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Thread: ATV tracks, mud, roots, and stumps

  1. #1

    Default ATV tracks, mud, roots, and stumps

    We have a small cabin in the Petersville area and itís about a 2.5 mile trail going in. Up until this year it was mostly only us and our neighbors using the trail, going in with ATVs in the summer. With the light traffic things were generally fine. Now, at least a half a dozen other people are building cabins in the area and using the trail and it has deteriorated dramatically.

    Iím getting tired of using the winch and looking for a better option. I suppose and 8-wheel argo with tracks would have no trouble at all. But, my bank account would. Iím intrigued with the idea of putting tracks on my ATV since it is a much less expensive option (although not cheap). Iíve read through some of the other threads on ATV tracks and have one major concern.

    Since the trail is still fairly young, a lot of the muck holes have lots of roots, stumps, and remains of long ago fallen trees buried in the mud. Iíve read that you can get stuck with a log in between the tracks and it can be a bear to get out.

    Opinions are nice and all, but does anyone have real world experience in driving an ATV on tracks down a very muddy trail in the woods??

  2. #2
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    If you're looking for summer access, you'd better look at Mattracks, which are pretty much the only real all-season ones out there. The bad news is that they are the priciest, too--figure somewhere on the order of $5k-$7K for a set. However, there presently are a set or two available on Craigslist.

    I run a set of winter-only tracks, so I can't address the mud issues directly, but I have run in all kinds of snow, and I guess that wet snow would be a rough approximation of mud, when it comes to support and resistance. Tracks are much less likely to get stuck in slush, than in light powder. However, the heavy stuff puts a lot of stress on your CVT belt if you aren't already in low and/or running a clutch kit.

    First of all, tracks add several hundred pounds to your rig, and require that you either run in low gear, or have a big-bore machine to power them, particularly in something like mud.

    The log concern with tracks is similar to high-centering with wheels. Most systems have a parallelogram-shaped front track which will climb over obstacles (like logs), but only a triangular-shaped rear track, which does not have a leading edge designed for climbing--it just follows the front track over something. A problem can arise if the front track clears a small obstacle (like a log across the trail) before the rear track climbs up on it. The angle of the tracks under the footwell (the space between the tracks) is not oriented such that they can easily climb over something rising up between them, so it can be hard to power over it, or back up. Plus, a tracked wheeler weighs roughly as much as a side-by-side.

    Now that I've scared you, let me point out that with tracks, you are likely to "float" over the muddy trail, sinking down a mere fraction of what tires would. On a cleared trail, I wouldn't really worry about this root/log issue, or maybe bring a few pieces of lumber along to use a ramps just to be safe where you think you might need them. Instead, trying to run tracks through fallen trees would be a much bigger problem.

    Just like with tires, the trick with tracks through the soft stuff is momentum--you want the tracks clawing their way forward, and not down.

  3. #3
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    Get with your new neighbors and have a trail party. If you donít the holes will only get bigger and deeper.

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    New member AKDSLDOG's Avatar
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    We are addressing this trail issue as we speak rick. Save your money! For our trail it's not worth it.

    I thought the same thing, I was the first to pioneer the north side and figured I would have it all to myself for a few years. Not the case, that place sold like hot cakes this last 2 years.

    Curt

  5. #5

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    We did the trail party thing last year. 4 valuable weekends last June spent working on the trail. It definitely helped on the section of trail we worked on. However, there is lots more bad trail and I really didn't buy land and build a cabin on it to spend 1/3 of my summer weekends working on trails only to still have to use a winch to get through.

    Curt, you should drive the north trail now. What a mess.

    As far as needing low gear to run tracks, no problems we run low gear now. I was looking at the TDJ Cat tracks, they claim to be for mud too and about a grand cheaper than the Mattracks. We don't put a lot of miles on the machine - just need to get in 2.5 mi on Friday night and back out 2.5 miles on Sunday.

    I figured I could also use them to haul loads to the cabin in the winter. I've been using my 800 RMK for that and it don't like it.

  6. #6
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    Polaris 6 wheeler with tracks. Not the UTV, the ATV. Perfect choice.
    Tennessee

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    Iíve been using hunting trails for over 40 years and for several years Iíve been using a big track machine. I have not used my winch in several years to get out of a mud hole. The secret is not having a track machine, itís doing a little trail maintenance.

    I was thinking you could use pallets to reinforce your trail. They are free and easy to get. You could also place a couple of scrap planks from a saw mill on top of the pallets in real bad spots. It would not be hard to make a small pull trailer, out of pallets and 2x4 to bring in the pallets. If youíre interested in buying a track machine, I do have several.

    Polaris 6x6 with tracks is a good choice, but not the best. Three or four years ago, I took a friend hunting. The next year he bought a 6x6 after only one trip he added tracks then big tires in front. The last time he went in he only got stuck one time and I was carrying all his gear. Last year he could not go, so I let a new guy use my Yamaha. He must have gotten stuck 10 times going in and only 5 times coming out. I just bought a Polaris 6x6 with tracks so he will not keeping getting stuck.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rutting Moose View Post
    Iíve been using hunting trails for over 40 years and for several years Iíve been using a big track machine. I have not used my winch in several years to get out of a mud hole. The secret is not having a track machine, itís doing a little trail maintenance.

    I was thinking you could use pallets to reinforce your trail. They are free and easy to get. You could also place a couple of scrap planks from a saw mill on top of the pallets in real bad spots. It would not be hard to make a small pull trailer, out of pallets and 2x4 to bring in the pallets.
    Rutting Moose, thanks for the response but I don't think you understand the magnitude of the problem. We're not talking a little maintenance. The first mile of trail has around $30K and hundreds of manhours invested in it and it is OK, not great but OK. A mile and a half still to go. A fully loaded 40' trailer of pallets still wouldn't be enough.

    A big track rig is out of the question too. Both trail and bridges are too small.

    A Polaris 6x6 isn't out of the question, but the machine I have (Outlander Max) is under used as is. My thought was that tracks could make the machine fill a need in the winter too (hauling and trail grooming) and I'd get more use out of it.

    I was hoping someone that has tracks on their ATV would chime in.

  9. #9
    Member tjm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NorthRick View Post
    I was looking at the TDJ Cat tracks, they claim to be for mud too and about a grand cheaper than the Mattracks.
    The TJD's are for year round use as well...They work well but your concerns of logs are very warranted...I had TJD's on a side by side and they are pretty awesome in mud and snow but logs are kryptonite to a tracked up wheeler....if you can cross at an angle you won't have an issue, but if you get a log in between the tracks you'll need a piece of wood to use as a ramp as sr12345 suggested...

    ..as of a couple of years ago there was only 2 distributers in the US for the TJD's which are made in Canada....One of them is in Colorado and he said that he'd sell a set of TJD's for any wheeler (not side by side) delivered to AK for $3000,...a buddy purchased a set last summer at that price but not sure if he's giving the same deal now....if you're interested I'll dig up his number for you...
    ------------------------------------------------
    pull my finger....

  10. #10

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    Yeah, I would appreciate the number. I'm coming to the conclusion that the only way I'm going to know if these will work for me is to pull the trigger and buy a set.

  11. #11
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    Default Tracks

    Hope you read all the posts about tracks. I do have real life experience and still use a set of Mattrax. If you are only using them mostly mud and snow...even with ruts etc...brand will not matter...I sold my old 700 polaris with Polaris Prospector II tracks (designated snow use only)...a couple grand less than Mattrax...but there is a reason...they don't do very well in hard varied terrian/slush etc...
    I know the people I sold my old rig to and they use the machine to access their cabin in Homer that has your same issue...for what they use it for it works great and has actually made the trail better.
    So if you are only using it to access your cabin and in the snow....the TJDs should work for you...or any brand for that matter.
    If you decide to use tracks for more than that...hunting...exploring...etc...I would highly reccomend Mattrax...and make mods to your machine too...read my prior posts about that..good luck

  12. #12
    Member AkCPO's Avatar
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    Default TJD Colorado dealer

    Quote Originally Posted by tjm View Post
    The TJD's are for year round use as well...They work well but your concerns of logs are very warranted...I had TJD's on a side by side and they are pretty awesome in mud and snow but logs are kryptonite to a tracked up wheeler....if you can cross at an angle you won't have an issue, but if you get a log in between the tracks you'll need a piece of wood to use as a ramp as sr12345 suggested...

    ..as of a couple of years ago there was only 2 distributers in the US for the TJD's which are made in Canada....One of them is in Colorado and he said that he'd sell a set of TJD's for any wheeler (not side by side) delivered to AK for $3000,...a buddy purchased a set last summer at that price but not sure if he's giving the same deal now....if you're interested I'll dig up his number for you...
    I bought mine from him in March '07 for the $3000 price. When I called back about 3 months later he'd had a falling out with TJD and doesn't sell them anymore. You might want to still check with him though in case he's made up with them. I'd send you the link but my PC crashed a few months ago and I lost all of my bookmarks. The only other place that I know of that sells TJD's is www.atvtracks.net.

  13. #13

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    River & Sea in Soldotna also sells TJD tracks, or ar least they did a couple years ago. 262-7402

  14. #14
    New member AKDSLDOG's Avatar
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    Rick I know it's tedious but trail work is part of the game in a place like we are at. So many people these days, trust me, I was sick when I found out you and Stafford bought lots next to me. I figured I had that north ridge to myself for a few years.

    I know you don't like it, but it is easier to get to your place from 118. The 120 is so new that the trail is going to be crap for a while.

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