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Log Max heads tackle west coast wood
Vancouver Island contractor Steve Pierce has found Log Max processing heads to be a very good fit for his logging operation, and the latest addition, aLog Max 10000XT head, is performing well in big west coast wood.
By Paul MacDonald
It’s interesting how you sometimes don’t end up where you intend on going—and that it can actually work out just fine.
British Columbia logger Steve Pierce knows the feeling, and how it applies to purchasing logging equipment.
Some years ago, Pierce went down to the Oregon Logging Congress in Eugene, with his mind set on buying a particular processing head.
But while down there, he ran into Barry Peters of Log Max. “I was talking with Barry and he was suggesting that I should at least give a Log Max head a try,” says Pierce. “I was hesitant because I thought it didn’t look strong enough, and it had a smaller frame.”
Pierce’s logging operation, Challenger Enterprises, was one of the processing head pioneers on Vancouver Island. Challenger and a few other logging contractors were just starting to get involved with mechanical harvesting and log processing. Early on, they could see the benefits in delivering a fully optimized log to their customers.
At the time, Challenger was doing some bunching on the island with a Timbco machine. The Timbco’s primary work, equipped with a DH mulcher, was doing site prep work around the Kamloops and Vavenby area, in B.C.’s Southern Interior.
But the machine was sitting idle in the winter, so they decided to bring it to the coast, to do bunching.
“We decided to get some bunching going on the Island,” recalls Pierce.”It worked well, but we were getting so much wood to the roadside so fast. The hand bucking we were doing at roadside did not work well with the amount of wood the buncher was producing.”
Vancouver Island logger Steve Pierce (left) says the Log Max 10000XT processing head works well in larger, west coast timber. ”It really shines when you are in the bigger wood.”
Pierce was determined to show how a complete mechanical harvesting system works on the coast, including processing. Hence the trip to Oregon.
Following meeting at the Logging Congress, Log Max’s Barry Peters came to Vancouver Island, and Pierce spent the day showing him the type of wood they were working with—and in the end, Peters said he thought the Log Max would work fine with their operations.
A Log Max demo head was brought down from the Prince George area, for Pierce to try out. One of Challenger Enterprises operators gave it a go on some TimberWest land, mounted on a Komatsu 220 carrier, and declared it more than fit for handling the large and heavy coastal wood. “He really liked the power it delivered,” recalls Pierce.
To make this long story shorter, that was way back in 1997—and since then Challenger Enterprises has been a very faithful, and satisfied, Log Max customer. They have had a number of Log Max heads, including three 750 heads. Then they went to the 9000 heads, and these days they now have the latest large head, the Log Max 10000XT.
Pierce admits there have been challenges along the way, and he credits logging equipment veteran Olle Melin and Log Max, for helping him through some difficult patches.
There were some trying times with the LogMate computer, and its measurement system. It was originally designed for short wood. “It can be hard with some of the computer systems on logging equipment,” says Pierce. “You can solve three problems, and it creates another four problems.”
Essentially, over the years, Pierce, like a lot of other logging contractors, has gone from fixing equipment such as processing heads with wrenches to fixing them with a laptop computer.
Pierce says he has always let Log Max know that he is happy to work with them on new equipment, and demo it. “I’ve said to them, if you’ve got some ideas you want me to work with, if you’ve got something new, bring it over. I’ll put in on and try it out.
“I’ll gladly try it out, but I won’t necessarily buy it,” he added. As the saying goes, famous last words.
Pierce has operators who have run all kinds of harvesting and processing heads for a long time, and they’re happy to provide opinions and assessments of equipment.
Following the design philosophy of the XTreme Series, the Log Max 10000XT is a head for large timber, says the company. It was developed specifically for tracked carriers, and is available in a choice of harvester or dedicated processor.
“We tried the Log Max 10000XT and it is very impressive,” says Pierce. “The way things are going on Vancouver Island, the wood is getting smaller and smaller. So we can do about 90 per cent of the work we need to do mid-Island with the Log Max 7000 and 9000.
“But once we get up to the North Island, around Campbell River, the wood is a lot heavier.” He notes that timber in the B.C. Interior is about .8 metric tonnes per cubic metre, and on the south island it’s about 1.0 metric tonnes per cubic metre. On the North Island, it comes in at about 1.2 tonnes per cubic metre.
“That’s quite a difference,” he says. “You notice it—it’s harder on the equipment. And with the ground, it’s tough to get around, with higher stumps. It’s a different logging world.”
Pierce notes that they run four Log Max processing heads, and they don’t need the 10000XT everywhere they work—simply because they don’t have big wood on every site. Having said that, the 10000XT clearly does the job for them, handling the larger wood.
Although rated for 20 and 23 inch wood, Pierce notes that they can handle up to 28 inch, and even 30 inch diameter trees with their Log Max 7000 and 9000 processing heads. “They are tough heads.”
But with 30 inch wood, they used to have to maneuuver the timber around, put the timber on the ground, and then run the head up. “We don’t need to do that any more,” says Pierce. “We just run the larger logs right through the 10000.” Operators appreciate the bigger arms and the larger cylinders on the head.
Log Max takes a different approach with its design. Some heads in the market will have only one set of arms, and keep the tree up against the measuring wheels. “Log Max has two sets of arms, though, and the wheels squeeze the trees hard from the side, and the arms keep the trees up against the body. It’s a different concept.”
And it works. “We’ve never had any complaints about quality in terms of measuring,” says Pierce.
The heavier head comes with a cost, though, he notes. They run it on a 2850 Madill carrier. “With our machines, we have live heels. But with the 10000, the heel was just too much for the machine, it was too heavy, so we took it off.
“Having a live heel is nice—if you get into steep ground, you have help to get yourself around. Or in wet ground, if you get stuck, you maneuver yourself around. We’d need to get into the next size machine, if we wanted to use a heel.”
In the past, Challenger Enterprises was a sub-contractor, doing bunching and processing work for other contractors or companies on Vancouver Island.
In recent years, though, the company has moved into doing stump to dump work, and has been doing some timber sales. “The wood is a little bigger with the timber sales, and the 10000 really shines when you are in the bigger wood.”
The Log Max heads have to do little in the way of delimbing, Pierce says. When they are working in Douglas fir, for example. After it is cut, and hoe chucked forward, there are hardly any branches left.
“That’s partly why with all our heads, we can get 12,000 to 13,000 hours out of them, no problem. That’s a lot of it. The delimbing can be hard on the heads.” Cedar branches can be a particular bear to get off though, he added.
Pierce says they generally have good uptime with their Log Max heads. When they need help, they can usually troubleshoot problems over the phone with Log Max reps.
Log Max is based out of Kamloops, in the heart of the interior of British Columbia with a distribution territory that covers British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Following the design philosophy of the XTreme Series, the Log Max 10000XT is a head for large timber, says the company. It was developed specifically for tracked carriers, and is available in a choice of harvester or dedicated processor. The 10000XT cuts wood up to 900 mm in diameter and both versions feature integrated top saw.
With completely new one-piece cast roller arms and felling link, the 10000XT is a large-size head, but with a weight of only 3030 kgs, including rollers and rotator. This means the head can be mounted on a smaller size carrier, leading to savings in both machine and fuel costs.
The Log Max 10000XT has powerful 1404cc roller motors equipped with all new steel rollers and a powerful 30cc saw motor with ¾ pitch chain. The processor style delimbing knives have replaceable edges and mechanical stops.
The processor configuration of the Log Max 10000XT is equipped with integrated top saw and processor link. The standard processor head weighs in at 2,970 kgs. It features a feed force of 9555 lbf and feed speed of 13.8 fps.
The Log Mate 402 on the 10000XT is said to be an easy to use control system with enhanced capabilities and state of the art “4 wire” CAN-BUS communication for all head control functions. A powerful high performance controller rapidly processes information for precise head positioning and cutting, with the logs consistently merchandized.
The system features automatic control of up to 160 preset lengths and diameters along with programmable tolerances, assuring full conformance to a broad range of mill log specifications, says Log Max.
The Log Mate 402 is easily adaptable to a full range of carriers. Harvesting and processing efficiency is always maintained through fully customizable control buttons with automatic functions for up to five different operators.
All of these features help keep the processing equipment running, and help contractors stay efficient.
And for contractors such as Steve Pierce, bunching and processing is the key part of the efficiency equation.
“The hardest jobs out there are bunching and processing. With the bunching, you have to make sure the tree is felled properly, and you don’t have any snags, no trees get caught up. Then you have the processor and the loader.”
Moving into doing stump-to dump seemed to be a natural progression, he says. “We were already doing the hardest things—with the harvesting and the processing, you already have the biggest investment in machinery.” So the move into stump to dump seemed natural.
“We had worked for a couple of good contractors, and they kind of got fed up and got out of the business, and we decided to go full into it.”
As with all things related to logging and the forest industry these days, the margins are slim, so he relies on efficient equipment. “Going stump to dump is working out, but it isn’t easy. It’s been a tough industry the last few years, with very slim margins.”
But, he notes, the log market seems to be improving, with prices slowly moving in the right direction.
“But it’s still a struggle out there,” he says. “We’ve got to keep adapting—but that’s the logging business, isn’t it?”