Single Track 240 trail building machine- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1

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    Single Track 240 trail building machine

    Has anyone heard about or used the Single Track 240 trail building machine. It looks to have good promise. Any opinions?

    http://singletracktools.com/

  2. #2
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    I saw one of them demonstrated at the PTBA conference a couple of years ago. Some of the issues discussed might have been addressed since then. I did not get a chance to try it in Asheville this year if it was there.

    Plus:

    Has potential to be an all-in-one bench cutting tool.

    Minus:

    Under powered. Needs a diesel engine. Kept bogging down & stalling pushing even small amounts of dirt.

    The machine seemed more top heavy than a skid steer but maybe with a lower center of gravity than an excavator.

    The remote control panel is HEAVY! I would worry about falling over with that strapped to my shoulders, particularly if I was on uneven ground and/or a slope, which is usually where one builds trail.

    Excavator boom creates a blind spot when using the blade.

    Length makes it difficult to maneuver close to trees.

    For the money, I'd find a used Sweco 480 for bench cutting and a mini skid steer for finish work.

    D

  3. #3
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    Hey D, I remember meeting you at the 08 PTBA conference. I’m sure you remember that the prototype you saw was about two weeks out of the shop when you saw it. You’re right that some of the things you mention have been addressed.

    Quote Originally Posted by dburatti
    I saw one of them demonstrated at the PTBA conference a couple of years ago. Some of the issues discussed might have been addressed since then. I did not get a chance to try it in Asheville this year if it was there.

    Plus:

    Has potential to be an all-in-one bench cutting tool.
    Why yes it is, thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by dburatti
    Minus:

    Under powered. Needs a diesel engine. Kept bogging down & stalling pushing even small amounts of dirt.
    Can you say turbo diesel? The production machines have a 34 HP Kubota turbo. (Though I should say that the gas engine prototype you saw had throttle actuator issues that day, among other prototype snags. It really runs pretty good on the little 25 HP gas motor you see on our videos, but it’s no comparison to the current engine.) [QUOTE=dburatti]


    Quote Originally Posted by dburatti
    The machine seemed more top heavy than a skid steer but maybe with a lower center of gravity than an excavator.
    The machine you saw falls over at about 90%, or 42 degrees – with the undercarriage extended to the max 36”. (24” minimum)


    Quote Originally Posted by dburatti
    The remote control panel is HEAVY! I would worry about falling over with that strapped to my shoulders, particularly if I was on uneven ground and/or a slope, which is usually where one builds trail.
    The prototype pack was very prototype. The production pack is about one third the weight. It’s larger than some people expect, but the full sized sticks are what make all the difference and even the prototype pack is really pretty comfortable all day.

    Quote Originally Posted by dburatti
    Excavator boom creates a blind spot when using the blade.
    Hate to just say: “Not really”. That’d be cheesy and juvenile, but not really. You’re about as visually close to the dozing action as you are in a mini-ex. Also, when your working off the machine, one of the cool benefits of the remote is that you can really see so much more of what your doing with the blade than other machines. (And the sticks aren’t bouncing around while you work.)

    Quote Originally Posted by dburatti
    Length makes it difficult to maneuver close to trees.
    ?..
    When it comes to trees and tree weaving, boulders and TTF, I’m happy to hear riders say: “There’s no way a machine built that trail. I could barely get my bike through there.” after they ride trails we build with the ST240.

    Quote Originally Posted by dburatti
    For the money, I'd find a used Sweco 480 for bench cutting and a mini skid steer for finish work.
    Well that’s our burden, for sure. Convincing the community of how much cheaper and faster it is to build real single track, that riders like me love the most, where you don’t have to cut 100 trees per mile and move 100 yards of dirt every 100 yards of trail is our job. The Sweco is the reason I started this project five years ago after a lifetime as a trail advocate and volunteer hand builder…I better leave it at that.

    With this machine your layout becomes way more fun, your tree gaps, rock outcroppings and control points get cooler, and your repair jobs don’t have to blow up the trail features on the way in.

    Finally, true, it isn’t cheap to build a purpose built single track machine out of the best components the world has to offer, and build it here, in America. We’re going for it anyway.

    Check out the Westside Trail Federation blog run by local trail hero Joe Rykowski. They did a nice post on the machine, with video.http://westsidetrailfederation.org/i...p?limitstart=3

    More video on our site. www.SingleTrackTools.com

    Finally, I hate it when people use enthusiast forums to sell their stuff, but here I am, caving in, thinking/hoping this was a decent invitation to talk about our project. Since I’m now on the dark side and not on the volunteer side, you should read my comments with the full knowledge that I’m the manufacturer, a shameless huckster, not a dispassionate commentator and therefore not to be trusted.

  4. #4
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    I want one.

    That machine looks amazing. I really hope it becomes a success.
    Charlie

  5. #5
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    I really like the fact that all the cable routing is internal so less prone to break because you've hit a tree or something like that.

    What's the price point of such machine? Will it be available in Canada?

    What's the break-out force of the bucket? In the video, you seem to work hard on pretty small roots.

    In the video, you claim 50 yards in 1hr. I know we average 20m (about 60ft) per hour with our Bobcat 425 mini-x (average 200m/day). I can't see how you can be nearly 3 times faster with the ST240.

    One last point. Since you run a radio-controled machine, I assume you have multiple channels in case where you might see another ST240 (or any other situation like that). Right?

    Thanks for your answer
    I build trails for moose & beaver
    PTBA member

  6. #6
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    million dollar question

    Looks like a sweet rig. How much?

    John
    Midcoast Maine chapter
    New England Mountain Bike Association (McNEMBA)

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  7. #7
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    Single Track 240 price info seems hard to get

    The price question posted on this forum seems to be taking a very long time to get a response. The initial manufacturer response took less than 12 hours. The price is also not listed anywhere on the Single Track 240 website.

    The manufacturer says the Single Track 240 is made out of the "best components the world has to offer, and build it here, in America." I'd guess the built in American part adds about a 30% premium and the best components in the world adds another 30%. If we add another 10% premium because of the difficulty in obtaining the actual price, I will estimate the Single Track 240 costs about 170% of the price of a comparable mini-excavator.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by HypNoTic

    What's the price point of such machine? Will it be available in Canada?
    The machines are built to order, direct from Single Track – even for Canadians - and as for price, there is variation depending on delivery schedule, grant program participation and the way the order is structured. A new order today, for example, would line up for delivery about 12 months from now. The most recent machine was purchased for about 78k. Email us at [email protected] if you want to talk in more detail about how Single Track might be able to help you on the ground.

    Quote Originally Posted by HypNoTic

    What's the break-out force of the bucket? In the video, you seem to work hard on pretty small roots.
    4000lb max. break-out force at the bucket. (The prototype in the video is delivering closer to 3000.) Unlike an excavator, you can actually apply that much force to the work at hand because of the machines weight and low center of gravity.
    Quote Originally Posted by HypNoTic
    In the video, you claim 50 yards in 1hr. I know we average 20m (about 60ft) per hour with our Bobcat 425 mini-x (average 200m/day). I can't see how you can be nearly 3 times faster with the ST240.
    Boy that’s a big question, so I’m sorry in advance for the long reply. First, as a rule, I don’t generally like to “claim” production in feet per hour or feet per dollar. That type of conversation works for laying sod, or painting road striping, but trailbuilding is so variable that it’s not always informative. Which element of what kind of trail plan are you working on? What’s the target difficulty rating, the width, the proximity to the trailhead and level of use? How about finish detail, slope conditions, soil make-up and water management dictated by the local climate.

    Second, we’re not doing the same work. The purpose of the ST 240 is to be able to layout and build single track; and trail that is as close to hand-built, in character, as possible, at that. If we’re both working an identical 75% side hill, in a straight line, under a 18 to 27” width specification and no trees or obstacles to worry about, I’d actually be, at the least, three times faster than a 50”, wide 425 excavator. I’m moving about 22 yds of dirt per 100 foot of trail. You’re moving about 110 yards in 100 feet. Your pull down/side cast management is going to chew up time and your back slope is going to be way more time consuming. Then you’re going to have to go back and rehab your road grade into something that pretends to be single track before you leave. Also, all that transplanting and debris placement to make it look like single track is now in your way if you ever want to revisit that trail for maintenance or extension. And that’s the best case scenario for the kind of large equipment that builders, managers and trail advocates have been forced to accept all these years. The best case trailbuilding scenario for the ST 240? The reason we designed the machine in the first place? Layout, trail location, and control points that are just impossible with a 50” wide machine. A safe, mechanized way to build single track and do it under hand-built objectives and constraints. For example we would have had to cut 25 trees and destroy an epic 100 yard section of tree weaving just to get a mini into the site we worked on in the Westside Trail Federation video post. Then again, once there, the trail location would have been impossible anyway.
    Quote Originally Posted by HypNoTic
    One last point. Since you run a radio-controled machine, I assume you have multiple channels in case where you might see another ST240 (or any other situation like that). Right?
    Frequency hopping spread spectrum radios with two-way communication keep the ST 240's system safe and reliabile. Our transmitters are uniquely paired to one address - or machine - to eliminate control problems via interference.

    Barrett Brown
    Single Track

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by bweide
    The price question posted on this forum seems to be taking a very long time to get a response.
    You got me there.

    Quote Originally Posted by bweide
    The manufacturer says the Single Track 240 is made out of the "best components the world has to offer, and build it here, in America." I'd guess the built in American part adds about a 30% premium.......
    30%??
    Interesting numbers. We deserve it for leaving you hanging

    Quote Originally Posted by bweide
    I will estimate the Single Track 240 costs about 170% of the price of a comparable mini-excavator.
    "Comparable mini-excavator"? There isn't one, not even close, but maybe you meant conventional mini-ex. We're not in the conventional mini-ex business because that's not what the single track community needs. Maybe the ATV community, but not the single track community.

  10. #10
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    So your saying that it's about $78,000.00? (US)

    That seems kind of high for such a small machine.
    Michael Vitti
    CLIMB President
    www.CLIMBonline.org
    www.IMBA.com
    NY State Trails Council Member

  11. #11
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    I just paid quite a bit for a Blackberry, even though I could have bought a much bigger cell phone for half the price.

    We totally understand that talking about this machine is a struggle about context. A context built around the adaptation of the mass produced machinery that was available in the past. The context of Walmart pricing for Asian-built utility construction excavators that don't do the job in a cost effective way. Machines we've been trained to accept as our only options. We should just continue to accept that single track recreation doesn't deserve it's own class of high-productivity tools? Why? I didn't spend decades investing 30-40 weekends a year volunteering to install septic tanks, load dirt into dump trucks or install sprinkler systems, I'm a trail nut. At Single Track that's where we came from and that's all we care about. It's our job to show single track trail users, advocates and planners that they no longer have to accept the considerable momentum behind the status quo. That's a big job and we know it. (And reading a manufacturer's statements on a message board wouldn't be enough for me, either.)

    Barrett

  12. #12
    Singletrack Addict!!!
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    I must say I'm impressed, very impressed. Promising machine. I want one for Christmas 2011...

  13. #13

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    It's understandable why it costs so much. It's just unfortunate that the price make such a tool inaccessible to many. It seems like the idea of the ST 240 is based around many similar ones in the Morrison Trailblazer, it's taking all thats was good and improving on it. I have heard of so many people that loved their Morrison when it was running, and sold them when they broke. Now the local park districts build trails to 6' wide with their Sweco's.

  14. #14
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    Maybe folks can start regional trail co-ops that would purchase major tools like this and share them. Wouldn't want to own something mechanical that would sit idle for 6 months of a year.
    Michael Vitti
    CLIMB President
    www.CLIMBonline.org
    www.IMBA.com
    NY State Trails Council Member

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    Cost and performance

    To everyone questioning the 240, I saw one demos and had a chance to "play" around with it during a workshop at the PTBA conference this past spring. Fit and finish quality is fantastic, controls are easy to use, and the cost. Has anyone checked pricing on a Sweco? For what the machine is and its versatility, I think the cost is in lie for what you are getting. Actually think it is a bargin.

    Comparing apples to oranges, I think the cost for a mini-ex with a decent motor in it is around $50 to $60K right.

    Mike the co-op idea is a great one. Maybe it is something that can be looked at in the future. I would think between the LI, lower NY, and NJ we could keep it busy. The questions is how do we structure the grant for a co-op situation.

    Bob W.
    "The rides to short to not kick against the pricks" M.F.

  16. #16
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    This is a remote controlled version of the Morrison Trail builder? I have spent some time on the Morrison machine and I can say that it definitely has its place in trail building, especially when the terrain gets really steep. I have also spent countless hours fixing the damn thing so I am familiar with its weaknesses. Your machine looks sharp. I like the fact that it has a usable thumb and a 6- way blade. It seems as if you have found a way to make the original Morrison more reliable, more power to you and good luck in your business. Not sure how I feel about the remote control... I kind of rely on that seat of the pants feeling you get when on a machine, but hey if it works, I can definitely see some advantages. I am new to this site and from the looks of things I am a little late to the party.... hello to all.
    Last edited by Fletcher-Love; 11-17-2009 at 08:43 PM.

  17. #17
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    Did any of you had the chance to work with the Ditch Witch XT850 (or the newer 855)? How do you think it would compare to the ST240?
    I build trails for moose & beaver
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by HypNoTic
    Did any of you had the chance to work with the Ditch Witch XT850 (or the newer 855)? How do you think it would compare to the ST240?
    Looking over the specs, the 850 is a wider machine. 50" wide. It has 10" on an SK 650 and I think it's 2" wider than a Sweco.

  19. #19
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    Have worked with 850

    Didn't like it. Seating above tracks made it very unstable. The machine must be turned around for good use of both implaments. However, the blade also had terrible visibility. It is a trenching tool by design, I did not like it. Same ease of control and good fluidity on the controls though like you would expect of a DW. May be funn for building a skills area in nice woods, might need to demo one again if I find a project that seems right for it.

    Ben

  20. #20
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    Thanks Ben
    I build trails for moose & beaver
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  21. #21
    Justin Vander Pol
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    Interesting machine, for sure, I'd love to get some time on one. Narrow machine built trails are sorely needed. Mini-excavators (and even worse, dozers/swecos) just don't do narrow trail.

    It's way out of reach for most nonprofits like ours, but it would be really great if a rental shops had one available (I know, not gunna happen). Would you guys ever consider renting to nonprofits? We're building a lot of mountain bike trail up here in Seattle, but only need machines on an intermittent basis.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by juice
    Narrow machine built trails are sorely needed. Mini-excavators (and even worse, dozers/swecos) just don't do narrow trail.
    Mini exes and dozers can and do build narrow trails; it's the land manager/owner &/or machine operator who chooses to have them built wider. Also, it might be the crew hired to do the finish work that is not making the effort to create a more narrow tread.

    D

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by dburatti
    Mini exes and dozers can and do build narrow trails; it's the land manager/owner &/or machine operator who chooses to have them built wider. Also, it might be the crew hired to do the finish work that is not making the effort to create a more narrow tread.

    D
    Agreed. Our experience with mini-excavators this past summer was that building narrow trail can be done with machines. When we get some regrowth of native vegetation next spring, the tread will go from 2.5' to around 12" on the straights and a little wider in the corners. The trail width is anywhere from 3'-6', governed largely by the spacing of the trees.

  24. #24
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    I will be the third person to agree with this....Its all up to how good the machine operator is. No matter what its always safest and easiest to build a machine width trail bench. This does not mean the trail will stay this width. Over time and without annual brushing a machine built trail is always returned to whatever the width is that its primary users require. As an example, we have built trail in tropical climates that return to tight single track in just a couple months because people were only hiking and biking in the middle of the trail. If the customer or land manager requests narrower tread width and tighter and twistier lines from the get go, mini ex's can and do a great job of this. If your a good mini ex operator you eliminate having to employ a large hand crew to clean up after the machine....or waste a bunch of volunteer hours that could be spent doing something else. A skilled operator (and again I stress the word "skilled") can just turn around and deconstruct while re-vegging the trail corridor to whatever a land manager or customer desires. This simply cannot be done by a dozer however.

  25. #25
    Justin Vander Pol
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    I did overstate the point a wee bit. I see what you're saying, and do agree, for the most part. But there are circumstances when the average mini-ex builds trail that is wider, or less technical, than what is desired by the users. Maybe you guys would have done better. I'm curious as to the doors that a narrow machine could open for the world of trail building. Maybe its insignificant, but I'm curious.

  26. #26
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    Even an extremely narrow machine needs to create a solid bench to drive on. This would eliminate the "technical" trail I think you may be referring to. The natural "technical" trail....with lots of exposed roots and rock, is better left for hand work. I have had to "walk" mini ex's through rough terrain before and wondered if I could have possible created rough technical trail worth riding, but I would never endorse that kind of "cowboy" operating behavior on an open forum. You need a "machine width" bench to be able to operate the machine safely to its full capacity. Personally I would rather ride down a machine built trail. With the right operator a machine trail is naturally flowy and fast plus berms can be built out of dirt without wood backing and any pumps or jumps are short work compared to moving the equivalent material by hand.... obviously I'm biased....

  27. #27
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    Northwest Trail Alliance applied for a 2010 Recreation Trail Program grant thru the State of Oregon and has been recommended for funding.

    Our project? Purchase of ST240 machine, enclosed trailer, and operator training.

    This is the month when we find out officially we've been awarded (but all indications verbally is that we'll be awarded funding!)

    We are hosting a shuttle day fundraiser on July 24th/25th at Black Rock Mountain Biking Area (Falls City, Oregon) to help raise the required matching funds towards the grant. Check it! http://nw-trail.org/2010shuttleday

    Spring 2011 we should be operating one of these in the Portland area! *cross fingers*

  28. #28
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    edited.....

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    The summer camp I work for was fortunate enough to have a demonstration of the first production machine this past Thursday on it's way to being delivered to the Forest Service in South Dakota. I must stay, there where many concerns on what the production model would yield. But Singletrack Tools really came through. They used their prototype as a testing lab to figure out every detail that needed to be addressed before the product made it to the consumer.

    The new 32hp turbo diesel engine is perfect for the machine. It had ample power for dozing and never showed signs of bogging down. The machine has many parts that are the same as the prototype but there where also several areas where it was evident parts where reengineered from the ground up.

    This ST240 does have a very low center of gravity. Other then the engine the rest of the weight is no hire then maybe 16" from the ground. The companies website doesn't do the machine justice. It makes this thing look like a tinker toy. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw it in person.

    If you want to see some pictures of the demonstration hear is a link.
    http://www.sfbac-history.org/page166.html

    I will hopefully post some video a little later.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fletcher-Love
    Even an extremely narrow machine needs to create a solid bench to drive on. <snip> You need a "machine width" bench to be able to operate the machine safely to its full capacity.
    Actually, narrow trail can be built by four foot machines. You simply build a partial bench for one track to ride on and use the spoils to build a false bench. Then turn around and knock the false bench away, broadcasting it down slope or bringing the material back onto the bench for rollers and other features. It's a very common practice.

    Dewayne
    Last edited by dburatti; 12-12-2010 at 02:36 PM.

  31. #31
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    I would love to see pictures of a machine working on a 130% slope on a partial bench cut. The professional machine trail builders I know who use mini excavators have said that they can't use such a technique on anything steeper then 60%. The other question is what do you do when you encounter narrow tree sections?

    From the research I have done, it seems that this machine has it's place in the trail building world.
    Last edited by BikeWente; 12-11-2010 at 10:00 PM.

  32. #32
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    Hear is a short video from the demo

    Hear is what the site was like to dig in by hand

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by BikeWente
    I would love to see pictures of a machine working on a 130% slope on a partial bench cut. The professional machine trail builders I know who use mini excavators have said that they can't use such a technique on anything steeper then 60%. The other question is what do you do when you encounter narrow tree sections?
    You seem like you have your mind made up and that even seeing pictures won't change it. That being stated, here are some pictures from a section I built of the Paradise Royale Trail System in the King Range National Conservation Area on the Lost Coast of CA. The slopes were upwards of 110%. If you click on the link, the first three turns of the purple section were built by me.

    As far as gateways go, we didn't leave any. I struggles digging a few stumps out with that small machine but, over time and with the help of a pulaski, I was able to get them out and move past them. This section has over 20+ switchback turns and is an ascent in the loop.

    This is looking at where the first turn will be. I had room to make a full bench to get onto the turn; the picture shows the slope on the left that I'll be digging into for reference.


    Here I'm starting the turn and encountering one of the stumps.


    From up the trail a little.


    My left track is sitting on a false bench as I work my way up.


    I had to build to the third switchback or so, turn around because that's as far as I could go, and work my way down making the trail more narrow as I descended.

    As I said, you probably won't believe this so, and I'm not going to argue on the Internet.

    D

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by dburatti
    Actually, narrow trail can be built by four foot machines. You simply build a partial bench for one track to ride on and use the spoils to build a false bench. Then turn around and not the false bench away, broadcasting it down slope or bringing the material back onto the bench for rollers and other features. It's a very common practice.

    Dewayne
    That should read "knock" the false bench away.

    D

  35. #35
    Zach Attack
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    Keven Smallman just sent me a video of this glorious moment when his new 240 was delivered!



    The machines look awesome. We have to mini ex and a skidsteer sk350. I would love to showcase one of these puppys.

    Zachi Anderson
    www.foresttrailsalliance.org

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