Sly Agri has built up a very successful business looking after the needs of rubber-tracked crawler users
With its base in mid-Lincolnshire, surrounded by large arable farms, Sly Agri has built up a very successful business looking after the needs of rubber-tracked crawler users. David Williams visited the company to find out more. Replacement roller assemblies supplied by Sly Agri. The steel sleeve pressed over the inner steel roller can be seen. Because the inner steel roller is re-used the replacement cost is said to be just one third that of a complete new roller through the manufacturers’ parts systems.It offers servicing and repair of various makes of machine, as well as for industrial loaders and bulldozers and, in recent years, has been importing and supplying its own brand replacement rubber tracks. Its range has now been extended to include replacement track roller assemblies and roller hubs, which it claims can reduce routine service bills by hundreds of pounds. “We started selling rubber-tracked crawlers which we imported for customers from abroad approximately seven years ago,” explained George Sly. “Obviously this meant we were not very popular with the official importers and dealers, but we provided good back-up and it helped us build our business providing service and repairs. We reduced our importing business due to exchange rate fluctuations back in 2009, but could see a strong and increasing demand for replacement rubber tracks as well as new and used parts, and have been supplying our own brand; Enduratrax, ever since. We also provide a track fitting and track roller overhaul service and offer our own compression-moulded rubber or polyurethane Enduratek track rollers as well as seals, shafts and hubs associated with the undercarriage.
“Our rollers have approximately twice the rubber covering compared with OEM, and this gives improved resistance to stone damage and improved wear.”The polyurethane rollers are manufactured in the UK and cost approximately 50 per cent more than the equivalent rubber units, but are harder wearing. George said that they tend to be a better option for larger crawlers as the undercarriages of these tend to reach higher temperatures in work and because polyurethane has a higher resistance to heat, it is far less prone to bond failures. “We have worked with a polyurethane material manufacturer in the UK to find the correct balance between durability and track life, as if the compound is too hard this can result in higher track wear,” he said.George Sly pictured with an Enduracap kit. The kit includes a transparent track roller cap which allows the level of lubricant to be checked at any time without the need for tools, and without moving the machine. Exchange service
Sly Agri’s track rollers use a press-fit design, the rubber or polyurethane bonded to a steel centre band which is pressed over the steel track roller, and means that when the rollers wear in the future, the band is simply pressed off, and a new band and covering pressed on. “The cost is approximately one third of that of a complete new wheel assembly,” explained George. “If users purchase replacement rollers through the manufacturer parts system, then complete rollers are needed every time, and the worn-out assemblies are scrapped. With our system; when replacement rollers are needed the first time, then we supply complete rollers with the press-fit covering, but when these are worn and need changing in the future, then we provide an exchange service which works out a lot cheaper. We supply complete replacement roller units to the customer, and take in the worn set for exchange. We press off the worn rubbers, and fit new ones and these are put in to our stock ready for dispatch to the next customer who needs them.”George said that when complete assemblies are needed, the cost is from 219 per roller, for a machine such as a Challenger, but for further sets, when there are exchange units supplied this reduces the cost per unit to just 130 depending on machine type. Polyurethane adds an extra 70 per unit over the cost of rubber.”Our replacement rollers provide a cost-effective option for users and they all come with a two year warranty, he said.Quicker and cheaper maintenance checks
A new product added to Sly Agri’s range during the past three months is Enduracaps. Each track roller bearing hub has an end cap, usually made of solid steel and held in place by bolts. The track hubs are filled with oil and the end caps have a hole which, for filling, has to be positioned at the top. When a crawler is being serviced this usually involves two technicians, one to move the crawler backward and forwards while the other watches the hubs rotate, telling his colleague to stop when the filler is in the correct position. “We have been told by dealers and customers that the track lubrication service can be expensive, up to eight hours of labour needed to lubricate a complete set of tracks on something like a Quadtrac where four whole track assemblies need doing. We have designed a very simple but effective transparent cap which screws into place and through which the oil level can be clearly seen and easily monitored on the farm and by the dealer, with no tools required.”The Enduracaps are supplied as a kit, and include a replacement flange and seal which bolts on where the original cap was fitted. “The new flange is bolted into place,” said James, “and it includes a threaded connection for the cap. Because it is threaded, the cap can be rotated by at least half a turn without any oil leaking out so, for filling, the engineer simply rotates the cap so that the filler hole is at the top. For draining the cap is turned so the hole is at the bottom, and if all that is needed is an oil level check then this can be seen at a glance without touching the assembly at all.”Kits are supplied with the correct number of cap conversion kits for the machine plus a special tool to allow the hub caps to be turned using a standard 3/8-inch drive. Cost is from 350-600 depending on the model, and the kits are sent out by carrier throughout the UK. “We have been testing the kits since last harvest on both Challengers and Quadtracs and feedback from users has been excellent. There are many potential applications including combines, potato harvesters and beet harvesters and we will be expanding the range during coming months to include more sizes and fittings.”After our tests were so successful, we told our existing customers about the new caps and quickly gained a large number or orders. We have been particularly pleased too at the level of interest we have had from main dealers who have recognised the benefits for their customers, and the time-savings possible in terms of maintenance, which means that in theory the whole set could be paid for in time savings during just one service.”Whereas once we were perceived as a threat by dealers, while we were importing and selling machines, it is good now to be working with them. We have also had interest from manufacturers and it is likely that the caps will be supplied through at least one of them as an official spare part in the not-too-distant future,” he added.