The Timberking 722 tracked feller buncher is successfully executing some demanding tasks in a frequently precise working environment—where zero tail swing is a necessity—in British Columbia.
By Jim Stirling
A comfort zone is a welcome place in theworld of flux that is the log harvesting contracting business in British Columbia. The comfort zone expands exponentially when it encompasses a confidence in and experience with the principal equipment necessary to get the job done. Progressive Harvesting (2000) Ltd (PHL) enjoys that type of relationship with British Columbia Caterpillar forestry machinery supplier Finning.
The Williams Lake, BC-based logging, log hauling and low bedding company recently upgraded its equipment fleet with new generation Cat machines supplied and serviced through the local Finning dealership. The company added a new 545 skidder, a high and wide 320C with Waratah head and a first edition Timberking 722 tracked feller buncher. The 722 with a tilting configuration has demonstrated an ability to outperform the machine it replaced in a variety of applications. And it has done nothing to erode the comfort zone maxim. PHL is owned by friends, partners and brothers-in-law Tim Tugnum and Brad Schreyer.
They’ve worked hard to develop their company since its inception in 1997. At that time, the joint equipment assets comprised a Cat 530 skidder, a Timberjack 618, a Cat 320 with a 550 Denharco delimber and a Kenworth logging truck. Now, with the latest acquisitions, the equipment line-up includes three Cat 325 butt ‘n tops, a 535 skidder, a 545 skidder and the latest 545 skidder model, three 320Cs with Waratah heads and a 320B, a Tigercat 875 feller buncher, the new Timberking, a D6H, four Kenworth logging trucks (two super Bs, two double-bunked quads) and a low bed that more than earns its keep moving the equipment around the countryside.“We bought out an existing contract for 150,000 cubic metres annually with Weldwood,” recalls Tugnum.
It’s short wood, which for Weldwood’s purposes is from 10 foot five inches to 25 foot nine. Sawlogs are typically taken to Weldwood’s sawmill in 100 Mile House and peeler stock goes to the Williams Lake plant. PHL harvests around an additional 150,000 cubic metres from other sources. One of these is area ranchers. “We try and do a good job selective logging for the ranchers and we have repeat customers we go back to every year,” says Tugnum. Some of the contracts they work on are substantial, up to 30,000 cubic metres. “We take pride in doing a good job for both the mills and the ranchers,” he adds. The Cat-Finning affinity goes back years, to 1983 in Tugnum’s case when he started out in the contracting business. “They always backed me. When times were tough, they were always there for me,” he explains. Tugnum and Schreyer have learned to go where they find the best support.
The partners share a basic philosophy toward equipment acquisitions. There have been exceptions, but generally they’ll run machines to the peak of their productivity then turn them over while still retaining good trade-in value. That process also allows PHL to capture the benefits of technological changes and sophistication evident in ever-evolving log harvesting machinery. It’s worked out well. And the new Timberking 722 is a case in point. The machine has a three-cylinder tilt mechanism allowing simultaneous forward and side-to-side movement. The mechanism’s design transfers the vertical load down into the tracks and ground.
Tugnum says PHL opted for the tilting version for operator comfort and to better accommodate the broken terrain encountered frequently in its operating areas. The machine’s zero tail swing is another favouring factor, given the range of assignments the buncher is delegated. For example, the machine was recently working in a mixed species block northeast of McLeese Lake, where maintaining mule deer winter habitat was a management objective. The 722 was falling and bunching about 6,000 cubic metres of mountain pine beetle-infested trees while retaining the stand’s fir component cover. The upshot was a frequently precise working environment where zero tail swing is a necessity.
Tugnum also likes the feature to help protect natural re-gen, a consideration his ranching customers appreciate. “You take a little extra time and care to do the best you can.” PHL had put more than 500 hours on its TK 722 and experienced excellentavailability. “We’ve had no major hose problems, nothing. It runs day after day after day,” says Tugnum. Helping it do that is a Caterpillar C-9 electronic engine with a 243 hp rating at 2,100 rpm. The machine’s closed centre hydraulic system has programmable controls for multi-function capabilities. Both Tugnum and Schreyer comment favourably on the buncher’s lack of manual pilot controls. The advantages delivered by a dedicated pilot hydraulic line translates into smoothness and machine controllability.
It contributes to smoother and faster machine operation, adds Schreyer. And it’s less tiring for the operator after a 10-hour shift. The 722 comes equipped with a D6H heavy-duty track undercarriage. Lohmann final drives and track motors provide about 82,000 pounds of draw bar pull. The machine comes with a handy 33-inch ground clearance. Tugnum says the boom configuration offers a tight working envelope, again helping when working in the close quarters of selective cutting applications. Boom reach is over 26 feet. PHL chose to fit its 722 with Cat’s 24-inch HF 221 head. The partners went with the larger 24-inch head to more easily handle piece sizes to .75 cubic metres, 100 feet tall and better. A heavier counterweight was added to the machine as a result of the larger head. But the pair also appreciates the head’s accumulating button.
It allows the machine’s operator to pull in straight and collect multi smaller stems. Tugnum estimates fuel consumption for the machine at around 10-11 gallons/hour. But the machine’s speed and overall performance can put up to 10 per cent more wood on the ground than its predecessor depending on site and operating conditions. A hydraulically-operated gull wing engine house helps serviceability. Tugnum says hoses, for example, are accessible and easy to change. He also notes the head’s design keeps it cleaner of debris than most. An on demand Flexxaire fan purges debris from the radiator area and results in a cleaner air intake system. And—a helpful touch from Finning—they added a satellite radio in the operator’s cab. Just something else to contribute to the comfort zone.
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