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Author Topic: Feeding the Beast  (Read 1009 times)

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Offline labradorguy

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Feeding the Beast
« on: January 24, 2019, 07:59:59 PM »
I am going full tilt trying to stay ahead of firewood processing equipment and I am losing ground. Those things can flat EAT some wood! I'd love some suggestions on what I can do to up productivity.

I'm in the middle of taking some old fields back from the forest and thinning out some woodlands. I began by taking firewood logs, tie logs, and grade logs out. I've pretty much quit tie logs. The economics favor going firewood or lumber and forget about the ties. With that being said, where I'm at now the woods have been ignored for WAY too long. There is a ton of post oak, black oak, red oak, white oak, cherry, hickory, and ash to go through, but since it was never thinned, they are all tall and straight as arrows, but about as big around as arrows too...lol. Great logs for a processor deck. A good average range for what I take to process would be 6-16" and 20-30' long

I've been cutting them at ground level with a hydraulic tree saw, limbing and topping them with a chainsaw, skidding them to the new field edge, using a CTL to put them on a trailer, then hauling them to where I pile the logs for processing and offloading with a tractor and forks. I'm wondering if I could up productivity by incorporating a small excavator and a specialized head into the work flow? Or a new attachment for the CTL?? These trees are more like Michigan ones than Southeast MO trees.... I know logging is a whole different ballgame up that way and there's a lot of new stuff out now that I've never ever heard of, never mind looked at.

Small buck saw on the Cat?

I believe I'm going to start using a trailer with a grapple on it to help with loading and unloading. That will definitely pay for itself over time. I've got a 25' deck over I was looking at trying to mount a grapple on too and run it off tractor hydraulics. Those are hard to find by themselves around here.

Sure would appreciate any advice you gents could send my way! Thanks!

Offline mike_belben

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Re: Feeding the Beast
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2019, 08:23:40 PM »
I have skid steer logged for firewood (and gave it up for a more normal job now that my youngest is in kindergarten and we finally have a somewhat stable babysitter for when i dont quite make it home in time to catch the bus- which facilitate me being employed.)

Anyhow it was very low productivity when i had to drive there, unload machine, cut wood,skid wood,load wood,load machine and haul out.  A huge boost would be spending say an entire day doing each function.  Fell a dozen trees, buck and limb and start skidding one day.  If i could load a few bunk trailers, even just cheap old pintle tags.. Then next day go haul one to mill, turn around and hook the other then haul that.  Maybe even a third load them go to the bank once to cash it all.  That woulda been a much more efficient thing.  Every time i had to change hats in a single day, time was lost.  Dig out the cutting gear,put up the cutting gear.  Did i load this, do i have that, where are all the binders, oh wait i might need this.  Minutes tick by.  If i just felled and bucked today i could omit even looking at the skid steer.  Once that was done, the next day i dont even need to unpack/repack the saws, just load and strap logs. 

  With one trailer i couldnt really do two trips in a day because of the load time and having to bring machine home.  If ya had several trailers you can sort your piles right onto them.  In my case it'd be a trailer for FW to my house, another for tie/grade to the tie mill. A 3rd trailer for staves to alabama.   That way when its time to haul, im not spending the 15 mins to fuel, check oil or warm up a skidsteer.  Just hitch and leave. 
Revelation 3:20

Offline Riwaka

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Re: Feeding the Beast
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2019, 05:43:25 AM »
Just a few generalisations. If you are looking to increase the output, also focus on maintaining or improving the safety level.

ties - keep an eye on the cost of concrete ties - if the sand and other input prices increase.

thinning the woods- What the rate are the limiting steps? Hydraulic tree saw too slow, chainsaw cutters too slow, cannot drag wood fast enough etc?
no pictures makes it a bit of a guessing game.

The Euro forest tractors with harvesters/ processors and cranes/ trailers on the rear of the tractor are made easier/ faster to operate with remote controls, reverse steer/ rear facing seat and hydraulic hand controls.
Kesla processor on the rear of Valtra tractor , valtra; usa hq ? bloomington , mn


Dangle Saw - Ryan's Equipment  
20c   1500 lbs 20 inch cut capacity


TIMBERMAX Felling Head | Products | Inovforest  (quebec)
Timbermax F65   26 inch cut capacity over 2574lbs with rotator and link


311cu with basic processor (in pine?)may have had the boom/ stick strengthened etc (c series machine, might be a bit simpler to fix than an F?)  




Logger Wade  small cat 313/314? with rotobec fixed claw grapple and grapple saw, hardwood corridors and how much was added to the excavator to convert for woods use.
youtube - 'How we log with an excavator' episode






Offline mike_belben

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Re: Feeding the Beast
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2019, 08:17:34 AM »
If you can rig it up yourself i see making your deckover into a log loader with its own self contained power unit as well worth the time and effort because it allows you to not fool with the skidsteer or tractor to load and unload.  A grapple can also rotate logs with zero extra space and does not need nearly as much room to load and unload.  I did not realize how much time and large, solid flattish space was needed and not always available for me to forkload with my big machine and no grapple.  Especially the time it takes without real bunks.  This is half a day just to load and strap firewood tops from a pond clearing i did down the street. Then with my machines at the job, having to unload is just as bad.




I saved a boatload of time by cutting shorter, parking the forklift and loading the forks with my bobcat then driving it down the street to my house.  






I did another firewood fetch from a few miles away and immediately realized it wasnt worth it if i had to bring a machine each day. not enough production between loadings to pay for the fuel.




So i made arrangements to leave the machine somewhere nearby and secure each day.  Kept the loader at home, stopped using bunks and switched to tapered hickory rub rail stakes.  At home i could just tip the whole load.  If any hung up id cut with the saw.  The loader did the unhitching and rehitching too.  Once the pile was full id bring bobcat home and start unscrambling and processing whatever id pushed up.











With a grapple trailer none of the other two machines would even matter on wood moving day and everything could have been done more efficiently with less space and better organization.  I process limbs at a station specifically for it and big rounds by splitter brought to them so the mix n match is aggravating, something always in the way.  Always tripping in the pile.  Bobcat cant quite get the piece i want because this tangle is stopping me.  Get out, get the saw, cut it, move it. Put that stuff safe distance away, get back in.  Whered the day go?  That trailer mount grapple loader would alleviate a lot of slowdowns.  I have a junky tag trailer thats set aside for one, and fixed bunks, someday.  No deck to sweep would be time saved too.


An excavator and processing head will obviously be magnitudes better at directional felling control, bucking tidy piles for your SSL grapple to fetch, and obviously limbing tops without tromping in the brush yourself.  But at what cost?  If id bought one cash itd take me a long time to repay.  I get $60 a facecord cut split delivered and often stacked.  Had i bought something like that on credit it'd have been repo'd unless id quit firewood and went out digging.  I guess its all in your wood value and savings account balance.
Revelation 3:20

Offline Riwaka

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Re: Feeding the Beast
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2019, 04:18:02 PM »
The smaller spend would be just to put a grapple on a quick coupler with the 311 to bunch (assist with delimbing) behind the hydraulic tree saw. 

Also use the 311 grapple to tree push when falling if necessary.

Wedgelock Products | Forestry Coupler

Projected 350K  to 400K extra wood crossties for 2019, 2020
https://www.rta.org/assets/docs/2018Crossties/SepOct/Market%20Outlook.pdf

Offline labradorguy

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Re: Feeding the Beast
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2019, 11:00:28 AM »
You're right Mike. With the terrain and what I have to deal with, if I mounted a grapple on my pull behind deck over, I could get it closer to where I work. That would be a time saver itself and save some u/c wear on the Cat. I have a Honda powerpack that could run it. Would just need to find an arm and grapple that would do the job. I'd need to mount it on the front with some sort of outriggers that I could put down. I've not saw a lot of them for sale. I'll have to keep looking.

Offline nativewolf

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Re: Feeding the Beast
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2019, 12:29:24 PM »
The smaller spend would be just to put a grapple on a quick coupler with the 311 to bunch (assist with delimbing) behind the hydraulic tree saw.

Also use the 311 grapple to tree push when falling if necessary.

Wedgelock Products | Forestry Coupler

Projected 350K  to 400K extra wood crossties for 2019, 2020
https://www.rta.org/assets/docs/2018Crossties/SepOct/Market%20Outlook.pdf
Thanks for the link @Riwaka 
Liking Walnut

Offline mike_belben

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Re: Feeding the Beast
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2019, 09:35:05 AM »
If you can torch and weld, i suggest you peruse the old wrecking yards and or sawmills nearby.   The junk you need for a log loader is lurking somewhere in them. 
Revelation 3:20

Offline Ford_man

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Re: Feeding the Beast
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2019, 09:16:20 AM »
Has anyone ever thought about using a 3PT hitch backhoe mounted to a trailer. The one that I had was not that heavy, it had stabilizers hyd pump with tank that ran off the PTO. They can be bought for $1000 to $3000 at farm eq dealers. change the bucket to a grapple.


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