By Diane Mettler
It all started three years ago when Jim Commerford, log yard supervisor at Hampton Lumber, a fir mill in Willamina, Oregon, was attending the Oregon Logging Conference. As he tells it, “I saw a former employee of Allied down there. He asked me, ‘How come [Hampton] didn’t have Wagners anymore?’ I said, ‘They were too slow. They need a lift speed of a 988K.’”
Now, three years later, the new, fully redesigned L90 2WD Wagner logstacker is in operation in the Hampton log yard. And it’s everything that Commerford and his team wanted — speed and efficiency.
Commerford has been in the industry for his entire career, first working as a logger for 25 years and then working for Hampton for 21 years. As he nears retirement, he has seen an evolution not only in equipment, but also the log yard itself.
The Hampton yard was initially designed in 1980 to do about 80 loads a day but, by the late 90s, the company was unloading more than 200 loads a day. “Log trucks had to wait to get unloaded, and the loggers didn’t like it, the truckers didn’t like it,” says Commerford. The decision was made to remodel in 2004.
Today, with 14 people working at the log yard, the company can easily handle the steady stream of trucks coming in from everywhere west of the Cascades. One thing that keeps trucks running through smoothly is the New Generation Wagner L90.
A Complete Redesign
From the time Commerford had his discussion at the Oregon Logging Conference until the new L90 was delivered to the Hampton log yard this August, Allied Systems (the parent company of Wagner Logstackers) worked closely with Hampton to ensure the machine met the needed requirements.
“We were able to address the issues that Jim had and use the machine as a test case to prove our new design,” says Allied System’s Ron Vandlac, territory manager for Wagner products. “It was a win-win for everyone.”
What Commerford appreciates daily is the speed. “It’s much faster,” he says, “twice as fast as the old machines, and it’s comparable to the big-wheel loader.” In fact, the new generation logstackers have twice the hoist speed of previous models. Engine, drivetrain, and hydraulic components are designed to minimize cycle times.
The robust 535 HP machine features a new, larger cab with improved visibility, which makes the machine safer, and it is much more comfortable than the old design. “There’s more room for the operator,” says Vandlac. “And we also added, for maintenance, a ground-level service bay, which allows you to perform routine maintenance from a standing position instead of having to crawl under the machine.”
Another benefit that pleases Commerford is that the new generation L90 is easier on tires — it doesn’t scuff the tires like the big-wheel loader does. “And the fuel economy — it’s about half what the Caterpillars run.” And he adds, with the L90, there is no center hitch, which means there is no center hitch to service.
New Design and More Speed
People familiar with the older Wagners will immediately see a difference. “The big-wheel loaders are center-articulated,” explains Vandlac. “Our two-wheel drive has tiller-steering. And our four-wheel drive models are rear-articulated. With the articulation in the rear instead of in the center, there’s a lot less weight being shifted, and we don’t put nearly the stress on the hinge or scuff the tires nearly as much as a center-articulated machine.”
In fact, big wheel loaders transfer up to 82 percent of the GVW (gross vehicle weight) to the inside front tire, leading to premature wear on the tires and swivel hinge. The front tires on the tricycle design 2WD Wagner are always evenly loaded with no center of gravity shift.
Additionally, while the newly designed 2WD logstackers are obviously robust, they are also nimble. With the tricycle steering, they have great turning radius and are ideal for smaller yards with tight turns, something Hampton luckily doesn’t have to worry about.
Both men agree that the new generation Wagner L90 is much different from the old Wagners, and operators who only remember the old design will be impressed with the performance of the new machine. Today, Commerford says his operator unloads about 20 loads an hour. “That’s a pretty good roll out time. And with a really good operator, and logs are right, you can do 22 or 23.” This summer Hampton’s operator was able at one point to unload 71 loads in three hours.
Commerford and Vandlac find the exceptional speed is especially helpful when dealing with double-bunk trucks. Previously, Hampton didn’t deal much with cut-to-length, says Commerford, but its resource group has started a cut-to-length program for its own property. And some of the other landowners went to cut-to-length. Consequently, the log yard is handling some mule train loads (logs 16 to 30 feet), and Commerford says because the L90 is quick, it handles both larger and small loads efficiently.
More Machines in the Field
Hampton isn’t the only company excited about the new generation of Wagner — two New Generation 65-ton capacity machines are headed up to Canada soon. “The L4120 is going to a customer near Prince George, and the L120 is going to Vancouver Island,” says Vandlac. “And we just sold a 50-ton capacity machine to a customer in Japan.”
Commerford says he can’t speak for all mills, because they all like something different, but if you like Wagner, it’s new technology. “The Wagners have always been an excellent machine for reliability, and now they’ve caught up with the times. A total redesign.” Allied is hoping that with capacities from 60,000 lbs. to 160,000 lbs., in both 2WD and 4WD, there is a machine to fit almost any log or mill yard’s application.
Vandlac credits an excellent engineering team that is responsive and open to change. In addition to a better machine, they also created one that is easier for them to build. “That allows us to pass on the savings to the customer.”
Vandlac adds, “This game-changing redesign retains all the strengths of the traditional Wagner Logstacker, including the durability that these machines are known for. It’s different. It’s fast. It has better visibility and fuel efficiency, and is better priced. It’s not your grandfather’s Wagner.”
On the Cover
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Not your Grandfather’s Wagner
Hampton Lumber is first to put the New Generation Wanger L90 into operation.
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