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  1. #1
    featherweight clydesdale
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    mechanized trail machines (trail dozer)

    How small is too small in terms of horsepower and weight? The intended use is building bench trails on 15-35% slopes with mostly clay based soil and light rock.

  2. #2
    mtbr member
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    Depends on what type of machine.
    I use a 46" wide ASV RC-30 with 31 hp. and it weighs around 3000 lbs.
    This is a great trail builder but I would still like to get it a little narrower tool.
    Been wanting to try a Mini excavator in the 20 hp range. Excavators are great at building tight single track and are very maneuverable on the trail.
    But and this is something to consider how far out will this trail take you and will you be leaving the machine in the woods or bringing it home every night?
    Excavators move at a snails pace and it takes awhile longer to get used to using one.
    Be warned...... I love building trails with machines but it's easy to screw up a lot with one. Make sure you or whoever you get to operate it knows what there doing.

  3. #3
    Builder of Trails
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    trailfreak is right. The user definitely needs to know how to properly operate a trail building machine.

    The last machine built trail I designed and built was last summer...a 1.5-mile trail on up to a 45% slope. I used a Ditch Witch MX9 mini excavator. I have experiene with a Bobcat mini excavator, too, as well as a Ditch Witch SK500, a Bobcat NT50, another mini-skid steer and excavator (I can't think of the brands,) and a Pentamoter Ibex.

    If you use a mini skid steer, get one with a six-way articulating blade. You'll need it on the slope. If you can become proficient at the excavator, you can really cut a bench into a hillside quickly with one. The two problems I encountered were 1) the boom didn't extend the bucket far enough down slope to adequately broadcast the dirt, and 2) I didn't adequately cut the trees on the downslope side to better maneuver the boom.

    Good luck! Post pictures when you're done. I'll see if I can post mine up from my last job.

    Dewayne

  4. #4
    featherweight clydesdale
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    Here's some pics from the last time we had an SK 500.

    http://www.cambc.org/pictures/IMBATC...-12/index.html

    I spent a lot of time watching Rich (the operator) do his thing. I'm hoping for a private lesson as Rich is only an hour away, but even without... growing up on a farm I've spent a little time pushing sh!t around with a John Deere loader....

    With a little luck, we'll be renting for a Saturday and have hand labor available. I'm thinking the dozer is the way to go if we just need to cut a lot of bench and get out.

  5. #5
    Builder of Trails
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fattirewilly
    Here's some pics from the last time we had an SK 500.

    http://www.cambc.org/pictures/IMBATC...-12/index.html

    I spent a lot of time watching Rich (the operator) do his thing.
    Sweet pics. Rich is one skilled trail dozer operator! I got to work with him in DuPont State Forest when we had a trail guru gathering a couple of years ago. I need to call him about working with him this summer. IMBA has a lot of Trail Solutions work...so much that Joey and Rich (and even Woody and Ed) might not be able to keep up with it.

    I see you had Chris and Jill out from IMBA. They're great to work with, too.

    I started my own trail building company called Talon Trail Systems here in Austin in 09/2004. So far, I've put in about equal hours working by hand and machine. If I work anywhere west of I-35 in Austin, I can't use a machine b/c there's way too much imbedded limestone to be effective. Fortunately, the rock does make it easy to scrape and go in many places. I wonder if a SWECO would be effective, though the size of that machine concerns me.

    Dewayne

  6. #6
    featherweight clydesdale
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    check your email

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by dburatti
    Sweet pics. Rich is one skilled trail dozer operator! I got to work with him in DuPont State Forest when we had a trail guru gathering a couple of years ago. I need to call him about working with him this summer. IMBA has a lot of Trail Solutions work...so much that Joey and Rich (and even Woody and Ed) might not be able to keep up with it.

    I see you had Chris and Jill out from IMBA. They're great to work with, too.

    I started my own trail building company called Talon Trail Systems here in Austin in 09/2004. So far, I've put in about equal hours working by hand and machine. If I work anywhere west of I-35 in Austin, I can't use a machine b/c there's way too much imbedded limestone to be effective. Fortunately, the rock does make it easy to scrape and go in many places. I wonder if a SWECO would be effective, though the size of that machine concerns me.

    Dewayne

    Dewayne, I'd love to check out some of your work. I'll be in austin for an entire week during SxSW. I was hoping to ride in the mornings and spend the afternoons and evenings seeing bands. Here in Flagstaff we have used the SWECO 450 very successfully. People will see a 54 inch blade and think it's too wide but once it makes a pass the hand crews can modify the tread to make it more narrow. Plus each passing year causes enough trail creep to make the trail that much more to a bikers liking. We've also used a sheeps foot to obliterate social trails and close off other areas from ATV's who poach the non-motorized trails. The local FS is talking about no longer funding a trail crew and outsourcing the work to more motivated conservation crews. They will continue to run the SWECO as it requires qualified operators. I must admit that out volunteer trail crews and contract crews are getting so good at construction and maintenance, that the SWECO may end up being used only for new motorized trails. That way we can focus on really twisty and narrow new trail construction and not have to clear so many trees.

    If you have any trail riding suggestions near Austin, I'm all ears.

    TGK

  8. #8
    Builder of Trails
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    Quote Originally Posted by Titan Go King
    Dewayne, I'd love to check out some of your work. I'll be in austin for an entire week during SxSW. I was hoping to ride in the mornings and spend the afternoons and evenings seeing bands. Here in Flagstaff we have used the SWECO 450 very successfully. People will see a 54 inch blade and think it's too wide
    If you have any trail riding suggestions near Austin, I'm all ears.

    TGK
    Oh, yeah, I'm aware of tread creep and hand finishing; I rely on them when I'm building a trail using mechanized tools. My concern with the SWECO in central Texas has to do with the clumps of scrubby juniper trees. I have no experience running a SWECO so don't know if it has the power to take these trees out. I know it's probably the most powerful trail dozer out there; I just have no experience on it.

    As far as riding in Austin, try to hook up with a group ride at the Greenbelt. City Park is good to hit once to say you've done it. Oh, expect a LOT of rock around here. If you want a maze of trails with hard packed dirt and minimal rocky technical challenge, go to Walnut Creek.

    One hour drives to the Goodwater Trail at Lake G-town north of Austin and Reimer's Ranch SW of Austin are worth it.

    Dewayne

  9. #9
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    I to would like to try a sweco in a real world environment.
    I had a chance to play with one at the 2000 IMBA summit and I liked it.
    I do believe it would be to large to build the kind of trails I like to build, But I love the fact it has a heavy duty 6 way blade. The RC-30 I use is sometimes too tight, but able to keep things tight.

  10. #10
    Cleavage Of The Tetons
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    MMm Baybe Baybe....we *might* get to use one of these puppies soon...drool...
    "We LOVE cows! They make trails for us.....

    And then we eat them."

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