King of the Hills
Timberjack's kingsized 1710 forwarder has its work cut out for it in rugged southern Nova Scotia
By Stephen Bornais
The "king", as it's been called, has come to Nova Scotia. But this royal personage hasn't come to sightsee. It is here to work, and work hard, in the rugged woodlands in the southern half of the province. The Timberjack 1710 forwarder has been on the job since the early summer with Deal Logging Limited on lands owned by Bowater Mersey. And so far, so good, says Terry Deal, a cautious man not given to overstatement. From their experience so far, he feels they made the right decision in buying the big machine. The eight wheeled version of the 1710 weighs in at more than 39,000 pounds and is driven by a 210hp Perkins 13068T1 six cylinder turbo. It has eight wheel drive, two speed, full gear patented balanced bogies, and a tractive effort of 49,440 lbs. All of that has been useful for Deal, who is co owner along with his mother of the company started by his late father. He has a five-year contract to log Bowater Mersey lands located throughout the southern end of the province, in Lunenburg, Queens, Annapolis and Halifax counties. He and his eight employees operate two Timberjack harvesters, a1270B bought this year and a 1995 model, along with the forwarder. The 1710 got a baptism by fire with Deal in what he calls the roughest spot he has ever worked in. "I've got a field to work in right now," in comparison to that tough ground, he says. The makeup of what he harvests changes throughout the year. Currently he's cutting hardwood logs, pine, spruce logs, stud wood and pulpwood. "The lower I can keep my pulpwood the better they like it. They want mostly sawlogs or stud wood and at the bottom end of the scale is the pulpwood." His contract calls for 64,000 tonnes a year, a figure he exceeded last year but one he will not meet this year due to the learning curve with the 1710 and a new harvester. "I didn't meet it the first year I had my other processor, but I'm hoping that after I get going, I'll beat it next year. The operators have to get familiar with the machine and we have to get familiarwith it.
It's a learning curve so that first year is not always the greatest." The smaller forwarders made by Timberjack just didn't fit Deal's requirements, says Joe Hurley, Nova Scotia manager of Lounsbury Industrial (1996) Ltd., which has been the provincial dealer for Timberjack machines since 1990. "In that particular part of the country, it's very rough going and of course that means road building costs are excessive. That tends to put some pressure on the harvesting contractor to forward his wood over long distances." With an 18tonne capacity, the 1710 makes it much more economical to forward wood over 1,000 metres. Even still, for such a big machine it's fairly light on its feet. "It can travel over pretty soft ground even with a full load," he says. The fully enclosed cab with its large tinted polycarbonate windows, air conditioning and full dual drive has a swivel suspension seat that reduces operator fatigue. The ride is fairly smooth, even when the 1710 is barreling down the road at its top speed of 23 kilometres an hour. The fully automated Timberjack TMC (Total Machine Control) System controls all the functions. "It's great for controlling fuel consumption and keeping your costs down," Hurley says. The system controls engine rpms to match the need of machine hydraulics, either for travel or the Timberjack F111 telescopic, 8.5 metre loader. "If the demand is such that it only needs 1,400 rpm, then it will run the engine at that level. In a situation where high torque is required, it will open up the rpm," Hurley says.
The 1710 has many other features that make it attractive to contractors. "It's a big, rugged machine that's built to work in hilly country as well as good going. But in the heavy going, it has lots of horsepower and lots of drawbar pull. I think one feature that is important is that it has an 18foot bunk on it," Hurley says, adding most other forwarders have a 15 or 16 foot bunk. This two foot advantage comes in handy with the growing demand for 10 foot stud wood. "The 1710 is ideally suited to handle two bunks of 10 foot wood without the back bunk falling off," he says. The machine has also been run through demonstrations where it handled random length wood for chippers as well as full-length trees up to 40 feet. Even with all that wood-and weight- hanging out the back, Hurley says the front cab stayed on the ground. "Do that with a smaller machine and you would have a problem with the front end trying to steer it." None of this comes cheap. The 1710 package costs about $500,000. Hurley says buyers have to look at what the "king of machines" can do for their bottom line. "I think they have to look at the cost of landing their wood at roadside," he says. In Nova Scotia, Lounsbury has sold more than 200 Timberjack forwarders, many of them still running and with more than 20,000 hours. Several 1970's era machines are still hauling wood. For Deal, the question was: since he was going to run two harvesters, should he go with two small forwarders or one big one? Bowater helped him crunch the numbers and it became clear his choices were limited. "If I want to run my harvester 10 hours a day, and I only want to run my forwarder the same shift, then I'm limited to the kinds and size of machines I can buy," he says. If Deal could have satisfied his requirements with a smaller machine, he would have, saving the huge capital outlay needed to buy the 1710. In the end it was still a tough decision. Deal wanted to make sure the machine he bought would have work for a fair amount of time. "I didn't want to get into running my two processors five days a week and the forwarder seven days a week," he says. "I like a couple of hours off, too." There was another consideration in going with the one big machine. "This is a bad way to put it," he says, "but men cost money. I did away with two operators by going with the bigger forwarder."
The 1710 is virtually as it came from the factory in Finland save for some additional floodlights Deal had installed. They will come in handy during the winter season when his crews will be working almost an entire 10hour shift in the dark. There are also some additional guards. "I'm not saying I didn't see a few things that should have been modified to it, but you don't know that until you have the machine and run it for a while and get to know it," he says. Officials from Timberjack have visited Deal's operation and taken note of his observations for future machines. They have already lengthened the exhaust pipe, and will add a heat shield behind the turbocharger to reduce heat buildup on hoses. Deal says the company should also have installed crash plates underneath the bogies, to account for a change from the Scandinavian model. There has also been a fair amount of trouble with the 75026.5 Nokian tires. Deal has endured eight flats so far, but the company says it will rectify the problem. Operators, however, seem to like the 1710. Longtime employee Dale Robar took a while to adjust to the new machine after running the old 230. "At first Dale didn't like it, but now I don't think he would trade back," Deal says. Controls are a little quicker and the 1710 has a bigger turning radius than the operators were accustomed to. "It's more comfortable and it's faster. There's just a lot of little things," Deal said.
Deal especially likes the programming feature that allows each operator to preset machine functions to his own specifications. With a push of button, each oper ator can reset the forwarder, speeding up or slowing the speed of the grapple, among other adjustments. Deal's 22yearold son Shawn has operated the 1710 since it first arrived, along with coworker Robar. The cab is fairly quiet and the handling has been first rate, they say, especially in the rough going. Having recently come over the 1,100 hour mark, Deal says he doesn't have the longterm experience yet to truly judge how good a fit the 1710 is with his other Timberjack equipment but he's "pretty satisfied". He does, however, like having all his equipment from the same manufacturer since it simplifies parts storage and repair. He has been running the forwarder 20 hours a day, something he would rather not do. "I don't like to run them that way. Economics makes me run them that way," he says. "There's nothing I like better than coming home at six or seven o'clock in the evening knowing that I'm done for the day." So it remains, is Deal happy with his purchase and would he buy another? "All my experience up to now? I'd say I would."
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This page last modified on Monday, November 03, 2003