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  1. #1
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    Mini-ex: Digging with tracks retracted?

    I work for a trail association that's considering purchase of a mini-ex in the somewhat distant future. I've got about 200 hours machine time building trail on steep side slopes, split between zero-turn and conventional tail-swing excavators, both 1.7 ton size. In the long run the majority of our building would be pure singletrack- not much in the bike park realm. I'm split between looking for a 1 ton machine like a Bobcat 418 which would be better for most of our use but may lack power and versatility, and a 1.7 ton machine with a wider-than desired footprint. Obviously there's lots of ways to keep a tread narrower than the track width, but because we build on steep side slopes and have weed problems on disturbed soil, there's a limit to those techniques here.

    My main question is: Are people out there building all day with the tracks in the narrow position on a 1.7 ton machine? Zero-turn radius? I know what the factory answer is, i'm not an idiot and understand how to use the boom in complex situations. I've done a few hundred yards with the tracks narrowed over some roots and steep rolls, and it's definitely possible, although I don't particularly like it, especially on the zero-turn machine. But is it practical or efficient enough for day in, day out digging?

    If this falls in the trade-secret realm, or in the "if you have to ask" realm, fair enough

  2. #2
    beer thief
    Reputation: radair's Avatar
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    I am an amateur trail builder with a U-17 and yes, use it in the narrow track setting when building singletrack. It is less stable of course but if you adjust your technique it seems to work fine. My machine was operated all last summer by two of us in the narrow mode and I didn't push them back out until loading it out. U-17 is a zero turn machine.

  3. #3
    WillWorkForTrail
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    Yes. U-17 (zero tail swing) I've built miles of single track with the tracks pulled in and on steep terrain. At those widths, if you do everything right, your trail will narrow down on it's own to the width it's ridden at. Like you mentioned you have to be a little more careful with it set that way, but if you have a good feel for how the equipment is reacting - I'm referring to the seat of your pants - you can run all day every day like this and never have a problem.

  4. #4
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    I hope you're not planning on using this digger thing on a non-motorised trail? Although I assume that as well as levers it has pedals, so technically it is not motorised? It's all very confusing.

  5. #5
    WillWorkForTrail
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    I hope you're not planning on using this digger thing on a non-motorised trail? Although I assume that as well as levers it has pedals, so technically it is not motorised? It's all very confusing.
    Technically, until the excavator has been used, there is no trail of any sort. It's fair to mention the land it was being used on several times in my case prohibited the use of motorized vehicles, however I had special dispensation from the land manager to operate there. Fair play though....

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cotharyus View Post
    Technically, until the excavator has been used, there is no trail of any sort. It's fair to mention the land it was being used on several times in my case prohibited the use of motorized vehicles, however I had special dispensation from the land manager to operate there. Fair play though....
    It was a joke. I wasn't being serious. That's what a joke is.

  7. #7
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    Thanks guys, i guess it's just getting used to it and being careful

  8. #8
    WillWorkForTrail
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    It was a joke. I wasn't being serious. That's what a joke is.
    I figured you of all people would catch the tongue in cheek nature of my response - specifically having left open the opportunity for you to point out that since typically the digger arm is run in front of the tracks, there *IS* in fact the start of trail there by the time the tracks get there. But alas, you've failed me. Seems my last holdout for a good laugh now is Steelcalf's blunt edged sarcasm.

  9. #9
    WillWorkForTrail
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    Quote Originally Posted by briwear View Post
    Thanks guys, i guess it's just getting used to it and being careful
    That's the whole story.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cotharyus View Post
    I figured you of all people would catch the tongue in cheek nature of my response..
    Sadly, not enough clues ;0)

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    I hope you're not planning on using this digger thing on a non-motorised trail? Although I assume that as well as levers it has pedals, so technically it is not motorised? It's all very confusing.
    Please post this crap in the "e-digger" forum.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by twd953 View Post
    Please post this crap in the "e-digger" forum.
    No way! That place is full of idiots who think their e-diggers shouldn't be classed as diggers because they only dig at three-times the speed of an Irishman.

  13. #13
    bigger than you.
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    I've been building trail with an SK500 and SK750; the advantage with the SK's is that there is less likelihood of rollovers, and if they do occur, less likelihood of injury, since the operator is not on top of the machine, but either walking behind, as on the SK500, or on a rear platform, in the SK750. While there are some advantages with the bucket excavators, the SK's will perform many of the same tasks; we recently built a bench-cut trail on a 25-35º sideslope with an SK750 and a Diamond 7 blade, for instance. The SK's are also slightly more versatile and are often cheaper on the used market, too.

  14. #14
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    Yep tracks in, always being careful. I usually only put the tracks out for getting around steep switchbacks etc or other times I'm doing hard digging over the side. You can end up with a quite a narrow trail with minimal handwork, even on steeper sideslopes if you learn how to minimize your cut and keep your fill stable. Conventional tail swing on real steep slopes can be annoying if you are used to turning around and finishing trail behind you.

    Mini-ex: Digging with tracks retracted?-img_3081.jpgMini-ex: Digging with tracks retracted?-img_3082.jpg

    These were cut with a 1m (40") machine and narrowed down by hand crew following the machines (pictures are from the day the trail was cut).
    Last edited by drew p; 1 Day Ago at 11:37 PM.

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