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May 2005  - The Logging and Sawmilling Journal

EQUIPMENT PROFILE 2

A good equipment match

The carrier/processor combination of a Kobelco SK 210 LC with a Waratah HTH 622B processing head is proving to be a good match for the quantity and quality challenges that face BC Interior processor contractor Rob Musselman.

By Jim Stirling

Rob Musselman (right) with operator—and brother—John Musselman, and the Kobelco/Waratah set-up. Rob felt the Kobelco would be a good match with the Waratah 622B, and he’s been proven right.

Large sawmills operate in a highly controlled environment. Their raw material of sawlogs, in contrast, is produced in a world of variables. The challenge for log harvesting contractors out in the woods is in efficiently and consistently meeting the log quantity, quality and specification standards demanded by licensees. Contractors have become very good at managing the day-to-day variables affecting their work places. For some loggers, though, specializing in one phase of the timber harvesting process makes sound business sense and contributes to the overall viability of the operation. Rob Musselman is at the helm of DRM Contracting in Quesnel, British Columbia. His company’s focus is on processing felled and decked wood at roadside. DRM works as a sub-contractor for Blackwater Construction Co Ltd, based in Prince George, BC.

Blackwater is a major contractor for Canfor and was scheduled to harvest about 350,000 cubic metres during the 2004/05 winter logging season. But the target was in jeopardy because of some of those variables affecting harvesting. Prolonged poor winter operating conditions, high stumpage rates on quota wood and a controversial and divisive local log truck haulers dispute helped make the season memorable for all the wrong reasons from the licensees’ perspective. DRM’s Musselman has been in the logging business for about 10 years, working mainly in the corridor between Quesnel and Mackenzie.

At a recent logging operation, the Kobelco/Waratah combo was producing logs ranging from 10 feet, six inches all the way up to 61 feet, three inches. Sorts included on and off highway load sawlogs, peelers, pole stock and fir.

He recognized the niche for processors. “There was more demand for processors and processor operators,” he notes. “And that keeps our machines busy.” The company owns two processors—Musselman’s brothers John and Ross are both operators—and was renting another machine. The newest carrier/processor combination for DRM is a Kobelco SK 210 LC with a Waratah HTH 622B processing head on the business end. He says the machines’ performance and reliability were exemplary during the initial 1,200 hours of double shifting the equipment. DRM is familiar with the Waratah head, using one on its other owned machine. Musselman says talking to other contractors and owners in the region confirmed the choice of head. But, he adds, the 622B represents a marked improvement on the 622 for his new equipment combination.

He also wanted to stay with a dangler type processor. “The dangler type heads are simpler and handle short and long wood. They’re better able to utilize the short wood and more mills are going that route, “ he observes. The mountain pine beetle epidemic in the BC Interior is one reason for the increase in short log production. All operations are geared to getting the maximum fibre from the bug-killed wood, a fact of operating life that will continue throughout the BC Interior for many logging seasons to come. Musselman felt the Kobelco 210 would be a good match with the 622B and he’s been proven correct. Also, Douglas Lake Equipment in Quesnel, the Kobelco dealer, gave Musselman a good trade-in deal on his older machine, a major consideration these days when upgrading log harvesting equipment. “We knew the carrier could run the 622B head faster, with better fuel consumption and all around handling,” says Musselman.

The Waratah HTH 622B processing head features a new measuring system software package and delimbing arms that open 4.5 inches wider for easier handling of bigger wood.

The 622B is approximately 700 pounds lighter than the 622, yet sacrifices little in terms of power or durability. “The Kobelco 210 is perfectly matched with the Waratah 622B,” agrees Leo Rutledge, with Douglas Lake Equipment in Quesnel. “It has a horsepower rating of 148 net—not gross—which is a little more than a Cat 320. It has a real good pump system with the main hydraulic pumps putting out at 110 gallons/min,” he points out. Rutledge credits a Mitsubishi power plant as the principal reason for the Kobelco’s fuel efficiency. “Rob (Musselman) says he’s using 50 litres of fuel less per shift with the Kobelco than his earlier machine.” He adds the Kobelco comes with a forestry cab and guarding package customized to user preference by 4-D Welding & Fabricating Ltd, of Kamloops, BC. Musselman’s 622B processing head is more than just a slimmed down version of the 622.

A new software package has been added to the measuring system and the delimbing arms open 4.5 inches wider for easier handling of bigger wood. A larger top saw allows wood broken during felling to be cut to preferred lengths as well as accommodating larger diameters. The 622B can handle trees up to 30 inches in diameter. A different support configuration to the saw itself helps eliminate broken ends and produces a better butt cut. Musselman says DRM and its operators are still getting used to the 622B’s operation and functions but availability had been excellent. “

About all we’ve had to look at were the chains, bar and oil.” DRM was busy processing beetle wood at a Blackwater show off the Pelican Road near Prince George during a recent visit to the operation. Typically, there were no shortages of sorts required and cutting to preferred lengths with minimal tolerance for error. Musselman says the longest logs were 61 feet, three inches, the shortest, 10 feet, six. Lengths at two-foot increments in between those extremes were also being specified. Sorts included separating on and off highway load sawlogs, peelers, pole stock and fir. Production is a function of site and more of those invariable variables. Every now and then, bigger diameter wood, good conditions and no surprises can result in up to three extra loads a day per 12-hour shift, says Musselman. That’s fine when it happens. It helps balance out a little the more normal diet of smaller wood, poorer conditions and unwelcome surprises.                                                         

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