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First self-levelling Prentice 20FB delivered to BC Contractor 

The first Prentice 62OF buncher in Canada, equipped with a Keto harvesting/processing head, proves out quickly for BC logger Gene Moses. 

By Bill Tice
Copyright 1998. Contact publisher for permission to use. 

An agreement between Aspen Planers Ltd. of Merritt, BC and four local native bands has contractors like Gene Moses, also of Merritt, back into the logging business. Qwa'eet Forest Products Ltd. was formed as a joint-venture and is a private company that is 50 per cent owned by Aspen Planers and 50 per cent owned by the participating native bands. (See sidebar.) 

Moses, mounting a contracting show after a hiatus of several years, is harvesting small-diameter pine under a 15-year non-replaceable smallwood forest licence in the Merritt Timber Supply Area (TSA). 

For the show, he is using a new Prentice 62OF self-levelling buncher, manufactured by Blount, with a Keto 150 felling and processing head. The machine was the first 620FB sold in Canada. The company is also running a Timberjack 1210B Forwarder and a Hitachi (EX20OLC-3) with the same Keto head plus a Rotobec grapple, which is used for falling, processing and loading. 

November images "With those three pieces of heavy iron we can do everything required to get our goal of eight-plus loads a day down to the mill," says Moses. 

In selecting machines for this show, Moses wanted versatility, with the 620FB the key to meeting production goals. Moses purchased the 620FB from Wajax Industries' Kamloops branch; the company is the BC dealer for the Blount line. (Headquartered in Minnesota, Blount's Forestry and Industrial Equipment Division also manufactures Hydro- Ax and CTR equipment.) 

The 620FB is powered by a Cummins 6CT 8.3 diesel rated at 215 hp (l6OkW); a 260-hp engine is optional. The machine has a 24-volt electrical system with a 70-amp alternator, circuit breaker protection and electronic monitoring for the engine and hydraulic systems. 

The machine incorporates a Blount patented, operator-controlled four-way house levelling system with four 8"-diameter cylinders, providing 51 per cent tilt forward, 12 per cent tilt back, and 36 per cent tilt to side comers. 

The machine's zero tail swing, increasingly popular with loggers, allows the operator to perform a number of thinning applications in diverse logging sites and terrains. 

November images Boom and attachment functions are controlled by two palm-type joysticks, while individual foot pedals control the tracks. Each track is driven by an independent hydrostatic system with a two-speed axial piston motor that is integrated into the track roller frame for protection. 

Visibility from the cab has been enhanced due to a large windshield and skylight. The windows are manufactured from 1/2" lexan and the cab is equipped with three escape exits. The exits include the door, front windshield and rear window. Available 620FB options include a 12-volt power point and high-density halogen cab lights (four forward, one side and one rear). 

Moses, with only a couple of months on the machine at our visit in early September, is producing six loads a day and is looking to increase that to eight loads a day. In the meantime, all involved are working hard to get the show to where they want it. 

"As far as equipment goes, things have really changed since I was logging years ago. I really like the house leveller on the 620. It's great on rough terrain like we are working on right now. It is also a condonable machine to work with. The seats are comfortable, everything is where it should be in terms of the controls, and the air conditioning is great on a hot day." 

At our visit, Moses said the 620FB was working out as hoped. "All we have needed so far are oil changes, and they have been easy to do. The service from Wajax in Kamloops has been really good. Our sales rep has been out every week to see how everything is going.' 

From the mill's point of view, Dan Eaton, logging supervisor for Qwa'eet Forest Products, says they are also getting what they want. "Once Gene and his crew get up to full speed the machine will really help them maintain production, and from an environmental point of view a machine like this gives you the flexibility to leave standing fir for natural regeneration, along with reserves for wildlife. You have less ground disturbance because you are travelling over a mat cretted from the limbs. There are no limb piles to burn, no spar sites, or roads or landings to reclaim." The small-diameter pine from the project is mixed in with regular wood at the Aspen Planers' mill in Merritt. Because it is a small wood license, timber down to a 10-cm butt and a five-cm top must be utilized which can cause some difficulty for the logger. 

"The logger can work with the difficulties, they are just a little inconvenient ... things like more pieces per truck load," says Eaton. 

Any wood that is smaller than 10 cm is used for posts, rails, furniture wood and orchard posts for the US market. Including himself, Moses' company employs nine people, and he says all involved are looking to year-round work from the new venture, including beyond the current five-year program. 

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