How to Install a Final Drive

How to Install a Final Drive

View All Parts From This Machine: John Deere 724J Wheel Loader
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Installing a final drive on your excavator, bulldozer, or any heavy construction equipment is no small job, especially if the machine is no small machine, but if you plan ahead, follow the plan, and make sure to follow the final drive instructions and your machine’s manual, you can get it on your machine and your machine back to work. To help, we’ve put together some quick tips to help you along.

Clean and Examine the Final Drive and Area

We know you want to minimize downtime by getting the old one off and the new one on fast, but if you start with a clean surface it’ll make all the next steps go smoother. And even though your final drive is probably about to get dirty on the job, you still want to make sure your connections and your internal parts stay clean. Cleaning the area before taking off the old final drive? Perfect. Cleaning the machine and area when the final drive is already off? Still a great time.

You’ll also want to cap your lines and ensure nothing can contaminate your installation process -- dirt and debris are the mortal enemy of your hydraulic system.

Document Your Process

As an industry leader in salvaging heavy construction equipment, you might think we literally drive a machine straight into Teardown when it’s delivered, but the first step is actually a full analysis (with pictures) of a machine to determine the basic condition of all the major components. The camera on your phone is your best friend when it comes to disassembling and reassembling. When you take photos at critical steps in the removal process you create the perfect workflow for repeating it all in reverse. 

Examine the Previous Final Drive

Whether you’re rebuilding your final drive, you’re about to mount a new, aftermarket final drive, or you’re working with a used, reconditioned final drive, you’ll want to take a hard look at the previous final drive that failed, even if you’re nearly sure you already know what happened.

When a final drive fails, it fails for a reason, and putting your final drive through a quick post mortem inspection will help you make sure you know why it failed, and most importantly, make sure you’ve taken every step to prevent a failure for your next one. 

Quick Signs to Search For

  • Look for signs of corrosion, warping, and bending in parts and map those issues to their causes.
  • If you’re disassembling the final drive, search for unusual wear from friction or the tell-tale signs of lack of lubrication -- darker than normal parts
  • If you’re rebuilding the final drive, watch for any warping or damage. Even a simple rock ding can lead to trouble in the install.

4 Layout Your Space and Your Roadmap

Whether your final drive is 60 pounds or 600, replacing it is a big job. And regardless if you’re in the shop or out in the field, planning ahead is crucial to making assembly go smoothly. The amount of logistics, or how it’s going to go from pallet to machine, is going to depend on just how big the final drive is and, in turn, the amount of pre-planning you’ll need to undertake. Even installing a final drive on the smaller side is more straightforward with the help of a machine (crane or forklift) to suspend and stabilize it. 

Now’s the time to plan ahead and make sure every part, nut, and bolt are waiting on hand and ready for when you need them. It’s also a good time to pull your machine’s manufacturer’s guide out from the back of your seat in the cab and to print out your installation instructions.

Match Your Lines to Your Ports Ahead of Time

You’ll have your nice printed installation guide, clean hoses, and a clean final drive, but why not make your life easier and already identify which line will go to which port beforehand? Tape in different, bright colors works great for this -- one piece wrapped around the line and one stuck above the port. 

!!! Attaching the lines incorrectly will immediately damage the final drive and lead to both hydraulic and mechanical failure. Get the lines right and check them twice. If you’re installing an H&R Brand final drive, you can always get your guide here.

Get it Up, In Place, and Almost There

How you handle your final drive and position it in place will come down (again) to the size of the final drive, but be sure to plan for safety, stability, and a little movement so you can ensure a good fit since you’ll need to line up specific holes on the drive and on the machine. Start with a few bolts and work the final drive into position, but make sure every bolt is started before fully tightening any so that you still have some play in alignment. 

H&R Brand final drives are designed to fit machines perfectly without alterations or new sprockets and we provide all necessary fittings with the final drive. If you’ve ordered from elsewhere, however, make sure to check if the final drive will need any adjustments.

Tighten it up and Attach Your Lines

You’re so close and we’ve said it already, but check your lines again to make sure each is routed to the correct port. Once you’re sure, you can tighten everything up.

8 Add Your Oil

Make sure your gearbox oil is at the proper level and top it off with the correct oil if necessary. You’ll find exact oil specifications in the manufacturer’s guide.

Start Slow

If you have the machine suspended, running the final drive on the machine without a load will allow you to ensure everything is working correctly before putting it under load, but even if that’s not possible going slow to start will help you monitor it before really putting it to the test. 

Final Steps

If you’ve made it here, you should be good to go. You’ll just button it up and reattach any covers. Now’s a good time to take a final pic, too -- everybody loves a before and after.

If you’re installing an H&R Brand final drive, remember, we’re always here to help. Just call a Parts Specialist here -- they’re more than a sales team, they’re parts experts with a deep knowledge of final drives and a commitment to helping our customers get back to work, asap.

And if you're looking for more information on final drives, check our final drive explainer or watch our Recon and Rebuild team rebuild a final drive.