If you haven't been to a meeting in a while you might not have heard that JCTRA recently purchased a new addition to our trail building arsenal, it's called a Morrison Trailblazer.
The Trailblazer was purchase through a government auction from a USFS Ranger district in Mackay, Idaho for $2500. Ed and I endured the long drive to retrieve the unit...12 hours each way!
The Morrison Trailblazers were designed to build single-track trails. About 60 of them were built primarily to work on the Pacific Crest Trail system. Ours was built in 1982. The track width of the machine is only 30" wide and can be narrowed to 24" if necessary. The unit weighs in at 2300 lbs so we can haul it up the hill with any 1/2 ton pickup.
The Trailblazders are no longer in production, but the guy that designed and built them is still in business down in Medford, Oregon. The machines are designed to be maintained in the field. The frame of the machine is built from steel and any part can be easily fabricated. There are no proprietary castings or unobtainable assemblies on this machine. All of the parts are commonly available from a hydraulics shop or bearing house. The unit is powered by an Onan 24 HP twin cylinder gas engine which drives a hydraulic pump. The whole machine runs off of hydraulics.
After we got the machine home I took it down and pressure washed the years of grease and grime off of it, then Ed cam over and we changed all of the fluids and filters on the machine. It also needed a battery. The machine is completely functional as it sits right now, but there's a few things that need to be done to it before we put it to use.
Due to it's narrow width and substantial weight we will be installing a roll bar before the machine is used on the trails. Some wiring needs to be replaced and many of the old control levers need to be tightened up to enable smooth operation of the machine out on the trails.
The previous owners swapped out the hydraulic track drive motors for some more powerful but slower drives which work really well, but the mounting flanges they fabricated for them were not designed well. Ed and I found them bent and worn out, so we swapped the stock units back in for the time being. Dennis is working on having a new set of flanges cut so we can run the better drives. We'll also need to buy or build a trailer for the unit. It's substantial weight and small foot print bent my ATV trailer. It also needs heavy duty tie down anchor points to keep the machine from moving around on a trailer.
The Trailblazer will be ready to rock by early spring when the new trail construction is scheduled to begin. The primary purpose of the machine is to construct single-track trails. As the DNR plan allows for building several miles of single-track, the machine will be very useful once we get a few people trained as operators.
If you're interested in checking the machine out it's at my house for now. Feel free to give me a call and come over and see our new toy!