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New Forwarder Awaited

Summary: Timbco, building on the success of its T400 series feller bunchers, builds its first forwarder, the eight-wheel TF 815. Following field testing, the unit will go into production this fall.

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

Timbco has just joined the stampede toward tracked or rubber-tired forwarders to replace the conventional practice of skidding, by introducing the TF815 shortwood forwarder and clambunk. Known for their well-accepted feller buncher technol-ogy, this is their first venture into forwarders.

Timbco has made remarkable strides penetrating the feller buncher market since introducing its technologically advanced T400 series of feller buncher in 1990. Its ability to tilt, level and work with extended boom on steep slopes has earned it a great reputation among logging contractors. The question is, can they duplicate that success with their forwarder? The new forwarder has two attractions.

Firstly, Timbco has used many similar components to its feller buncher in an effort to create a largely interchangeable feller buncher and forwarder package. Secondly, they have not forgotten that their feller buncher has earned many accolades with its ability to work on steep ground. With three pre-commercial forwarder units in the field, the company expects to begin commercial production this fall.

Right now, their units are working in major market areas such as northeastern Canada and in the northwestern US; one is also in Richmond, Virginia. The new forwarder is most economical for contractors harvesting a minimum 35,000 m3. It will sell for about $375,000, including a set of rear tandem tracks and all the options. As an eight-wheel, rubber-tired forwarder with a 15-ton capacity, it should create less ground disturbance.

Quadco, headquartered in St. Eustache, Quebec, owns the distribution rights for Timbco east of Manitoba. Owner Chuck MacLellan says the new forwarder will be built in Shawano, Wisconsin, with Quadco providing a lot of engineering and marketing input into its design. “We expect the North American market to be 25 to 40 per cent cut-to-length in the short to medium term of five to seven years,” says MacLellan. “Therefore, as a harvesting equipment manufacturer, we can not leave this segment of the market unaddressed. But we are trying to keep it as simple as possible.”

There is little doubt, he says, that the environmental movement is behind the growth of wheeled forwarders and cut-to-length systems entering the market. But cut-to-length systems have also recovered more fibre per hectare. “Quite frankly,” MacLellan says, “I think fibre value is greater with a cut-to-length system at roadside than it is with a tree-length system.”

Logging contractors caught their first glimpse of the technology used in this new forwarder at numerous North American forestry shows held during the past nine months. There are a lot of new ideas incorporated in this machine, but a major design goal was interchangeability of components with the T400 feller bunchers.

Timbco is using the same upper unit style on both the feller bunch-er and forwarder. “All we are doing basically is changing the boom set on the machine and changing the undercarriage,” says MacLellan. Quadco’s association with the TransGesco eight-wheel tracked for-warder with hydrostatic drive has apparently influenced their approach with their own forwarder.

The Timbco eight-wheel forwarder has a tandem-tandem wheel track frame, as opposed to the excavator-style steel track frame. Timbco is using the same componentry as its feller buncher, and the same hydraulics — only changing the track gear set for a wheeled power mode, and changing the boom position for use as a forwarder. They are also going to move the cab fur-ther to the point of articulation so that the operator can load both the front and the back of the trailer.

“If a contractor has a harvester and a forwarder, he has two identical units, and therefore simplicity of spares ,” says MacLellan. “And of course, it’s to our advantage to have simplicity of inventory here. The more the volume, the cheaper the manufacturing costs.”

Because it is tandem-tandem on eight wheels as opposed to six-wheel forwarders, and because it has hydrostatic drive, the result is smooth, constant power on both uphill and downhill, meaning less wear on brakes.

“We see it as more of a complementary forwarder to our steep-slope capability with our feller buncher,” says MacLellan. Using a tandem-tandem allows for greater travel speeds over the harvested area, he says, because a tandem has the effect of halving the obstacle that the vehicle is walking over.

“If you hit an obstacle with a wheel, you literally lift the machine straight up,” says MacLellan. “If you hit it with a tandem wheel, you only have to go half the distance up on the first wheel, and then the other half with the second wheel. So it really smoothes out the drive.” Timbco continues to maximize on its cab-levelling technology.

“The forwarder will have a levelling cab system,” MacLellan says. “The machine tilts to the rear 20 degrees and forward 10 degrees so that the operator can load on steep slopes and still use the full-boom reach.” It doesn’t level side to side like the feller buncher.

Timbco will test and promote the advantages of having the operator swing with the loader at all times, as is the case with their feller buncher. “To date, this is the only forwarder that I’m aware of where the operator swings with the loader all the time,” says MacLellan.

“This is the only forwarder that can work in front of itself, or on a 90-degree basis like a T-bone to the road, and load a stationary trailer. You don’t have to be parallel to the trailer.” The advantage, in Timbco’s view, is better visibility for the operator, reduced road con-struction costs and reduced road damage. But Timbco is not committed to extend-ing their boom technology from the feller buncher to their forwarder. It all depends on contractor feedback and pre-trial testing.

If operators perceive no benefit, “of course, there is no point in doing it,” says MacLellan. “If there is no benefit in our differentiation, then to be a low-cost manufacturer, we’d go back to doing it the way everybody else does.” The Timbco forwarder sits 9' 4'' wide, and has a length of 30' 4''. Its boom reach is 25', and it will come with a Hultdins 360 grapple with rotator. Steering is 44� absolute in both direc-tions, and powering the forwarder is a CAT 3116T engine with 250 hp. The wheel-drive pump is a Rexroth 3.2 with 55 gpm. Its wheelbase is 15' 3'', and ground clearance is 24''. It uses 700/50- 26.5 tires, and has a tractive effort of 43,000 lbs.

While available through Quadco in eastern Canada, it will also be available from Parker Pacific in British Columbia, and PACFOR in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

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