PB 400: A rookie's review

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PB 400: A rookie's review

Postby admin on 15 Feb 2009, 00:55

Spent tonight in the demo PB 400 at Sugarbush. Just wanted to share a few thoughts.

Overall, I like the machine a lot. This one was setup with sticks (not paddles like the older PBs, but sticks). The operation of the cat is pretty simple, nothing out of the ordinary. I like the new rocker switches, and the computer display. The climate control setup is good... infinitely adjustable fan speed keeps you comfortable all night!

The lighting system is fantastic. I could see well ahead of the machine, but most notably was the lighting in the rear of the cat. The pass behind me was lit up like daytime, for a respectable distance. A huge improvement over the older Edge and 300 models. Very very nice.

The joystick is nice, but I don't like the little red button! I always end up hitting that instead of the other top button for the blade wings. It doesn't help that I've spent quite a lot of time in a BR-350, which has the button for tiller articulation in the same spot. Not to mention that the blade function buttons are exactly opposite of those on the BR-350. However, I do like the placement of the switches for tiller up/down and up/down pressure. You don't have to take you hand off the joystick to make those adjustments anymore. This is good!

I'm not sure that I like the articulation functions on the right stick. It's too easy to bump the stick forward when you're trying to articulate or center the tiller. Can be frustrating at times. I think this needs to be redesigned. But the location of the track speed and tiller speed pots behind the sticks is pretty handy. And the tiller on button is also convenient there.

The Cummins powerplant is powerful and quiet, and I like new setup for setting RPMs. Rather than a hand throttle, you rev it up with the throttle pedal, and then hold a button to set the RPMs. Another nice feature is the auto ramp-down when you put the brake on.

The tiller seems essentially unchanged, at least as far as operation. Left a nice pattern most of the time, even in the less-than-ideal conditions in some spots (read:bulletproof). The depth of cut setup must have been changed quite a lot, because where we've usually been tilling at a depth of "2" on the depth meter, we had this cat set at "5" to cut the equivalent actual depth. Not sure about the reasoning for the discrepancy.

Again, overall I was very pleased with the cat. I would be more than happy operating it every night.

A bad quality picture (I'll get some good shots tomorrow or Monday night):

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Re: PB 400: A rookie's review

Postby joshski on 15 Feb 2009, 07:00

Hey Patrick -
Good to meet you the other afternoon... I didn't put 2 & 2 together and realize that you were this Patrick until I was on the road home.
Just a couple notes on your review. The red button the joystick is an issue with almost everyone that runs our cat after having spent time in a 350. I'll be over there on Monday and pull the cap off of it so that you won't be as likely to push it and raise the tiller.
The cut depth adjustment does seem deep and no one has been able to give me a good answer as to why, but as long as it's leaving a pass I am not going to complain too much.
The tiller articulation controls on the right stick have gotten great reviews from just about everyone that's seen them. Give yourself a little time in the cat to get used to them and I think you'll like them.
The lighting has been greatly improved on the 400.
What did you think of the overall power? You ought to be able to see some pushing power with the conditions as bad as they are right now...

See you next week.

Josh
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Re: PB 400: A rookie's review

Postby WVterrainparkbuilder on 17 Feb 2009, 17:00

I got a chance to run this machine out at cutters camp last spring, Loved it. does the demo machine you have at sugarbush have the park joystick or the standard 400 joystick? we only run 350's at waterville valley and after running the PB 400 i've wanted them to get one, I've always been more of a fan of pisten bully anyways. do you know how you can get a demo to a mountain? I'd love to get a 400 over to waterville to let the other groomers try it out
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Re: PB 400: A rookie's review

Postby joshski on 18 Feb 2009, 17:53

Glad to hear of a PB fan at Waterville! I am the PB sales guy for the New England area and brought a demo a few years back. After the demo I talked to Keith and it didn't seem like there is a real strong chance of them buying one. The demo schedule for this season is pretty well booked, but I'll put Waterville on the list for next year and see what we come up with. Demo's cost us roughly $5000 just to bring them over, we're happy to do it if there is any likeliness of selling the machine... but it is a lot of money. It will be at Cutters Camp (both east and west) this year if you'd like to check it out.

WVterrainparkbuilder wrote:I got a chance to run this machine out at cutters camp last spring, Loved it. does the demo machine you have at sugarbush have the park joystick or the standard 400 joystick? we only run 350's at waterville valley and after running the PB 400 i've wanted them to get one, I've always been more of a fan of pisten bully anyways. do you know how you can get a demo to a mountain? I'd love to get a 400 over to waterville to let the other groomers try it out
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Re: PB 400: A rookie's review

Postby WVterrainparkbuilder on 19 Feb 2009, 23:57

is the demo at cutters camp only open to people attending cutters camp? I wont be able to attend the whole camp this year
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Re: PB 400: A rookie's review

Postby joshski on 21 Feb 2009, 12:56

The demo portion is technically just for the attendees. But if you happened to be at Mt. Snow during that time I doubt anyone would even notice, and if they did they probably wouldn't say a thing. Since I'll be in the 400 feel free to stop by and check it out.
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Re: PB 400: A rookie's review

Postby made4speed on 23 Feb 2009, 04:16

sorry left too much info here i guess got fired for my post strung a wrong chord i guess.
Last edited by made4speed on 28 Feb 2009, 05:41, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: PB 400: A rookie's review

Postby bezerk1 on 23 Feb 2009, 14:39

Time for my .02. I think I'm up to about 300 hours in the PB. Overall the 400 is a great machine. The lights are incredible especially after putting some time in on an older machine. The ditch lights located on the engine shrouds are a good idea. The engine is quiet and powerful. Not once have I ever come close to stalling it. Speaking of the engine it seems to sip fuel compared to other groomers. The ergonomics are good, and all controls are placed in good spots, with the exception of the emergency stop button, ground speed and tiller speed. I have a habit of dragging my sleeve across the tiller speed knob or accidentally hitting the E-stop while reversing. Not a big deal though. Just my retardedness. The wipers are great and the seat is comfortable. The heater controls are great. Why didn't anyone thing of that before. My overall biggest complaint is the tiller. It comes nowhere close to the performance of a Bombardier tiller. It seems like I'm always getting spillage out the ends. When I reduce pressure the get rid of spillage it leaves an almost ungroomed area in the middle of the tiller no matter how much down pressure. A lot of times on harder snow you will grouser bar imprints left in the snow regardless of tiller depth or down pressure. It's been over a year since I have been in a Bomber, but I don't ever remember having issues like that in a BR or MP. Also, while I'm being picky, the horizontal float of the tiller doesn't seem to be to powerful. If you are on an off camber and want to swing the tiller uphill it seems to lack side to side force. I'm sure it's nothing more that an adjustment on a relief valve of something. When the blade is in float mode it's hard to lift the blade when there is a load of snow on it. Once again probably nothing more than adjustment to a bypass. Has anyone made an MP3 CD that plays? Audio CD's that I burn play fine, but I can't get an MP3 CD to play. I tried burning on Windows, Mac, and Linux. No luck. Please help. All things considered its one of the best snow groomers I ever operated.
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Re: PB 400: A rookie's review

Postby snowwizard on 03 Mar 2009, 12:06

PB 400 Veteran review. Got the chance to run the 400 at Okemo was very impressed with this tractor. Had the old tiller on the first night, but the first night I had it when it was 50 degrees and rain, Used it a couple of nights later in hard pack conditions, both the tractor and new tiller performed very nice. It left a better pass than the Prinoth tiller. Okemo does have a different grooming style then most areas and it performed very well in that type of grooming also. Tractor is faster than the Prinoth. For the type of grooming Okemo does that is a important factor.
The sticks worked very well and the controls for the tiller and the sticks worked fine. Once you spend some time with it. I think it will be very easy to train new operators in the 400 as well a veteran operators.
The blade is as aggressive as the Bison blade on the Prinoth. Ripped right into the hard pack surface.
The new tiller worked very well. Once you set the correct depth for conditions or surface you could pretty much leave it set. Up hill and downhill passes. A few problems I saw were some operators have a hard time setting the right depth control. I set the depth on 2.5 or 3 and worked very well. No spillage either form tiller. The wings on the tiller need to be look at more, but in the conditions I used it in did not need them.
I will say hats off to PB they have a tractor and tiller that are going to be very competitive to the Prinoth 350 now. I know the issue with PB has been the tiller but the improvements with the new tiller were very impressive.
The one key how it performs and maintenance cost for a season. I know the Prinoth maintenance cost can get be very high, but with any tractor that comes down the operator and type of grooming areas do. Summer maintenance cost for the PB 400?
I think some one posted what areas spend on their cost to groom each season, would like to see if that post will gain any information on what areas do spend on maintaining groomers for the season.
Sure would like to try the PB 600 and see how that compares to the new 500 Prinoth has. I will say the 500 has had some issues, but I think in time the 500 will be a good tractor.
We have it until Fri. will pass on more imformation if i get the chance to operate the 400 some more. Few operators are really liking the new PB 400 may have to fight to get more seat time. LOL
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Re: PB 400: A rookie's review

Postby skigroomer on 05 Apr 2009, 18:20

Well were do I start. Last season (07-08) we got the PB400 demo during the end of the season when it was mush. Let just say it didnt get a great review from everyone that drove it. But then again we where once a PB mtn. and now we are a Prinoth mtn. So over the summer PB decided to take someone from our mtn. to Germany to tour the plant and get us to buy a PB400 which we did. And now the person that they took who is all about PB's doesnt even drive the thing. We got our PB400 in the fall with the new Z-flex tiller. When they got the machine to us thats when the issues started. I am not going to get into details. But once we started running the machine we had issues with the way it drove and the tiller splilled snow out the back going up hill and down hill. PB was there many times to try and correct the issues, that they ended up bringing us a new tiller to use while they try and fix ours and then brought someone out from Reno to look at the machine. Lets just say the machine is better now but lets just say the PB has less hours on it then our new BR350 which we got 4 weeks after the PB. And we have had really no big issues with our new 350.
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