September and October 2006



Specialized Shoveling

Pellham Logging Makes the Most of Shovel Logging on Small Tracts

The John Deere 200LC shovel loader with Jewel attachment is the core of the three-man operation.

When small, private landowners near Rainier, Ore., decide to harvest, Ralph Pellham is often their first choice. Pellham Logging specializes in shovel logging small tracts for private parties, and is keenly sensitive that the land being harvested is someone’s backyard.

Equipped for the Job

Central to Pellham’s operation is a John Deere 200LC shovel loader with a Jewell attachment package, utilized in a variety of ways to expedite harvest and treat the land gently.

“We are a small, three-man operation. All the modern, mechanized equipment available today would not be cost effective on these small jobs, so I use the shovel in combination with other equipment to do a quality of job like the big guys, but with much less expense,” explains Pellham.

Pellham uses a winch-equipped Case 1150G for the larger wood. He uses the Cat D4H for the smaller.


Cutting Costs for Small Landowners

Whenever possible, Pellham prefers the reduced ground disturbance and efficiency of pure “shovel logging.” But most small landowners can neither bear the expense of constructing roads, nor do they want to sacrifice precious land for a road, when trees could be grown there. Thus, on many of Pellham’s jobs, the distances from the trees to landings make shovel logging alone too slow.

Son, Greg Pellham, owner of Pellham Cutting, takes the logs from the site.

To overcome this challenge, he yards with a logging arch and winchequipped Case 1150G, or for smaller wood, a Cat D4H track skidder with a grapple. Stems are hand felled by contract fallers, and the JD 200 “bunches” stems where they are easily accessible for yarding. Congregating stems beside centralized skid roads minimizes disturbance to the ground and it minimizes the need for numerous skid roads. Yarding is faster because a full turn of logs is readily available to grab in one location. When working in larger wood, trees are cut into log lengths prior to yarding.

While assembling felled stems, Pellham uses the loader’s grapple to uproot vine maple and remove other debris, in preparation for after-harvest clean up. The grapple is used to break off limbs from the trees prior to yarding, to speed the operation and reduce the amount of debris at the landing. He says another benefit is that the shovel’s long arm also allows snatching stems from soggier places without mucking things up.

Pellham explains that although few loggers run Case 1150’s, he became well acquainted with the machine while working as a mechanic at an equipment rental company. Since he began logging full time in the 1980’s he has owned three Case 1150’s.

Processing at the Landing

Logs, and smaller, full-length trees, are decked by the shovel or the skidding machines at landing, for processing with a Danzco PT20 high base delimber powered by a 10 horsepower diesel engine. From the unprocessed log deck, stems ranging from two to 20 inches are delimbed as they are stroked back and forth through the “processor” by the shovel. Stems that need to be cut to length are staged separately and then decked, after being bucked.

Ralph Pellham says he happy with the Danzco PT20 delimber. It's used daily on his landings and has increased production.

The processor was added to Pellham’s operation about ten years ago, when he was harvesting a stand of smaller cedar trees with many limbs. “It was taking the chaser forever to cut all the branches from the stems,” Pellham says.

He was familiar with small delimbers through dealers in Portland and advertising, and wondered if it might provide a solution to this particular challenge. He had the Danzco PT20 brought out for a demonstration, and since that time the processor has been working daily on his landings.

“It increases production significantly,” he says. “I would estimate that the chaser would go through perhaps two gallons of gas a day before, but with the processor, he only uses one gallon and is freed up for other tasks such as skidding and bucking.” The processor is economical to operate using only a couple gallons of fuel a day.

Pellham prefers the mobility of this particular delimber over those with built-in saws and “measuring ladders” that require set up. He has found the processor to be effective on all species. He admits the processor cannot handle the biggest logs, but adds, “Most of the bigger trees are free of limbs on the bottom and the processor works good for the tops.”

Merchandized logs are decked with the shovel and loaded onto Pellham Cutting trucks owned by Greg Pellham, Ralph’s son. Greg and Ralph worked together in the 1980’s, including running rubber tired skidders for Ralph’s father-in-law, Carl Crape, until 1988 when Carl passed away. After that, Ralph went out on his own. Today, Greg runs nine Kenworth and two Peterbilt log trucks, hauling logs for companies like Longview Fibre, as well as for his own dad. To stay busy, two trucks are equipped to haul fulllength poles, and three are able to pull mule trains.

Managing his own land

Pellham estimates that his operation produces between two and six loads a day, depending on the size of the wood. His customers usually live within 50 miles of his Rainier, Ore., home where he manages a 275-acre family homestead, much of which is timberland.

Pellham’s childhood memories include his father, Herman Pellham harvesting the homestead with a donkey and Cat, and cutting cants at his own sawmill. He says, “Back then they left seed trees to reforest. It didn’t work, so today we have a stand of mature hardwoods where they previously logged.” Ralph is systematically harvesting the hardwoods and replanting with Douglas Fir. He adds, “If work gets slow, I look a little harder at our management plan and maybe take a few more trees.”

Pellham also uses the “slow times” as an opportunity for equipment maintenance. As a young man, he trained to be a diesel technician, and although a new family kept him from completing his formal education, he loves equipment and can do most of his own“wrenching.” But the major equipment repairs he leaves to the dealers.

Ralph Pellham operating the John Deere 200LC shovel loader.

Serving up Diversity

A three-axle tilt trailer, pulled behind Pellham’s dump truck, transports all of his equipment, except the big shovel which he hires a truck to haul. Although 90 percent of his work is logging, he also does construction and excavation work with his equipment, including a Hyundai 180lC3 excavator with interchangeable buckets, grapple, and flail mower attachments.

His diverse equipment allows him to care for all the needs of the people he serves. When contracting a logging job, he can do it all — build roads, harvest, scarify — and he will even subcontract the replanting if the client desires. Pellham says, “My goal is to be able to do everything the land owner needs from start to finish, so he doesn’t need to look for another contractor to do a part of the job.”

Perhaps that is why many people around Rainier refuse to call anyone, but Ralph Pellham, when they want to harvest trees from their own backyard.


This page was last updated on Sunday, January 28, 2007