By Paul MacDonald
Todd Smith, who lives in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley just east of Vancouver, has taken on the mission of photographing and taking videos of old logging equipment, which has been fast-disappearing in recent years due to high scrap prices overseas.
For years, Smith has been ranging around the backroads and logging roads on the B.C. Coast. At first, it was for his own interest, but with the Internet, he now posts photos and videos to his YouTube site, www.youtube.com/user/skadill. He has over 1200 videos on his site and adds a new video every week.
Smith had an interest in heavy equipment at a young age. He recalls being into heavy equipment during high school—rather than the usual bikini pin-ups most guys had in their lockers, “I had heavy equipment pictures in my locker. Nobody really got it.”
Once he was old enough, Todd started working with his dad, Ken, who had a logging business through the late-1980s and early-1990s. “I thought it was the greatest thing, being out on some acreage clearing it. A logging truck would come on site, and I’d be all eyes watching it getting loaded with logs.”
Smith ran skidder, hoe chucked, bid on jobs, ran a sawmill with his dad, and loaded the logging trucks. He also logged, working as a faller, sometimes taking down trees that were nine feet across.
True to his interest in equipment, Smith can quickly recall what their equipment was: a John Deere 540A line skidder and a Timberjack 404 skidder, which was picked up second-hand in Chehalis, Wash. “The Timberjack had one of those Esco 510 grapples on the back—we thought we had gone to heaven when we didn’t have to set chokers anymore.”
Sawmills and Hardwood
From there, Todd and Ken purchased some small sawmills to try and add value to some of the hardwood logs they were taking down. They set the mills up on a paved site in Maple Ridge, about 45 kilometres west of Vancouver. They had a D&L Double Cut sawmill and a TimberPro (now Timberwolf) band saw.
“We were just a small-volume producer. We’d cut a truckload of wood a day—but in addition to the wood we were harvesting, we had to compete with Northwest for wood—it was all we could do to find wood and buy it,” recalls Smith.
Smith says the economics were just not there, and eventually, they got out of the mill side.
Smith now runs a rental equipment business; he has about 16 pieces of equipment, from mini-excavators to full-size excavators. He does a lot of the maintenance work on the equipment from a small shop in Mission. But his passion for B.C.’s logging industry remains strong.
Twenty Years of Photographs
Smith has been taking pictures of older equipment for more than 20 years. “Before the age of the Internet and YouTube, I was kind of on my own.”
Now, on his YouTube site, he has hundreds of videos of old logging equipment. Each Friday, he posts a new video on the site and usually gets a quick 1,000 visits from people who are eager to see his latest equipment find.
Smith has stepped up his efforts in recent years, as older logging equipment has been scooped up for scrap. “What really sparked things is the price of scrap has gone up a lot over the last five years,” he says.
“And once it’s gone, it’s gone.”
On the Cover
Lindsey R. Mohlere captures David Jackson operating a CAT 325D paired with a Log Max 10000 processing head
NW Strike Teams Battle Fire Northwest strike teams demobilize after fighting the Thomas Fire.
First on the Slope
Siegmund Excavation & Construction offer full-service, steep-slope logging.
Taking a Chance on Changes
Tri-Star Logging had no idea of industry changes when it started out in 1986.
World’s Second-Largest Yarder
Dahlgren’s tower boosts productivity with Series 60 engine repower.
Man on a Mission
Todd Smith’s love of old logging equipment.