Kurtus Randle, the owner of logging outfit KR Logging Ltd., says he has been fortunate with the half-dozen employees he works with harvesting timber around the Powell River, B.C. region, about 180 kilometres and two ferry rides northwest of Vancouver.
The KR Logging crew is made up of solid, experienced guys, and Randle knows he can rely on them, day in, day out. “It’s all about the people you work with in logging,” he says.
Randle likes to keep his employees happy and busy—and those folks are working on some pretty solid, reliable iron these days that is also producing day in, day out.
Randle did his due diligence on the used equipment he’s purchased since setting up operations close to 10 years ago. The equipment, much of it Madill, has performed well—very well, in fact. His Madill equipment line-up includes a 2250C buncher, three 3800C log loaders and two HT2250B machines.
The solid equipment performance at KR Logging looks to be continuing with a new equipment purchase Randle made about a year ago: a TimberPro TL775D harvester equipped with a Log Max 12000XT head.
“The specs on the TimberPro are great—it blew other machines out of the water with the swing power and travel power—and it has a decent engine,” he says.
That decent engine is a Cummins L9 that provides 365 HP, and offers increased fuel economy, and longer maintenance intervals, says Cummins.
The TL775D is the largest of the TimberPro D-Series purpose-built track machines. Its slightly smaller sister machine in the D-Series is the TL765D.
Designed exclusively for the forest industry, and manufactured at the TimberPro plant in Wisconsin, both machines are built to handle extreme terrain and severe climates.
The leveling undercarriage of the TL775D has long heavy duty track frames and a wide stance, making it extremely robust and very stable. Equipped with a technologically advanced IQAN MD4 touch screen control system, dual motor hydrostatic slewing system and a dedicated dual hydrostatic track drive system, the TL775D is said to be the perfect balance of power, performance and productivity.
The Log Max 12000XT is an extreme duty head for big tree production, multi-stem processing of smaller softwoods or processing crooked hardwoods. Log Max says the head is able to handle the most severe wood with ease, and that’s been the case with its work for KR Logging. Its high production ¾” pitch bottom saw cuts up to 40”. Specially designed knives with compound curves and replaceable cutting edges produce clean delimbed wood at a low operating cost.
Overall, the TL775D machine is “beefy”, says Randle, making it more stable in the adverse ground they work in on the B.C. Coast.
As noted, on a lot of fronts, the TL 775TD machine generally offers more. “It has more reach, and that helps—with the reach and the strength of the machine, you are not fighting and pulling with the timber.” That strength is due in part to that longer track frame.
Purchasing a new piece of logging equipment is a big investment these days, and for Randle the specs can’t just be numbers on a piece of paper—they have to be delivered in the machine’s performance, and they have been.
But before he struck a deal for the machine, they tried out a TimberPro from the B.C. TimberPro dealer, Great West Equipment.
“Great West had the exact same carrier, but with a bit small machine upper,” he explained. “It was the same idea, and they brought it in, and we demo-ed it for a few weeks with a hot saw on it. We got a good idea of how it would work for us.”
Even though the machine has been performing well over the last year, both Great West and TimberPro have been active in soliciting input on how to make the machine better.
“And that interest from them is real,” he says. “They ask questions, they listen, and they want to make it work better for us, and for them, to have a better machine. Every new machine, regardless of how good it is or what brand it is, can be improved,” he notes.
Several updates have already been incorporated into their machine.
Randle believes that having current and easy to use equipment helps him keep employees—operators want to work in comfortable cab environments, and they like technology, as long as that technology is operator-friendly.
The KR Logging operator on the TimberPro, Jeff Erickson, says he was thinking of packing it in work-wise, but the new machine changed his mind. “If it wasn’t for this machine, I was getting out of the business, and retiring,” he says.
Erickson says he initially had some apprehension about the technology on the machine, but it’s proven to be operator-friendly. He noted that the controls can be set up for each individual operator.
Erickson admitted he had some concerns about the controls on the new machine, but not any longer. “I was concerned about it being fly by wire, but it is great. And if I can do it, trust me, anybody can do it.”
Erickson has worked with computer set-ups on machines before—this is probably his fourth or fifth computer-equipped machine, he says. He initially thought the new technology might be a bit much for him. “But it’s been way simpler than I thought, and it’s so reliable.”
He noted that the Great West rep showed him how to set the computer up, for the speed he wanted, the braking he wanted, the softness of the start up, and the ending. There’s no jerking and bouncing around, he says.
“I think the technology on the machine is great—it makes it nicer to run for the operator, and it’s more efficient.”
Erickson says that like all new equipment, there were a few hiccups with the TL775D when they first got it. They were minor, though, involving seals on the swing drive, and reconfiguring some of the hoses on the boom. “They were an easy fix,” he said. The support they have received from the dealer, Great West Equipment, and TimberPro has been terrific, he said.
New equipment, like older equipment, still requires its share of monkey wrenching—but the computer/tech side of things on new machines requires different attention. It might mean linking up with the service reps at the dealer to deal with an issue. “They have been great,” says Erickson. “They are able to help us right away.”
Even though Great West’s nearest dealer location is in Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island, they are able to get parts, and a rep, if needed, to KR Logging in Powell River the next day. But Erickson added that they’ve been able to resolve most of the issues on the computer, or with a phone call, he says.
For its part, head provider Log Max told KR Logging that they would be able to solve 95 per cent of any issues they had over the phone. “And they’ve been able to do that,” says Erickson.
He noted that with the Great West rep, they fine-tuned the machine set-up, and set the controls, making adjustments to the valves and oil flow, so the machine would work smoothly with the Log Max 12000XT head, which weighs in at roughly 10,000 pounds. This gives him the power and agility he needs to work best with big wood. “I can now control all that, with the computer on the machine.”
It took some careful work with the head since this is the first TL775D machine equipped with a harvesting head. But Erickson noted the TimberPro/Log Max combination delivers a lot of power.
And that is what company owner Kurtus Randle and Erickson look for in a machine: power and performance. “It has great track effort and swing power is phenomenal, with lots of torque,” says Erickson.
Essentially, the machine offers plenty of reach and power, with less struggle, he says. “Small wood, big wood, it has great reach, and the cab is super quiet, and has great visibility. It’s really exceeded my expectations.”
The machine offers maximum reach of 23 ft. 6 in, and lift capacity at maximum reach of 15,000 lbs.
The base TL775D machine weighs in at 96,200 lbs, and is a good size—there was initially concern about how agile it would be in steep west coast ground, and with large and small wood. “It’s really good, though,” says Erickson. “It’s aggressive and fast.”
The TL775D is also a nice looking piece of equipment, with its sports car red colour. But besides that beauty, it performs, Erickson notes.
“It does not matter if a machine is shiny, it has to be reliable and it’s got to work. But I’m trying to keep it looking good because Kurtis did not want it scratched up,” Erickson says, with a laugh.
It’s had a few big branches across it, but after a year in the bush, the machine looks almost new.
Erickson agreed with Kurtus, saying it’s helpful that both Great West Equipment and Timber Pro are soliciting feedback on the machine. “The machine can only get better if they listen to the operators,” he says.
He noted the TL775D machines are relatively new to the market, so it’s only natural that as the equipment gets out in the bush, and starts to put hours on, it can become apparent that some changes would be beneficial to the logger, the dealer and the manufacturer.
“We have been getting calls from them about doing software updates that they recommend we do. They are great—they listen and get back to you.” In his mind, that shows they are continually trying to improve the machine, and listening to customers, and their service people.
Erickson has just about operated it all—loaders, dozers, bunchers, harvesters—in his time working in the forest industry.
“I’ve run a lot of bunchers,” he says. “But this is the best. It’s super reliable.”
KR Logging carries out logging for a few different customers
Although the historic pulp and paper mill in Powell River, B.C. was shut down recently, there is still a fair bit of logging activity in the region.
At one time, the Powell River mill was a gigantic operation. It was the first newsprint mill in western Canada. Commissioned in 1912, at one point one in every 25 newspapers in the world was said to be printed on paper manufactured at the mill.
While the mill may be quiet these days, there is still the buzz of chainsaws in the region.
With his half-dozen machines, Kurtus Randle of KR Logging is keeping busy these days harvesting for several customers.
They do harvesting work for Western Forest Products, which has tenure in the Powell River region. Powell River also has a community forest, and KR does harvesting for them. A good deal of their logging is done for Thichum Forest Products which manages forestry operations for the Tla’amin Nation. Thichum specializes in the harvesting of timber resources on reserve lands, treaty settlement lands and granted provincial tenures.