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Author Topic: Advice on improving skidder stability ?!? Bought a new to me skidder need tips..  (Read 9594 times)

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Offline RunningRoot

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Hey everybody, glad to be apart of the forum ! I have read and learned a lot over the past few months and finally took the time to register !

I am a 27 year old Owner operator of a small logging operation in Ohio. I've been cutting for a little over 2 years now and have progressed steadily. Up untill the last month I have always skidded my timber by dozer, I have a nice little low hour Case 450 Dozer that I have used to skid with and used a case 450 Track loader to load with. With plenty of work ahead and the fact that I have taken on bigger tracts of timber I decided It was time to purchase a skidder.

Last month I purchased a 1980 Tree farmer C4D skidder in good shape, everything works so far and I am really pleased with the hitch it will pull, far more productive then small dozer logging ! 

My problem is the stability of the skidder !! Most of the timber I cut are on hillsides and some you could call cliffs !
I have just about killed myself on this thing several times now and I haven't even attempted the hairy spots yet  :-\
I love the skidder as it is a much needed step up in production but I need to figure out how to get more stability out of it !
So my questions are....

How do I make this tree farmer C4D more stable for hillside operations ?!?

It has 16.9-30 Tires at about 50% ( no chains, looking).
Ford 4 cylinder industrial motor.
4 speed manual trans.

Sorry for long post and thank you for any input in advance. Really look forward to enjoying the forum !
A log in the hands worth two in the bush !

Offline JustinW_NZ

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Welcome to the forum.

I have the exact same machine by the sounds of it.

you will find that the dozer will work on steep terrain the skidder cant go near.
Im not an expert on these things but im sure someone else will chime in.

Also, wider tires will help, im running the same rubber but only because im using the skidder for production thining type operations so want it narrow to get around things.

Cheers
Justin
Gear I run;
Woodmizer LT40 Super, Treefarmer C4D, 10ton wheel loader.

Offline 1270d

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You could fill the tires with beet juice or calcium chloride.

Offline RunningRoot

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Justin, thanks for the welcome !

I use the dozer on the steepest of ground but when 80% of my tract is steep its as tho I never bought a skidder !

I have had mixed opinions/advice on loading the tires...
Would definitely want to use beat juice if I do load them as have seen what calcium can do..
Does loading the tires on a skidder really help that much ? Was told the cons out weigh the pros ?
I would imagine it would help greatly in my opinion...
Said it would slow it down and cause dramatic power loss with little stability improvement  ?
I have ran plenty of farm tractors with loaded tires and it seemed like a night and day difference but they were always used on flat ground not rocky hillsides in the woods
A log in the hands worth two in the bush !

Offline Kodiakmac

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Best advice?  Go slowly at first, open your eyes,  and gradually learn the limits of your buggy's stability. 

Just because of the nature of your post I think you might be too impatient to do that.  And that's a pity.

I've been a skidder jockey for 40 years only because I learned and respected the laws of gravity. 

Robin Hood had it just about right:  as long as a man has family, friends, deer and beer...he needs very little government!
Kioti rx7320, Wallenstein fx110 winch, Echo CS510, Stihl MS362cm, Stihl 051AV, Wallenstein wx980  Mark 8:36

Offline tom h

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I have a c5 with 18.4 26 tires that's pretty stable

Offline coxy

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bunch to a good road with the dozer then skid them with the skidder that's what I do

Offline Maine logger88

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Keep the blade close to the ground too that helps a lot cause when one of rear tires comes off the ground it will hit and keep you upright
79 TJ 225 81 JD 540B Husky and Jonsered saws

Offline thenorthman

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weight in the tires works, only slows you down if you use top gear often and if you like me thats only on the highway and only for short sprints.

Skidders where never meant to work steep ground, they are all tippy compared to a cat (dozer) just have to learn to either climb or pull down hill. No side hill foolishness leave that to the cat.

What you can do is bunch with the dozer to a road of sorts then hook on with the skidder and boogie on down to the landing, dozers work fine with short pulls, but as you know they are slow, so the long pulls is where yer new skidder comes into its own. 

Keep the blade low on that skidder, its like a forward wheelie bar, saved my bacon more then a few times.  Better to get temporarily hung up on a stump then to tip over and loose everything.
well that didn't work

Offline redprospector

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Welcome RunningRoot.
I agree with Kodiakmack about learning your limitations, and the limitations of your machine.
Now, as far as stability from loading tires. I've got a JD 440b, one of the most "tippy" skidders known to mankind. Since shipping runs the cost of beet juice up way too high here, I filled the back tires with winter blend windshield washer fluid. Made a night and day difference in my book, and I have not seen the con's of doing so. You definitely need chains if you're on that kind of steep ground.
Unless it's just a real small area, anything over 50% grade gets skidded with my little dozer, but only to a place that I can get to it with the skidder. My skidder is good on most anything up to 50%.
My skidders previous owner welded 12" extensions on each end of the blade, which makes the blade the same width as the skidder. Have to get used to it getting around in the trees, but I have caught the skidder with 2 wheels (on one side) in the air, and set it back down with it.
1996 Timber King B-20 with 14' extension, Morgan Mini Scragg Mill, Fastline Band Scragg Mill (project), 1973 JD 440-b skidder, 2008 Bobcat T-320 with buckets, grapple, auger, Tushogg mulching head, etc., 2006 Fecon FTX-90L with Bull Hog 74SS head, 1994 Vermeer 1250 BC Chipper. A bunch of chainsaws.

Offline RunningRoot

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I know I must learn the limitations of my skidder as that's what I'v been attempting to do for the last few weeks,
what I guess I meant to say is I've learned that my skidder's limitations/capabilities are very low and am trying to figure out how to improve them.

Windshield washer fluid ? This i understand as it is 40 alcohol and would not freeze. At about 8 pounds a gallon I am thinking it would add around 400 pounds per tire.

My two closest calls were turning off a level cut trail to head downhill. She tipped forward and to the right side, my blade caught me and was able to push myself back down on all fours. So, I figured if I loaded the rears it would help with this. I have been looking for used chains to put on the front as I didnt want to invest 2500 into them not knowing weather I'd like the results.

When the rear tire(s) come off the ground and the front tilts all the way to one side and bottoms out, do you have any left at that point or will she go on over ? I guess what I'm trying to say is will the front axle stop you from going over ?

Tom H > I would really like to put some 18.4-26's on it but have not found any rims to fit yet..
I have been bunching on the side of my main skid road with the dozer and then going back next day and skidding out with the c4d but have ran into '' tippy '' problems just turning around on the main road.
Timberjacks look much more stable than my girl for some reason. I have seen vids of guys using skidders in mountains and I'm having trouble on my ''Cadillac'' Trails
A log in the hands worth two in the bush !

Offline SAnVA

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If you decide to fill the tires check some of your local garages for used antifreeze or coolant when I put new tires on my farm tractor I checked a local garage and they gladly gave me 2- 55gal. drums of used antifreeze. If you bust a tire better keep your pets away though!!

Offline BargeMonkey

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 All 4 of my 440D's tires are loaded, with a calcium blend and I havent had any issues. None of the little skidders except a 405 franklin are stable, the one I had would go thru the rough stuff and you wouldnt know it. Like "Coxy" said, and I agree 100%, is to bunch to the skidder, thats how everyone around here cutting for production does it.

Offline thenorthman

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So each skidder is different, but once the rear is up and you bottom out the front... not a whole lot of wiggle room from there, but it does take a bit to get them past that point.

Turning is one of the easiest ways to roll a skidder, get to much weight off to one side and she'll just flop on over. Of course this is pretty much while pulling, You have to rember the the arch is 7-9' off the ground and ya probably have 10k pounds of drag behind ya or more.

There are tricks to it though, if you know what to expect, but the easiest thing is to drop the load, make the turn and get the arch lined up in a more straight line to the load.  Pulling sideways is a bad idea, something you can get away with in a cat, but not in a skidder.

I've had mine up on 3 wheels unloaded though... confident, cocky...dead... generally in that order.
well that didn't work

Offline Kodiakmac

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So each skidder is different, but once the rear is up and you bottom out the front... not a whole lot of wiggle room from there, but it does take a bit to get them past that point.

Turning is one of the easiest ways to roll a skidder, get to much weight off to one side and she'll just flop on over. Of course this is pretty much while pulling, You have to rember the the arch is 7-9' off the ground and ya probably have 10k pounds of drag behind ya or more.

There are tricks to it though, if you know what to expect, but the easiest thing is to drop the load, make the turn and get the arch lined up in a more straight line to the load. Pulling sideways is a bad idea, something you can get away with in a cat, but not in a skidder.

I've had mine up on 3 wheels unloaded though... confident, cocky...dead... generally in that order.

Amen!  'nuff said!
Robin Hood had it just about right:  as long as a man has family, friends, deer and beer...he needs very little government!
Kioti rx7320, Wallenstein fx110 winch, Echo CS510, Stihl MS362cm, Stihl 051AV, Wallenstein wx980  Mark 8:36

Offline mikeb1079

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confident, cocky...dead... generally in that order.

this applies to sooo much more than forestry, and one to remember.   
that's why you must play di drum...to blow the big guys mind!
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Offline Maine logger88

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Chains are worth every penny and the only thing better than 2 chains is 4 I am sure you could find a used set tho
79 TJ 225 81 JD 540B Husky and Jonsered saws

Offline snowstorm

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and......make sure you have a parking brake you can trust

Offline David-L

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RunningRoot, A good E-brake is a must and I always put the blade down when off the machine working on hillsides hitching up chokers. As someone said traveling with the blade low will help also, travel angles should be up and down the hill not so much horizontal till you get the feel of the machine and know it's capability's. I tipped a 440B in the beginning of my wood cutting career and it happened very quick and I was lucky. I would not recommend antifreeze as it is somewhat toxic and around here the wrong person seeing a leak of that could cause an issue with the DEP. Good luck and go slow and don't be afraid to drop a hitch and winch in once and awhile, that is my two cents. good luck.

                                           David l
In two days from now, tomorrow will be yesterday.

Offline HiTech

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Many times you can back down a steep grade better than driving down, hook up and drive out. You can take the tires/rims and change sides with them. I took my right front and put it on the front left and the same with the back, put the left side on the right side.  People told me it wouldn't work because the wheel indentations for the lug nuts were facing in. They said the lug nuts would never stay tight. Hasn't been a problem. Went from just under 8' wide to over 8' 9" wide. That is on my C4 with 18.4 x 26 with bear paws all around. Made a world of difference. One thing you will learn...every day is a new experience and every hitch will pull a little different. I work on steep ground and that is one reason I use 9/16" cable 125' long. Many times it is all out getting a tree that would other wise cause a possible tip over. Driving down a steep grade always keep the hitch winched up, it will keep the back from rearing up. Even sometimes while turning you will want to keep the weight on the back. Go slow and learn as you go. Do not be in a big rush to get wood out. Getting a few extra logs out is not worth a tip over or accident.


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