BASED in Ravenstonedale, Cumbria, Making Trax started life some 30 years ago, working primarily in the field of upland footpath restoration. The region was hit hard by the outbreak of foot-and-mouth in early 2001 and, in a bid to contain the spread of the disease, public rights of way across land were closed by order.

Making Trax, which employed 12 people at the time, was immediately informed it could not carry out contracts as land access was prohibited until October of that year.

The company’s owner, Tom Reeves, recalled: “We paid people until the end of the month and then had to let everyone go. Making Trax started up again in October of that year with a limited staff base. We limped on for a few years more and then I realised I had to get more work within the private sector.”

The business went on to win a good-sized contract outside Lochgilphead which involved the restoration of around 3,000 metres of forest track, which led Tom to shift the focus of the business. He visited Gloucestershire-based machinery supplier, Continental Soil Technology, and the Kirpy range of stone crushers caught his attention.

He explained: “I liked the concept and the idea, but was daunted by the expense and, as often in life, it was a ‘chicken and egg’ situation. I needed the reassurance of work coming in before I made the outlay. This was the opportunity.”

Having seized that opportunity, Making Trax’s work now centres on road construction from spring through to autumn, and in winter the business carries out peatland restoration projects. Tom takes on six self-employed staff to assist with this work, but when it comes to road crushing it’s a one-man operation.

Forestry Journal: Tom Reeves behind the wheel of his John Deere 7530, fitted with Kirpy BPB250 crusher.Tom Reeves behind the wheel of his John Deere 7530, fitted with Kirpy BPB250 crusher.

Clients for road crushing tend to be private estates and farms, primarily for grouse moor roads, shoot roads, estate roads and milking tracks, forestry companies preparing roads for timber extraction and harvesting, hydro schemes and wind farms.

Tom said: “All jobs are different, and some are undoubtedly more successful than others. Very often this can be explained by the geology of the rock, etc. You are never working to any given formula like when you’re mixing cement. 

“For a long stretch of road with limited access, it works really well. It can be incredibly cost-effective as you are basically utilising what you have already got to create a strong and perfectly durable road surface. This can always be added to using building rubble, old walls, concrete, bricks and stone rubble.

“The success of this is often in how long the client is prepared to refrain from using it. On completion, the road needs rain to help it set and then sun to help it bake, so the hardening formula can take days or weeks depending on the weather. While this is going on there is continual rolling of the road surface. If you drive on the road before it’s hardened don’t be surprised if potholes form in the indentations. There is also the drainage to consider. No road is going to have any long-term durability if you can’t get the water off. We get specially made steel cross drains set in concrete, use recycled motorway barriers, again set in concrete, or sometimes create concrete humps.”

When starting a job road crushing you would expect to spend – depending on how big the job is – about a week preparing the road with a 5-tonne excavator, Tom explained. This involves removing as much vegetation as possible and carrying out any drainage work that needs doing.

Tom uses a John Deere 7530 tractor with three attachments to carry out the work. 

“First, you attach the ripper to pull the road up, then you crush the road with the Kirpy BPB 250 stone crusher and then you use the grader blade to create possible camber before rolling,” he said.

“On a good day, you would hope to complete around 300–400 metres.”

And why did he opt for the Kirpy crusher? “It never fails to impress by its sheer durability and doggedness in continuing to push on through any length of road. Sometimes you will rip up a boulder the size of an old telly and you pass over it with a sinking feeling that really you should get out of the tractor and man-handle it to the side – before it sucks it up, chews and then spits it out as aggregate,” Tom said.

Forestry Journal: Tom said the Kirpy BPB250 never fails to impress.Tom said the Kirpy BPB250 never fails to impress.

“The tractor will normally pass over with the crusher in creeper gear at speeds of 0.1–0.5 mph. Depending on the size of the stone, you can go slightly quicker. You would normally pass over a given track around four or five times before you are satisfied with the surface. I have never knowingly over-crushed a road. There have been plenty of times I’ve been worried that I have, but when putting in the cross drains with a pick and spade it’s always hard work, with stone being dug up the size of your fist and bigger. I have had the crusher for nine years and nothing has ever gone wrong with it.”

The BPB250 weighs in at 3,250 kg and features 12 replaceable tungsten-tipped hammers and a hydraulic breaker anvil which crushes rock up to 400 mm and to a depth of 150 mm, a dual belt drive and internal armour plating. The ripper teeth – five steel blades attached by bolts to the ripping arms – are normally changed every other year, Tom said.

Forestry Journal: A forest road in the Scottish Borders. The road has been passed over around two to three times at this point, with another three or four passes needed to achieve the optimum road surface.A forest road in the Scottish Borders. The road has been passed over around two to three times at this point, with another three or four passes needed to achieve the optimum road surface.

“The speed at which you travel depends on the type of rock,” he went on. “The size of the aggregate produced can be altered by adjusting the anvil, i.e. big stone for your base layer, smaller for your middle layer, and then smaller with fines to bind for your top layer. The PTO speed needs to be around 1,000 rpm, with tractor power of 130–140 hp.

“You can add cement to your roads and there are different types of equipment to help you do this but, like everything, it comes with a cost. At the moment I seem to have found a market for the grouse moor roads and the forest harvest tracks and I am happy to continue with this.”

While the crushing season is over for this year, Tom has a number of jobs lined up for 2020, including two or three grouse moor roads in Wensleydale and Swaledale, each running around 2,000 metres in length. Making Trax is also looking at preparing forestry harvesting roads for Tilhill in both Yorkshire and Cumbria, as well as some work for the National Trust in County Durham.

He added: “Like most things in life, you hopefully get wiser to the strengths and weaknesses of what machinery can or can’t do, or what the operator can best achieve out of experience. For the most part, it’s recognising what stone or material just isn’t going to work well within the crushed track.

“I don’t price for site visits and so if I don’t think it’s a runner then I will just be honest and say. The client doesn’t get a weak road surface and I don’t get bogged down trying to produce a miracle out of dust. This is a great way to create a strong and cost-effective road surface, crushing and utilising what material you have to hand, without having to bring in expensive quarried aggregate.”

Making Trax has recently been donating 25p for every metre of road crushed and asking clients if they would be interested in matching this to 50p per metre for the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust’s curlew appeal, which aims to raise awareness of the bird’s decline in breeding across the UK in the last 25 years. Find out more at

For more information on Making Trax, contact Tom Reeves on 01539 623 252, or visit