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Tigercat LS855C

A tilting Tigercat LS855C shovel logger is doing a very able job of helping Marlo Logging deal with increasing elevations and tougher access in the B.C. Interior, moving wood from steep gullies and draws to more accessible positions.

Tilting Tigercat tackles the hillsides

A tilting Tigercat LS855C shovel logger is doing a very able job of helping Marlo Logging deal with increasing elevations and tougher access in the B.C. Interior, moving wood from steep gullies and draws to more accessible positions.

By Jim Stirling

The function becomes clearer watching the Tigercat LS855C as it probes the downed timber on the hillside.

The machine’s Rotobec grapple gathers and lifts the wood from the hillside’s steep gullies and draws and moves it to more accessible positions. From there, other machines in the logging fleet can safely access it and move the wood toward a road for processing. The sequence is all part of a pre-determined strategy designed to improve the overall safety and efficiency of the log harvesting operation in increasingly demanding terrain.

The Tigercat LS855C tilting shovel logger is a recent acquisition to Marlo Logging’s equipment line-up. Marlo is a log harvesting and hauling contractor for West Fraser Timber of Quesnel in central British Columbia. Marlo’s usual operating areas are in the spruce, pine and balsam slopes east of Quesnel.

“We are getting into steeper ground all the time,” explains James Godsoe, Marlo Logging’s owner. It’s that zone in the landscape beyond the easy ground that has long since been logged, but lower than those regions accessible only by cable or high lead systems. It is sites that are within the safety parameters of ground based harvesting systems, adds Godsoe. But there are also sites that sometimes demand a different approach. The nature of that ground is why the hoe chucking concept offers a practical solution to a regional problem.

Tigercat LS855CGodsoe went to Vancouver Island to look at the systems employed there in steep and broken ground. He confirmed the potential and opted for the Tigercat LS855C to get the job done for him on home ground. And the Tigercat has not disappointed. “The LS855C works the steep and uneven ground, moving the wood in relation to road locations. Then it can be forwarded off by other machines. The system has to work for the next guy (the follow-up machine operator),” explains Godsoe. The Tigercat LS855C was purchased new and began working in October 2014. Some additional guarding is all that’s been added to it since then.

The Tigercat mark is familiar to Marlo Logging and its crews of operators and mechanics. Godsoe appreciates the practical and consistent workaday performance of Tigercat forestry machines. The LS855C hoe chucker joins a Tigercat 870C feller buncher (also with a tilting capability); an 880 logger with the versatility of becoming an additional hoe chucker when and if required, and a 630 skidder. Complementing the Tigercats is a fleet of John Deere equipment. Marlo operates three processors (double shifted)—two Deere 2954s and a 2454, all equipped with Waratah processing heads—one 623 and two 624 machines. A Deere 959 feller buncher, also with a tilting capability for the changing terrain, joins a 953 machine.

A Deere 3754 log loader handles about 90 per cent of Marlo’s wood. A Deere 2954 hoe/excavator works in conjunction with a Cat D6 for road building and a Deere 750 for building trails and chores like truck assists. Other Marlo equipment includes a Valmet 890 forwarder (it’s handy, says Godsoe, in several applications including small areas near no-go zones which can’t be accessed by skidders) and a Cat 140M grader.

“I like to operate one large side with phase supervision but that I can monitor myself,” he explains. “I’m very fortunate because I’ve got good guys working with me. That helps me try and run a good show.” The other side of the equation for the logging contractor is the licencee. “West Fraser works with us and creates good logging plans that will work.”

Tigercat LS855CThe Rotobec grapple on the Tigercat LS855C gathers and lifts the wood from the hillside's steep gullies and draws and moves it to more accessible positions. From there, other machines in the logging fleet can safely access it and move the wood toward a road for processing.

Indeed Marlo Logging and West Fraser have a working relationship dating back decades into the 1960s. Godsoe began working with Marlo in 1990 and graduated from running line and grapple skidders for them to contract processing for several years. He’s owned the company for the last nine years after the remaining founding Sales family members retired. Since then, Godsoe notes he’s operated all the machines in the company’s fleet.”I wouldn’t ask an operator to work in a machine or area I wouldn’t work in.”

To his credit, Godsoe retained the Marlo Logging name as a sign of respect for Marlo’s reputation and longevity in the Cariboo. Godsoe Contracting Ltd., is the name of the company’s log hauling division. It currently operates nine Kenworth logging trucks.

The Inland Group in Quesnel is the Kenworth dealer and it also handles the Tigercat line of log harvesting equipment. The symbiosis contributes to a positive and beneficial relationship between hometown logger and equipment dealer.

Maintaining a fleet of good equipment and ensuring it remains up to date is vital to Godsoe’s goal of keeping a good crew busy and harvesting the volumes required to meet obligations. In excess of Marlo Logging’s 300,000 cubic metres annually is harvested for West Fraser.

Tigercat LS855CFor the last three years, Godsoe has successfully sought additional volumes in the Mackenzie area of north central B.C. Those volumes usually take the form of timber sales. The positive upshot of the strategy is it keeps Marlo’s approximately 35 people (including loggers, truckers, mechanics and office staff) busy at one location or other for up to 11 months a year while improving machine utilization. It can also translate into five day work weeks in the summer months and an appreciated increase in family time for the loggers.

West Fraser’s Quesnel sawmill specifies 100 per cent short logs. When the Logging & Sawmilling Journal visited Marlo’s operation, there were three sawlog sorts in lengths of 12 feet five inches; 14 feet five inches and 16 feet five inches. There was also a 17 feet 2 inch plywood sort. If the Cariboo region of B.C. hasn’t endured more than enough of forest pests in the last few years with the mountain pine beetle epidemic, now a spruce bark beetle infestation is becoming more widespread in the region’s hills and valleys. The balsam segment of Marlo’s cut is often in the form of pulp logs in higher elevations.

Increasing elevations and tougher access are less inhibiting for Marlo Logging with the addition of the tilting Tigercat LS855C. Tomorrow, of course, there will be new challenges that demand equipment decisions and allocations for the company to maintain a consistent flow of quality wood to the mill.

Tigercat LS855C

For the last three years, Godsoe has successfully sought additional volumes in the Mackenzie area of north central B.C. Those volumes usually take the form of timber sales. The positive upshot of the strategy is that it keeps Marlo's people busy at one location or other for up to 11 months a year while improving machine utilization.