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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have to run something by you. I was sent a proposal for building some multi-use singletrack trail [horses, hikers, bikers]. The trail is typically on sidehills with grades in the 10-30% range. The contractor wants to use a mini-excavator with a track width of 68" to build a trail width of 48"-60" and a final tread width of ~18". The machine width seems a little bit too wide for the intended trail. I know that the tread will narrow over time, but still... Other popular trails [machine and handbuilt] in the area have widths of 3'-4' [tree-to-tree] and tread widths of 12"-18".

I think the machine is too big, but I could be wrong. Those of you with more experience, please give me your $0.02.
 

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Yep..too big!

I would only use that size machine for a road to trail conversion. A kubota u17 or kx41 would be more suitable and smaller. That larger machine would beat and bang on all the trees left near the tread and you would have a tonof spoils to cast downhill. Use a smaller machine around the 3-4' wide size.:thumbsup: On a side note, horse trails are built 5' wide most of the time for clearance but I would still use a smaller machine. You can always widen the tread with a smaller machine if needed.
 

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It's big, but not TOO big. We own a John Deere 35D which is 5'8" wide and for some projects, it's actually more efficient than a smaller excavator (that we also use). If you have a skilled operator, he'll be able to keep the corridor narrow and flowy by maximizing the use of the natural features. Sometimes, you keep 2 trees/rocks/logs/??? closer and take the machine around. This ensure a tight corridor and ultimately, a better trail.

We built 30km of singletrack with a 5'1" (John Deere 27D/Bobcat 425 mix) and within a year, most peoples didn't even realize that we used that big of a machine. The thread is 18-24" in most places.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hmmm. I don't know how skilled the operator is. I know they build trails for golf courses and acreages, but to my knowledge haven't built any backcountry rec trail.
 

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pinkrobe said:
Hmmm. I don't know how skilled the operator is. I know they build trails for golf courses and acreages, but to my knowledge haven't built any backcountry rec trail.
It really depends on the operator and the terrain. Here in the south...heavily forested and vegetation with large trees so a larger machine is very cumbersome and damaging to the trees. A smaller machine is more beneficial to us here in Chattanooga/N. Georgia area. In my experience, in the steeper side slopes, you create alot of hand work with a larger machine because you have to rehab alot of th trail to narrow it back up. If your building multi-use trail, the larger machine may be your ticket.:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I've since heard from one of the principals on the project that he considers the machine to be too big for the task. Hopefully the operator has access to something smaller.

Thanks/Merci for the feedback folks!
 

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pinkrobe said:
I've since heard from one of the principals on the project that he considers the machine to be too big for the task. Hopefully the operator has access to something smaller.

Thanks/Merci for the feedback folks!
That's what I would have said also.:D
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Progress! A meeting is being set up between the operator and the project leads [me and my cohorts]. I'll follow up in a couple weeks...
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Some interesting turns have been taken in this story. The operator came back with a quote that says he and a helper can build 10km of trail in one month for $25k using the 5'8" wide machine. The proposal alluded to "finished" trail. So, two guys with a machine are going to build an average of 1m of trail every minute, 8 hours a day, 5 days/week? Hmmm.

Also, the trail requirements have turned into a moving target. Overall width was set at 5', but is drifting out to 6' so that quads can get access...
 

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I don't know what you terrain looks like, but in my area, that bid would be simply impossible tot realize with the bid you have. We average 1km of finished trail per WEEK with a team of 3 (and 2 machines)... and that seems to be the average performance in Canada. Keeping an average of 500m/day is not impossible, but would require a bigger team AND more machinery.

You're in Calgary, right? If you want a second quote just to compare, let me know. I have no intent to bid on your project but as least, it can give you something to compare too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
HypNoTic said:
I don't know what you terrain looks like, but in my area, that bid would be simply impossible tot realize with the bid you have. We average 1km of finished trail per WEEK with a team of 3 (and 2 machines)... and that seems to be the average performance in Canada. Keeping an average of 500m/day is not impossible, but would require a bigger team AND more machinery.

You're in Calgary, right? If you want a second quote just to compare, let me know. I have no intent to bid on your project but as least, it can give you something to compare too.
Merci Jérôme!

I got your PM [and will reply shortly]. I agree, the project as laid out is not feasible. I also agree 100% with your assessment of the average cost per km, as that is exactly what it cost for the 8km trail we built in 2009.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Update: We were able to get the operator out onto the trails and show him exactly what we mean when we say "singletrack". He's going to buy a smaller [!!] machine to meet our requirements as soon as we sign off on a new quote. I'm kinda stoked.
 

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The end result

Your end result will be alot better with the smaller machine. Way to stick to your guns:thumbsup: If hes good operator, he'll be able to put your vision of the trail down as planned.
 

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pinkrobe said:
Update: We were able to get the operator out onto the trails and show him exactly what we mean when we say "singletrack". He's going to buy a smaller [!!] machine to meet our requirements as soon as we sign off on a new quote. I'm kinda stoked.
Make sure you're clear on what "finished" is. My neighboring homeowner association, the president had "dude with a bobcat" that he wanted to build a trail. A 6' wide trail that can be mowed with a commercial mower.....anyhow. I averted the thing turning into disaster by flagging out the trail, so that at least the alignment is sustainable, but 6 months later, it still lacks out slope in areas and has vertical backslope everywhere. If I recall, the price was about a buck a foot, including backfilling a lake about 100 yards to get around the corner of a lot. Specify outslope, blended backslope, and frequency of grade reversals. Have someone who knows what they're doing flag the trail, you can correct whatever else, but you can't easily correct poor alignment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
It's our job to flag the trail and ensure quality control, so that means pin-flagging at ~2m intervals for the first few km, and riding shotgun for the first few days. The two guys who plotted the route for the trail live close to the build site, and they will be watching the operator closely until they're satisfied he knows what he's doing. Now we just need some more money...

Edit: Finished has to be defined, but I can guarantee that we'll need to use volunteers to buff the trail after the machine is done. The operator can cut the backslope, outslope the tread and toss the spoils, but we'll still need to send people after him to smooth out the rough spots.
 
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