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  1. #1
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    Hand finishing a machine build

    Hey trail builder mags, what's your technique for hand finishing a machine build? I've only done hand built trails but on the next leg of our current project we are going to be bringing out the SWECO trail dozer. A FS supervisor is going to be running the mahchine so I don't have to worry about that yet (stoked to start learning though) but I do need to lead a large amount of volunteers next Saturday to hand finish the bench cut.

    So yeah, what say you?

    Here's a vid of what we have completed so far. We started on this last July 28th. It's part of the Arizona Trail that runs through Flagstaff.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzIYJGHvuns

    Thanks for any input!
    dirtbag, not a dentist

  2. #2
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    It depends a little on the person running the machine. Best case, you don't have to move much dirt.

    Probably the main thing is that the machine is going to leave a somewhat lumpy trail with two ruts from the tracks, so a lot of the work goes into smoothing that out. I like to use a flat shovel to push dirt from the downhill side to fill in the uphill rut, smooth out, and create some outslope basically one shovel width at a time.

    The rest of the work will go into building/shaping berms and jumps and stuff. If a machine even gets in there at all. A lot of corners and steeper sections will still need to be hand built.

    Here's an example from last spring, foreground is as the machine leaves it, background after some shoveling



    Here's some of our new "flow trail" which should be finished in the next couple of weeks. We're working on it this weekend



    Most of the work that day went into shaping that corner and those two berms

  3. #3
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    ^^^ what he said.

    Also, the machines tend to leave a messy pile of debris immediately to the side of the trail. It's worth raking that out and distributing it, partly to make things look better, and partly to improve drainage.

    But really, a lot of it comes down to how good the guy in the machine is.

  4. #4
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    In addition to the above, make sure you back cut the uphill slope so it's low angle enough to re-vegetate. Removing the downhill debris will also narrow the the tread and ensure that you get rid of the soft edge that can pull you off. Hopefully your operator gave you an outsloping tread, but if not make sure it is.

    Still a fan of hand cut trails, but it's definitely more work.

  5. #5
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    I think I'm more into hand built as well but we need to whack out some pretty standard bench cut stuff so it seems like a good option. I was wondering if it's so wide that you have to really knock down the outside edge a lot. The rest looks pretty straight forward.

    We are hoping to wrap up most of this reroute by next month. Then I will be working with Ace (at what capacity tbd) to hand build a 4.5 to 5 mile descending section that connects into this project. We are doing more hand building in a really technical building section that's just after the leg we are machine working this week. It traverses though some steep and rocky washes and is going to require a ton of rock work. I actually love that shit.

    We always cut back the back slope. I was taught to do that years ago so water runoff from the side-slope doesn't fall abruptly onto your tread creating a plunge pool like from a waterfall. This area that we've been working in is crazy flash floody. The area above it saw an extremely hot fire in the late 70's and still is seeing the affects from that. We aren't really doing berms or anything that built up on it either. It's part of the Arizona Trail so it needs to stay pretty natural.

    jamal, that stuff looks dope. Nice work! Is that flow trail at Snowbowl?

    Thanks you guys for sharing your knowledge.
    dirtbag, not a dentist

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by panchosdad View Post
    In addition to the above, make sure you back cut the uphill slope so it's low angle enough to re-vegetate. Removing the downhill debris will also narrow the the tread and ensure that you get rid of the soft edge that can pull you off. Hopefully your operator gave you an outsloping tread, but if not make sure it is.

    Still a fan of hand cut trails, but it's definitely more work.
    This. A lot of cutting roots left sticking out of the back slope as well. Best to lop. If you chop you'll blow the back slope apart. Hard rake to grade and smooth. Plate compactor to tamp.

    I would say the back slope in the first photo above needs to be cut back. You can generate a lot of good material that way to be used as small rollers that encourage water to flow off the trial.

  7. #7
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    No it is at marshall mountain which is all still private property. The upper half was bought by five valley land trust and they are letting mtb missoula build trails up there. Unfortunately the chair isn't ever going to work and the lower half is still private property so you can't just go and ride those trails. It's kind of being built with the expectation that will change in the near future and the rest will be accessible. We still have races and events there, like the pro xc.

    I am not sure why snowbowl can't or won't build another mtb trail or two. Maybe just because of the forest service and paperwork/studies required but I would have guessed that on an operating ski area those aren't quite as big of a deal? You can ride the chair in the summer and take the one trail down.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamal View Post
    I am not sure why snowbowl can't or won't build another mtb trail or two. Maybe just because of the forest service and paperwork/studies required but I would have guessed that on an operating ski area those aren't quite as big of a deal? You can ride the chair in the summer and take the one trail down.
    Forest Service would still have to do an environmental analysis, and when it's on a commercial lease like Snowbowl, FS would generally require that Snowbowl pay for most / all of the work on the EA. So depending on the scope of the project, that's probably a $50k bill. Plus the actual cost of building the trails, which would probably be another ~$25k, unless they wanted to half ass it, which they almost certainly would.

    Given that the lift runs extra-super slow in the summer (which it has to, in order to accommodate loading bikes), I don't think it'd ever be particularly popular as a lift served biking location. Which means it'd probably be pretty tough for them to recoup those costs.

  9. #9
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    Discovery seems to be making it work with a single slow moving chair. They just have it so you load like 4 chairs at a time, run it at normal speed for awhile, load 4 more, repeat. I suppose in the end it still has to go about the same overall speed but the chair is short and it doesn't seem to take that long.

    I've ridden at snowbowl plenty but have never taken a bike up the chair. And, yeah, don't particularly want to. But even if it wasn't solely lift-served riding it would be a good place to have a few more trail options, but, you know, why plan for the future when you can just do nothing/completely fuck up a new chairlift installation.

  10. #10
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    I posted some pics in this thread of some machine built trail I was finishing by hand. (they're not showing up on my work comp, can try to fix later).

    Comments above pretty much cover it. The main thing I had to do was outslope the bench cut because the machine wasn't doing a great job of that. This was a mini-ex not a sweco. A good operator should be able to outslope with the sweco. Cut back the backslope to make it less steep, distribute material down off the trail. Make sure its full bench if possible since horses will be on the AZT and they love to walk on the outside of the bench cut for some reason. Plate compacting will make a big difference in preventing equestrian damage.

    The challenge if working with volunteers especially if they aren't experienced is getting them to the point where they can do a good job. I'll often prepare a before/after section like Jamal's first pic to show them what the tread should look like once they're done. You'll want to spend more time supervising than digging yourself. Sounds like common sense but it's easy to get caught up in working yourself and let the inmates run crazy.

  11. #11
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    Ain't that the truth.

    I've been at this stuff for a hand full of years now, building trails for about 18, started out with the oldschool DH rake and ride type stuff and made my way in with the FS. I walk away more tired from the big volunteer days than any big day with our small crew. I don't even dig on those days, I just run back and forth managing large numbers of people. It's more about education and such. I'm not sure why but that's more of an ass kicker than moving giant rocks all day and whacking in bench with a pick mattock.

    Ok, so the standard and obvious stuff. Create a good back slope and out slope the tread. Sweet.

    thanks again.
    dirtbag, not a dentist

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by toast2266 View Post
    Given that the lift runs extra-super slow in the summer (which it has to, in order to accommodate loading bikes), I don't think it'd ever be particularly popular as a lift served biking location.
    Damn, a discussion about Snowbowl on my birthday and I missed it.

    I don't think the slowness of the lift would stop people from paying to bike at the Bowl if they had good trails. The market is surely there. I also am not convinced that the slow speed is for loading/unloading bikes, I always assumed it was to give the tourons more for their money. But it is absolutely true that their bike-carrying devices are the most whacked out ghetto shit I've ever seen.

  13. #13
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    I clicked, thinking it was a thread about “finishing up” a machine built wheel.


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    If you want me to take a dump in a box and mark it tubeless, I will. I got spare time.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by RootSkier View Post
    Damn, a discussion about Snowbowl on my birthday and I missed it.

    I don't think the slowness of the lift would stop people from paying to bike at the Bowl if they had good trails. The market is surely there. I also am not convinced that the slow speed is for loading/unloading bikes, I always assumed it was to give the tourons more for their money. But it is absolutely true that their bike-carrying devices are the most whacked out ghetto shit I've ever seen.
    It's been a long time since I rode that lift in the summer, but I remember it being like a 25 minute ride just up griz chair. I'm not sure many people would put up with that shit unless the descent was insanely good (which, let's be honest, it won't be. Because Snowbowl). And running slower in the summer isn't just a Snowbowl thing. Every fixed grip lift I've ever been on runs pretty slow in the summer. If nothing else, it'd be tough for a lot of people to get away from the chair on the unload if it was running full speed. It's trickier when the ground isn't slidey.

  15. #15
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    Plus you have to get the seatbelt off.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by RootSkier View Post
    Plus you have to get the seatbelt off.
    They have seatbelts now?

  17. #17
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    Only in the summer. For reasons.

  18. #18
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    Not sure what your drainage issues look like in AZ but one thing I'll add is putting in drains and some smaller grade reversals, especially on longer runs. Outsloping is fine while it lasts but with trail wear, compaction, etc. you tend to wind up with a "V" with water running down the channel.

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