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  1. #1
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    Any bench cut 2 ft. treadway trails built by a SWECO out there?

    Howdy! I'm wondering if anyone knows of intermediate or advanced singletrack that is bench cut into cross slopes (25 to 50%) and was built primarily with a SWECO traildozer, or a mini-excavator. Am not aiming for a half bench though, so all the spoils are going to be sidecast or reused in other locations. I'm asking coz most I've seen are built at a 4 foot treadway width, but I'm looking for something that is narrower (the width of just half the blade for the bench cut and treadway). ...Extra points if it's in a forested, post-glaciated, deciduous northwoods type setting with a foot thick root mat (Pac NW rainforest doesn't qualify).

    And, if you've had experience why this approach may not have worked, pass it on!

    Mucho gracias!!

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by singletrack99501
    Howdy! I'm wondering if anyone knows of intermediate or advanced singletrack that is bench cut into cross slopes (25 to 50%) and was built primarily with a SWECO traildozer, or a mini-excavator. Am not aiming for a half bench though, so all the spoils are going to be sidecast or reused in other locations. I'm asking coz most I've seen are built at a 4 foot treadway width, but I'm looking for something that is narrower (the width of just half the blade for the bench cut and treadway). ...Extra points if it's in a forested, post-glaciated, deciduous northwoods type setting with a foot thick root mat (Pac NW rainforest doesn't qualify).

    And, if you've had experience why this approach may not have worked, pass it on!

    Mucho gracias!!
    I haven't worked with a SWECO, but have worked with a SK500 and full-sized Caterpillars. I think the SWECO is 48 inches wide, so you're going to be making a cut about that wide no matter what. The actual trail tread will be smaller and that corridor won't look as wide in time.

    Put another way: You're not going to have much luck getting 48 inches through a 24 inch hole and you're going to roll your machine if both tracks are on something firm.

    I rode trail today I cut with the 36 inch wide SK500 after two winters have passed and the results do not look as wide as when it was first done. You have to have a fair sized path if you're not going to flip your rig. I would not want to flip the SK500 let alone the SWECO.

    Good luck.

  3. #3
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    I'm not as familiar with the SWECO, but I too have been running an SK500 to help build our dirtjump park. If they are at all similar, your not gonna be able to cut any narrower than the blade is. Right now, I'm runnng it with a 4 way bucket on it, but when we use it to cut trail it has a 6 way blade on it, so that means it can tilt left or right. This might be advantageous, I just don't think its really gonna happen at all. If your SWECO is 48 inches wide, you're probably gonna cut a trail at least 54 inches wide.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by singletrack99501
    Howdy! I'm wondering if anyone knows of intermediate or advanced singletrack that is bench cut into cross slopes (25 to 50%) and was built primarily with a SWECO traildozer, or a mini-excavator. Am not aiming for a half bench though, so all the spoils are going to be sidecast or reused in other locations. I'm asking coz most I've seen are built at a 4 foot treadway width, but I'm looking for something that is narrower (the width of just half the blade for the bench cut and treadway). ...Extra points if it's in a forested, post-glaciated, deciduous northwoods type setting with a foot thick root mat (Pac NW rainforest doesn't qualify).

    And, if you've had experience why this approach may not have worked, pass it on!

    Mucho gracias!!
    First read the second post here for how to do it with a mini-x. Probably you best bet if volunteers are scarce.

    Trail building project using excavator

    It is possible to it with SK500 or SK650. I've built on some 50% to 100% slopes with these, but they were relatively rock free, but roots were very common (central Virginia). In steeper areas where flipping the machine was possible, I was able to build up a half bench out in front for the outside tread to run on and later raked down about a foot of it.

    The SWECO is a much heavier machine. I'm not sure how that would work riding on a non compacted half bench.

  5. #5
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    Look at this article: http://www.imba.com/resources/trail_...g/contour.html When you rake the backslope, it can reduce the width of your tread. I'm not experienced enough to say how much but someone else likely can.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fattirewilly
    First read the second post here for how to do it with a mini-x. Probably you best bet if volunteers are scarce.

    Trail building project using excavator

    It is possible to it with SK500 or SK650. I've built on some 50% to 100% slopes with these, but they were relatively rock free, but roots were very common (central Virginia). In steeper areas where flipping the machine was possible, I was able to build up a half bench out in front for the outside tread to run on and later raked down about a foot of it.

    The SWECO is a much heavier machine. I'm not sure how that would work riding on a non compacted half bench.
    Yup, I wondered about the weight because the SK was very friendly as far as not sinking compared to steel tracked Caterpillar I cut my teeth on.

    With the SK500 we often had to have a person cutting roots ahead, and one has to be careful that hitting a root doesn't flip your rig if you have the outside track on loose footing.

  7. #7
    Builder of Trails
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    I believe that Rancho San Rafael in Reno was cut with a SWECO and finished with a mini ex.

    The trail is on the left slope.


    D

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the feedback everyone!

    The rollover factor had occured to me; the SWECO does have a 48 inch blade, and I'd been thinking/hoping that maybe we could nick the 24" out rather than having to go for the whole 48", as Bitflogger mentioned.

    I'm in a bit of a, shall we say, disagreement with some project proponents who are trying to push the use of a SWECO for native packed soil "singletrack" with a 48" benchcut. In our situation I think it will blow a big hole in the forest more like a road cut than (site is Alaska glacial till "soil" with lots of silt/clay on a 1/2 foot to a 1 foot root/organics mat, with the main big trees being birch and white spruce forest--slick root riding at it's best). I also expect the backslope could be pulled down to make it narrower, but there's bigger issues at stake.

    No one has perfected machine built singletrack up here yet, especially using just native soil. And the project sponsors don't seem to have enough experience on the ground to know how to get what they want (partly because there isn't a consensus as to what is wanted) or how to get it. Intermediate to advanced singletrack takes a lot of finish work to bring the challenge back in that's been removed with a SWECO cutting a 48"+ bench, in my opinion!

    If we were throwing in some rock into the subbase like Dafydd Davis does in Wales, that would be different, but just using native silt/clay ultimately packs into a rut, with the remaining uncut root mat walls creating an even deeper rut (unless you really clear a wide corridor), be it on cross slope or flat terrain. (BTW, our reveg rate up here is extremely slow---that 6" organics that is growable took since the last Ice Age 8,000 years ago to build up, and if you backscatter it, you got nothing for seed throw to grow on).

    Anyway, I think it's better to try to preserve the native roots as much as possible, protecting/armoring the roots ala rock pitching, etc. but I don't think the SWECO with steel growsers, is the way to go...unfortunately an unknowing Park and Rec Commission has OKed it so I'm trying to get as much detail on the construction specs worked out in advance so the project doesn't go way overbudget, creates a huge mess, and isn't completed, leaving a bad taste in everyone's mouth.

    So I'm hearing that the benchcut will have to be 48" or more with a SWECO...how about using mini-ex's with rubber growsers instead?

    (Hey, that Rancho Seco pix looks like it's in the same country that IMBA and Reno folks have had a couple of trail building sessions after the Western Trail Builders Conference!)

    Thanks for your wisdom!

  9. #9
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    48" mini excavator just did 3 mile bench

    We just finished 3 miles of new bench with a 48" wide mini excavator and we were so pleased with the results we bought a mini to build more. The tread is riding in as 12-18". The operator had 40 years experience and basically built a 24" bench and dumped the material on the downslope, He drove his outside track on the loose material and would brush off the tread with the backside of his bucket to get the 5% outslope to shed water. We went back through with rakes and loppers and dealt with roots and making sure the outslope was OK. One section was on 40% grade and has 18 banked switchbacks. The excavator is slower than the dozer but is much more versatile and better for building bench on steep side slopes. The key is a good operator and a well thought out and flagged trail. We built the above in two weeks!

  10. #10
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    PHOTOS NOW!!!!

    Where is this project?
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by freezeus
    We just finished 3 miles of new bench with a 48" wide mini excavator and we were so pleased with the results we bought a mini to build more. ... The key is a good operator and a well thought out and flagged trail. We built the above in two weeks!
    Would love to see pics and a bit more detail on this.... we have a 1600m project I would love to do like that

  12. #12
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    Pictures on the regional forum

    There are a few pictures on the Vermont regional forum under Pittsfield trail work post. I can put more up if you like

  13. #13
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    Some picks of excavator building bench

    The banked corners are obviously over 24" wide. These pictures were taken before we lopped roots and raked.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  14. #14
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    Thanks for the pics and sorry to the OP for threadjacking .

    The biggest problem we have is the rocky terrain, from the size of soccer balls to the size of filing cabinets, this really slows the building down as the excavator operator has to either remove the rock, (and having one every two feet, makes it an issue) or maneuver the excavator around it and hopefully he doesn't roll over (as happened once !)

  15. #15
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    Rocks and ledge

    We don't have a ton of rock. Our operator was able to move rock if necessary up to 500-600 pounds or in really rocky sections he brought material from an area where he had plenty and built bench over the rocks. These where both intermediate trails so we did not leave them very technical. We did have some huge ledge outcroppings and he just built bench on top of the ledge.

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