Jump to content

Track rebuilding with conveyor belts


Recommended Posts

Well, after many months have gone by and my primary plan of having new bands made here in the USA have fallen apart, I have decided to just rebuild my own tracks with conveyor belting as that was my very first option anyways.  

In making up a template I have discovered some questions.  In looking at original Studebaker prints on the 56 grouser tracks I have based my template on that pattern. The spacing/pitch is 4.5" center to center and 56 pitches per track. That works out to a length of 252".  I have been told on Facebook that the 55 grouser tracks use a spacing/pitch of 4.613" and 55 pitches for a length of 253.715".  Now doing the calculations on the radius that works out to 40.37999639" on the 55 count and 40.10704566" on the 56 count. 

In order for those tracks to be interchangeable, which I'm sure they were, then the inner bands that the road wheels ride on would have to be different thicknesses so that the timing of the sprocket is correct.  With that in mind, its common knowledge that the 55 count tracks have 1" thick inner bands.  So doing the math on that using the 4.613" pitch, as given on Facebook, and subtracting the 1" thickness for the inner band, you would have a new radius of 39.37999639" and new circumference of 247.4318" for the top of the inner bands. 

If you then take that circumference of 247.4318" and reverse the calculations to determine the band thickness of the 56 count tracks, I come up with a inner band thickness of 0.72705".

This would make sense being that the sprockets don't change and the further away from the center of the sprocket you are, the further apart that the grousers would need to be spaced in order to still be in correct timing. And the closer to the center of the sprocket that you are, the closer together that the grouser would need to be in order to still be in correct timing.


Does anyone have more knowledge on this subject that can confirm or deny my assessments here?  


The 4.613" pitch came from a drawing the someone had that showed the spacing between the grousers was 2.363" from bolt hole to bolt hole, then adding the 2.25" spacing of the distance between the bolt holes on grousers.  

On the earlier 56 count tracks all of the hole spacings are 2.25" on both the grousers and between the grousers. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you both for the feed back and confirmation of some of this data @nwarcade@OZM29C.

Based on what I've got so far I've drawn up what these difference look like in CAD.

The track sprocket image is just a simple sketch using measurements from a NOS sprocket that I have. I am assuming that all of the drive sprockets are the same in terms of the number of teeth and layout and diameter. I realize that there may be some differences in actual design due to production changes through the years, but that the functional parts of the sprockets remained the same.  

On the track sprocket sketch you can see the comparisons of the 55 and 56 grouser layouts.  The red circle is the 55 type track using the 4.613 pitch. The green circle is the 56 type track using the 4.5 pitch. The yellow circle is the actual diameter of the sprocket where the outer rubber wheels would ride. The blue lines are the length and locations of the drive sprocket teeth. As you can see, both track types will ride in the middle of the sprocket teeth.


On the track band diameter sketch you can see the comparisons of the 55 and 56 grouser layouts and the different bands when it comes to the diameter of the entire track.  The red line is the 55 type track with a 4.613" pitch and diameter of 80.75999277".  The green line is that same 55 type track and 4.613" pitch, but removing 2" from the diameter to account for the 1" thick rubber inner bands.  The blue line is for the 56 type track using 4.5" pitch and a diameter of 80.21409132".  The yellow line is the same 56 type track and 4.5" pitch but removing 1.4541" from the diameter to account for the calculated o.72705" inner track bands.  The purple line is using the same 56 type track with 4.5" pitch but removing 1.5" from the diameter instead of 1.4541", this allows for a more commercially available size of 3/4" inner track bands. The difference in the diameter is almost negligible.


  Where I think people in the past have gone wrong is rebuilding the 56 type track using the 1" inner bands. Doing this will result in a 1.715" shorter circumference from the 55 type track and will causing timing issues.  Even using the 3/4" inner bands on the 56 type track instead of the calculated 0.72705" will cause a circumference difference of 0.144203695" when compared to the factory 55 type track and 1" inner bands. 

I plan to make a test run of this and verify what I'm getting on the computer before too long.

Thank you,




Edited by 04mustang
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

A little further into this discussion, 

What I drew above is based on 1" inner bands. We have the drawings that show it is actually 15/16".  So I did another drawing to show the differences on that and a few options for using the 56 type track and 55 type track to achieve the same diameter. 

The 55 type track with a 15/16" inner band comes out to a diameter of 78.88499277". Translating this over to the 56 type track, in order to achieve the same diameter we need an inner band thickness of 0.66455" which will give us 78.88499132" diameter.  Using an actual number of 21/32" we have a diameter of 78.90159132".  

I already have conveyor belting that is 3/4" for use on the inner bands. So that calculation works out to 78.71409132" diameter. 


This comes out to the following overall distances/circumferences:

55 type track with 15/16" inner bands: 247.8245138"

55 type track with 1" inner bands: 247.4318147"

56 type track with 21/32" inner bands: 247.8766596"

56 type track with 3/4" inner bands: 247.287611"

56 type track with 1" inner bands: 245.7168147"

track band diameter 2.png

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So my head is starting to spin a little bit in looking over the plans from Studebaker and comparing 55 to 56 type track and digging through the ORD manual (thank you @Patrick Tipton for the manuals). 

Here are some comparisons that I have put together. 

  Studebaker Part No. Ordnance No. Notes
Sprocket SD-905654 C128337 Part of Drive Wheel C128336
  SD-908991   Part of Drive Wheel 7324249
Drive Wheel Assembly SD-905653 C128336 Used Through Serial No. 2101 (M29)
  SD-908167 C128459 Used Through Serial No. 2101 - 14229
  SD-908990 7324249 Used After Serial No. 14229 (Supersedes 128459)
20" Tracks SD-908172 D73029 Outer Cable Type, Used Through Serial No. 2102 - 14108 (Except 13584, 13585, 13660)
  SD-908646 7016555 Outer Cable Type, Used Through Serial No. 14108-14158 (&13584, 13545, 13660)
  SD-908657 7016556

Outer Band Type, Used After Serial No. 14159 (Supersedes D73029 & 7016555)


For your viewing pleasure I have attached the actual drawings from Studebaker.  These were prints that I purchased from the archives to compare the differences But i hope they can be useful to everyone.  I firmly believe that getting information like this out to the general public is the only way that we can save these machines for future use/learning/generations. 

One thing ill note is that The assembly drawing of the 55 type track shows an inner band thickness of 60/64 (15/16), but the band drawing shows a thickness of 0.960. 

I also now believe that the critical distance isn't the thickness of the band relative to the grouser face. I think its more so important to look at the measurement from the top of the band to where it will be bending as the track turns (i.e. the internal cable locations). 


55 Type Inner Bands.jpg

55 Type Track Assembley.jpg

55 Type Track Grouser.jpg

56 Type Grouser.jpg

56 Type Inner Bands.jpg

56 Type Track Assembley.jpg


  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

Ok so it's time for an update!

I have now rebuilt one side of my tracks!  I ended up using the conveyor belt method and now I want to share my method.  This is for the 55 grouser track on the later weasels.

I made a jig for drilling the holes in the conveyor belts using factory band drawings from studebaker. I made the jig 5' long to minimize the chance of getting the spacing off. I ended up using 7" wide belts for the base on each side of the center guide. I then used 3" wide belts towards the center of each track to mimic the original bands. For the thickness of the belts I used 13/32 for the base and top layer of the "inner bands", and used 1/8" belting between the two others on the "inner band" so that the overall thickness would be close to the original inner band thickness. 

For the hardware I chose to use 1" long 1/4" - 20 grade 8 shoulder bolts to hold the base band in place. And I used 1 1/4" long 1/4" - 20 elevator bolts on the "inner band" holes going through all three belt layers. I used lock nuts on everything. I also made small plates to cover the joints where the ends of the belts meet. And I staggered the belt joints so that each one was in a completely different part of the track so that if one failed it wouldn't make the whole thing come apart.

To drill the holes I used a flexco hole punch made for drilling holes in mining conveyor belts. I purchased several bits as I knew I would wear them rather quickly. Even with using silicone spray lube on each hole. Also make sure to make the holes in jig large enough to accommodate the flexco bit. And drill a relief hole below the belting so that you don't go through the belting and into the wood table below. Failing to do this will dull the flexco bit in a very short amount of time!

Once I get the other side built ill put them on the M29C and be able to do some testing! 








  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Those look slick!  I like the double up approach to ensure that you are close to 1" running around the drive wheels....they should run very smoothly like that.

One thing on drilling the holes - I used a punch style cutter...forget the brand but it was cheap.  It was made to be chucked up in a drill....we cut a full set of bands ...16 holes per grouser and it didn't seem to bother the cutter at all.  We used WD40 as the lubricant.

Look forward to seeing these tracks run!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...