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Author Topic: Skid Steer shopping for small firewood operation.  (Read 4055 times)

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Offline danbuendgen

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Skid Steer shopping for small firewood operation.
« on: September 23, 2016, 07:31:49 PM »
Starting to invest more into our firewood operation and we're thinking about getting a skid steer of some kind. I have operated a ASV and Bobcat years and years ago, but over all I know little about them. Anyone have any advice on makes and models that are user friendly with good power to wight ratio? I have around $15k to spend. I don't want to blow much more then that, because I don't want/need another loan. It seems like there are a lot of wheeled Bobcats around for cheap with fairly low hours. Any thoughts on those? I don't want to get a small under-powered machine. I would like it to be able to use it to handle log length firewood and/or a decent size saw log.
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Offline xalexjx

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Re: Skid Steer shopping for small firewood operation.
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2016, 08:44:51 PM »
i have a 1845 case with the hand controls. been a good machine and strong as hell
Logging and Processed Firewood

Offline brianJ

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Re: Skid Steer shopping for small firewood operation.
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2016, 06:03:29 AM »
Case 1840 would be a close second in my experience to an 1845.   These older models dont have all the electronics and computers that the newers ones have.   I like case for their durability.     The bobcats in my experience were prone to breakdowns.

Offline 62oliver

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Re: Skid Steer shopping for small firewood operation.
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2016, 07:53:23 AM »
 I've had an old late '70s bobcat for about 15yrs, has over 8100hrs on it now, no problems other than the self-inflicted kind. I keep thinking I want to upgrade sometime but it just keeps on doing what I need to do with it.
 Before I got my skidder I used it in the bush a bit with the grapple bucket, back wheels up in the air all day long. But it is a very slow machine compared to anything newer.
 I would not be without a skid steer.
 For 15K you should be able to find a decent bobcat 773, very good machines without too much of the electronic crap.
 As far as operating, bobcats old hand and foot controls are about as simple as it gets, and trouble free.
  Never heard a bad thing about the previously mentioned cases either, reputed to be bullet proof.
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Offline dave_dj1

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Re: Skid Steer shopping for small firewood operation.
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2016, 11:22:30 AM »
The only advice I can offer is don't buy too small of one. I don't know all the model numbers but I do know they come in all sizes.

Offline barbender

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Re: Skid Steer shopping for small firewood operation.
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2016, 01:27:08 PM »
I don't know much about Bobcats from personal experience. I own a Case 1845c, around a 98 model with 2500 hours or so. I think it had 650 on it when I got it. I also put many, many hours in Case 1845s for the asphalt company I used to work for. We worked the snot out of those machines, the only thing I have ever broken on them are drive chains. One on the company's machine and one on mine. The 3.9 Cummins at 56hp isn't working hard enough to hurt itself- when watching ads in equipment magazines it isn't uncommon to see machines with low hours, yet they just got a new engine. I can't remember ever seeing an 1845 with "fresh engine at 1800 hours" like I have with other manufacturers. If you are handling tree length wood, I think a boom mounted grapple works much better. I can heel some decent sized sticks with mine, and it's so much faster to reposition wood if it needs spun end for end or something.
Too many irons in the fire

Offline hedgerow

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Re: Skid Steer shopping for small firewood operation.
« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2016, 05:08:45 PM »
I have had a skid loader for years. My advice is to buy the biggest machine your money will buy. I have been lucky and only bought two used ones and both were lower hour machines that hadn't been used hard before I had got them. I had good luck with them and ran them up to about 3,500 hours and moved them on. Last several I have had I bought new. New holland and Bobcat. Had good luck with them until the last one which is the one I have now which is a 750 bobcat. I have been running a ground force tree saw and a Robo grapple on it cleaning up a 160 acre pasture. When the machine had about 110 hours on it the battery blew up and started the machine on fire. I got lucky I think and we put the fire out. I have a $10,000 deduct on my insurance so I didn't turn it in. Bobcat was no help. I had to install a new wiring harness in the machine as the wiring that goes over the battery is the harness that goes threw the machine. It was a two year old machine so I didn't want to splice the harness and the motor and hyd's had to come out as hot plastic from the battery blowing up burned a hole in the plastic fuel tank that sets under the engine. The machine is about 5 years old now with 800 hours on it now and hasn't cause any more problems. I would love to trade it but with the cheap grain prices it will have to work for a while longer. I won't ever buy another Bobcat product the way they treated me on this problem. Good luck with your search. After owning a skid loader I don't even have a loader for any of my farm tractors. 

Offline danbuendgen

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Re: Skid Steer shopping for small firewood operation.
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2016, 07:10:12 PM »
Thanks for all the reply's so far.
Generally speaking, what are high hours for a skid steer? I looked at a few on-line that advertised a new engine, but the machine had under 2000 hours. I have seen this a few times.
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Offline North River Energy

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Re: Skid Steer shopping for small firewood operation.
« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2016, 08:02:05 PM »
I have an old Bobcat, and agree that everyone should own a skid steer. They're so handy you'll find a way to grind your coffee with it.

When it comes to loading split wood out of a stockpile though, I much prefer the Hough H30b.
I've used the same rock bucket on a larger Bobcat and biggish Deere farm tractor, loading the same truck box, and the bucket loader is smoother, dumps higher, and doesn't tear up the yard. It's also easier to get in and out of, and provides a better view of the working edge.
So if you have the room to swing it, and don't actually need the maneuverability of a skiddy, you might consider a wheel loader. There's an older Clark listed in Brattleboro for short money.

Then again, everyone, including you, needs a skid steer.

Offline hedgerow

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Re: Skid Steer shopping for small firewood operation.
« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2016, 09:32:29 PM »
Years ago I had a wheel loader and it had it place but I find my big skid loader is my go to loader most of the time. I also have a old 941B Cat track loader that has it place but just like when I had the old wheel loader moving it around from farm to farm is a big job. I can easily throw the skid loader and a few attachments on the trailer behind the pickup and go.

Offline barbender

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Re: Skid Steer shopping for small firewood operation.
« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2016, 10:44:27 PM »
Thanks for all the reply's so far.
Generally speaking, what are high hours for a skid steer? I looked at a few on-line that advertised a new engine, but the machine had under 2000 hours. I have seen this a few times.

That's the same situation I was referring to. Low hour machines with new motors. Why? I think under 3000 is fairly low on the Case 1800 series, I definitely consider mine with 2500 low hour.
Too many irons in the fire

Offline danbuendgen

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Re: Skid Steer shopping for small firewood operation.
« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2016, 07:49:47 AM »
I looked at a few small front end loaders. At first that's what I wanted. They have much better visibility and there are a bunch of cheap ones around. But it seems like a skid steer would be more versatile. Can any skid steer attachment be used on a small front end loader? I will look into the one in Brattleboro, I have not seen that one yet. I did see this: http://vermont.craigslist.org/hvo/5797820663.html He told me the loader goes up to 8', so I guess it could load my truck. I'm interested in a smaller machine, so I can move it myself. I would like one with heat (a/c would be a plus, but not necessary) for plowing snow.

My buddy told me to get a skid steer with the High Flow hydraulics, for running a forestry mower, ect. He does tree work and says there is a huge demand for them around here and no one seems to have them. A forester just told me that the other day also. However, when I look at adds, they almost never say if there are high flow or not, and when I ask people don't seems to know what I'm talking about. Plus, I think a high flow type would exceed my 15k. I don't want to get a loan for one. Not now anyways.

Thanks for the help.
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Offline 4x4American

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Re: Skid Steer shopping for small firewood operation.
« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2016, 08:33:48 AM »
They have a Komatsu CK 30 at the excavation company I still help out at time to time.  It has the high flow hydraulics.  We run a tree shear on it and a rock hound mainly. That thing is awesome, but expensive.  I worked at another place with a case 1845c, and for being such a small machine it has a suprising amount of power.  Another popular farm machine is the New Holland L785.  Had one at a dairy farm I worked at.  That thing was absolutely rode hard and put up wet, but it's still kicking. 

Wheeled skidsteers are easy to get stuck, but I know some folks who use those track that connect over both tracks and say it helps but nothing beats the real deal.
Boy, back in my day..

Offline 4x4American

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Re: Skid Steer shopping for small firewood operation.
« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2016, 08:36:58 AM »
For the high flow machines, look for a cluster of remote hydraulic ports (4) and an electric plug.
Boy, back in my day..

Offline danbuendgen

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Re: Skid Steer shopping for small firewood operation.
« Reply #14 on: September 25, 2016, 08:50:29 AM »
For the high flow machines, look for a cluster of remote hydraulic ports (4) and an electric plug.

Ok thanks. This is what I wanted to know. I have seen a lot of machines that advertise "remote hydraulic hook up". So I guess that has to be it.

I have seen the over the tire tracks for skid steers. I know a guy that has them for his machines. Steel tracks with grousers welder on. Goes all over the place.
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Offline 4x4American

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Re: Skid Steer shopping for small firewood operation.
« Reply #15 on: September 25, 2016, 09:32:20 AM »
Just because it has remotes dont make it high flow; the high flow quick connects are bigger than the normal remotes
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Offline DR_Buck

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Re: Skid Steer shopping for small firewood operation.
« Reply #16 on: September 25, 2016, 10:30:16 AM »
I can't offer a brand recommendation because I've only ever owned my 2003 Gehl which I got used with less than 1200 hours.

However,  from a use standpoint I recommend something with tracks.  Preferably rubber as they do less ground damage.  When I put the steel tracks on my Gehl it's like driving a rotor tiller.  ;D    Also, get yourself a grapple attachment and a set of forks.   Doing wood, they are far more useful than a bucket or other attachments.


EDIT:   Thought I should add my Gehl is a model 6635.  It's a beast.  :)    My tracks are removable and go over the skid steer tires.   


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Offline 62oliver

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Re: Skid Steer shopping for small firewood operation.
« Reply #17 on: September 25, 2016, 11:45:21 AM »
While I certainly understand the appeal of the tracked machines, for me I like the simplicity of the tires, $1200(Can$) or so and you can have a new set of tires.
 Track machine is basically a small dozer, tracks and under-carriage are a ton more $$$$. But you have decide what you need your machine to do.
 You will not find much of a track machine for your $15000 limit I reckon.

  +1 on the grapple and forks for sure!!!!

 Those are the kind of things that make skids so much fun !!!!!!!
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Offline danbuendgen

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Re: Skid Steer shopping for small firewood operation.
« Reply #18 on: September 25, 2016, 01:17:44 PM »
I definitely need a grapple and forks for it. It's main use will be firewood and snow removal. Plus the occasional tree service job. I don't think a tracked machine is for me. I worked for a small tree service with a ASV skid steer. We did the undercarriage when I worked there, and it cost them over 15k in parts!  I worked for a logging company years and years ago, we did a Timbco undercarriage and it cost 20k in parts. Considering a full set of tires for 1k, makes it hard to go with tracks. I can always get over the tire tacks or put on some tire chains for the winter time. Don't get me wrong, rubber tracks have there place, but I can't afford it. I would rather put the money into my skidder.
Thanks for all the info.
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Offline barbender

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Re: Skid Steer shopping for small firewood operation.
« Reply #19 on: September 25, 2016, 01:59:11 PM »
This is one of those deals whsre a guy has to decide what his priorities are. You're likely not getting into a high flow machine at your 15K price point, and if you're wanting the high flow for running a forestry mower, you may as well get a track machine too so you have no compromise performance. I think an 1845 or similar machines from other manufacturers would fit the bill best for what you're wanting to do. Front end loaders are great in the right applications. If you are strictly loading trucks, or if your operation was big enough the machine spent the whole day loading a live deck, I'd say FEL all day long. But for the myriad of tasks that one machine will be called on to perform when it is the only machine on the job, you really can't beat a skid loader. Yes a FEL will out perform a skid for loading tasks, but they are quite clumsy when it comes to the other tasks you'll need it for. I run mine with steel OTT most of the time in the summer. Better traction when I am digging hard, and they add a lot of counterweight. As far as tearing stuff up, yes they do, but I've found that a lot of people  can't figure out that just because you can sit in a skid loader and counter-rotate on top of a dime, doesn't mean that you SHOULD all the time. I mean, do you crank the wheel all the way and step the throttle to the floor every time you take a turn in your pickup? :D I was trained in on skid loaders on the asphalt paving crew, if you went dragging you're wheels around and tore the gravel base up you got a real good butt chewing :o  You figured out how to turn without tearing stuff up pretty quickly. Make a three point turn or whatever it takes. I let one of my buddies set his swing mill up at my place and use my skid steer to load his log deck, he tears things up worse with just the tires on than I do when I have the tracks on. Skid steers do tear things up more than a tractor or FEL, it's the nature of things- they are SKID steers. But a good operator minimizes the damage to something a quick backdrag once in a while takes care of. A poor operator has ruts and holes and then starts bouncing over them, dropping stuff and blames the machine. Am I making my point  ???
Too many irons in the fire


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