Snowgrooming march14 01

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What is the snow grooming industry


››Snow grooming survey results


See it live on

OFF-ROAD section


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Issue 3 | March 2014

03 04 08 18 22 24 28 34 38 42 48

Publisher’s Message The New Kid on the Block The Lite Trax 1100 D, a robust lightweight tracked snow vehicle Mark Halsall

The 2013-2014 Snow Grooming Industry Survey

Determining the Right Winch for Your Equipment Ramsey Winch has the winch you’re looking for Mark Halsall

Using Your Imagination Pennsylvania resort snow grooming manager Joe Garbacik’s profile Mark Halsall

Arctic Cat Utility Sleds

Arctic Cat’s Bearcat 5000 XT Groomer Special Mark Halsall

Unique product offering from Gilbert Products By Mark Halsall


Trail Grooming is a Package Deal

Smooth Trailing

Filling the Gap Between Big Rigs and Snowmobiles


Taking stock of the business of grooming snow throught North America Connie Lester

Maxey Manufacturing has built a legacy of groomer innovation Kelly Gray


Convert your car, truck or SUV into a snow grooming vehicle Mark Halsall

Raising the Bar Tidd Tech changed the face of snow grooming with the Trail Tenderizer Kelly Gray

Road to Sochi Snow groomer operator Bjorn Taylor Mark Halsall

18 | Issue 3 | SNOW GROOMING


The Lite Trax 1100 dhc Groomer and the Lite Trax 1100 d2 Groomer provide the comfort and flexibility of a large groomer as well as agility that is second to none, all within a small footprint. The Lite Trax 1100 d4 provides transportation for people and supplies to remote locations, as well as providing grooming capabilities. These compact, low ground pressure vehicles are powered by a Kubota Turbo Diesel engine and are hydrostatically driven to provide unsurpassed control and maneuverability. They are easy to operate, comfortable to ride in, and easy to maintain.


Phone: 1-435-753-8729 (TRAX) | Email: | 1301 W. 50 S. Centerville, UT 84014

PUBLISHER’S MESSAGE Issue 2 | January 2014

Connie Lester

Published by



2851 Henderson Highway Winnipeg, MB R2E 0C5 Website: Email: Phone: 1-204-505-5858 Fax: 1-204-505-5859

Publisher Connie Lester Managing Editor Mark Halsall Design & Layout Gayl Punzalan Social Media Community Manager Yasmin Concepcion © 2014 Integrit Media Inc. All rights reserved. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced by any means, in whole or in part, without the prior written consent of the publisher.


e are coming to the end of another season in the snow grooming industry. Soon, snow grooming organizations throughout North America will be evaluating the past season’s equipment and expenses and making plans to buy and sell equipment, as well as making changes to processes in order to improve upon their current strategies. This issue is meant to provide some insight into the industry in terms of costs of equipment and expenses on the snow. It’s important that we get an accurate estimate of our snow grooming sectors for many reasons. Manufacturers can plan better and keep costs down, keeping our retail prices down. Governments can realize the true economic impact of our on-snow sports, ultimately providing better support to health and outdoor winter recreation. Even consumers can accept current recreational pricing or, at least, better understand why the cost for trails and ski visits are the price we pay to enjoy our snow sports. The Snow Grooming Magazine team has selected a random sample of these

sectors and evaluated them based on the feedback we received through the comprehensive readers’ survey we offered online. Thank you to all those who participated. It is because of you that we can receive this bird’s-eye view into the snow grooming industry for 2014. Snow Grooming Magazine is about providing information for the snow grooming industry to consider when making decisions on the snow. We look forward to hearing your feedback from the data we gathered this past season. News Flash! We will be bringing you another important issue in May 2014: The Snow Grooming Equipment Buyer’s Guide. We look forward to providing you side-by-side comparisons of equipment provided directly to the snow grooming industry by manufacturers. Stay tuned to for more information on the upcoming May issue. ❃

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the authors and/or editorial sources contained in Snow Grooming Magazine are those of the respective parties and do not necessarily represent the opinion of the publisher. Publication Mail Agreement #42677534. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: 2851 Henderson Highway Winnipeg, MB R2E 0C5 Printed in Canada. Please recycle where facilities exist. | Issue 3 | SNOW GROOMING




on the

Snow grooming operators now have a new option: the Lite Trax 1100 D, a robust lightweight tracked snow vehicle that’s also light on the wallet.



Greg Nielson is the company owner and designer of the Lite Trax vehicle line. He’s seen here in a Lite Trax 800 M4 model, which features a 29 HP EFI Kohler engine, hydrostatic transmission, manual joystick, two six-gallon fuel tanks, a four-person soft cab, comfortable seating, heat, windshield wiper, LED lighting and 12 inches of ground clearance. Modifications to this vehicle include an upgrade from a singlespeed motor to a two-speed motor and an increase in track width from 16 inches to 20 inches.


now grooming can be a very expensive proposition. With the bigger machines costing upwards of $350,000 to buy, snow groomer operators these days have to think long and hard about getting the best value for their money. Thanks to a new product from Utahbased Lite Trax L.C., there’s a new option for users wishing to expand their snow grooming capacity — without paying the big-ticket price. “For companies that had to get past the snowmobile pulling an implement but can’t afford a large full-size grooming unit, we now have entered the market and can provide an alternative,” says Collier Cook, marketing and sales director for Lite Trax. That alternative is the 1100 D, the latest addition to the Lite Trax fleet of lightweight over the snow vehicles. “Until recently, we didn’t have a product that was able to groom something like a 5-K run or track [in the] quick amount of time needed to provide a great grooming service,” says Cook. All that’s changed with the new 1100 model featuring a beefier engine, the 1,100 cc, 44 HP Kubota Turbo Diesel. According to Cook, putting a high torque diesel engine in the Lite Trax lightweight vehicle accomplishes two things: “one, heavy-duty towing capacity, and two, high elevation use machines.

“Because of its low weight to high torque ratio, it can pull a Tidd Tech G2 grooming unit with ease, even at high elevations,” he says, adding Lite Trax treads are designed to stop slipping while providing enough torque to get the job done. Cook says the 1100 D model, in particular, is a great workhorse for general grooming usage. “You can compact and you can till,” he says, “and you can also set track.” In addition to the 1100 D, Lite Trax sells two other series of vehicles that are powered by gasoline engines: the 800 series with an 800 cc, 29 HP Kohler with Electronic Fuel Injection; and the 1000 series featuring a 1,000 cc, 40 HP Kohler engine. Every vehicle is designed in a modular fashion to allow for customization, enabling customers to upgrade as the need arises. All Lite Trax models are low ground pressure vehicles that are able to tread lightly over the snow due to their extremely large track areas. The machines open on both front and rear hinges to allow easy access to check fluids, and they all come plumbed ready front and rear for hydraulics, and electronics for implement use. Lite Trax offers a choice of two-seat or four-seat enclosed cabins 50 inches in width. The rear cabin of the fourseater model is 62 inches wide. The total width of the machine is 70 inches from outside track to outside track.

The 1100 D vehicle is the newest addition to the Lite Trax product line. This 1100 D4 model, seen here equipped with a snow plough and pulling a Tidd Tech G2 seven-foot groomer, features a 44 HP Kubota turbo diesel engine, hydrostatic transmission, electronic joystick, two six-gallon fuel tanks, a four-person soft cab, comfortable seating, heat, windshield wiper, LED lighting and 12 inches of ground clearance. This vehicle been upgraded with extra lighting and a backup camera. | Issue 3 | SNOW GROOMING


Customer using an 800 series vehicle to pull a Tidd Tech G2 six-foot groomer to lay a ski trail for a high school crosscountry team in New Hampshire in 2010. This model is the Lite Trax Extreme 800, which features a 30 HP Kohler engine, hydrostatic transmission, electronic joystick, one 10-gallon fuel tank, a two-person person soft cab, comfortable seating, heat, windshield wiper, LED lighting and 10 inches of ground clearance.

The company recently unveiled a new two-person hard cab featuring an all-aluminum structure, roof rack capabilities, glass windows, comfortable ergonomic seats, a joystick armrest and a newly designed console. The new hard cab also features aluminum track assemblies with 20-inch tracks, a new suspension system, extravert drivers and a heavy duty drive chain. Cook says the company’s decision to add diesel to its power plant options all comes down to torque. “The higher up you go, the less efficient gas-powered engines become,” says Cook, which is why a diesel engine makes so much

more sense at higher elevations. The Lite Trax 1100 D, says Cook, has a flat torque curve that allows it “to deliver 87 foot-pounds of torque from sea level all the way up to something like 11,500 feet [before] it starts to diminish. But even at 13,000 feet, it has enough horsepower to deliver a torque necessary to move that machine well, because the machine itself is lightweight. “We found that there’s really not been much of a need in that cross-country realm for an ultra-high horsepower applications like there is in alpine grooming,” he adds. “So if you don’t have to carry that ultra-high horsepower re-

quirement, you don’t have to carry the weight, and if your not carrying the weight then your reducing your operating costs and your maintenance costs.“ Cook cites higher towing capacity as another reason why 1100 D series is well suited for snow grooming applications. “Because a large track setting implement such as the Tidd Tech T2 probably weights close to 850 pounds, so with that towing capacity of 2,000 pounds, it’s well within usable parameters of the machine itself,” he says. “You can tow that around day-to-day in a commercial operation and not overtax the vehicle.” Another 1100 D selling feature is the

Base Features for 2014 Line-up of Lite Trax Vehicles 800 Series


Transmission Chassis Towing Capacity Ground Pressure

Top Speed Est.

Auxiliary Ports Colour Options


Standard options with the 800 Series 29 HP EFI Kohler 4-cycle 12-gallon fuel tank 1 + 2 speed (heavy duty) mechanical joystick 50-inch cab width 2 + 4 person enclosed cabs 1,500 pounds 2-inch receiver hitch 16” + 20” tack - 3/8 pound per square inch Single speed: 10 mph (Speeds based at Sea level. snow condition will have an effect) Hydraulic/power ports Rear work and DOME Lights Wide variety of colors available (additional fee may be required)

1000 Series

Standard options with the 1000 Series 40 HP Kohler 4-cycle 12-gallon fuel tank 2 speed (heavy duty) electronic joystick 50-inch cab width 2 + 4 person enclosed cabs 1,800 pounds 2-inch receiver hitch 20” + 24” track - 3/8 pound per square inch High gear: 16 mph Low gear: 8 mph (Speeds based at Sea level. snow condition will have an effect) Hydraulic/power ports Rear work and DOME Lights Wide variety of colors available (additional fee may be required)


1100 D Series

Standard options with the 1100 D Series 44 HP Kubota Turbo Diesel 12-gallon fuel tank 2 speed (heavy duty) electronic joystick 50-inch cab width 2 + 4 person enclosed cabs 2,200 pounds 2-inch receiver hitch 20” + 24” track - 1/2 pound per square inch High gear: 20 mph Low gear: 9 mph (Speeds based at 9,000 ft. snow condition will have an effect) Hydraulic/power ports Rear work and DOME Lights Special colour options: Camo, Business Logos, and Custom Wraps

Top left: Lite Trax recently introduced a new person hard cab featuring an all aluminum structure. Seen here is the Lite Trax 1100 DHC model, which features the hard-cab, a 44 HP Kubota turbo diesel engine, hydrostatic transmission, electronic joystick, two six-gallon fuel tanks, comfortable seating, heat, windshield wiper, LED lighting and 12 inches of ground clearance. Top right: One of the attractive features of the Lite Trax 1100 series, like this 1100 D4 model, is their ability to clear snow and pull a drag at the same time. By attaching a 72-inch blade, the vehicle can perform simple to medium-duty plough projects.

machine’s ability to clear snow and tow a drag at the same time. “With the 1100 for snow grooming, currently we can mount the front of the machine with a 72-inch plow blade. So you can do simple to medium-duty plough projects. We don’t currently have a six-way actuating blade but we do have a twoway hydraulically actuated blade [in addition] to manual direction, so it’s a four-way actuating blade,” says Cook. “We also can mount a winch either front or rear if there was a need for that within the operational realm.” Cook maintains the many selling points of the newest Light Trax machine has not been lost on customers. The 1100 D has only been available commercially a few weeks but so far,

“the reception has been great,” he says. “We’re still doing our best to keep up with demand,” Cook adds. “We’re selling as many as we can build.” Cook says all Lite Trax machines are built specifically to be flexible, robust and heavy duty in over the snow use but also lightweight. “I haven’t seen any other small grooming implements out there that in weight comes in anywhere near what ours does,” Cook says. “Because they’re lightweight and they’re componentbased, they’re inexpensive. We found that we have so many different demands from our clients that it allows us to modify for specific use without adding additional engineering cost.” Cook maintains Lite Trax snow

groomers are ideal for community recreation facilities, such as municipally run cross-country ski areas whose budget-conscious operators may have their eyes on a large snow grooming machine but simply can’t afford it. Lite Trax machines, says Cook, also make financial sense for medium-sized cross-country facilities “that want to augment their fleet as they find that operating their full size machine too expensive on a regular basis. “If they can have that large machine sit idle … in between storm cycles, it really saves on maintenance and repair and upkeep,” he says. “You can use the Lite Trax machine to maintain your track.” ❃ | Issue 3 | SNOW GROOMING


The 2013/2014

Snow Grooming Industry Survey Taking stock of the business of grooming snow throughout North America By Connie Lester


n the view of ski and snowmobile organizations the world over, the snow grooming industry is almost a “necessary evil” to the bottom line of snow sports. Snow grooming usually represents a large cost in the financial balance sheets and often isn’t given the respect it deserves from snow sports enthusiasts, and yet groomed snow is arguably the main reason why so many more enthusiasts are being drawn to snow sports today. Traditionally, statistics related to recreational snow-based industries have focused for the most part on the snow sport itself, such as numbers of snowmobile enthusiasts and ski visitors. The task of snow grooming is typically seen as a “behind the scenes” operation required to increase the volume of snowmobile enthusiasts and ski visitors, and statistics pertaining to this sector of the snow sports industry are not readily accessible. That’s changed, courtesy of Snow Grooming Magazine and our compre-

hensive 2013/2014 Snow Grooming Survey. We asked our readership of approximately 2,800 to consider completing the survey, which has been available online at snowgroomingmag. com since November 2013. Some 230 industry participants took part, and we are happy to share the results with you. We are highlighting some of survey responses in this issue, but you can go to to view the complete results of all 23 questions we posed to snow grooming industry experts throughout North America. According to Snow Grooming Magazine’s research, there are approximately 700 ski resorts, 3,000 snowmobile organizations, 200 Nordic/cross country ski centres, and 35 catski operations registered with associations throughout North America. All of these sectors groom snow and maintain snow-based trail systems which enable recreational snow enthusiasts, whether they are involved in skiing or snowmobiling, to ultimately provide easy access by way of


How many years have you been involved in snow grooming? More than 85 per cent of those surveyed have been involved in grooming snow for more than five years. This breakdown in terms of the number of years of involvement for individuals shows that the snow grooming industry has one of the highest ratings for longevity in terms of median years of tenure within an industry.



groomed trail systems to their respective recreational snow sports enthusiasts. These snow grooming efforts attract millions of snow enthusiasts to each sector every year, while billions of dollars are invested by the ski and snowmobile industries, both in corporate terms and by individual consumers, to support these snow-related pastimes. But all too often, the business of snow grooming itself is still viewed as the “back end” of these industries. The results from Snow Grooming Magazine’s survey proves that not only that the snow grooming industry has an enormous economic impact in our respective regions and nations, but also that the people involved in snow grooming activities are a unique target market of passionate and caring people who truly believe in making snow sports the best experience for everyone who skis or rides. Here’s a closer look the results of Snow Grooming Magazine survey:


Are you employed, either part-time or full time within an industry in which snow grooming is one of the primary activities? In most instances, snow grooming operations in the snowmobile sector are run by volunteers, while in the ski industry, these jobs are usually paid positions. This is of interest to companies in the ski resort sector, which may want their human resources depart-

ments to consider the value of filling snow grooming positions with people who have volunteer experience work-

ing with snow grooming equipment and operations from other sectors.


In which of the following industries are you primarily working or volunteering? | Issue 3 | SNOW GROOMING



Do you volunteer your time within the snow grooming industry?


If so, how many hours per season do you volunteer your time?

In our survey, 67 per cent of respondents indicated they volunteer within the snow grooming industry and slightly over 40 per cent said they volunteered more than 150 hours in one season. This suggests that there


is a large dollar value that is often not taken into account when calculating annual grooming expenses. All these volunteer labour hours that are not factored into actual grooming expenses each season should be considered


when discussing the economic impact of the snow grooming industry. Snow sports operators would also be wise to consider including these snow grooming related labour costs in their overall annual expense reports for each season.


How many groomers does your club/association/ski resort own and/or lease?

Snow Grooming Magazine’s research indicates there are approximately 4,185 snow grooming operations registered with associations throughout North America. The breakdown by organization type is as follows: • 700 ski resorts • 3,000 snowmobile organizations • 200 nordic/cross country ski centres • 35 catski operations • 250 commercial/industrial trail blazers

If you apply the percentages in this question to the total of 4,185 organizations that groom snow, that amounts to just over 17,275 groomers throughout North America. This does not include implements such as snowmobile trail drags, tracksetters, compactors, packers, or many of the other types of equipment used within the snow grooming sectors. | Issue 3 | SNOW GROOMING


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Which of the following choices best represents the total asset value of snow grooming equipment, including groomers, drags, blades, parts, accessories and attachments, and snow making equipment owned by your club/association/ski resort?

Total North American Asset value of snow grooming equipment in 2014 Total organizations (4185) mulitplied by surveyed percentage Less than $100,000 19.65% $50,000 822.353 $100,000 - $500,000 46.72% $250,000 1955.232 $500,000 - $1,500,000 10.92% $1,000,000 457.002 1,500,000 - $5,000,000 13.97% $3,250,000 584.645 $5,000,000 + 8.73% $5,000,000 365.351 Total Asset Value of Snow Grooming Organizations throughout North America in the 2013/2014 grooming season Survey Choices

Percentage for each from survey

Mid range Value used to formulate industry

Total asset value by category $41,117,625.00 $488,808,000.00 $457,002,000.00 $1,900,094,625.00 $1,826,752,500.00 $4,713,774,750.00

Percentages in above chart have been extracted from the 2013/2014 Snow Grooming Survey and are used for theoretical purposes only | Issue 3 | SNOW GROOMING



Which of the following choices best represents the total annual expenses toward snow grooming operations, including labour, fuel, maintenance, repair, shop time for your club/resort/association?

Total North American annual expenses toward snow grooming in 2014 Survey Choices Less than $100,000 $100,000 - $250,000 $250,000 - $500,000 $500,000 - $1,000,000 $1,000,000 +

Percentage for each from survey

Mid range Value used to formulate industry

60.18% 15.04% 12.39% 5.31% 7.08%

$50,000 $175,000 $375,000 $750,000 $1,000,000

Total organizations (4185) mulitplied by surveyed percentage 2518.533 629.424 518.522 222.224 296.298

Total Expenses of Snow Grooming Organizations throughout North America in the 2013/2014 grooming season Percentages in above chart have been extracted from the 2013/2014 Snow Grooming Survey and are used for theoretical purposes only



Total asset value by category $125,926,650.00 $110,149,200.00 $194,445,562.50 $166,667,625.00 $296,298,000.00 $893,487,037.50


Please list in order of 1 to 5, 1 being the best source of information and 5 being the least used source of information, through which you receive data and updates on snow grooming now?

Suppliers/Manufacturers .................................................... #1 choice for information Associations ............................................................................ #2 Websites .................................................................................... #3 Industry Related Publications .......................................... #4 Social Media ............................................................................ #5 The Internet is being used more and more to get more information. Our survey shows that those in the snow grooming industry are not only going online to get information, they are doing it often. | Issue 3 | SNOW GROOMING



Once read, would you pass on a snow grooming magazine to coworkers or colleagues within the industry?

The answers to this question indicate that users of online sites in the snow grooming industry perhaps aren’t getting all the information they need, all the time. This suggests there is a need to increase efforts to maintain websites and keep upto-date information online so that users receive the right message for each season.


Would your club or organization pay for a subscription to a Snow Grooming Publication?

More than 80 per cent of those surveyed are looking for specific information on snow grooming. Companies which have web pages that speak directly to this market are more likely to be visited again and again.


When buying or selling snow grooming equipment, where do you go to place ads or find equipment? We asked the survey takers to give us their feedback on where they go to buy and sell, place ads or find equipment. Here were the top ten words or phrases they used within their descriptions.




How likely are you to use a site that lists suppliers of products and services within the snow grooming industry?

This is just a sampling of questions from our 2013/2014 Snow Grooming Survey; make sure to check out for the complete results. The information generated in this comprehensive survey gives Snow Grooming Magazine the ability to help you find suppliers, sell your used equipment online, and provide a place to you to go for the most up to date information in snow grooming. Go to and become a member. It’s free! ❃ rich black


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SBGROOMERS.COM 7480 Hwy 70 East, St. Germain, WI 54558 | Issue 3 | SNOW GROOMING


With line pull ranges from 2,500 pounds all the way up to 130,000 pounds, Ramsey winches can be put to many different uses — so whether you drive an ATV, a utility snowmobile or the largest on-snow vehicle, chances are Ramsey has a winch for you.

Determining the Right Winch for Your Equipment Whether you drive a utility snowmobile or the snow biggest snow groomer around, chances are Ramsey Winch has the winch you’re looking for By Mark Halsall



Planetary Hydraulic Winch Features Working capacities of 2,500 to 130,000 pounds Tested and certified to operate in temperatures from -40 F to 120 F (-40 C to 49 C) Manufactured models to meet SAE J706 & EN 14492-1standards available Rugged construction for durability but lighter weight than comparable models Compact design reduces cable catch between drum flange and end support housing Most models have a “free-wheel” clutch that can be operated by air or manually, providing fast line payout and reducing wear on components Single lubricant for all-temperature operation to -40 F Level winders and cable tensioners available on some models Two-speed motor available on some models


he first Ramsey winch was designed by Claude Ramsey back in 1945. Claude and his brother Rayburn had just founded a tool and die company in Tulsa, Oklahoma, when their first front-model winch known as Model 101 was introduced to the public. The new winch became a trusted staple in the towing and recovery industry, hauling countless vehicles out of the snow and mud over the years. The product was so successful, and the demand for their winches so high, that the Ramsey brothers renamed their company Ramsey Winch in 1950. Thirty-seven years later, the man who

invented the Model 101 winch was inducted into the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame. Today, Ramsey Winch continues to flourish, staying in tune with the needs of the market by introducing innovative products across a wide range of industrial, commercial and consumer applications, including snow grooming. At the same time, the company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ramsey Industries, remains true to its roots, continuing to produce industry-leading winches and hoists at its manufacturing facility in Tulsa. Chris Wunsch, director of sales and marketing for Ramsey Winch, says the company’s wide slate of product offerings makes them a good fit for snow grooming, because of diversity of machines used in the industry. Whether you drive a utility snowmobile or the largest on-snow vehicle, chances are Ramsey has a winch for you. “A benefit to the snow grooming user would be that we offer probably one of the largest ranges [of winches]. Line pull ranges are from 2,500 pounds all the way up to 130,000 pounds, so we have a lot of different offerings for different uses,” says Wunsch. “We offer numerous line speeds because not all applications are the same. Many of our winches have a two-speed function.” It’s this ample product line offering with such a large range in towing capacity that sets Ramsey Winch apart. “What we have to offer,” says Wunsch, “is the right product based on your application and equipment.” Snow grooming operators sometimes use winch lines to help haul their

heavy equipment uphill during alpine ski hill grooming. In this setting, as well as in most grooming applications, winches also represent an essential lifeline that can literally pull machines from the brink of disaster. “Typically, you put winches on the snow grooming equipment for selfrecovery,” Wunsch says. “If you’re going out in any kind of environment where your vehicle can be stuck, it’s critical.” Ramsey Winches feature different choices for users: worm gear versus planetary, or electric versus hydraulic, to name a few. According to Wunsch, Ramsey’s planetary hydraulic winches have plenty of muscle and can work in temperatures of up to -40 F/C, which is a feature necessary for most snow grooming operations. If a brand-new website rolled in January is any indication, Ramsey Winch takes its commitment to customer support very seriously. By providing a winch size calculator right on their main page (see, this calculator quickly and easily provides immediate answers to the minimum line pull needed for a vehicle’s curb weight and weight of supplies and equipment on the machine. Wunsch is obviously proud of the site: “We try to provide as much comprehensive information for the users as possible so that they can get the information at their fingertips, from operating manuals to specifications of the winches themselves,” he says. “And also we give users guides and tips on how to pick a winch and what winch you’re going to need.” Choosing a winch, whether indus- | Issue 3 | SNOW GROOMING


trial or off-road, is a task that Ramsey has simplified with exceptional results. Their website not only features the winch size calculator, but is filled with diagrams, manuals, product specifications and literally everything you need to know about winches. Ramsey makes choosing a winch size, easy and clearly understood in a matter of minutes.

Choosing an Industrial Winch

1. Determine the line pull required (if you’re not sure, go to the Ramsey website home page and the calculator will give you a recommendation). 2. Determine the size (diameter) and length of cable required.

3. Where will the line load occur — on the first layer of cable on the drum barrel? The second? The third? 4. Select the proper winch model and determine the first layer rating requires (all winches are rated based on first layer). EXAMPLE: Consider an application that requires a 5,000 pound (2,268 kilo-

gram) line pull and has selected 80 feet (24.3 meters) of 3/8 inch (nine millimeter) diameter cable as the optimum length. This application would require a low-mount hydraulic winch. 80 feet of 3/8 inch cable will build up to three layers on their model H-200 winch, and the winch provides 5,700 pounds (2,580 kilograms) maximum allowable line pull on the third layer. The line speed on this layer would be 17.5 feet/minute at the maximum hydraulic system flow of 15 GPM. Line speed on the first layer would be 12.6 feet/ minute. Also, note that the required hydraulic system pressure is 1,550 PSI minimum. Therefore, the Ramsey Model H-200 winch with 8,000 pounds first layer line pull rating is the best choice for this application. Any change in the wire size alters the formula and needs to be adjusted by the factory.

Safety Primary Concern

“The biggest thing with using a winch in any industry is safety. It’s very important [to always remember when] you’re operating that winch because of the possibility of injury,” says Wunsch. “A lot of winch users don’t realize that.” He stresses that cables under tension can be deadly because of the possibility of a cable snapping and whipping back. “There are some safety concerns when you have a cable under tension, pulling a vehicle up a hill. You need to take that into consideration,” Wunsch says. “You have to do it in a safe manner, absolutely. If you’re not paying attention and not doing it properly, you can hurt yourself.” While winch operators must be aware of and strictly follow safety procedures, the proper care and servicing of equipment is equally important to safe operation. “You’ve got to follow the recommended guidelines for servicing,” says Wunsch. “Is that winch going to perform when you need it?” Wunsch maintains that’s the all-important question for anyone expecting their winch to pull them out of a tight spot. “You need to make sure it’s operating at 100 per cent whether it’s a time of crisis in self-recovery, or if you’re using it as a workhorse on a regular basis.” ❃ | Issue 3 | SNOW GROOMING


Terrain park builder Joe Garbacik uses a 2005 Prinoth BR 350 to make jumps, rails and other unique man-made features at Roundtop Mountain Resort in Lewisberry, Pennsylvania.]

“Really, when you look at it, you’re getting paid to play with a $350,000 Tonka truck in the snow and build things for people to go have fun on.”

Terrain park builder Joe Garbacik says watching videos of others enjoying the features he’s built is one of the biggest rewards of the job.



Using Your

Imagination Pennsylvania resort snow grooming manager Joe Garbacik talks about the challenges — and joys — of building terrain parks. By Mark Halsall


t’s like being paid to be a kid again.” That’s how Joe Garbacik describes his job as a terrain park builder and snow grooming manager at Roundtop Mountain Resort in Lewisberry, Pennsylvania, which is celebrating its 50th year this 2013/14 season. “Really, when you look at it, you’re getting paid to play with a $350,000 Tonka truck in the snow and build things for people to go have fun on,” says Garbacik, who uses a 2005 Prinoth BR 350 to build jumps, rails and other unique man-made features like staircases for adventuresome boarders and freestyle skiers. Garbick says with the direction the industry is going now, “it’s kind of what your imagination can come up with. You can come up with almost anything for someone to play around on.” One of the biggest challenges, according to Garbacik is changing things up for terrain park visitors, who may tire of a feature after a few days. “They want something new, so trying to stay ahead of the curve on that can really be trying at times,” he says. Garbacik says grooming in a terrain park requires attention to detail and “a lot more time than just running up and down the slopes. There’s a lot of backing up, there’s a lot more blade work,

it’s a lot of precision work, so it takes a lot of patience, a lot of time. “For me personally, I’m a stickler for straight lines. I want to make it look like when you start at the top, you have a straight corduroy pass all the way to the bottom —whether that means backing up to the feature three or four times to make sure you have straight lines all the way around it [and have taken] any imperfections out of it. Garbacik says safety is the main reason why many view terrain park grooming as more difficult than the norm. “You have a lot of obstacles to work in and around,” he says. “Every night in grooming, safety is our number one concern. “I mean, you’re building things that could potentially hurt somebody, so you have to be pretty spot on and rely on your park crew to give you the feedback — if you build a jump and it doesn’t hit correctly then you have to make a change. It really requires a really trained eye … to keep it safe for the customers on a daily basis.” Garbacik started grooming at Roundtop in 2006, and since then he’s attended a half dozen cutters camps that are held specifically for terrain park builders and groomers at two locations in Vermont and Oregon. “You’re all there for the same purpose, to build a quality safe terrain

park,” Garbacik says. “You don’t just learn from the panelists that they bring in but you learn from each other… What works for the beginners in a terrain park, what works for the more advanced riders, how to mix that stuff in, how to keep constant flow in your terrain park, how to keep it safe, how to build something that’s going to push the limit of the rider, but also keep it safe so somebody’s not going to get hurt on a feature that you’ve built.” In Garbacik’s eyes, terrain park grooming may more challenging than trail grooming or flat tracking, but that also makes it more rewarding. “It’s something different,” he says. “It breaks up the monotony of the night when you can actually go out there and build something … you are creating something that you can see right in front of you, rather than just flat corduroy on a slope. You’re seeing something that you’ve built out of snow, and that’s pretty cool.” For Garbacik, another perk of the job is watching others enjoy the fruits of his effort on the worldwide web. “You see videos on social media sites and stuff like that, you’re reading some of the feedback and seeing some of the pictures of kids hitting something that you’ve built,” he says. “For me that’s one of the biggest rewards, that’s why I like doing it so much.” ❃ | Issue 3 | SNOW GROOMING


Arctic Cat brings utility sleds to a whole new level Arctic Cat’s Bearcat 5000 XT Groomer Special is built to groom without breaking the bank. By Connie Lester 24



hen we think of snowmobiles, we think of enjoyable, recreational snowmobiling. Whether it’s snowmobiling by trail, or mountainous deep snow adventures, for the most part we think of the fun uses when it comes to snowmobiles. Although there are many people in remote areas who utilize snowmobiles as their main mode of transportation every day, the majority of sleds sold in more populated regions are for recreational use. In fact, many snowmobile manufacturers (you know who you are) have marketing plans targeted toward snowmobile “enthusiasts” and very little sales promotion is directed towards

the utility-use markets. These “on-snow vehicles” represent a utilitarian opportunity that’s being missed throughout North America. Arctic Cat is making great efforts to change this attitude. The company has been working on the Bearcat Groomer Special since winter 2009 and it has developed a snowmobile designed specifically for grooming snow and utilitybased uses as well. I had a chance to visit with Joey Hallstrom, Artic Cat’s product manager for the Bearcat Groomer Special, at Snow Grooming Magazine’s Launch Party in January. Arctic Cat had brought two 2014 production models of the Bearcat 5000 XT GS, and invited snow groom- | Issue 3 | SNOW GROOMING


Two Bearcats in action for test rides at Launch Party

Local operators discuss experiences at bearcat test ride

Discussing the benefits to cross country trail groomers

The new Bearcat 5000 XT Groomer Special is described as the ultimate “on-snow utility vehicle” and it should be considered as an option for snowmobile clubs, cross-country ski and Nordic grooming organizations, and especially ski resorts. ing organizations to take the snowmobiles out for test rides. Those who tried them out were all experienced snow grooming operators and managers with snowmobile clubs, cross-country ski centers and downhill ski resorts. I asked people what they thought, and the common reaction was that of surprise. Most of these grooming managers had used snowmobiles for grooming in the past with little positive response, but they were pleasantly surprised at the handling, towing capability and options to be found on the Bearcat 5000 XT Groomer Special.


When I asked several groomer operators who tested the Bearcat for their opinions, every answer was positive. Even though each group’s needs may be slightly unique, the common response was that it was surprising to be able to move the snowmobile slowly for long periods of time while pulling the Arctic Cat groomer attachment, but once you needed the horsepower to get out of deeper snow, the sled reacted quickly and effortlessly. Also, the overall feedback on towing was incredible. The towing capability Bearcat 5000 XT Groomer Special


was said to be like no other sled used by the riders who tested this machine. Regarding comfort and handling, the feedback was once again positive, with most saying that they felt very comfortable while in turns, and while pulling the drag for long periods of time. The overall feedback was that the Bearcat is definitely in the running to become the top utility sled for multi-use utility needs on snow. The new Bearcat 5000 XT Groomer Special is described as the ultimate “on-snow utility vehicle” and it should be considered as an option for snow-

mobile clubs, cross-country ski and Nordic grooming organizations, and especially ski resorts. This machine comes with a four-stroke, 5000 C-TEC4 engine, which has lower emissions and gets 125-class HP at the drop of a hat. This durable engine has superior lowend torque for pulling power and slow speed operation. It also allows for low RPM, less heat, less noise and less vibration. The machine’s articulating rear suspension allows you to choose from straight-rail frame or loosen the springs for full articulating motion that is great for pulling a drag. Push-button reverse, electric start, hitch, front receiver bumper, accessory outlet, engine heater, winch, light bar, flood light, beacon light, radiator, and actuator switches are all built standard on the Bearcat 5000 XT Groomer Special. This makes it a great machine for the needs of snow grooming operations in all sectors. The price, at about $14,000 (C$16,000) is well worth comparing to the cost of small and mid-sized groom-

Groomer Operator testing out the New Bear Cat Groomer Special by Arctic Cat

ers that start at $25,000 and can go as high as $100,000 for a used machine. The fact that Arctic Cat also has options like rear receiver bumper, receiver hitch, side rails, snow plow, remote electric start and back up lights means that this sled can be fitted for any type of need on the hill or in the trails.

So, if your club or organization is looking to find a small to mid-sized groomer, consider the new Bearcat 5000 XT Groomer Special. It may not fit every application but this Bearcat is an option to be taken seriously when considering a multi-purpose utility onsnow vehicle. â?ƒ | Issue 3 | SNOW GROOMING


Track conversion kits from Gilbert Products turn farm tractors into snow groomers. Seen here is a Case Maxum six-cylinder tractor equipped with a 10-foot wide RTS system.

Trail Grooming is a Package Deal

The unique product offering from Gilbert Products, which combines a conversion track kit, a front blade snow plough and a rear drag to enable farm tractors to be transformed into heavy-duty snowmobile trail groomers. By Mark Halsall


ilbert Products is a diversified equipment and utility track vehicle manufacturer that made its name in sawmilling and affiliated forestry products. The Quebec company has carved also a solid reputation in the snowmobile trail grooming industry with a unique product offering that transforms tractors from such well-known farm deal-


ers as Case and John Deere into heavyduty snow groomers. “Gilbert is a well-known name in the snow grooming industry. For more than 25 years, we have helped our customers to improve their trail systems while giving the best ride experience to the trail users. Gilbert is considered as a key partner in this industry with reliable, durable and superior perfor-


mance grooming solutions,” says Alex Gravel, sales and marketing manager for Gilbert Products. “Gilbert’s commitment is, and has always been, to offer machines and equipment that will create the best quality trails while doing it efficiently with low operating costs and superior reliability — both crucial aspects of successful snow grooming.”

RTS systems come in a nine- or 10foot wide configurations to fit most trail systems. Seen here is a John Deere 65 Series four-cyclinder tractor equipped with nine-foot wide RTS system.

The tw principal offerings in Gilbert’s snow grooming stable are the MCS and RTS Series, two track conversion systems installed on standard agricultural tractors that are driven with a internal drive sprocket for a smooth ride. “They can be installed on any tractor make and model rated between 100 and 160 horsepower. Modern farm tractors are high-tech, reliable working machines that meet new emissions regulations,” Gravel says, adding that on both the MCS and RTS models, new 77-gallon or 350-litre fuel tanks have been added to increase time between fill-ups. According to Gravel, the first Gilbert snow groomers were all equipped with steel-cleat track systems. But the product line has evolved to keep pace with changing market conditions, with a big change being the introduction of allrubber tracks. “As the industry has developed and improved, we have seen a greater need for multipurpose use,” Gravel says. “In many areas, weather conditions have changed significantly and many operators are having to groom long hours under difficult and changing snow conditions. “Based on the same two-track concept/design in our earlier models, we

introduced the all-rubber track RTS Series in 2009 to meet these industry changes. Our goal was to keep the flotation, traction and climbing abilities of its predecessor’s series and to create the most comfortable and smoothest ride for the operator.” Equipped with all-rubber tracks, the RTS Series is built for greater versatility in a wide variety of conditions and for various needs. “They can operate on dry pavement and dirt roads, as well as in mud, water or deep, powdered snow,” Gravel explains. He says the RTS system is available in a nine- or 10-foot wide configuration to fit most trail systems, adding that a narrower model is actually in development.

Gravel calls Gilbert’s MCS Series, also known as the Trail Master, “the perfect snow groomer for deep and powdered snow conditions.” That’s because the metal cleated track system supported by sliders provides an exceptional degree of flotation. “Both RTS and MCS track systems can be equipped with our Crawler Track Steering System which enables operators to use the machine without the drag for early trail preparation,” he says. Gilbert Products prides itself on making machines that can be put to many uses, and which are reliable, user-friendly and easy to maintain. Gravel maintains all Gilbert vehicles are recog-

Specifications for Case Tractor Fitted with RTS Series System Case 125LTD Series 6 cylinder, 125 horsepower, semi power shift transmission Beacon lights, work lights, CD AM/FM radio player Air suspension seat and instructor seat 30-inch rubber tracks Six-way front blade with exclusive tripping system 10 foot drag with storage boxes and light bar Brush guard for cabin | Issue 3 | SNOW GROOMING


Groomers in Gilbert’s MCS Series are equipped with steel-cleat track sytems, making them ideal for deep and powdered snow conditions.

nized for their superior traction, exceptional flotation and operator comfort, especially RTS series groomers. Something else that Gilbert is known for is providing a one-stop shop for outfitting vehicles to perform snow grooming operations. “Since the beginning, Gilbert has always considered the snow groomer as a whole system, which explains why we have developed a complete package: conversion track kit, front blade snow plough, and the rear drag,” says Gravel. “It is the combination of these three components that creates an optimal grooming performance. “First, we have always believed in the importance of bringing the maximum amount of snow underneath the rear drag. This is why we have designed our six-way front blade with an exclusive tripping system,” says Gravel, adding this unique system allows the operator to use the front blade on the ground at all times, cutting through moguls as it absorbs impacts. The blade takes in snow from the sides and layers it on top of the trail, increasing the trail surface thickness. “As for the track system, Gilbert engineers believe a groomer must be capable of working no matter what the weather or snow conditions are. This is why each model offers superior traction and flotation. The two


The six-way front blade on Gilbert groomers has been designed with a unique tripping system, which allows operators to use the front blade on the ground at all times to cut through moguls and layer snow on top of the trail to increase surface thickness.]

30-inch wide tracks on each machine provide constant ground contact for exceptional flotation and minimum ground-pressure. The chassis design allows optimal stability and maximum continuous grip, making our groomers unbeatable on winding trails and steep slopes,” says Gravel.


“Finally, the rear drag provides the final touch during trail grooming. Our heavy-duty drag equipped with six multi-blade configurations maximizes the flow of snow to ensure a hard pack, smooth, flat and durable trail.” According to Gravel, the installation of the MCS and RTS Series components

can be done either at Gilbert’s state of the art factory in Roberval, Quebec, or at the dealer, depending on the preference of customers.” “Gilbert provides turn-key grooming solutions to the North American market though a well-established network that creates a simple and easy acquisition experience for the customers,” Gravel says. “With an after-sale support staff available 24/7, a training program available for operators about maintenance and operation, Gilbert is a one-stop shop for all the grooming needs.” Gravel says Gilbert is highly tuned to market needs, and they plan to continue to add models and new sizes to their tracked vehicle line-up in response to customer demand. “We are listening to our customers and work closely with them, In fact, they are involved in the design process with our engineers,” he says. “We are also working closely with our partners, dealers and tractor manufacturers to stay on top of the technology and adapt to conditions which evolve

The 30-inch rubber tracks on the RTS system provide constant ground contact for exceptional flotation and minimum ground pressure.]

rapidly,” Gravel adds. “Gilbert’s mission is to constantly develop, manufacture and sell the best market-driven equipment to help businesses optimize their core production. This means continu-

ing to improve reliability and operator comfort and maintain our focus on easy maintenance.” ❃ | Issue 3 | SNOW GROOMING


SNOW GROOMERS “You will like what we leave behind” For the best quality snow groomers and over-snow vehicle trailers, look no further than Maxey Manufacturing.




years i busin n ess

See you at the ISA Convention in Keystone Colorado Maxey Manufacturing | 2101 Airway Ave., Fort Collins, CO 80524 970-482-1202





By listening to the needs of its customers, Maxey Manufacturing has built a legacy of groomer innovation that has not gone unnoticed by the snowmobiling community. By Kelly Gray


n business, reputation is everything. To be a consistent success you must walk the talk every day. Maxey Manufacturing has been doing just this since 1969 when founder Loren Maxey took his agricultural engineering background and married it with a small trailer manufacturing business in Fort Collins, Colorado. Word spread quickly about the precision engineering, durability and innovation of the company’s work. Today, if you can pull it, Maxey Man-


ufacturing can make it. Its product and service range includes not just trailers, hitches and custom manufacturing items, but a line of snow groomers with a tradition that have made them leaders in a very demanding industry. In fact, the company’s first patent dates back to 1971 when a lightweight drag groomer was custom built for Colorado’s Winter Park Ski Area. Now the company has taken its 40plus years of experience and sharpened its focus into a single line of snow


groomers for snowmobile trails that is engineered to meet each customer’s unique snow challenges. Maxey Manufacturing’s Generation II MWE Snowmobile Trail Groomer offers flexibility and innovation that has placed it at the front of its class thanks to design input from North America’s top snow professionals and resort destinations. Be it deep snow, paddle-track shredded moguls, worn snow, or hard-packed snow and ice, the Generation II handles a wide range of conditions that are

Piston Bully 100 pulling a Lite Trax Generation II MWE 884 in Idaho. This model is an eight-foot wide, eight-foot long, four-blade custom groomer with fixed pan and rear light kit.

as specific as the dips and gullies of a world-class snowmobile run. According to Loren’s son Carl Maxey, who is the company’s general manager, Maxey Manufacturing’s primary focus in snow grooming equipment today is a simple customer-friendly platform. Once they understand the user’s needs, the company can offer a configuration that will get the job done with the power the customer has on hand. “When you deal with grooming snow, you have to take into account

This Lite Trax Generation II MWE 884 model, an eight-foot wide, eightfoot long, four-blade custom groomer with fixed pan and rear light kit, was sold to the State to Idaho.

snow type, trail width and terrain,” says Maxey, adding those factors along with the available horsepower of the customer’s over snow vehicle are assessed to determine the best configuration of blades to get the job done. “We can configure the blades in a series of lengths, widths and gap spacing to put in six, eight, 10 or 12 blades,” Maxey says. “You just select the width, length and number of blades for what you want to do.” He adds the most popular configurations are six or 12 blade combos.

The groomer incorporates a blade linkage design that allows for six-inch or eight-inch concave blades, with the eight-inch blades delivering a two-inch wear surface, a feature that reduces replacement costs by half. The Generation II also features a unique pivoting pan option that helps the blades shape and homogenize the snow as the groomer passes over the track. “Without the pivoting pan,” he says, “there is no incorporation of the old and new [snow]. In addition, the | Issue 3 | SNOW GROOMING


Lite Trax offers an innovative pivoting pan option that enables the groomer blades to shape and blend snow. The yellow pivoting pan feature is evident at the back of this GII MWE 10126 model, which is a 10-foot wide, 12-foot long, six-blade groomer that also features a gooseneck hitch

pivoting pan feature helps prevent snow from spilling out over the sides and also regulates the snow outflow from the rear of the drag. The hitch at the front end of the groomer is equally important. Here, the Generation II groomer incorporates an anti-scalp hitch linkage that can be pinned in place. This in-place pinning system allows the operator of the over snow vehicle to more easily unhook the device from the sled or ATV. The hitch also features a bronze bushing and two hydraulic cylinders that limits vibration and side-to-side oscillation of the frame, Maxey says. The cylinders also work to pull the groomer’s front blades deep into trail moguls to limit scalping. Maxey adds that the width of the hitch reduces or eliminates the action known as ‘duck


Generation II Snowmobile Trail Groomer Models and Sizes Model Number MWE 7166 MWE 8166 MWE 9166 MWE 10166 MWE 9186 MWE 10186 MWE 12186 MWE 81812 MWE 91812 MWE 101812 MWE 121812

Width 7 feet, 4 inches 8 feet, 4 inches 9 feet, 4 inches 10 feet, 4 inches 9 feet, 4 inches 10 feet, 4 inches 12 feet 8 feet, 4 inches 9 feet, 4 inches 10 feet, 4 inches 12 feet

walking’ where the groomer waddles from side to side on the track. According to Maxey, the Generation II differs from the competition in a number of ways. These include the pivoting pan option and taller side frames on the groomer for increased snow containment and greater structure to limit crowning. Another innovative feature on the groomer is the wheel kit utilizing a twin cylinder and torsion axle configuration, a combination that eliminates twisting and provides a safe,


Number of Blades 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 12 12 12 12

Length 16 feet 16 feet 16 feet 16 feet 18 feet 18 feet 18 feet 18 feet 18 feet 18 feet 18 feet

stable ride when the groomer is being towed down roads. While the company’s core sales area has been the western and Pacific Northwest regions of the United States, it is expanding its reach to more locations. According to Maxey, customers in more American Midwest markets are now benefitting from the ability of the Generation II to master the challenges of regional snow conditions that require specific width and blade configurations. The company is now look-

The unique anti-scalp hitch with pin in place feature seen here is standard equipment on all MWE groomers

ing to expand its sales area into other Midwestern markets and to the east, he says. As well, Maxey Manufacturing has some new products in the pipeline.

These include a line of smaller platform drags for the under 180-horsepower class of over-snow vehicles. Maxey says the idea is to take the company’s existing technology and knowledge base

about bigger trail grooming machines, and retool this for small- and mediumsized drags. ❃

SNOW BUSINESS...IS OUR BUSINESS Track is the Midwest’s source for competitively priced, reliable, new and used snow grooming equipment and vehicles. We offer a wide range of versatile groomers and trail maintenance equipment from top manufactures. We have brought safe and fun, groomed snow trails to thousands of snow sport enthusiasts, including snowmobilers, alpine and cross-country skiers and snowboarders. Whether you have thin snow, hard snow, soft snow, wide trails or narrow trails, we can help you find the snow trail equipment to help you produce a superior trail.

Call 952.888.7372 | Issue 3 | SNOW GROOMING


Filling the Gap between

Big Rigs and Snowmobiles

With American Track Truck’s Dominator Track System, you can convert your car, truck or SUV into a snow grooming vehicle

“There were two choices for grooming. First are the large, heavy, and relatively expensive, dedicated tractors. Then there are utility snowmobiles. There was really nothing in between. Dominator Track Systems fill a gap where nothing previously existed.“


By Mark Halsall


merican Track Truck is the brainchild of a few friends in Chassel, Michigan, a small community in the state’s snowy Upper Peninsula. This group of snow enthusiasts, which included an engineer, a mechanic and a product designer, were frustrated with what they saw as a huge void in tracked vehicle offerings for snow applications: the market gap between snowmobiles and full-sized snow groomers. The end result is Dominator Track Systems, a unique snow grooming solution that’s essentially a conversion kit for transforming your 4X4 or AWD car, truck or SUV into a tracked onsnow vehicle. “There were two choices for grooming. First are the large, heavy, and relatively expensive, dedicated tractors. Then there are utility snowmobiles.


There was really nothing in between, says Jason St. Amour, American Track Truck sales director – North America. “Dominator Track Systems fill a gap where nothing previously existed.“ American Track Truck was established in 2005, and following the initial Sno-Tracks series, the first Dominator track system rolled off the line in 2010. “Trail grooming is a perfect application for [this system] and we continue to see solid sales growth in this industry as more people hear about us,” says St. Amour, who sees particular value for the system in medium-duty grooming needs. “Almost any common 4x4 passenger vehicle can be equipped with Dominator tracks and used to pull snowmobile trail drags, ski trail drags, or snow guns,” he explains. “In many cases our grooming customers have tractor groomers and/or utility snowmobiles already. They pur-

“Almost any common 4x4 passenger vehicle can be equipped with Dominator tracks and used to pull snowmobile trail drags, ski trail drags, or snow guns.”

chase Dominator Track Systems to ‘fill out’ their lineup and offer them more flexibility to handle their ever-changing grooming needs. “Our customers find for instance, that in certain snow conditions, or on certain trails, [this] system is more effective than their other grooming rigs. Sometimes they find that they can reserve the larger grooming tractors for the extreme conditions and use the Dominator Track System the rest of the time. Since the operating and maintenance costs of the passenger vehicle with Dominator tracks is far lower than that of the big rigs, this amounts to a huge cost savings.” According to St. Amour, vehicles equipped with this sytem are capable of pulling groomer drags for snowmobile trails, and they’re also being used to pull cross-country grooming equipment like rollers, ginzus and trackset-

ters. He says American Track Truck is also breaking into the ski hill industry, where customers are finding Dominator Track Systems handy for moving snow guns and general transportation and maintenance use. The tracks simply bolt onto to the hubs of common 4x4 passenger vehicles — eliminating the need to buy a special machine. “While the tracks are installed you have a dedicated tracked vehicle. When the tracks are removed, the vehicle is back to normal and can be used for a daily driver again. There are no permanent changes to the vehicle,” St. Amour explains. “Unlike grooming tractors and snowmobiles, the vehicle does not have to sit idle, depreciating and collecting dust, for the six to eight months each year where it’s not being used,” he says. “Also, the relatively universal design of Dominator tracks allows customers to

swap one track system between multiple vehicles at little or no cost, within minutes in most cases.” Dominator Track Systems are the lightest on the market, says St. Amour, allowing for easy, one-person installation. The tracks attain optimal performance by providing a large floatation surface area, without adding much weight to the vehicle. “Other track systems on the market work against themselves by bogging down the vehicle with excess weight, compromising performance and handling, and causing undue wear and tear,” St. Amour says. He adds the tracks are efficiently designed to consume nearly no power from the vehicle. “Because the tracks move almost effortlessly, the vehicle doesn’t have to work hard to power them, and the vehicle doesn’t experience any more wear and tear than it would with the tires installed. So even | Issue 3 | SNOW GROOMING


Almost any common 4X4 vehicle can be equipped with Dominator tracks to perform snowmobile and ski trail grooming operations

Vehicles equipped with Dominator tracks are used to pull cross-country grooming equipment like rollers, ginzus and tracksetters.

Dominator tracks have improved over time, incorporating design changes to provide plenty of power and traction over a wide range of snow and ice conditions.



the micro 4x4’s with four-cylinder engines are capable of handling Dominator tracks.” According to St. Amour, American Track Truck’s conversion kits have evolved over time. The Dominator series incorporated design changes allowing them to be used on bare ground, bare ice, pavement, or gravel or a mixture of conditions without any significant deterioration problems. In mixed conditions, says St. Amour, “no other vehicle is really appropriate. One significant changes for the series is the addition of a “squirrel cage” design, which has a self-cleaning drive drum to eliminate ice buildup. “There are also accessory drive sprockets available, which protrude through the windows of the rubber track belts to avoid ratcheting under extreme load conditions. These sprockets are supplied as an accessory when needed and bolt on in minutes. The Dominator series also included new wheel bolt patterns to allow installation on nearly every common 4x4 passenger vehicle in existence,” says St. Amour. With the new track system came the introduction of the Dominator XL series, which utilizes longer track belts for increased floatation and stability and improved all-around performance. The Dominator standard tracks use belts that are 121-inches long and 15-inches wide, while the XL tracks use belts 136-inch long and 15-inch wide — which results in nine-inches of additional length on the ground. “The XL tracks offer more surface area for greater floatation,” says St. Amour. “They disperse the vehicles weight over a larger area. Due to the geometry, the XL tracks are inherently more stable. In general, if the vehicle is heavier, or the conditions are more demanding, the XL is the better choice.” The simple, clean design of the Dominator Track System means moving parts are kept to a minimum. “There is nearly nothing to go wrong,” St. Amour says, and any fixes when required are relatively easy. “In fact, most maintenance procedures can be accomplished with a 9/16-inch wrench.” St. Amour says another added feature of DOMINATOR Track Systems is that all of the wear items consist of

Dominator/Dominator XL Comparison Weight (average) Height at center of hub Length on the ground Width on the ground Floatation surface area per track unit Floatation surface area per system

DOMINATOR 176 pounds 21 inches 48 inches 15 inches 720 square inches

DOMINATOR XL 193 pounds 21 inches 57 inches 15 inches 855 square inches

2,880 square inches

3,420 square inches

common snowmobile industry and automotive industry parts. “If the customer ever needs a replacement track belt, bogie wheel, hyfax slide rail, bear-

ing, grease seal, track tensioner, nut, bolt, etc., they can purchase it almost anywhere at a reasonable price. There is no need to purchase overpriced pro-

prietary parts from the manufacturer,” he says. “In fact, American Track Truck doesn’t sell enough replacement parts to even warrant having a parts department — a fact we are happy about.” “Because Dominator Track Systems utilize non-proprietary wear items, the long-term cost of operation is significantly lower than any other track system on the market. And the systems are designed so the wear items last far beyond most customers’ expectations in the first place. There are customers with in excess of 5,000 miles and even 10,000 miles on their systems who haven’t replaced anything yet.” ❃

“The Grooming Professionals”

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Trail Grooming Equipment Specialists “Manufacturer of the Mogul Master Simply the finest trail groomer you can buy”

Sales / Parts / Service


112 Fielding Road, Lively, ON

1 (800) 663 – DRAG | Issue 3 | SNOW GROOMING



Tidd Tech Ltd. changed the face of snow grooming with the Trail Tenderizer. Their new G2 system has done it again. By Kelly Gray


ross-country ski trail grooming has come a long way over the years. Once, all clubs could do was to rely on the expertise and experience of their workers and trail managers to devise their own equipment for packing, levelling and grooming snow trails to create optimum conditions for Nordic skate and classic-style glide tracks. Fortunately, modern engineering and

technology have spawned a wide range of grooming devices that have raised the bar on cross-country skiing, enabling North Americans to more fully embrace this popular winter pastime. When it comes to offering equipment that has positively changed the face of cross-country skiing, one of the clear leaders is Tidd Tech Ltd., the Colorado-based company that back in the early 1990s introduced what many con-

Makers of the Tidd Tech G2 say it performs better in a broader range of conditions than any other lightweight groomer out there. Pictured here is a G2-7 model equipped with two tracksetters. Photo courtesy of James Netz photography.




sider the first commercially available tracksetter that could be hooked up to the back of a snowmobile. Today, Tidd Tech offers not only its innovative Trail Tenderizer that was created by founder John Tidd, but the company has stepped up its offerings with the new G2 (Generation 2) track groomer, a multifaceted device that is the result of 20-plus years of industry-leading experience. While Tidd Tech implements are most strongly associated with crosscountry skiing, they are becoming increasingly popular with other users. “We also have people who are using them to groom snowshoe trails, dogsled trails, sledding hills, tubing hills, in alpine ski resort applications, and snowmobile trails,” says company co-owner Sullivan, adding a Tidd Tech implement was even used to groom a frozen lake for kite skiing. The company’s focus on innovation is tied to shifting styles within crosscountry skiing, which have placed new demands on groomer operators who must create classic tracks for those who prefer the traditional kick and glide technique as well as wider trails (as much as eight feet wide) for those who enjoy the newer freestyle Nordic skate approach.

“The G2 performs better in a broader range of conditions than any other groomer out there.”

Tidd Tech’s Trail Tenderizer is an economical, multipurpose implement that has the ability to groom cross-country trails for both skating and classical skiing styles in a variety of conditions. For more than 20 years, the Tenderizer has essentially written the book on trail grooming thanks largely to a foundation of five primary design con-

cepts: the machine is lightweight; it’s the right size for efficient grooming; it delivers controlled, effective renovation; it delivers consistent high quality tracksetting; and it offers an all-around grooming capability that very few in the industry can match for price and performance. A number of features enable the Trail

Tenderizer to groom in a range of conditions. For example, the angle of the compaction bed is easily adjustable to suit snow conditions from powder to frozen hardpack. Adjustments to the bed can be accomplished manually with a hand crank or on the fly with the help of an optional electric actuator. There’s also a double row of knife-edge | Issue 3 | SNOW GROOMING


Tidd Tech has stepped up its product offerings with the G2 (Generation 2) track groomer. Seen here is a G2-7 model being pulled by a John Deere Gator 825i.]

Tidd Tech has stepped up its product offerings with the G2 (Generation 2) track groomer. Here, a G2-7 model lays some great corduroy

teeth that allows the machine to renovate hardpack or icy conditions. The teeth also work to grade or level a trail by removing high points and depositing snow in low areas. The front edge of the Trail Tenderizer sports a urethane flap that helps compact powder while the trailing edge is fitted with a flexible urethane comb to create a great finish. Trail Tenderizers are available in four-foot and six-foot widths for operation behind a snowmobile. Extension wings can be added to either the four-foot or six-foot models for additional 24 inches of renovation width. According to Sullivan, the company took the experience of the Trail Tenderizer and added improvements that would make a big difference to users. “The G2 performs better in a broader

range of conditions than any other lightweight groomer out there,” she says. While the Trail Tenderizer is a manually operated machine, the G2 “is electrically operated and all the adjustments on it can be made on the fly,” Sullivan adds. “And it’s a great platform for a broad variety of accessory items that were designed for it.” The G2 comes in three sizes: fourfoot, six-foot and seven-foot widths. The four-foot unit renovates approximately 44 inches and combs 72 inches, while the six-foot unit renovates approximately 68 inches and combs 96 inches. The seven-foot version of the G2 renovates approximately 80 inches and combs 108 inches. The implement has a five-stage snow working system, which is comprised of

There are different sizes of G2’s available, starting with a four-foot width like that of this G2-4 model, seen here equipped with optional wiring kit and a gooseneck hitch.



the snow blades, a depth control system, a toothbar, a free-flowing compaction bed and a comb that exerts its own down-pressure. Sullivan says each one of these stages contributes to the removal of air in the snow. This creates better snow molecule adhesion, leading to a firmer, more stable and smooth skiing surface,” she explains. Sullivan says the G2 doesn’t plough snow but uses its adjustable blades to keep it on the trail. As well, the G2’s hardened steel teeth enable the groomer to cut into hardpack snow or even ice. This feature, combined with the implements’ depth control system, allows the G2 operator to have great control over the depth of cut on their trail surface while grooming. “The depth control system has been kind of a game changer in our niche, and the ability to control the depth of cut of your teeth has made grooming easier,” says Sullivan. In the past, operators needed to constantly check behind them and make adjustments to the toothbar in response to trail undulations. The G2 unit comes equipped with electric actuators for raising and lowering both toothbar and tracksetter on the fly, preventing problems like ‘diving’ where the toothbar ploughs down into snow, Sullivan says. To make the package complete, the G2 comes with an optional gooseneck hitch that increases ‘turn-ability’ of the groomer and the overall ‘drive-ability’ of the vehicle pulling it. Sullivan advises placing the hitch ball as far forward on the sled as possible with the goal being to be as close as possible to the sled’s centre of gravity. This means sled

G2 Specifications Model G2 – 4 (Without Tracksetter) G2 – 6 (Without Tracksetter) G2 – 7 (Without Tracksetter) Tracksetter

Combed Width Flaps Down

Combed Width Flaps Up

Renovation Width

Length Hitch On

Length Hitch Off


72 inches

48 inches

44 inches

94 inches

88 inches

245 pounds

96 inches

72 inches

68 inches

101 inches

95 inches

320 pounds

108 inches

84 inches

80 inches

96 inches

90 inches

365 pounds






75 pounds

operators can come into corners tight and leave them wide so that skiers can enjoy the maximum room between track and trail edge. It also means more control on dips and valleys for a more professional trail. Tidd Tech also offer a wide range of optional equipment and implement add-ons, such as a deep-ribbed roller built with heavy-gauge HDPE (high density polyethylene) double-wall culvert material to ensure the trail preparation work is done right. The bottom line, concludes Sullivan, is that it is easy to groom a good ski trail when conditions are perfect. However, when you have low snow, old snow or deep snow, ice, or an imperfect subsurface, Tidd Tech is the company with the snow grooming equipment innovations that keep Nordic skiers kicking and gliding. ❃

– rks ue a P Tube Reven New ator! e h T er Gen

The G2 comes equipped with electric actuators that enable operators to raise and lower the tracksetter on the fly.

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Mike Bouffard of Smuggler’s Notch Resort

Ethan Slavinski Taken at Treetops resort

Chris Meyer at Telluride Terrain Parks

Marc Jeff Stewart taken at the Alaskan border north of Stewart BC

We are so delighted to have been “Liked” 1,300+ times in such a short span of time. As part of our social media community participation, we want to show the facebook universe our groomers’ world when they’re out there grooming the snow so we can have a fun and safe time out on the snow.



Chris Meyer at Telluride Terrain Parks

ch Winners


Joe Kruse taken at the Coburn Mountain Summit 5th | Issue 3 | SNOW GROOMING


Road to

Bjorn Taylor, snow groomer operator who helped coach Canada’s crosscountry ski team at the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

“Up there, you get every kind of snow and weather condition you can imagine — sometimes all within a couple of hours of each other — so you really have to learn your trade. That’s where most of my snowcat grooming experience was honed, up on the glacier.”



Snow groomer operator Bjorn Taylor among those helping Canada’s crosscountry skiers compete at Paralympic Games. By Mark Halsall


or more than a decade, snow groomer operator Bjorn Taylor has been helping Canada’s top cross-country skiers compete on the world stage, most recently at the Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia. “They’re an amazing bunch of athletes,” says Taylor, who served as Canada’s Para-Nordic and Biathlon development team coach in Sochi. “You have to give them full credit; they train every bit as hard and race every bit as hard as any Olympic athlete at any level. We always treat them as an athlete first.


“The fact that they have to overcome different challenges to actually get their training and racing done, that’s just part of the draw to helping these guys out,” he says. “They’re fantastic people, and they always appreciative of any help and support they get.” A services specialist and snow groomer operator at Strathcona Wilderness Centre near Edmonton, Alta., Taylor was contracted by Cross Country Canada to help prepare Canada’s Paralympians for Sochi. Taylor used to work full-time as Canada’s Paralympic program coordinator. He also served as high perfor-

Bjorn Taylor uses a 2009 PistenBully 100 Nordic fully equipped with tiller and dual tracksetters to groom trails at the Strathcona Wilderness Centre near Edmonton, Alta.]

mance director for Canada’s national ski team, and it was in this capacity that Taylor cut his teeth as a snow groomer. Starting in 2001, he spent a half dozen summers grooming trails at Haig Glacier, a seasonal training facility for high-performance athletes located in Peter Loughheed Provincial Park in the heart of Alberta’s Kananaskis Country.

“Up there, you get every kind of snow and weather condition you can imagine — sometimes all within a couple of hours of each other — so you really have to learn your trade. That’s where most of my snowcat grooming experience was honed, up on the glacier,” says Taylor, who considers snow grooming more of a craft than an operational job.

Taylor says trying to provide the best tracks possible for Olympic and national caliber athletes was an ongoing challenge on the glacier (now known as the Beckie Scott High-Performance Training Centre) during the summer training season running from June to October. “You get anything from a metre of | Issue 3 | SNOW GROOMING


Bjorn Taylor posing in March, 2011 with other members of Canada’s gold medal winning Paralympic team in Khanty-Mansysk, Russia, site of the 2011 International Paralympic Committee World Championships. Pictured in front row (left to right) are: Joanne Tosh, team physio; Colette Bourgonje, gold medal winner at the event; Chris Klebl, gold medal winner; and Taylor, coach/technician. Pictured in back row (left to right) are: Laurent Roux, wax tech; Robin McKeever, coach; Erik Carleton, guide; Bruce Johnson, wax tech; Brian McKeever, gold medal winner; Ian Daffern, wax tech; Kaspar Wirz , biathlon coach; and Mike Edwards, team leader.

“They’re an amazing bunch of athletes. You have to give them full credit; they train every bit as hard and race every bit as hard as any Olympic athlete at any level. We always treat them as an athlete first.” snow to rain, ice, hail,” he says. “A lot of times in mid-summer you’re grooming mush, so you’re trying to deal with really highly transformed granular ice more than snow and make a track out of that. “Picking the optimal time [to groom] quite often meant hiking back up the glacier at about 8 or 9 o’clock, waiting for the sun to go down on the moun-


tain, and then hitting it right before it froze solid,” says Taylor. “That was definitely a big challenge.” These days, Taylor travels with Canada’s Paralympic cross-country skiers to various World Cup events as a coach but he doesn’t lay tracks, since host venues provide their own groomers. However, there are often occasions when Taylor calls on his extensive


snow grooming experience to provide advice. “If we see things that aren’t working quite as well for the different disability groups, I will consult with the groomers and technical officials to say, can we change this, can we move this,” he says, “Usually we come to an agreement that we can make things better.” ❃




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