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Tigercat’s new 880 machine is proving to be a fuel-sipping processor, while still delivering the goods, at Suncoast Logging on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
By Paul MacDonald
Imagine pulling your pick-up truck up to the pump at the gas station, and instead of costing $150 to fill up your tank, it costs $75.
The comparison is not necessarily that direct, but that is the kind of savings in fuel costs B.C. logger Jared Douglas is seeing with his new Tigercat 880 processor.
Of course, the cost of diesel has not gone down for Douglas and his company, Suncoast Logging—but the Tigercat 880 is just that much more fuel efficient.
The 880 burns about 23 litres an hour, which is about half of what they were consuming with an older machine. And it produces the same amount of wood.
“Fuel costs are a killer these days,” he says. “For us, diesel is now $1.34 a litre. When I bought my first pick-up in 2000, it was 64 cents.”
The fuel sipping nature of the processor was not the only reason he bought the machine. Douglas is sold on purpose-built forestry machines. And he was sold on the Tigercat 880 machine. B.C. Tigercat dealer, Parker Pacific Equipment, took Douglas on a visit to the Tigercat manufacturing plant in Ontario. He actually saw an 880 unit, though it was still being assembled on the shop floor—and he bought it.
Douglas likes Tigercat, and he likes the way they design equipment, and work with customers. “On the tour through the factory, it was clear they have a real hands-on approach and they care about the equipment they manufacture and their customers.”
So much so that Tigercat sent people out to the Suncoast Logging operation, to talk about the equipment the loggers were working with, what they liked about it, and what they’d liked to see changed. And, he says, how the 880 is designed reflects that they listened carefully.
“They came up with some awesome things,” he says. He cites the massive cast iron counterweight which is virtually indestructible, a definite advantage in the tough coastal forests Douglas works in on Vancouver Island. “You can’t hurt that counterweight.”
The 880 machine is fairly new, with only a handful of machines out in the woods, including one being used as a loader by Blue Valley Enterprises in B.C.’s Central Interior (see following story). Suncoast has unit #6, and it’s the first machine to be set up as a processor.
Some loggers are content to wait until new machines are run through their paces elsewhere before making the commitment themselves. But Douglas has been a trail-blazer before with new equipment, and it has paid off. Four years’ back, he was among the first to purchase Tigercat’s new LH870C self-leveling harvester to handle the steep terrain on the B.C. Coast. He now has 10,000 hours on the 870C harvester.
“I think some people are afraid of taking on a prototype, and would rather wait and see,” says Douglas. “But we’ve decided to take the risk twice with Tigercat—the 870C was a prototype machine, too. And they’ve both been great machines.”
As mentioned, the fuel savings for the 880 processor are substantial. “That’s a big reason for getting the machine right there,” he says.
The 880 features a fuel-efficient Cummins QSL9 nine-litre engine which delivers 300 hp, a low speed engine said to be designed for long life and lower fuel consumption.
Other features on the 880 include a smooth, quiet, twin swing drive system and a dedicated, energy recovery swing system, whose closed loop drive feeds power back to the engine when swing decelerates, reducing fuel consumption and recovering energy for other machine functions. It has a Tigercat F7-163 heavy duty forestry undercarriage, designed and built to Tigercat specifications for full forest duty.
Douglas is convinced that purpose-built is the way to go, if at all possible. “Pretty much everything I own with Suncoast Logging is purpose-built. I buy Tigercat equipment and in the past, I’ve bought Madill equipment, and our maintenance bills are generally lower because that equipment is built to be out in the bush.”
The initial purchase price may be a bit higher, but it is more than made up for in performance and reliability, he believes.
“The downtime can kill you, especially in some of the remote areas where we operate equipment, like Nootka Island. You don’t want anything to break down out there.”
Suncoast Logging has two 870C bunchers, one of them brand new, the other being the machine from 2008. Also in the equipment line-up is a Tigercat 870 tilted processor, with a Waratah 624C head. “We had a Waratah 626 head on it, but we found that was too big. It was starting to wear on the undercarriage components. So we put the 624C head on, and it’s been a great machine.”
They also have a Madill 3800C with a Waratah 626 head, and a 3800C with a T-Mar grapple for hoe chucking. Rounding things out they have a Tigercat 630C skidder, bought used, but with low operating hours on it, and a Cat 568.
“My biggest problem with skidders is that on the west coast, there isn’t much skidder ground. I thought about buying a six-wheel skidder, but I just thought it would be too long, because we have a lot of old growth stumps to work with where we are. There’s that and then it can rain for six days straight and you’re not skidding anything then. Because of that, I can’t put too much of an investment in a skidder, so I bought the 630C, which was a good used machine.”
Operator Curtis Teagle is pretty pleased to be working on the Tigercat 880 processor.
“She’s a real operator-friendly machine, that’s for sure,” says Teagle. “The machine is very stable going over the slopes. I’ve had the 880 in some pretty steep ground and it’s as stable as can be. We’ve put the machine through the wringer pretty good—we’ve had it in some pretty ugly, steep ground and it performed well.”
He says it took a while to adjust to the closed loop swing on the machine, where it will kind of swing itself when the machine is on a hill. “But it’s just something you get used to,” he says. The cab is quiet, with some very good soundproofing on the machine, he said. “They also did a good job of plumbing the head, it’s really clean.”
The visibility from the cab of the 880 is extremely good, he said, with lots of windows. “It can take a bottle of Windex and roll of paper towels to clean them,” he jokes.
He also reports that the lighting on the machine is good. “It almost looks like daylight out there when we’ve got them on.”
The 880 is the first new machine that Teagle has had—“I loved peeling the plastic off the seat.”—and he clearly takes good care of it.
Douglas said that the attention to detail is clear on the 880. “The fit and finish is the best. I can’t imagine the engineering and time that went into it, the attention to detail.”
That attention extended from the small, such as the radio wiring—essentially the tech person just had to plug the radio in, it was that simple—to the rock guards on the rollers.
“With the rock guards on other machines, you can barely get in there with a wrench to undo them. The Tigercat people made holes on the bottom of the rock yards so you can put an impact gun in there. Tigercat punched a hole for every bolt. Our mechanic looked at that and just thought it was amazing attention to detail.”
Douglas pointed out Tigercat production support engineer Fil Rinaldis for praise, for his efforts in making sure they were happy with the 880, and ensuring it was set up to meet their needs.
Tigercat dealer Parker Pacific’s attention to detail is also high. Douglas likes the service he receives, and pointed out Peter Goebel from the Parker Pacific shop in Campbell River as being especially helpful.
All this attention to detail means that Douglas, operator Curtis Teagle and everyone else on the crew can focus on the job at hand: producing wood. And after a few lacklustre years in the industry, Suncoast Logging is doing a lot of that, primarily for the export market for Western Forest Products. They haul from the different logging sites to the large Western Forest Products log sort just outside of the town of Gold River, on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
And they have to pay attention to the details, too. Depending on whether the timber is going to the Chinese or Korean market, and what customer within those markets, the lengths can differ. “There’s lots more sorting, and a sort can change twice in a day. You can be cutting one length in the morning and another in the afternoon. So you really have to be on the ball.”
Douglas is thankful that he has good people who keep things on the ball. “You have to have good operators and treat them well,” he says. “You can’t put a guy in a processor that is going to beat it up. You’ve got too much of an investment in the equipment. The machine is metal, but wood will bend metal—and it will do that pretty fast.”
The new Tigercat 880 machine is helping to keep their overall operation productive and efficient, which is what it is all about these days, says Douglas. “There is no margin for not being efficient and equipment not working,” he says.
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