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LSJ FIELD REPORT Hultdins 850 & 560

Summary: After early market forays, Hultdins discovered it had to build a harvesting head that could take rugged treatment - or forget about sales in North America.

By Tony Kryzanowski
Copyright 1996. Contact publisher for permission to use.

The evolution of the Hultdins directional felling head is a lot like the evolution of Swedish hockey players in the National Hockey League - they had to learn to take a hit, or they were out of the game.

That’s what Hultdins, located near the Arctic Circle in Mala, Sweden, discovered about selling their felling head to North American loggers. They had to produce a robust head to survive in tough North American forests, or forget about achieving any market penetration.

The company is enjoying more success with its new Hultdins 850 and 560 directional, multi-use felling heads for both hardwood and softwood applications. Three 560 models are cutting hardwood in the Mont Laurier area on the Quebec side of the Ottawa Valley, mounted on Komatsu 120s.

While the Canadian headquarters for Hultdins’ distributorship is located in Brantford, Ontario, they have had good success penetrating the Quebec market through supplier Equipement Federal. The head is sold through a variety of equipment dealers across Canada. Washington state logger Don Zepp has operated a Hultdins 850 head mounted on a Caterpillar 320 carrier for the past season.

He’s been logging for 20 years on private woodlots and on clearcuts for Boise Cascade. That’s where he’s put his Caterpillar and Hultdins head to work. Because he works clearcutting on steep slopes, he appreciates the little extras that the Hultdins head gives him. For example, the head and boom operate as a compact unit, with an ability to work close in, and without a lot of hoses flailing around.

"Its versatile," says Zepp. "We can tail the logs like a shovel, and do more things with it. We can even load logs if we have to." Zepp harvests mostly large wood - up to 30''. "It’s rugged and that’s another reason I bought it," he says. "We’ve got a lot of heavier trees here. A 30-inch tree is a pretty big tree."

Hultdins Zepp spent a lot of time shopping around before settling on his Hultdins head. "I decided to buy it because of its stoutness, versatility and price," he says. It’s also been a snap to maintain. "It’s been pretty simple," he says. "You just watch your bars and chains really, and check for the occasional loose bolt." Zepp rates parts availability as good. Parts are shipped in from Canadian suppliers overnight.

"For their size, they can fell a very large tree," says Hultdins spokesman Paul Aitchison. "I know that there are other felling heads out there, but we have no direct competition." By that he means that there aren’t any felling heads of their size that can match their cutting capacity.

Hultdins introduced their first model about 20 years ago, and have made constant improvements ever since. In fact, there is no comparison between today’s technology and what the company produced a couple of decades ago. While the 560s and 850s arrived on the market about five years ago, Aitchison says Hultdins continues to improve the product.

For example, they have installed a much more robust rotator that rotates the head and picks up the tree. They have also improved the saw mechanism, offering a new feature called "Super Cut". This feature includes auto tensioning and a better engineered cylinder that is cushioned throughout. "It’s very well engineered," says Aitchison. "Over the past three years, it has changed several times and each time there have been very good improvements."

The head’s rotator is a rack-and-pinion unit, and its unique boom linkage systems yield a clean, protected hose routing. It offers automatic hydraulic braking for con-trolled head position, and the saw bar limiter restricts bar travel to tree diameter, avoiding bar and chain damage. Plus, it has a stand-alone system for chain lubrication. The smaller 560 model has a 24'' cutting capacity, and should be mounted on a minimum 15-ton carrier. The larger 850 model has a cutting capacity of 34'' and should be mounted on a minimum 30-ton carrier. The head mounts easily on a large variety of excavators or feller bunchers.

Currently, there are Hultdins felling heads mounted on Caterpillar, Linkbelt, John Deere, Komatsu and Hitachi carriers. Hultdins manages more strength from a smaller unit because of the investment t h e y have made in a feature called "Superfell".

Essentially, the head’s grab arms can get a stronger grip on the tree, giving operators the ability to tackle oversize trees and easily master directional felling and piling.

Hultdin’s Aitchison says the Brantford office works hard with dealers to back the head with good service and parts supply. "We supply parts and technical advice from our depot," he says. "Generally, when we supply to a new contractor or distributor, we go out and install the first and sometimes second unit with them. We also supply schematics to the machine."

The 560 model weighs in at 960 lbs., and has a rotating angle of 300�. Its gripping force is 5175 lbs., and it uses a 29'' bar saw. It has a maximum gripping width of 39.3''. Its minimum operating pressure is 2,300 psi, and maximum is 3,400 psi. The 850 model weighs in at 2,640 lbs., and also has a rotating angle of 300�.

Its gripping force is 6,750 lbs., and it uses a 39'' bar saw. It has a maximum gripping width of 43.3''. Its minimum operating pressure is 2,700 psi, and maximum is 3,400 psi. Hultdins offers a lower hydraulic flow on the 560 model with a 10cc saw motor, versus 19cc.

The 560 head sells for about $40,000, while the 850 sells for $60,000. Add another $10,000 each for installation, and an additional $5,000 for extra valving and controls on excavators. Hultdins also manufactures a grapple designed around its patented "SuperGrip" technology, for off-road timber handling. It has a centre-mounted cylinder with dual connecting links, providing balanced loads. Its unique tapered sleeve design at all pin joints eliminates any possible joint motion. They can be adjusted and easily assembled. Because Hultdins uses advanced bushing material with integral dust seals, the grapple’s greasing interval is extended by hundreds of hours.

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