Delivering the goods
A customized Tigercat 822 buncher is delivering exactly what BC’s Pioneer Logging requires: good performance and production.
By Jim Stirling
Log harvesting and hauling contractor David Chevigny has to be responsive to his customers and he, in turn, looks to receive the same kind of service from his suppliers. Chevigny certainly got that with his most recent equipment acquisition, considering the design features he needed incorporated into his new Tigercat 822 feller buncher. The machine is performing well and productively where it has to in the bush because, when Chevigny and his people talked, Tigercat and their people listened. “The biggest thing that impressed me with Tigercat is the president of the company spent two or three days with us, and their engineer was there all the time,” recalls Chevigny. “They took into account everything I said. They were getting quite excited about the machine.”
So much so that Chevigny’s customized 822—the first delivered to Western Canada—is the template machine for the region. The Tigercat line of forestry equipment is distributed in British Columbia through Inland Kenworth Parker Pacific’s 12 branches from Fort St John in the northeast to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. Chevigny’s Pioneer Logging Ltd is based in 150 Mile House and has been dealing with Inland Kenworth’s Williams Lake branch for years, making the group’s acquisition of the Tigercat line last year a fortuitous fit. But the Tigercat decision was not lightly taken. “We knew all the areas that had to be addressed,” says Chevigny. Experience has been the teacher.
On occasion, a costly one. The nature of Pioneer Logging’s business is also germaine to making solid machine purchase decisions. Pioneer pursues timber sales, developing and marketing more than 130,000 cubic metres of wood a year. The key is to make a shrewd assessment of each sale’s overall potential. Chevigny’s crews have harvested blocks ranging from small diameter dry belt lodgepole pine running 0.10 metres per stem—50 metres per hectare—to wood a metre a stem in tough, ugly ground. “We have to have it all to keep competitive and efficient,” says Chevigny. Pioneer tried a handful of bunchers seeking the versatility required. Pioneer bypassed the standard Tigercat 860 buncher because the company wanted a machine with no tail swing. “We do a lot of selective logging,” notes Chevigny.
The new 822 model was fine for applications like plantation harvesting in the southern US but it was a much lighter version than what they wanted. This is where the talking and the listening clicked into gear to re-configure the 822 into a machine for all seasons in BC’s varied terrain and timber types. A 41-centimetre extension to the machine’s rear end accommodates a large counterweight. It provides the stability to work efficiently and safely in steep ground and downhill applications and helps with the ability to pick up wood at full reach. The extension has the added advantage of providing a working step for the machine’s back end. Chevigny’s 822 has a D6-sized undercarriage that’s larger, heavier and all enclosed.
It encompasses the proven bottom end of the 860 model and makes for a relatively heavy machine, dressing out at around 31,298 kilograms, including fuel and counterweight. The machine’s 130-gallon fuel tank is also larger than standard. Improved fuel economy coupled with longer engine life is anticipated with the machine’s power plant. It’s equipped with another first, a QSL nine-litre Cummins electronically controlled engine, rated at 280 horsepower at 1,800 rpm and an impressive and useful peak torque of 950 lb/ft at 1,400 rpm. The Cummins engine is designed to combine responsive power across the speed range with the benefit of improved fuel economy.
Chevigny estimates he gets six gallons per hour. Cummins has extended the QSL’s oil change interval to 500 hours. Fuel lines have been integrated into the engine block to eliminate leaks and ruptured hoses. Chevigny specified a large radiator in the cooling system, functioning air-to-air with the engine allowing purging of debris. The enclosed heavy-duty boom is also designed to keep debris build-up to a minimum. A large pin on the tower base and the use of big bearings throughout adds to the machine’s toughness.
On the business end is a Tigercat 5400 series 21-inch hot saw felling/bunching head. It uses larger and longer grab arms that are fast at accumulating smaller stems in a side pocket and depositing them in a tight bunch. Two large and adjustable cylinders control the head, allowing a rotation of 30 degrees to the right and 180 degrees to the left, says Chevigny. The flexibility allows easier positioning of stems in steep ground to help reduce skidding. Maintenance access is superior to other zero tail swings, he says. The lack of contortion required to access the motor compartment and valving system is an important frustration-reducing and productivity-boosting factor.
The operator’s cab incorporates simplified controls and is pleasantly quiet, with the creature comforts of a new pick-up truck, he adds. Overall, the 822 with its beefed-up 860 and 870 components looks compact, solid and sturdy on its tracks. The re-configured 822 was working in predominantly green and red attack pine beetle wood northeast of Quesnel early this year. Bug wood is pretty much the norm across large tracts of the BC Interior these days. The 26,000 cubic metre sale in reasonable ground was averaging out in pine to 0.30 metres per stem and was being trucked to Riverside Forest Products in Williams Lake.
Suitable Douglas fir was shipped to Weldwood of Canada’s Quesnel sawmill. And Pioneer was separating construction material for sister company Pioneer Log Homes. The 822 was working with a Cat 545 grapple skidder and two 2800 Link-Belts with Denharco processors, one equipped with a new topping saw. A 3400 Link-Belt butt ‘n top was busy loading Pioneer’s seven Kenworth logging trucks and those of two contractors working the claim. A Cat D7G and 14G grader round out the equipment fleet.
The Pioneer team was producing about 16 highway loads a day—an average of 820 cubic metres a day—and shipping it six days a week. The show was producing long and short wood. The latter was generally 5.6 metres and in increments of 0.6 metres down to three metre lengths, depending on Riverside’s requirements. Pioneer’s two quad axle short loggers come in handy with the cut-to-length wood. Pioneer is used to providing the preferred lengths and quality wood the mills require. Chevigny says fine-tuning the measuring system on the processors has resulted in consistently producing accurate, quality lengths second to none. Much of that is attributable to the close-knit team Chevigny has assembled at Pioneer. They work well together.
Rene Bremner, Pioneer’s general manager, and head mechanic Dan Grundin accompanied Chevigny and an Inland Kenworth rep to the Tigercat factory to help specify the 822. Dave Carpenter is Pioneer’s bush foreman and Danny Erlandson is the 822’s regular operator. Chevigny was pleased with the 822’s start-up. Tigercat had the machine bush ready before it left the factory. Chevigny figures the 822’s solid construction, engine power and accumulating felling head was increasing Pioneer’s bunching production in the 20 per cent range. “It’s the key machine to the whole operation. You have to put the wood on the ground.”
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Tuesday, September 28, 2004