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Since the last post over a month ago a lot has happened in the CG world. We’ve had a massive melt out which brought the base to essentially none. Sure, there were spots of snow but nothing skiable. We had a cold snap with temps in the –20F range making the patches of snow very icy allowing the cold to blister the exposed soil with hoar frost boils. We finally received 6” of groomable snow.

While compacting the snow with the roller and attempting to pack the trails wide anticipating more snow during the next eight weeks of winter, the PVC roller frame contacted a tree and broke. The ends were lashed together and the pass was completed with little more incident. Heading to the DMV to renew my CDL the opportunity to stop at the steel supply presented itself. The day of the trip temps were right on the edge of snowing and the precip left the salted roads wet. Not wanting to liberally coat the virgin steel with a powder-coat of road salt I passed on the acquisition of the materials and just repaired the PVC frame.

Cold temps and plastic aren’t too compatible. I just lashed it together with an old piece of webbing carried along for the inevitable repair.

A friend moved a 24’ X 36’ barn using a crane to reposition the building about ninety feet from his neighbors property to his own. Very cool seeing an entire building, including the contents, plucked off the foundation and moved. In about 5 minutes the barn was sitting on a new set of piers. This move uncovered a few old fashioned bedframes which were donated to the CG arsenal of implements.

When I first began grooming the trails I was under the impression sophisticated and specialized equipment was required. The idea of pulling a bedframe seemed stupid and desperate. Turns out I was wrong. In the right conditions the bedframe is awesome. It doesn’t have the ability to cut the snow very deep to rejuvenate a hard frozen surface. What it excels at is buffing out a frozen granular trail scuffing up the surface and leaving a layer of loose ice ball bearings and fast skiing. The corduroy is great in wetter conditions for getting air under the skis but the corduroy is stationary and compresses rather than mobile nature of the ice bearings.

The bedframe also does a fantastic job of removing the wide wale left behind by the corrugated roller which essentially sets a seven foot wide row of tracks. After the rolled surface sets up the springs distribute the raised and freeze dried/slightly transformed snow.

The roller on the first 6″ snowfall after the thaw and frigid temps. The cross section is in the driveway and the bootprint was interesting. The overall boot compression is deeper on the un-rolled snow. Guess it works.

The downside of the home-grown implements is the lack of weight to pack the snow. Any more than 4”-6” (depends upon the water content) and the roller can only compress the snow so much. Lack of compression allows poles and skis to poke through. What heavy equipment does is set the snow faster. What will set the snow eventually is time. Grooming and skiing at home is fun but getting up at 2 A.M. to groom the trails allowing enough time for the snow to set for an 8 A.M. ski is borderline maniacal. The lightweight equipment does offset the shortcomings of the sled allowing me the decadence of having ski trails twenty feet from the door and the ability to ski almost at will. Everything is a compromise.

A 9 year old for scale.

I’ve been curious what other CGers out there are using to keep the trails in good shape. If you have any photos, send one or two along to me and I’ll post them in future entries.

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2 Responses to “Getting Caught Up”

  1. Clay Moseley Says:

    I need to get a set of pictures of all the weird implements we have for grooming. Of course the old-school Tidd Tech groomers are what we use on a “normal” basis, but we do have quite an arsenal of homemade equipment.

    First off, we have a lot of freeze-thaw here (in New Mexico), especially this time of the year (March), so breaking up ice is a challenge. We could wait for that golden moment between thaw and re-freeze to groom, but it is difficult to predict and the window is too short. Plus, being at work takes priority and we’d need to be out grooming by around 3:30 PM. Using the Tidds to break the ice is really tough. It takes a toll on them and the machines.

    Because of all of those things, I came up with a plan to use a harrow. I got one from Northern Tool for a reasonable price and got out one afternoon after things had frozen up and to my surprise, it worked pretty well. It really digs in and “chunks” up the icy surface quickly. I had to put a bar on the back of it with weights because it bounced around too much, but it did a great job breaking up the ice while driving quickly (10 – 12 mph) around the trails. If we follow that up with the Tidd, it looks really good and holds up for at least a couple of days of the freeze/thaw cycle.

    As a alternative to the bed frame, we made a device using galvanized, drilled angle steel, all bolted together, but with springs around the bolts so that it hinges and articulates. It is heavy enough to sink pretty well into new snow, and can be angled from side to side (it is towed with a chain loop) to move snow from the high side to the low side of the trail. The thing works like magic. It also does the “frozen ball bearing” thing like the bed frame.

    Our rollers are all made with a big welded steel frame. We finally had to make “break-away” hitches for them because we always hit trees and broke them.

    We’ve found that adding a specially fashioned bar that can carry weights on just about everything solves a lot of problems.

    I’ll try to get some pics to you.

    Love your blog. You’ve had some good ideas, and of course, I had arm-chair groomer comments about some of your “failures,” but all in all, you’ve gotten up to speed very quickly. So many parallels with our experiences.


  2. Kevin Brooker Says:

    Thanks Clay,
    Looking forward to the photos.