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TimberWest November/December 2013

Sept/October 2014

Photo by Diane Mettler: Brintech Logging and the company’s two new machines — a Doosan and Hyundai

Keep on Thinning
Pleines Logging has focused on
thinning for two decades

Good Crew Makes the Company
RDL Northwest Inc. is picky
about its crew and equipment

Running on All Cylinders
While companies were struggling
through the recession Brintech

Woody Biomass Column
Be Ready with the Message

16 Seconds: The Divider
Winners and losers of the LWC

ScorpionKing Struts
Ponsse shows of the new
ScorpionKing in Rhinelander, Wisc.

Guest Columnist
Preparing Your Forestry Equipment for Winter


Tech review - Brushcutters & Mulchers

In the News

Association News

Machinery Row




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Ponsse Scorpion KingScorpionKing Struts

By Kenneth R. Boness

Scorpions, it turns out, can really draw a crowd, especially if it’s the North American introduction of the revolutionary Ponsse ScorpionKing.

On August 8, 2014, near Ponsse‘s North American headquarters in Rhinelander, Wisc., the performance of a tree harvester—the likes of which had not been seen before — drew the interest of loggers like few other machines could. Ponsse’s ScorpionKing immediately grabbed and held everyone’s interest as Antti Räsänen, Machine Marketing manager at Ponsse’s headquarters in Finland, explained the advancements embodied in the Scorpion concept, and operator Eli Ladwig (who spent about 50 hours working the ScorpionKing in preparation for the demonstration) put the harvester through its paces.

Ponsse Scorpion KingThe Cab

Scorpion stands a shade over twelve feet high with the crane lowered and has a length—boom not included—of a bit over twenty-six feet. Big enough to be muscular but sufficiently sinewy to investigate every nook and cranny.

The inspiration for the name comes from the crane. Whereas other Ponsse harvesters have the crane mounted out in front, and the harvesters of many competitors have cranes or booms anchored alongside the cab, the crane on the Scorpion is mounted right in the middle of the machine. And the cabin? Well, the cabin is mounted within the crane. The crane‘s base splits as it rises from the spindle (spreads, if you will) to form a pocket large enough to accommodate the cab. The crane then comes together above and in back of the operator’s compartment, then proceeds to the harvester head, much like other Ponsse cranes.

Sitting directly above the spindle, the operator doesn’t experience the fatiguing “carousel sensation“ inherent in side-mounted cabs. Because the cab is literally in and under the crane, all harvesting is done directly in front of the operator. The harvester –head—take your pick of H5, H6, or H7 (on ScorpionKing)—moves directly away from the operator to encounter the targeted tree. Tree harvesting also occurs, of course, directly in front of the operator.

Ponsse Scorpion KingVisibility

Demonstration operator of the Scorpion-King, Eli Ladwig, owner of 4Seasons Forest Products based in Montreal, Wisc., and owner/operator of two Ponsse Ergo harvesters, says of the visibility, “It’s outstanding. Everything always is right in front of you, there’s never hesitation or question on what the head’s doing. The boom structure and style was impressive as well. It’s like having the head on a remote control in front of you. And the boom is very smooth to run. The cab leveling was very smooth too, and it was very stable on any position of a hill, which was nice as you are never sitting at an awkward angle.”

Eli added that the cab design and placement of the operator seemed well thought out. The seat was comfortable with extra support adjustments. “Where you’re sitting in the very center of the rotating point of the cab, it gives you a very sound feel of the machine. After a long day it doesn’t feel like you’ve been on a fair ride like some concepts where you’re placed way outside of the rotating point and receiving a carousel effect while operating.”

Ponsse Scorpion KingStability

The demonstration site was purposely selected for its hilly terrain. With a 275 hp, Stage IIIA, Mercedes-Benz diesel under the hood, generated torque ranked somewhere around 1100Nm, and that was translated into a max of 38,216 lbf of tractive force to the eight wheels capped by steel tracks. That, in conjunction with automated cabin leveling and machine stabilization, made working the hills mere play. A buzz was heard in the crowd when Ladwig positioned the ScorpionKing cross-slope and processed a tree down-slope.

That maneuver turned out to be no big deal as sensors constantly monitored the position of the chassis and the crane. Instantly exerting pressure on the down-slope side of the machine, a stable platform was ensured, and harvesting wasn’t interrupted for a second. But there is more to the story than simply hydraulic pressure.

Most articulated machines have a combined horizontal/vertical joint. Scorpion has two. Utilizing a front and rear chassis, Ponsse suspends a third segment in between, causing Scorpion to be even more like a flesh-and-blood scorpion. This “suspended segment” supports crane and cabin. The arrangement allows for 12 degrees of sideways leveling flexibility and 15 degrees of front/rear, the latter accomplished by a pair of cylinders located between the front and middle segments. To counter the operator developing a false sense of security, Scorpion automatically stops the drive system when encountering unsafe positions.

Eli was blown away. “The three-frame system seems to twist and articulate so well it never hits a limit causing it to bind like other concepts. So it sort of slithers over obstacles seemingly effortlessly, and as an operator, you never feel any of the jarring and tossing around I was used to.”

Ponsse Scorpion KingProductivity

The Scorpion was built to harvest and improve productivity.

“I instantly found myself reaching for trees and instinctively harvesting them in ways or areas that are not possible with any other harvester, which really made me cover a lot of ground much faster,” says Eli. “Definitely a more productive style as an operator can cut a timber stand with less travel time and also make for more efficient forwarding with more volume placed on each trail.”

ScorpionKing’s crane can slew 280 degrees while reaching 36 feet. Combine that with a lifting torque of 252Nm and a slewing torque of 57Nm and it becomes easier to understand the potential for increased productivity from the forwarder and the need to add another highway hauler to the fleet.

During the third and final working demonstration, this reporter found himself next to Brian Nelson, owner of Nelson Logging, Cornell, Mich., and current president of the American Loggers Council. What was his impression? “Quite impressive.”

What were the demonstration operator’s final thoughts? Eli confessed, “All in all, I was very impressed with the Scorpion and, as an operator, really enjoyed running it. Ponsse definitely put some serious time into engineering the design and seemed to think of every little thing. I think they have an extremely sound product with the Scorpion and again set the bar in the industry even higher.”


While demonstration attendees lunched, the ScorpionKing and Ergo harvesters were each working through another tree or two before the break. Suddenly, Eli Ladwig’s ScorpionKing hugged a medium-sized hardwood, severed it, laid it down, ran the butt outPonsse Scorpion King a half-dozen feet, and proceeded toward the spectators, slowly bringing tree and harvester within a few steps of Diana Olkowski (Ponsse marketing coordinator) and Kelsey Fischer, Eli’s longtime girlfriend. Diana knew Eli’s plan; Kelsey did not.

All trees have rings inside but this one held something special. A diamond engagement ring had been wired into a hole that was drilled near the butt of the hardwood. A co-conspirator had suggested that a “Snoopy ring” be substituted for fear of loss, but Eli insisted that Kelsey would get the real ring right then and there.

Puzzled, Kelsey wondered what Eli was doing, bringing a tree that close to the crowd. When Eli stopped, Diana invited Kelsey to join her in examining the tree and that strange wire. A wire cutter magically appeared and, within seconds, Kelsey slipped the ring on her finger and was gazing toward Eli, still seated in ScorpionKing’s cabin.

Kelsey bounced up onto the Scorpion. Eli had opened the cabin door and the two of them embraced to the cheers and applause of all in attendance. When the wedding occurs, it won’t be surprising if ScorpionKing is again selected to be the ring bearer.