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  1. #1
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    Snowmobiles as groomers.

    Does anyone have experience using a snowmobile to pack trails in winter? Not just riding on snowmo trails, but using one to pack groom snow covered bike trails. I'm wondering how well they work, type of snowmo used etc.
    I am not repeating myself I am not repeating myself!

  2. #2
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    this summit his happening right now. There must be a way to get the results emailed. I have been seeing a few differ types of snow groomers this year.
    Rollers and drags, pulled by snowmos and tracked atvs.
    https://www.imba.com/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=367

  3. #3
    trail rat
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    This thread has been here a few days and seems to be about this topic.
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  4. #4
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    Lets make this thread snowmobile specific.
    I am not repeating myself I am not repeating myself!

  5. #5
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    A blog on the Snow bike summit with groomer photos. I was not there.

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  6. #6
    zrm
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    Snowmobiles are used sometimes for Nordic ski grooming, They are usually specialized machines with very wide tracks with lots of low end power and geared very low to tow track setters. It takes a lot of passes to get a trail packed enough fro skiing and bikes require a more well packed trail than skis so I'd expect all things being equal (amount of snow, wind, sun, amount and type of use, frequency between storms, etc) you'd have to groom more for bikes than you would for skiing.
    I worked for a dinner sleigh ride outfit years ago at one of our Nordic centers that used spurs of the Nordic trails for the sleigh route. We used a lightweight drag pulled by a standard snomo to smooth out the sleigh and horse ruts, but relied on the Nordic goomer/cat to pack the trail after bigger storms - the snomo didn't have the power to pull the implement or weight to pack the trail enough for the sleighs.
    The other thing to consider is cost. While a snomo and some sort of implement isn't nearly as expensive as a snocat, even used ones aren't cheap to buy and the costs to run them can add up.
    Another thing t consider is width. Are you talking about running a sled on single track? snomos have a pretty tough time on narrow trails so you'd have to pick what trail you wanted to groom careful. Finally is the legality of it. You need to make sure snowmobiles are allowed on whatever you want to groom. Depending on land ownership/management most trails that are non motorized in the snow free months are non motorized in the winter too.

  7. #7
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    They use them up here in Alaska for some of the singletrack grooming in the winter. Typically drag a couple weighted car/truck tires which help to knead the snow into soft spots as needed and conform to the natural shape of the underlying trail. Any kind of drag that just leaves a totally flat surface will not be matching the ground angles very well and will often span over soft spots making it difficult to bike on until they are worked in more over time.

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  9. #9
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    This thread brings up some good points. The width issue is one of them. Modern snowmobiles are pretty wide, too wide for narrow single track, but older models, particularly those built in the 70s, tend to be narrower. They also have better floatation and less power, so you're less likely to spin the track which is something you want to avoid when packing trail for bikes. The older models might not have enough power to tow a drag, though.
    I am not repeating myself I am not repeating myself!

  10. #10
    FatBike Fiend
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    When I worked as a trail groomer, we made the switch from a snowmobile to a tracked ATV. We used a CanAm 800 cc ATV pulling a commercially-made five foot wide Yellowstone Ginzu groomer. We groomed primarily for XC skiers (skate and classic) but the trails are also open to dog walkers, fat tired bikers, and snowshoers. Walkers actually comprise the majority of the winter trail use, and that trend is growing, at least here in south central Alaska. Fat tired biking is becoming more popular, but still much less popular than walking and skiing on these trails.

    When we made the switch I was a bit skeptical, but the tracked ATV proved to be a lot more maneuverable on our twisty trail systems and climbed hills much better then our Ski Doo 800 4 stroke Super Wide Track snowmobile (which is an amazing workhorse in its own right). The tracks provide a lot of flotation and the rig did just fine in up to about a foot of new snow. Deeper than that and I had to unhook the groomer and prepack with just the ATV.

    The Ginzu came with a ski track setter that can be raised and lowered electronically. Since the trails are non-motorized multiuse, I tried to pack a singletrack-width (~12") lane on the side of the trails for bikers and walkers to encourage them not to track up the corduroy skating lanes and classic tracks. To do that, I cobbled together a roller using an ATV wheel that could be swapped with the track setter. With the motorized actuator, I could put a lot of weight on the wheel for effective packing. It worked great but the walkers couldn't seem to grasp the concept of staying on the singletrack so I gave up on the roller after a few months. The bikers seemed to like it, though, so if you get a lot of fat tired bike traffic this can be a good way to reduce user conflict between skiers and bikers and possibly help get more XC areas opened up to fat tired bikes.

    The tire I used had a pretty aggressive tread. If I did it again I would use a tire with a smoother tread to give just enough texture to give some traction without being harsh to ride. Granted, this whole setup up is not cheap but many XC ski areas already have the tracked ATV and groomer.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Snowmobiles as groomers.-canam-groomer_1.jpg  

    Snowmobiles as groomers.-groomer-wheel2_1.jpg  

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  11. #11
    zrm
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wildfire View Post
    When I worked as a trail groomer, we made the switch from a snowmobile to a tracked ATV. We used a CanAm 800 cc ATV pulling a commercially-made five foot wide Yellowstone Ginzu groomer. We groomed primarily for XC skiers (skate and classic) but the trails are also open to dog walkers, fat tired bikers, and snowshoers. Walkers actually comprise the majority of the winter trail use, and that trend is growing, at least here in south central Alaska. Fat tired biking is becoming more popular, but still much less popular than walking and skiing on these trails.

    When we made the switch I was a bit skeptical, but the tracked ATV proved to be a lot more maneuverable on our twisty trail systems and climbed hills much better then our Ski Doo 800 4 stroke Super Wide Track snowmobile (which is an amazing workhorse in its own right). The tracks provide a lot of flotation and the rig did just fine in up to about a foot of new snow. Deeper than that and I had to unhook the groomer and prepack with just the ATV.

    The Ginzu came with a ski track setter that can be raised and lowered electronically. Since the trails are non-motorized multiuse, I tried to pack a singletrack-width (~12") lane on the side of the trails for bikers and walkers to encourage them not to track up the corduroy skating lanes and classic tracks. To do that, I cobbled together a roller using an ATV wheel that could be swapped with the track setter. With the motorized actuator, I could put a lot of weight on the wheel for effective packing. It worked great but the walkers couldn't seem to grasp the concept of staying on the singletrack so I gave up on the roller after a few months. The bikers seemed to like it, though, so if you get a lot of fat tired bike traffic this can be a good way to reduce user conflict between skiers and bikers and possibly help get more XC areas opened up to fat tired bikes.

    The tire I used had a pretty aggressive tread. If I did it again I would use a tire with a smoother tread to give just enough texture to give some traction without being harsh to ride. Granted, this whole setup up is not cheap but many XC ski areas already have the tracked ATV and groomer.
    Do you have a grip on what the cost per hour for grooming using this set up is? Who pays for it? Is it a fee system or does a government agency pay for it?

  12. #12
    FatBike Fiend
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    zrm,

    This was a government agency, (county/borough) I was an employee. Funding was courtesy of the taxpayers and trailhead parking fees. The rig set up as pictured cost around $20K (ATV, track kit, and groomer) to purchase so I imagine a private contractor would have to charge around $50/hr or more plus mobilization/transport to provide these services.
    Owner, Trailwerx Trails Contracting
    Palmer, Alaska
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  13. #13
    zrm
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wildfire View Post
    zrm,

    This was a government agency, (county/borough) I was an employee. Funding was courtesy of the taxpayers and trailhead parking fees. The rig set up as pictured cost around $20K (ATV, track kit, and groomer) to purchase so I imagine a private contractor would have to charge around $50/hr or more plus mobilization/transport to provide these services.
    Did you groom on a set schedule or an "as needed" basis? What is the total Ks groomed?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by zrm View Post
    Did you groom on a set schedule or an "as needed" basis? What is the total Ks groomed?
    We had a staff of three with six different trail systems we tried to groom at least weekly. Probably 35 km in all. We also did snowplowing for about 16 trailhead parking lots spread out over a large area so it kept us jumping, especially when we got a lot of snow. Lots of driving.
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  15. #15
    Zach Attack
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    Just a quick note for people interested in Fat Bike Track making. A ROKON with low inflation works great for compacting 'single track' fat bike snow trails. A wider less round profile tire and less aggressive tread helps. Does not work in deep fresh snow well. May need to utilize a snowmobile for initial knock down and try to Rokon pack it when snow is just starting to warm up in early afternoon for maximum compaction.
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  16. #16
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    I use one of my vintage snowmobiles and a wooden pallet with an old truck bed box liner attached to the base of it. My trails don't need a lot of "grooming", just continual packing as the snow accumulates. The smaller vintage sleds work great for the tighter trails in my back yard trail system.

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  17. #17
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    Innovative and fun looking, though not currently available and probably expensive...

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    I used to build these: www.bikesonsnow.homestead.com
    I now build trails: www.sinuosity.net

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