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KMC Skidder Leaves a Light Footprint

Copyright 1998. Contact publisher for permission to use.

The ability of the KMC 1500 Hydrostatic Low Ground Pressure Track Skidder to work in areas of environmental concern with a minimum of soil compaction and site disturbance was one of the many reasons Ken Sneddon of Sechelt Creek Contracting Ltd. chose this skidder for a commercial thinning operation near Roberts Creek, BC.

"We chose the KMC machine for a number of reasons, including past experience with FMC machines, the fact that KMC machines are built right here in BC, and the availability of the hydrostatic drive, which provides outstanding manoeuvrability and helps us meet the environmental criteria of our projects," says Sneddon.

The FMC machine that Sneddon had worked with before was a predecessor to the new-generation KMC (Kootenay Manufacturing Co. Ltd.) product he works with today. KMC, located in Nelson, BC, purchased the woodlands division of FMC in 1988.

Sneddon's contracting company originally rented a KMC 1500 to complete most of the work on the environmentally sensitive Roberts Creek site before taking delivery of their own 1500 in December 1997.

"We rented a KMC 1500 for some time in order to try it on different types of terrain and in different settings. We liked what we saw and bought one," says Sneddon.

Rolly Byles, an operator for Sneddon who put almost all of the hours on the rental machine and has put well over 500 hours on the new machine, likes just about everything the KMC 1500 has to offer.

"I really enjoy the hydrostatic drive, as it makes the KMC very manoeuvrable in the bush, and because it is narrower than most machines, you can get into a lot of tight spots," says Byles.

Talking about the hydrostatic drive, Byles says, "you can spin this machine around just about anywhere, and it is really low impact, especially if you put brush down on the trails."

The experienced operator also likes the ergonomics, the good visibility and the available power.

"Everything is where it should be in terms of controls, and the visibility is great. For a small machine, there is ample power and the grapple is also just the right size."

Sneddon's KMC 1500, which was built at the company's plant in Nelson, is equipped with a single-arch grapple and is powered by a Cummins Model 6 BTA B5.9 diesel engine that produces 177 hp. Within the KMC 1000 series, similar machines are available with a choker arch, dual-arch grapple or a swing grapple.

The hydrostatic drive that makes the 1500 so manoeuvrable results from high-torque/low-speed motors with 191.9-cubic-inch displacement and axial piston variable-displacement pumps with hydraulic controllers. Although all of the 1000-series machines come standard with the hydrostatic drive, they can be custom-ordered without the drive.

In addition to the manoeuvrability and size of the 1500, the other key element in the machine's environmental performance is the ground pressure rating. With a gross vehicle weight of just over 26,000 lbs., the 1500 produces only 6.03 PSI (41.58 kPa) at zero penetration and just 3.95 PSI (27.24 kPa) at 6" penetration. The low PSI rating, coupled with a directional control valve for steering that helps to eliminate rutting, means the machine is effective for low impact, selective harvesting applications such as those for Sechelt Creek Contracting.

The features of the KMC 1000 series machines also make them very effective when working on sensitive soils, wet areas, and steep slopes of up to 40 to 60 per-cent grades, depending on the conditions, where other types of yarding systems or skidding equipment could not be used. The KMC machines are also proven in adverse weather conditions, where other skidders would have to halt work.

The 1000 series includes an array of standard features, including a full complement of gauges and indicators, a Forest Service-approved muffler with spark arrestor, a hydraulic oil cooler, a pivoting full suspension seat that allows the operator to look forwards and backwards, and a tool box and tools. Sneddon's machine also includes an optional quartz light package and a fully enclosed cab with Marguard Lexan for unobstructed operator visibility.

Sneddon says KMC have also been "very good" when it comes to customer service and checking on the machine's performance.

KMC's Forestry Application Specialist Alf Mielty pays frequent visits to the Sunshine Coast to ensure the machine is meeting Sneddon's requirements.

That ongoing customer service ensures that Ken Sneddon and his crew can concentrate on meeting the needs of the community while sustaining a viable forestry harvest.

KMC 1500 Skidder

Operator Rolly Byles praises the KMC 1500 skidder. The hydrostatic drive makes the machine very manoeuvrable in the bush and you can get into tight spots.

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