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Pearl of a Machine for Oyster River

A customized Kobelco SK330, mated with Waratah's Bigwood harvesting and processing head, is a productive - and portable - part of the equipment line-up at TimberWest's Oyster River operation.

By Bill Tice
Copyright 1998. Contact publisher for permission to use.

For TimberWest's Oyster River operation, mobility of machinery is an important consideration when selecting new logging equipment, due in part to the vast area covered by the company's Tree Fan-n Licence (TFL), forest licence and private lands.

With their offices and shop located 15 km north of Campbell River, BC on the highway to Gold River, TimberWest's Oyster River operation manages over 110,000 hectares of land on Vancouver Island, which stretches from 10 km south of Gold River to 30 km north of Port Alberni.

When the operation's managers started to look for a new roadside processor, they were attracted to the Kobelco SK330 with a Waratah HTH26 Bigwood harvesting and processing head for a number of reasons. For one thing, it can be easily prepared for highway transportation, and getting on the highway ensures they can get the machine where they want it, quickly and easily.

Kobelco SK330

Kobelco SK330 mated with Waratah's Bigwood harvesting and processing head. (See detail below.)

Waratah Harvesting Head

Weighing in at 9,000 lbs., the Waratah HTH26 can handle wood up to 34" and logs can be fed into the head at up to 13ft./sec. An on-board computer feeds cutting instructions to the head.

Engineered by T-Mar Industries Ltd. in Campbell River, the machine can be highway-ready in less than two hours.

"Having our equipment highway-legal is very important to us, due to the size of our operation and our urban-faced logging," says Jim Saunders, production supervisor for the TimberWest operation. Saunders points out that much of the company's logging operations are in close proximity to the rapidly growing communities of Vancouver Island, as well as being close to major highways and roads.

The technology that allows the quick change from forest machine to a highway-transportable unit is fairly simple. "The machine has removable counterweights in the back end, which are actually just six removable slugs made of steel, each one weighing approximately 800 kg," says Glen Lambert of T-Mar Industries.

Lambert says the slugs are easily removed using a Hiab truck. The only other component that needs to be removed for easy movement on the highway is the processing head.

Both Lambert and Saunders are quick to point out that there was more to the machine's engineering than just adding removable weights in order to make the machine highway-legal.

"The counterweight system was designed to enhance the machine's stability for log loading, processing and hoe chucking, and was actually re-located from the original Kobelco design. It offers structural reinforcement and provides for a lower profile and increased visibility," says Lambert.

The machine that is shipped from the Kobelco manufacturing plant in Calhoun, Georgia is transformed to a custom machine at the T-Mar shop in Campbell River.

T-Mar starts out with the body of a Kobelco SK330-Mark IV Log Loader and then adds a wide stance by incorporating an almost square platform that gives excellent stability and a 360' rotation.

The grapple is then replaced with a processing head, in this case, the Waratah HTH26, and other refinements are made, including the counterweight system. If the machine is ever sold, or the needs of TimberWest change, the 330 can easily be converted back to a Log Loader/Hoe Chucker.

"There is a lot of T-Mar in the machine, which translates into local employment for the North Island," says Lambert, whose company employs approximately 60 people in the Campbell River area.

In addition to being easy to transport, the new machine, which was delivered in September 1998, is already proving itself in the woods with TimberWest.

"It's a nice little machine and is very fast with lots of power," says Eric Jennett, one of the machine's operators, who has been with TimberWest and their previous owners, Fletcher Challenge and BC Forest Products, for almost 30 years. "It has done whatever I have wanted it to do with ease, and I have put some mighty big wood through it."

Jennett is also impressed with the cab, saying it's the nicest machine he's operated in his lengthy forest industry career.

"Everything is where it should be. The visibility is good, especially the 360' view I have from the cab. There is really nothing I have found that I don't like about this machine," he adds.

Jennett says what really makes the 330 excel is the combination of the Kobelco machine and the Waratah head that T-Mar has put together.

"They have really done a good job at matching up the machine with the head. It's a great combination and the two pieces of equipment complement each other," adds Jennett. With the Waratah head, Jennett says they can cut, process and load logs, although in most cases, they use the machine to follow the path of a feller buncher and utilize it for processing only.

Asked for a rough estimate on production, Jennett says he processes about 450 cubic metres of wood in an eight-hour day but has hit as high as 600 cubic metres on a good day.

Computer technology helps achieve the high production numbers, with an onboard computer feeding cutting instructions to the head.

"I can program in eight different species and 16 different lengths," says Jennett, who likes the computer technology. Jennett admits he is a little overwhelmed with the realization that this machine has the capability of being programmed by cellular phone from the Oyster River office, even when he is working hundreds of kilometres away.

The computer system is called the Waratah Full Scale Merchandising Measuring System, and is designed to be user friendly and reliable, even in extreme temperatures. The system offers controlled acceleration and deceleration, plus automatic stop at all of the pre-programmed bucking lengths.

With the added constant diameter reader and a drive arm rotary encoder, the system will continually display the tree diameter all the way from the butt to the top, and will also provide an automatic stop on priority for a combination of up to 16 log diameters and bucking lengths. An accurate scaled volume measurement in imperial or metric volumes is also available. For the high-tech logger, the volume measurement and all other set-up and running data can be printed on a cab-mounted printer unit to help keep track of daily production levels.

Weighing in at 9,000 lbs., the HTH26 head can handle wood up to 34" and has a minimum topping diameter of 4". A 16" topping saw is standard equipment. The head's bearing capacity (both ways) is 100,000 lbs.

Logs can be fed into the head at a maximum speed of 13 ft./second while the delimbing force is 13,276 lbs.

Waratah recommends a carrier for the head that is capable of producing 170 hp to 220 hp, which means the Kobelco 330 can offer more than enough energy to power the large head.

The Kobelco machine at Oyster River is powered by a Mitsubishi 6D22T 680 cubic-inch diesel engine, capable of producing 230 hp at 1,800 rpm.

The 330's hydraulic system includes two variable-displacement axial piston main pumps, each delivering 315 litres per minute of flow. This system enables both independent and combined operations of all functions at full power and automatically adjusts to load requirements.

The swing system delivers a maximum swing torque capability of 94,412 ft. lbs. through a single axial piston swing motor and planetary reduction gearing. The swing circuit operates at 4,100 psi and has a swing speed of 10.5 rpm. The swing system also includes a hydraulically released disc-type swing brake and an improved heavy-duty design Rotec support tube and swing bearing.

The undercarriage, which is built by T-Mar, provides the 330 with a 3.4-mph travel speed and a low range speed of 2.3 mph. The track length is 16'3" while the track width comes in at 12'9". The under-carriage produces ground pressure of 7.4 psi at approximately 96,250 lbs., while the ground clearance is 30".

The T-Mar special-design boom has a reach of 42' (with heel and grapple) and a below-grade reach of 24'. The lifting capacity ranges from 14,700 lbs. at 40' to 49,000 lbs. at 15'.

For the Oyster River crew, the Kobelco machines are not new. With the addition of the latest 330 they now have seven of them in operation, including log loader/hoe chuckers, processors and road builders.

Phil Percival, Shop Foreman at the Oyster River operation, says they keep going back to Kobelco and T-Mar, the local distributor, because of the high level of customer service, both before and after the sale.

Although Percival doesn't have as much experience with the Waratah heads, he has been impressed so far.

"This is our first Waratah head and we are very pleased," says Percival, who adds, "Waratah have already been out to give our shop staff a one-day maintenance seminar on the new head."

At TimberWest's Oyster River operation, it all adds up to another T-Mar/Kobelco combination on the logging roads of northern Vancouver Island, or in this case, sometimes on a flatbed travelling down the paved highway.

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