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Walking High

Hyundai's High Walker 210 with Keto head is delivering ample production, and power, for Nova Scotia contractor David Orr.

By Stephen Bornais


T
he only sound heard as logging contractor David Orr gingerly picks his way along a field of freshly cut logs is the crunch of snow beneath his boots.  But dropping down off a small rise, another sound slowly builds in volume.  It’s the sound of Orr’s newest piece of equipment, a Hyundai Robex 210LC3HW, busy cutting its way through a stand of spruce sitting atop South Mountain in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley.  Equipped with a Keto 525TS head, the High Walker 210—the first in Nova Scotia—is making short work of the harvesting, much to the approval of the 61 year old Orr. 

Orr has run his own operation since leaving his job as district supervisor at Scott Paper in 1989 and today cuts in many of the same areas he tended while an employee.  He is working on a huge block of privately held land near Aylesford Lake.  The area was extensively burned about 80 years ago, allowing for a fairly evenly-aged crop.  The block is so big Orr expects he’ll be there until he retires.   

Operator Chris Lenihan (left) with contractor David Orr and the Hyundai 210 High Walker. The 210 High Walker is good at handling rocky terrain, says Lenihan, since there is almost nothing it can't go over or in to.

Currently, he’s cutting saw logs for mills across the province, as well as some hardwood destined for chipping facilities in Sheet Harbour on the province’s Eastern Shore.  The chips are then exported to Japan.  Smaller softwood logs are sent to a stud mill near Halifax.  He and his three employees run a 1989 Caterpillar 518 skidder—still going with 12,000 hours on the clock— and a Timberjack 230A forwarder, along with the new High Walker 210. 

With these pieces, Orr aims to average about 75 tonnes a day of cut wood based on a five day week, 50 weeks a year.  He actually works six days a week, but feels budgeting for five allows him to meet or exceed his targets most weeks while also allowing for downtime.  “Most of the guys who have harvesters like to keep going year-round,” he says.  On a typical day, Orr arrives on site about 7 am and discusses with operator Chris Lenihan where the day’s cut will take place.  Once that’s done, he heads off to run the forwarder.  Both men like to keep busy.  “Chris is ambitious and the finances keep me ambitious, so we’ll be running her right ‘til about 5 or 5:30,” says Orr. 

To maximize their return on these expensive machines, some operators have them equipped with lights to lengthen the working day.  It’s a practice Orr wants nothing to do with.  “We plan on working six days a week, and fairly good days, and that’s all we plan on doing,” he says.  “Six days a week, 10,12, 14 hours a day, that’s going to be it .”        

While logger David Orr admits he was a little apprehensive when he saw the tracks on the Keto head-rather than the more familiar feed rollers-he was won over once he saw the head at work.

The 210 is his first new piece of equipment since 1992 when he bought an earlier Hyundai, a machine that he feels didn’t quite live up to his expectations.  The reason for going with another Hyundai is simple: La Have Equipment Ltd was the only dealer that would offer him a trade-in on his older machine and with a $420,000 purchase price staring him in the face, Orr said the deal was done. 

Most dealers in the province were filled up with used equipment but La Have was eager to get into the forestry business with its new line of Hyundai iron.  “They were about the only fellows who would say ‘okay, we’ll give you so much for your machine, we want so much for that’ and away we went,” says Orr.  The new machine is a huge capital outlay for Orr’s small business.  “That’s where the biggest payments are but so long as it cuts all the wood, that’s no problem,” he says.  The 210 is financed over five years.  With a deliberate policy not to pile up a lot of hours on it or run it rough, Orr hopes to be able to sell the machine for a retirement nest egg. 

Bill Simmons, general manager at La Have in Truro, Nova Scotia says Orr’s machine was the company’s first 210 sale since they became a Hyundai dealer a year ago.  There are now four 210s in the woods, all equipped with either the Keto 500 or 525TS heads.  Simmons says the 210 is a good move for Orr, who is known as a “precise and exact” contractor.  “It’s a fast, productive machine,” Simmons says. 

The 210 is powered by a six-cylinder inline Cummins diesel, an engine that both Orr and Lenihan say delivers more than enough power to do the job.  “This never labours and we never even run it at full throttle.  We only run it at 1,900 rpm and it does everything we want,” Lenihan said.  Once on site, Lenihan operates the machine and head via a pair of pilot pressure operated joysticks, each equipped with fingertip controls. 

The high clearance Xleg type centre frame, which gives the High Walker its name, is integrally welded with reinforced box-section track frames.  The design includes lubricated rollers, springs, idlers, track adjusters with shock absorbing spring and sprockets and assembled track-type tractor shoes with double grousers.  High Walkers come intact from Korea and are sent to the Meductic Welding Shop in New Brunswick to complete the forestry package.  La Have’s Bridgewater shop then installs the head plus a fire suppression system, as well as a heel boom.  Simmons said all sales come with an extensive training package and field follow-ups. 

The 210 arrived at Orr’s work site in late summer, at the height of a heat wave in the Nova Scotia woods.  Its relatively trouble-free operation under those conditions was reassuring to Orr, as he had overheating problems with his older Hyundai.  The man who actually runs the 210 calls it “an operator’s machine”.  “There’s nothing I can’t do.  You’re not limited,” says Lenihan.  “It’s got the reach, the head works well and basically all you have to do is grease it and bring your lunch bucket .”      The 210 handles the site’s rocky terrain well, Lenihan says, since with the High Walker there is almost nothing it can’t go over or in to.  “With the reach, too, you don’t have to go in to the bad spots and you can put the wood where you want .”      

Both Lenihan and Orr were impressed with the ease with which adjustments in operations could be made via the computerized controls.  Most changes to the 210’s control systems can be done on the screen found in the cab.  Operation of the HyundaiKeto combination hasn’t been without its problems, however.  By the 250hour mark, cracks appeared on the head’s track frames.  The frames were removed and reinforced.  Around 300 hours, Orr said one of the 210’s front idlers “went to pieces”.  That was followed by trouble with an idler adjustment, which cracked and wouldn’t hold pressure.  Throughout the problems, Orr says La Have was quick to act. 

Orr says he was somewhat surprised to see a problem in the 1999 model that bedeviled him on the 1992 Hydundai.  When using ether to start the engine in cold weather, the engine races to full throttle “just as soon as she starts out”.  While it is controllable, Orr says he is still awaiting an answer as to why it happens.  Simmons said the first 210 meant a learning curve for everyone.  The three later machines don’t seem to be having the same problems.  “We know the guys have high payments and therefore must work long hours and have very high availability.  Our service department is very attuned to this fact and reacts in a hurry when a problem does develop,” he says. 

In the end, Orr’s review of the High Walker 210 is positive.  Despite minor problems, he would buy another one if needed.  “There’s not too much wrong with the machine .”          

Fan of the Keto Head

Nova Scotia logger David Orr was a little apprehensive when he saw the tracks on the Keto 525TS head rather than the more familiar rollers. But once he saw the Finnish-designed head at work, he was sold. Orr runs the Keto 525TS on his Hyundai High Walker 210 as part of a total package sold to him by La Have Equipment Ltd of Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. 

The head on Orr's machine was fitted by La Have under supervision by Keto. Orr said the 1.25 tonne head was installed correctly from the start and it has been a pleasure to use. "It will handle a good big tree, it will limb a crooked tree, and it will do hardwood better than some other heads. I think it's a good allround head," Orr says, adding that the Keto 525TS is also the first single-grip head he has used. 

The Keto 525TS can handle almost anything it encounters in a Nova Scotia forest. The maximum opening of its knives and tracks is 24.5 inches. Although Orr found the Keto needed a little more maintenance than a roller-equipped head, he has been impressed by its robust performance in tough conditions. "With the head, there's snow falling down on the thing something terrible, and with all those little valves and computers we haven't had an ounce of trouble," Orr says. "It does the job, it is simple to work on, and it's simple to do any changes whether it's in the computer or out on the valve bank ." 

Bill Simmons, La Have's general manager, says Keto 525TS heads are fitted on the machines they sell because customers developed a need for the topping saws. "We've sold two since they've seen what David Orr's would do. It's just a progression," Simmons says. La Have has been an authorized dealer for Keto since 1997 and offers both training and after sales support.


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This page last modified on Tuesday, February 17, 2004