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July August 2006 - The Logging and Sawmilling Journal




The Hyundai 210 High Walker/Ponsse H73 dangle head harvesting combination has worked out so well for New Brunswick logger Larry Martin, he’s gone out and got another.

By George Fullerton

Larry Martin was looking to move to a single grip harvester system, and the Hyundai 210 (left), equipped with a Ponsse H73 dangle head (right), has served his company’s needs nicely.

When something is working well in the forest, the natural inclination is to use it as a model and duplicate it.

Logger Larry Martin made the move from a buncher and slasher operation to cut-to-length harvesting two years ago with the purchase of a new Hyundai 210 High Walker with an H73 Ponsse dangle head. The switch proved successful enough that he purchased a second unit in September 2005.

Martin, general manager of Clarence C Martin 1978 Ltd, says the increasing amount of harvesting work in small diameter stands, and additional partial cut opportunities, were the two primary reasons that led him to making the change to a short wood system. “We own about 10,000 acres of woodlands, and a lot of it has been cut over in the past 40 or 50 years,” explains Martin. “Some was clear cut and some was just cut through. Now, many of those partial cut stands are ready for another partial harvest, so we can focus future growth on the best quality trees.

“But to do that kind of work, we had to move to a single grip harvester system. And after looking around, ALPA Equipment’s Hyundai 210 harvester seemed like it would serve our needs and we’ve been pleased with its performance.”

Martin has 300 acres of plantation timber and hundreds of acres of precommercially thinned stands. “We are looking at commercially thinning in those silviculture areas, and the harvester and forwarder are the only way to get that job done economically.”

To handle the short wood forwarding, Martin decided on the Ponsse Gazelle eight-wheel drive forwarder that was also supplied through ALPA Equipment. “The Gazelle is only a ten-ton forwarder, and it met our needs for a small and agile unit that operates well in partial cuts.”

Larry Martin (left) with operator Troy Anderson. Operators work a single tenhour shift, starting at 7:00 am. “I don’t see any advantage for our operation to go to double shifts,” says Martin.

The Hyundai is a good fit with their goals. “The harvester allows us to get the wood that we want to remove and also lets us leave the regen, and the trees we want to grow and mature. We also want to work with a soft foot print that maintains soil and water quality. The harvester and forwarder team allows us to do a high quality job.”

Martin says that there were a number of reasons for going to ALPA for an excavator conversion, as opposed to a purpose-built harvester. “One of the primary reasons was price. The excavator conversion is nearly half the price of some harvesters. We were also comfortable with tracks since we had experience with bunchers. We also like the service and support that ALPA offers. We have worked with them before and know they will support us if we need them.”

In addition to working on their own land, a good deal of which is located near their home base at Pipples, about thirty miles east of Fredericton, NB, Martin also does contract harvesting on private woodlots across the central part of the province, and a lot in and around Fredericton city limits. “With the harvester and the forwarder, we can do the quality of job that does not attract negative attention.”

They operate a single ten-hour shift, starting at 7:00. “The single shift means my equipment life is extended. I’ve worked on operations that run double shifts and don’t see any advantage for our operation to go that way.”

To handle the short wood forwarding, Larry Martin decided on the Ponsse Gazelle eight-wheel drive forwarder (right). “It meets our needs for a small and agile unit that operates well in partial cuts,” says Martin.

For roadbuilding, Martin has a Hyundai 290 excavator, a Case bulldozer and a tandem Kenworth dump truck. The equipment line-up is rounded out with a back-up Timberjack 610 forwarder, a Mack tractor with a centre mount loader trailer, as well as a tree-length trailer.

The bulk of the trucking is contracted with E M Cummings Trucking out of Meductic, New Brunswick. Wood is marketed to mills in central and western New Brunswick and northern Maine.

“Cummings has five trucks and when they are all there, we can clean up a lot of wood in a short time. We look to produce about 25 loads (750 tonnes) per week with the two harvesters operating.”

Larry’s father, Clarence, founded Clarence C Martin Ltd and operated a buncher/slasher roundwood as well as a chipper operation. Larry says that when he first made the move to a harvester, his father was not convinced that it was the right decision. “After he saw us operating, he said that the harvester was not covering enough ground. But I pointed out that even though we might not be covering the same amount of ground as a buncher, the wood we were producing was just one step away from loading on the truck. But with the buncher system, we have to yard, delimb, slash and pile it at roadside before we look for the truck.

“The harvesters burn only about half the fuel that the buncher did, which means a lot at today’s prices,” he adds. “We thought that the Gazelle was burning more fuel than it should—and then when it had 1,200-hour service, they discovered a programming issue. Now we are looking for a fuel efficiency improvement there, too.”

Serge Landry, general manager of ALPA Equipment, has been marketing Hyundai excavator/harvesters since 1994, after seeing them working in Western Canada. “They are high quality machines, and we have sold a lot with harvester heads and with Hornet processors. We are very satisfied with the quality of the machines, and their price is more than competitive.”

ALPA’s Hyundai harvesters start out with the High Walker models that provide good ground clearance. The Ponsse H73 head goes on the 210 (21 tonne) excavator. The heavier Hornet processors require 25 and 29 tonne carriers.

In addition to working on their own land, Martin also does contract harvesting on private woodlots across the central part of the province.

ALPA installs forestry kits on excavators at its Balmoral shop, with the kits including rock guards on tracks and heavy duty panels (inspection plates) on drive motors and lower frame. On the upper house, the forestry kits include a catwalk and new hood panels. The windshield options include a fabricated grill or being replaced with Lexan.

“Since we started building excavator conversion harvesters, we have always addressed the weight issue, after meeting safety concerns,” Landry explains. “Extra weight means increased fuel consumption, so we use high quality strong steel and a well-executed design to keep the weight down. We have a designer and cut tables and 10 employees in the shop that can do a complete kit installation, as well as the head, in just two weeks.” ALPA aims to provide a turnkey package with their conversion harvesters. That includes operator training, computer training, and followup service and training calls. “When we deliver, the contractor is ready to produce wood right off the float. We want to be sure the customer is comfortable and confident with their new purchase,” says Landry.

The Hyundai 210 comes with a 150-horsepower, six-cylinder Cummins diesel engine and plenty of hydraulic pressure to meet harvesting demands. One unique ALPA modification involves constructing a pressurized accumulator tank kit to provide a consistent, pressurized supply of oil to the head.

Martin’s H73 Ponsse heads were installed with Ponsse 1000 computers, but in 2006 all new heads are sold with the Opti 4G computer.

“Since June 2000, ALPA has installed more than seventy H73 Ponsse heads on excavator conversions,” Landry says. “The first was sold in April 2000 to Arseneault’s Slashing in Rogersville, NB, on a Hyundai 200, and it is still in operation. The beauty of the H73 head is the quality of the structure. Arseneault’s head has over 20,000 hours on it and still has the original frame, with a minimum of welding done on it.”

Charlie Clark has more than 15 years of harvester experience and has worked with Martin since he purchased the first harvester. “I started out operating the first harvesters that went to work in this part of the province, and I ran some miserable ones,” he says. “I just love this Ponsse head; it is absolutely no trouble. With other harvesters, it seemed that we were broke down one or two days a week. With this machine you just show up, check the oil and go to work.

“I operated Larry’s first harvester for 760 hours before we had any trouble, and then we changed a leaking hose and went right back to work. It is a very powerful head, the strongest I have ever seen. I have never accidentally dropped a tree from it.”

The tapered rollers give the operator far greater control, and it has great power to hang on to the stem and limb, Clark adds. The computer is a basic model, but it is “dead on accurate” with diameter and length measurements. “Ponsse offers more advanced computer systems, but when you look at them, they really don’t seem to have a lot to offer this type of operation. A fancy, expensive computer doesn’t necessarily cut any extra wood, and the one we have has been trouble free right from the start.”

As for the Hyundai carrier, Clark says he likes the stability that the tracks provide and he prefers that the cab follows the boom. “I like keeping the work right in front of me; I don’t like twisting or straining to see where the head is. There may be more powerful tracked machines, but this one does a fine job. There have been a few little mechanical problems with the Hyundai, but nothing at all serious.”

As for working single shift, Charlie is a dedicated cheerleader. “I’m nearly fifty years old, and I don’t mind working night shifts if the woods are closed days in fire season, but I don’t want to build a career on working nights as a routine. Larry says he doesn’t want to lay awake nights waiting for operators to call about breakdowns either, and that suits me fine.”

The Hyundai harvesters are a good match for the operation now and into the future, adds Larry Martin. “I see certification having a major influence on how forests are managed in the future. To meet those certification demands, we have to have good tools to work with—and good planning—to be successful.”



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