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Author Topic: Small excavator in the woods  (Read 3246 times)

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Offline Quebecnewf

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Small excavator in the woods
« on: March 11, 2021, 05:23:29 AM »
Hi guys 

While I have been logging on a small scale for many years . By hand with a chain saw.

My age is making me wonder if I want to keep at it a few more years maybe I need to look into some small machinery.

Our forest is small to medium softwood ( spruce balsam fir ). Dense wood lots of brush and junk trees ( firewood ) growing tight together.

I have been toying with the idea of a small excavator  let’s say 6 to 8 ton range to work in the woods .

My idea buy one with bucket/ thumb . Make a set of log tongs to dangle on a short chain onto the bucket . I would also install a Pullmaster winch on the arm with synthetic cable .Take this into the woods. Cut trails through and log out on each side of these trails


Use chainsaw to do the cutting but then use the excavator to pull the cut trees to the path . Bucket with thumb to hold them for bucking . Would buck  up the entire tree . Butt logs would be logs . The remainder would become fire wood . Logging and cutting to be done in late fall . The logs and firewood then get moved in the winter with snowmobile .
The excavator then being used to load the cut logs and the ( firewood ) logs onto the sleighs .

Anyone running or doing something like this .

Comments , questions ?

Quebecnewf


 

Offline PoginyHill

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Re: Small excavator in the woods
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2021, 07:32:37 AM »
I use my excavator in the wood only for road making - removing stumps and rocks and leveling ground enough to travel easily with my tractor/winch. If you were to use an excavator to drag trees for cutting, you'd be traveling almost every square meter of your property - unless I'm misunderstanding your thoughts. I would think a forwarding trailer with log grapple and winch would fit your activities better.
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Online thecfarm

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Re: Small excavator in the woods
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2021, 07:37:56 AM »
There was a member that was using his excavator as a forwarder. He hauled a small trailer and loaded it with a grapple. But that requires a lot of trips into the woods and back out.
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Offline Haleiwa

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Re: Small excavator in the woods
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2021, 07:41:30 AM »
First, I haven't seen many mini excavators with forestry guards, not that they don't exist but not real common.  That's probably because most minis aren't really strong enough to do a lot of good in the woods.  You will break windows,  tear off hoses and smash the lights if they are unguarded.   That's not directed at your abilities as an operator,  it's just reality.   An excavator is great at clearing out brush.  Set the bucket on top of a chokecherry and crush it, push it to the side or roll over it with the tracks.   It's actually really fun until you hear the crack of a window becoming fifteen pieces of window. It's hard to get over the natural tendency to pull work towards you when the safer way is to push away from the machine.   
Excavators aren't really built for for use as a winch base.  Unless you are lined up with the pull, you will sideload the swing bearings,  and they aren't designed for that. They aren't bulldozers,  unless you get into the Kobelco blade series,  which are a whole different animal.  You will need to be extremely careful if you plan to leave desirable trees.   I have used mine to clear brush before cutting junk for firewood,  and there was always a fair amount of scarring.   I didn't care since I planned to cut them soon anyway, but the potential to damage the machine is also quite high. 
There are better alternatives.   A mulching head on a loader to clear the junk, then the same loader with a grapple to move logs.  It's not a skidder, but if you find something like a Fecon 128 you can mount a winch on the back and have the ability to drag logs at least a short distance. Since I bought my Terex,  my excavator mostly works on land that has already been cleared or along fencerows.
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Offline tawilson

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Re: Small excavator in the woods
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2021, 08:57:11 AM »
I took my 2.5 ton mini in the woods with me last year to see how much effort and time it saved me. And it's a lot. For everything you said and more. And everything is broken off and flattened, looking a lot better when I leave. You said you are using the sleds to pull the wood out so that's not an issue. It's warmed up here and I took a walk out yesterday to retrieve it from my last session. I figure if a piece of equipment helps keep me going and doing what I want it's worth it. And when I'm done it still has value.
Tom
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Offline Quebecnewf

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Re: Small excavator in the woods
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2021, 11:39:49 AM »
Thanks for all the good info guys.

Just to update . Anything on wheels is a no go in our woods . It’s just not . Ground to soft and rugged . 

A few years back they were doing a small hydro dam project further up the coast from us . They brought in two brand new  skidders and two professional drivers to help speed up the removal of all the trees that the guys were hand cutting .some of the local guys warned them that they thought it was a bad idea . They twisted one in half within the first week and the other one was damaged badly shortly after that . The operators left because they could not drive on the ground and that was the end of that plan . 


I realize pulling sideways is not the way to go . Snatch blocks and proper planing can avoid  most of that .  .

I am aware that the guarding is an issue but with care and planning we should be able to work around that . We are talking med to small wood here . No hardwood 


 

One of Our piles we cut this winter . As you can see they are not big logs 

Quebecnewf 


Offline mike_belben

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Re: Small excavator in the woods
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2021, 12:23:55 PM »
If youre willing to build good trails for the machine i think itll be okay.  


Is bunching the logs in place and letting the sleds retrieve from numerous piles in the woods an option?


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Offline tawilson

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Re: Small excavator in the woods
« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2021, 12:37:27 PM »
I put a piece of lexan across the front of mine because I had vision of driving with the cab reversed and a limb coming in and pushing on the drive handles forcing the machine more until it speared me.
Tom
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Offline Joe Hillmann

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Re: Small excavator in the woods
« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2021, 01:09:35 PM »
I have done similar-ish.

Using a small excavator with a set of tongs to move logs.  We would pick up the logs and set several of them on to a hay rack frame pulled by the excavator out to the mill. And then use the excavator to put them on the  mill or pile them.  Then to get back into the woods we would put the arm of the excavator over the hay rack frame and pick the entire wagon off the ground and drive back into the woods. 

I also am doing a fair amount of logging this winter with a tiny tractor and a winch.

Both methods get the job done but are slow if you are trying to make money at it.  Having a second person to hook up chains and tongs on each log  make things go MUCH faster so the operator doesn't have to get on and off the machine  3 or 4 times for every log.

My method is to use the equipment I already have to get the job done.  I don't think I would go out and buy an excavator if that was my only plan for it though.

Offline Quebecnewf

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Re: Small excavator in the woods
« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2021, 01:36:03 PM »
If youre willing to build good trails for the machine i think itll be okay.  


Is bunching the logs in place and letting the sleds retrieve from numerous piles in the woods an option?
That’s the way I plan . Piles along the path that the excavator moves through .
The log piles will be in 8/10/12’ lengths 
The fire wood piles will all be 8 ft . 
When your working you remove the logs on each side of the trail out to 100 ft on each side . The fire wood comes from the tops and any and all junk trees you cut to thin out the forest to allow the better trees more room to grow . 
Quebecnewf 

Offline DDW_OR

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Re: Small excavator in the woods
« Reply #10 on: March 11, 2021, 01:43:22 PM »
I have two excavators
Bobcat 331, 8,000 pound
Bobcat E80, 19,000 pound

Hydraulic hoses commonly damaged. keep wrenches and hoses in excavator
Thumb
Grapple

the E80 is strong enough to snap trees with bucket and thumb
the 331 is good for general work
i got a Frost ripper tooth for each, works great for removing stumps.
Features and attachments i recommend.
enclosed cab with heat and A/C
second hydraulics
third hydraulics, if available
Ripper tooth
rotator with grapple.

i use AgDirect for forestry loans.


my equipment and attachments
331-30ex brushhound mower head, the flail only works on brush and vines, not trees
331 - turbosaw rtex - nice circular saw head. go slow you can damage the engine
331 - Hydraulic auger, good
331 & E80 - farma grapple and rotator, only one that i switch between excavators
E80 - breaker HB 1180, going to try to use as a post pounder
E80 - hakmet Arbro 400 stroke harvester, have not used it much yet

Tractors
Mahindra 22Max, good light 4x4 tractor
Mahindra 5520, good 51HP 4x4 tractor
farmi winch jl501, 11,000 pound PTO winch, wish i could haul a trailer behind it
landpride rbt-40-108 hydraulic grader blade, good
pallet forks for the FEL ( Front End Loader )
clamp-on Bucket forks, I HATE these
Multitek 1610EZ, TimberKing 2000 & Talon Sharpener,
"let the machines do the work"

Offline DDW_OR

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Re: Small excavator in the woods
« Reply #11 on: March 11, 2021, 01:53:18 PM »
now what i wish my excavators had
more GPM on the Hydraulic pump

maybe what you need is a harvester?


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Offline Joe Hillmann

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Re: Small excavator in the woods
« Reply #12 on: March 11, 2021, 01:57:47 PM »
Instead of a set of tongs can you replace the bucket with a grapple that has a hydraulic swivel?  Around here you can buy them off scrap equipment for a few hundred bucks.  They tend to be too big for a small excavator but some torch work and a welder can fix that.

Offline mudfarmer

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Re: Small excavator in the woods
« Reply #13 on: March 11, 2021, 02:50:59 PM »
Don't have any experience with excavators but have been watching the market out of boredom or lust or something. One thing maybe to keep an eye on based on your post about the skidders is the tracks.

A used equipment dealer here has a 7ton on 24" wide steel tracks. They also have a few 8ton on 18" rubber tracks and a 9ton on 18" rubber tracks. That 7ton is actually the only thing <10ton they have on steel.

I think for my place I'd want the 24" steel on the lighter machine to reduce the ground pressure and not get all cut up on the rocks, but again have no experience and maybe there are good reasons to run rubber even if it is narrower? Can anyone that actually knows what they are talking about chime in on this subject? ???

Offline Quebecnewf

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Re: Small excavator in the woods
« Reply #14 on: March 11, 2021, 04:23:26 PM »
I have two excavators
Bobcat 331, 8,000 pound
Bobcat E80, 19,000 pound

Hydraulic hoses commonly damaged. keep wrenches and hoses in excavator
Thumb
Grapple

the E80 is strong enough to snap trees with bucket and thumb
the 331 is good for general work
i got a Frost ripper tooth for each, works great for removing stumps.
Features and attachments i recommend.
enclosed cab with heat and A/C
second hydraulics
third hydraulics, if available
Ripper tooth
rotator with grapple.

i use AgDirect for forestry loans.


my equipment and attachments
331-30ex brushhound mower head, the flail only works on brush and vines, not trees
331 - turbosaw rtex - nice circular saw head. go slow you can damage the engine
331 - Hydraulic auger, good
331 & E80 - farma grapple and rotator, only one that i switch between excavators
E80 - breaker HB 1180, going to try to use as a post pounder
E80 - hakmet Arbro 400 stroke harvester, have not used it much yet

Tractors
Mahindra 22Max, good light 4x4 tractor
Mahindra 5520, good 51HP 4x4 tractor
farmi winch jl501, 11,000 pound PTO winch, wish i could haul a trailer behind it
landpride rbt-40-108 hydraulic grader blade, good
pallet forks for the FEL ( Front End Loader )
clamp-on Bucket forks, I HATE these
So you use both machines in the woods logging I guess?
How big are your trees logs etc?
Any hardwood ? 
Winter and summer ? Or both ? 
Any pics ? 
Quebecnewf 

Offline Haleiwa

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Re: Small excavator in the woods
« Reply #15 on: March 11, 2021, 04:47:51 PM »
Don't have any experience with excavators but have been watching the market out of boredom or lust or something. One thing maybe to keep an eye on based on your post about the skidders is the tracks.

A used equipment dealer here has a 7ton on 24" wide steel tracks. They also have a few 8ton on 18" rubber tracks and a 9ton on 18" rubber tracks. That 7ton is actually the only thing <10ton they have on steel.

I think for my place I'd want the 24" steel on the lighter machine to reduce the ground pressure and not get all cut up on the rocks, but again have no experience and maybe there are good reasons to run rubber even if it is narrower? Can anyone that actually knows what they are talking about chime in on this subject? ???
Little excavators with rubber tracks are generally made with steel plates (almost like street tracks) covered with rubber.  When they are worn out, the rubber will stretch or tear and shed off the steel plate.  They don't provide much traction compared to grouser bars, but they generally are used in situations where not tearing up a lawn or getting arrested for travelling across a parking lot are more important than climbing obstacles in rough terrain.  They also are better for loading on a small tilt deck trailer, as wet rubber won't slide as much as steel on a muddy trailer floor.  They aren't intended for forestry service, and I would not expect them to last in those conditions.
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Offline mudfarmer

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Re: Small excavator in the woods
« Reply #16 on: March 11, 2021, 05:38:34 PM »
Thank you, I thought so but thinking has gotten me in trouble plenty! There is a guy locally that uses a small JD rubber track machine but looks like mostly on landings. I have a lot of road building and fixing  to do as well as other non forestry related work and was thinking steel would be best for the varied use but semi frequent woods work. Need excavator a lot more than dozer. That Doosan in the video on steel is similar size for instance.

Can you put a wide(er) steel track on the smaller “mini” class machines that seem to invariably come with rubber? If so, are they stable enough to actually leave the landing? For example I need to dig some bridge footings pretty far back in but do not really need a wide trail back there and in general do not need a midi except for some jobs that one could be rented for. If there is something I should be reading or watching instead of bothering you guys and cluttering up this thread please let me know  ;D

Offline tawilson

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Re: Small excavator in the woods
« Reply #17 on: March 11, 2021, 06:01:42 PM »
Thank you, I thought so but thinking has gotten me in trouble plenty! There is a guy locally that uses a small JD rubber track machine but looks like mostly on landings. I have a lot of road building and fixing  to do as well as other non forestry related work and was thinking steel would be best for the varied use but semi frequent woods work. Need excavator a lot more than dozer. That Doosan in the video on steel is similar size for instance.

Can you put a wide(er) steel track on the smaller “mini” class machines that seem to invariably come with rubber? If so, are they stable enough to actually leave the landing? For example I need to dig some bridge footings pretty far back in but do not really need a wide trail back there and in general do not need a midi except for some jobs that one could be rented for. If there is something I should be reading or watching instead of bothering you guys and cluttering up this thread please let me know  ;D
Kubota has a steel crawler track as an option for their mini's. I've never seen one and my dealer didn't know anything about it. The most damage I've seen on mine is from working around rocks, which in my neck of the woods can't be avoided. 
Tom
2017 LT40HDG35 WIDE
BMS250 and BMT250 sharpener/setter
Woodmaster 725 ordered

Offline Quebecnewf

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Re: Small excavator in the woods
« Reply #18 on: March 11, 2021, 06:46:09 PM »
In our woods rocks are not going to be a big issue . I was thinking rubber would be better but what do I know . 

Quebecnewf 

Offline Walnut Beast

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Re: Small excavator in the woods
« Reply #19 on: March 11, 2021, 07:15:53 PM »
 

 I think you could use one just fine. It not going to be perfect.  But it’s going to be pretty slow, really rough. For as many advantages there are going to be just as many disadvantages. If you have post holes or trees to plant you can switch out to a post hole digger and smooth bucket to clean ditches. A thumb for sure. If you have a glass cab like this with no guarding you better be careful 😂


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