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Author Topic: Logging swampy land = Bell or Tracked machine - opinions wanteed !!!  (Read 4483 times)

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Offline image1

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I do some logging on the side and it seems like EVERYONE that wants me to log their land has very wet woods. So i'm lookin for more experieced opinions on what other loggers prefer. I have large parcels to do and dont really want fell everything by hand. So what do you all prefer, BELL vs. TRACKED MACHINE, cost & versatility...WHATS YER TAKE ???

Offline David_c

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Re: Logging swampy land = Bell or Tracked machine - opinions wanteed !!!
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2006, 12:13:26 PM »
Go with a tracked machine. The bell is a great piece of equipment. But dont do well in wet areas. A tracked machine is the best for steep and wet areas. But if you were on flat dry ground then the bell would get the nod.

Offline Gary_C

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Re: Logging swampy land = Bell or Tracked machine - opinions wanteed !!!
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2006, 02:21:40 PM »
Here in Minnesota, wet and swampy ground is first of all restricted to frozen ground conditions only. This past winter, we had snow first and then cold and the ground did not freeze until a below zero temp week in February and even then some places it never froze. I was working around low spots all winter and that was on a high and usually dry site. Most of the wet sites could not be cut.

Tracked machines are seen less and less in favor of rubber tired machines with tracks. Tracked machines are considered to cause too much disruption to soils and damage to leave trees. Also a tracked machine can be nearly helpless in hard packed snow and ice conditions. Yes, some of the self leveling tracked machines will do better on steep slopes in dry conditions, but for me the track maintenance costs are too high.

I have a six wheel Valmet harvester w/tracks and and have never had a problem with cutting on soft ground. I also have a six wheel Valmet double bunk forwarder w/tracks and have had some problems getting the wood out. Never got stuck, but left some deep ruts.

I would say if it is too wet for a rubber tired harvester, you should not be out there. I have seen some of the lowland loggers use a feller buncher with dual 28L tires, but that requires about a 12-14 ft path to get through the woods.
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Offline BBK

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Re: Logging swampy land = Bell or Tracked machine - opinions wanteed !!!
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2006, 06:26:43 AM »
I have to agree with Gary, " if its too wet for rubber you shouldn't be there". That said harvesting in wetlands is possible with a little thought and planning.  Winches with a good run of cable are a must. ( I use a big Farmi on a 150 hp tractor with 250' of cable).
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Offline SteveB

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Re: Logging swampy land = Bell or Tracked machine - opinions wanteed !!!
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2006, 03:14:46 PM »
Tracked machines can do very well on wet sites.  The following are my experinces for what it's worth. 

Full tree:

The operator plays a big part in any machines' sucess on soft ground.  I've seen spruce bog ground that was basically a floating mat of moss sucessfully harvest in summer without significant soil damage using a small tracked buncher and full-tree skidding with a tracked D5 type cat skidder with swing grapple and extra wide track modifications.  This is the ultimate machine for soft ground, but can only economically skid about 100-150m.  I saw another operator with the same machine attempt to skid in summer on the same ground, and there is no way it would work.  The machine isn't ultimate unless the operator knows how to use it in those conditions.  I've also seen clam-bunk skidders with rear bogies and tire tracks do well in summer on "winter ground".  The turning while backing in to grab a bunch with grapple-skidders is usually one of the biggest problems with them on wet ground.  Any machine that can reach over to the bunch witout turning it's wheels/tracks has an advantage (with a cable or swing grapple/loader).

A good buncher operator is also key.  Because of the flotation of tracks, the tracked buncher won't usually ever rut (if it does, forget about trying to extract the wood, you're in a spot that's way to wet), but it's very important that the buncher put down the wood so that the skidder picks it up without any unnecessary manouvering.  The buncher has to have a very good understanding of the limitations of the skidder or processor and forwarder that will come behind it, which are the machines that are the limiting factor.  I've also seen buncher operators "forward" the wood over to better gound and bunch it there to keep the skidder/forwarder out of the real wet spots.  Obviosly, this can only be done economically when it is only small patches and they only need to mve the wood 10-20m to a better spot.

Single grip harvesters or processors in the woods behind a buncher can be good on wet ground, but they only have an advantage if the operator is doing a good job of delimbing in front of the machine and is walking on a slash matt as much as possible.  Dedicated processors that can only process from one side (target, hornet, etc.) have to process behind the machine every time they go down a trail that requires them to pull trees from bunches to the side that tehy cant reach going forward, so typically on every second trail they cover they're not traveling on slash.  With single-grips felling their own trees, it helps if the operator uses a V pattern of feeling, making log piles on  both sides of the machine, increasing his effective cuttng swath, also increasign trail spacing and the volume of slash he's traveling on.  The forwarder's impact is reduced if they back in to the trails empty and coing out forward full, so ther is no turning at all involved in their trip in the woods.  The eight wheel machines with tracks on all four sets of bogies genearlly do better than 4 or 6 wheel machines.  Forwarders have the advantage of the dexterity of their loader to transport and place extra slash in wet spots, although grapple skidders can also do this.

They can be good in wet ground, but again, implemention of the right system is everything.  An inexperince horse logger cna make a mess on soft groud too.

Obviosly, good block planning and seasonal scheduling is number one.

Offline SteveB

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Re: Logging swampy land = Bell or Tracked machine - opinions wanteed !!!
« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2006, 09:16:00 AM »
Oh ya, equipemnt costs.

Looking over image1's original post, I am guessing you're doing this on a relatively small scale, given that you do it "part time".  Getting into fully mechanized logging will require a big investment, and therefore, you should make sure you do up some type of business plan and calculate whether it will be worth it for you to invest in felling equipment.  Do you have employees, and more importantly, will you be able run any new equipment productively yourself, with existing employees, or are there good experinced operators available to hire?  Unless you have cash(and lts of it), a bank or other lending agency that's going to loan you the money for any new equipment is going to want to see a detailed business plan that shows that you have the volume available to harvest and markets to sell that are sufficient to make it all work fianancially(you probably want to know this too). 

I am guessing you have an older model cable skidder now?  If you want to better equip yourself for wet ground, despite what equipment you get to fell with, the wheeled skidder is still probably going to be your limiting machine in a fully mechanized system on wet ground.  Super-wide high flotation tires will help in wet areas on an existing skidder, but they will be costly, and more prone to damage than normal skidder tires, and will require wider trails (maybe not an issue if clearcutting, but a problem for partial cuts).  A long mainline on  a skidder, and maybe a lighter synthetic line that's easier to string out fully will  help a bit on wet ground.  Basically, if you want to mechanize your felling, and have a lot of wet ground, a Cut-to-length system will generally be better, but will require a switch to a forwarder if you have a skidder now, and the whole issue tends to be more high tech, with specialized skills ot maintain the equipment ($$$$).

Again, back to your original question, if your logging work is limited, an old bell 3 wheel, if reliable and cheap enough, might be a good idea (are parts available to keep it going?).  You could probably cut the majority of most blocks with it, and keep to the hand falling for the wet areas, assuming that each block you cut has significant amounts of dry ground.  Basically, you have to figure out what the limits of the bell are on wet ground, what percentage of each harvest area will be off-limits to the bell, and figure out if it is still worth getting for the percentage of ground you will be able to cut with it.

Offline image1

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Re: Logging swampy land = Bell or Tracked machine - opinions wanteed !!!
« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2006, 11:42:14 AM »
Thanx guys 4 all yer input Guess i have sum thinkin and savin 2 do...I'll b glad to here more responses tho, so keep postin  8)

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