!

Slightly off subject, you will often see AFVs 'half tracked'. Lots of pics of German vehicles in this mode. This is done to move a tank on its own tracks when a final drive or idler is damaged. The shortened track is re-routed leaving the damaged item out of contact. Would make a good dio, that one.
Thought this image I picked up might be of interest



A while back I bought a tracklink on ebay on a whim (don't ask about the postage!) so I started to appreciate what handling a length of them must be like.

craig (8wheels-good)
http://8wheels-good.blogspot.co.uk/
Craig (8wheels-good)
https://www.facebook.com/8wheelsgoodPzIVarchive/
http://8wheels-good.blogspot.co.uk/
http://www.blurb.co.uk/user/store/8wheels-good
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Joined: December 21st, 2011, 10:03 pm

April 6th, 2012, 4:05 pm #9

when a tank 'throws' its track is is usually a more a matter of slipping off the drive wheel or off the idler? thanks Greg
It's never fun! One of our company's M60A3's got mired up to the fenders.


Then the M88 threw it's track off the drive sprocket!



Even in the motor pool replacing track is such fun!

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Joined: May 1st, 2005, 8:47 pm

April 6th, 2012, 10:32 pm #10

A track thrown on the inside of the drive sprocket is very difficult to rectify. Two is a nightmare! The only way to get the track back on, usually is to split it. The track becomes so tight though, that it is almost impossible to knock out the track pins. The only alternative then is to use oxy acetylene cutting equipment which can take hours & attract fire at night. Or use plastic explosives which is great fun & takes seconds. Unfortunately, plastic was withdrawn from REME recovery kit before the second Gulf War because of 'Health & Safety' concerns!

Slightly off subject, you will often see AFVs 'half tracked'. Lots of pics of German vehicles in this mode. This is done to move a tank on its own tracks when a final drive or idler is damaged. The shortened track is re-routed leaving the damaged item out of contact. Would make a good dio, that one.
It is reputed that many of the Valentines reaching Tripoli after Alamein were short tracked as their idlers had failed. I too thought this would make a good model or dio, but have yet to see a pic of a Valentine in Tripoli short tracked. Does anyone have one?

I could also add that my mech inf experience suggested that 432s normally threw a track in about four feet of water coming out of the river Weser after a swim at Ohr Park! Fortunately an ARV was normally in attendance to pull them out before they had to be fixed!

Chris
Last edited by Chris Grove on April 7th, 2012, 3:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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