May June, 2004






2004 Skidder Review

By Brenda Kohlmyer

Considering the wide variety of logging situations in today’s forests, it’s no surprise that manufacturers offer many different skidder configurations. The machines are very diverse...ranging from the small Forecat 2000 designed for logging in tight circumstances to Morgan’s new SX-706 SB six wheel, swing boom skidder. The 11 manufacturers reviewed here offer over 30 machines with hundreds of grapple and winch configurations to choose from, guaranteeing that whatever the size or complexity of the skidding operation, one of the following machines can be configured to meet the need.

Caterpillar offers two tracked skidders. The Model 517 and 527 offer exceptional balance and traction and excellent ground clearance. Roller frames extend to the rear of the machines to improve traction under uphill conditions and heavy loads while wide track gauge helps provide side hill capability. Ground clearance is enhanced with smooth belly pans and the absence of diagonal bracing to allow the machines to move over debris and stumps with ease. Both models are powered by 4-cylinder Caterpillar 3304 engines, which employ direct injection and turbo charging to create 120 net horsepower.

The track skidders offer improved flotation and traction by putting more track on ground. The design also reduces soil impact. Cable and grapple configurations are available for both skidders. Wheeled skidders include the 525B, 535B and 545. They feature an industry exclusive lock-up torque converter clutch that provides increases to operating speed along with improved power and fuel efficiency. The 525B and 535B are powered by Cat 3126 diesel engines while the 545 is equipped with the Cat 3306 direct injected turbocharged and aftercooled diesel engine. The three skidders offer net horsepower of 160, 180 and 200. Single and dual-function arches are available for all models in sorting, bunching and thinning configurations.They also provide an outstanding operator environment, single lever grapple controls, and hydraulic steering and transmission controls.  Circle Reader Service Card 150

The Forcat 2000 is the only small skidder specifically designed for select logging able to get right next to the trees because of its small size and maneuverability. The Forcat 2000 is equipped with an industrial type Onan 24 hp engine and a variable flow hydrostatic transmission that allows the operator to work both tracks independently for better traction and a 0° turn radius. Its 2.3 psi ground impact also allows the operator to log in soft areas. The Forcat 2000 is equipped with a powerful hydraulic winch, a hydraulic lift rear back plate, a hydraulic lift front pile up blade, a fire extinguisher and four chokers. Every accessory has a hydraulic floating position for better performance in all situations. Circle Reader Service Card 151

John Deere
The company offers six skidders. The 540G-III offers a choice to couple a direct-drive or torque-converter transmission to the powerful John Deere engine. The operation can synch the wheels with full diff-lock for maximum traction, or unlock them for less tire scuffing. A full 90 degrees of frame articulation ensures tight turns, and the long wheelbase and wide stance provide unmatched stability. It has 117 SAE net hp, features Inboard, heavy-duty planetary final drives, hydraulic locking, and 30-degree stop to stop front axle oscillation. The 548G-III offers the same features and the cab feels like home with a beverage holder, coat hook and a cell-phone hook up. It weights 23,690, lbs. and has 117 SAE net hp. The 640G-III has 160 SAE net hp with direct-drive transmission and 171 SAE net horsepower with torque converter option. The 648G-III weighs 33,400 lbs, has 160 SAE net hp. It offers the best of both worlds in the powertrain, with a new torque-converter option. The wide stance and long wheelbase provide stability and the thicker articulation joint and optional heavy-duty axles ensure performance in rugged terrain. The 748G-III weighs in at 34,309 lbs., and has 171 SAE net hp. The oscillating front axle allows the wheels to "step over" uneven terrain. The grapple tongs feature a box design to add strength without the extra weight and three internal ribs on each tong enhance durability. The 848G-III weighs 38,350 lbs. with 180 net hp. And its single-stage torque converter Powershift transmission automatically adjusts to changes in the ground terrain.

The Franklin/Treefarmer’s Q70, Q80 and Q90 skidders are four-wheel drive rubber tired frame articulated vehicles, available with front axles or center section oscillation. The Q70 and Q80 are available as grapple skidders while the Q90 can be configured as either a cable and grapple skidder. Winches and grapples are rear mounted and hydraulically actuated. Standard features include Cummins engines, Franklin transmissions and axles and Clark torque converters. A rubber mounted OPS, ROPS & FOPS modular quad cab with the seat fixed at a 35° angle and a side mounted console and full steering wheel with adjustable tilt and telescoping column are also standard. For cable skidders, the winch controls are on a single lever electric joystick.  Circle Reader Service Card 153

The KMC Soft Track is one of the best all terrain, all weather vehicles on the market, says the company. With its three unique features of balanced weight distribution, torsion bar sprung suspension and high speed steel “live” track, the skidder has the ability to skid timber on steep slopes, sensitive soils or wet. The KMC can skid adverse 40 percent gradient and favorable slopes to 60 percent. It skids areas of environmental concern with less soil compaction and site disturbance than any other ground skidding equipment. The KMC 2600 is a versatile skidder equipped with a swinging boom grapple able to pick up loads on either side of the machine and well to the rear. It can help maneuver logs around standing trees and be used to shift the weight of the machine when working on very soft ground or steep slopes. Bringing the load forward onto the machine aids in balancing the weight distribution, which results in better traction, greater productivity and consistent low dynamic ground pressure.  or (800) 562-5303 Circle Reader Service Card 154

Morgan International Silvatech Industries Inc. chose this year’s Oregon Logging Conference to debut its SX-706 SB six wheel, swing boom skidder. The SX-706 SB offers a swing boom with 140° of swing, a lift height of approximately 12 ft. and 15 ft. of reach. The grapple has a 120” opening and 15 sq. ft. capacity. Powered by a Cummins 6CTA 8.3L engine rated at 260 hp at 2200 rpm, the typical fuel consumption is 5-8.5 gph. The rear wheel is on a bogie axle mounted directly to the rear frame with drive motors mounted inside. And it has a proprietary Silvatech hydraulic/mechanical interface with positive torque reaction. The air-conditioned operator’s cab is ROPS/FOPS certified and includes a sound suppression package that reduces noise to less that 80 DBA.  Circle Reader Service Card 155

Prentice Designed with a tough, dependable drive train to deliver smooth power, steady pull and efficient maneuverability on soft ground or steep slopes, the Prentice 490 is a rugged, dependable and productive machine. Utilizing a torque converter transmission, tough outboard planetary axles and a comfortable, no-nonsense cab design, the 490 is designed with ease of operation and simple maintenance in mind. The 490 is equipped with a standard Cummins QSB 173 hp engine and offers the choice of outboard planetary axels with either no-spin or mechanical locking differentials for 30.5 x 32 tires or optional 30.5 x 32 and dual configurations. Single arch or dual arch configurations are available with a choice of bunching or sorting head grapples with capacities ranging from 9 sq. ft. to 13.2 sq. ft. and weight limits from 1,780 lbs. to 2,300 lbs.  Circle Reader Service Card 156

Ranger/Allied Systems
For 30 years, Ranger has built reliable skidders that meet loggers’ needs for simplicity and reliability. Critical components such as differentials and axels, drivelines, torque converters and transmissions are configured specifically for skidders, resulting in very durable machines. Ranger offers skidders in both grapple and cable configurations. Both lines come with several key specifications, including Cummins engines, head-to-toe keel-shaped belly guards, on-the-go differential locks and Clark powershift transmissions. The grapple configuration features heads with 360° grapple rotation. Winch configurations include a large-drum capacity winch with 5/8”, 3/4” or 1” cable and line pull maximums ranging from 31,432 lbs. on Model F65C to 37,311 lbs. on the largest Model F68C. Maximum line speeds range from 260 ft./min. on Model F68C to 385 ft./min on Models H66DSC-II and H67C-II respectively.  Circle Reader Service Card 157

The Tigercat 630C hydrostatic skidder is ideal in long distance skidding, challenging terrain and high production applications. The 630C pulls large, heavy loads with reduced drag resistance and increased payloads. The 240 hp Cummins QSC8.3 Tier II engine is totally isolated from the hydraulic components with easy maintenance access — the front hood enclosure tilts forward, exposing three sides of the engine and providing a large work platform. The cab tilts as well, providing access to the hydrostatic pump stack, motors and driveline. The 630C uses Parker’s IQAN electronic control technology to govern all machine functions. Benefits include integrated troubleshooting, simplified maintenance and repair with no hydraulic pilot lines and variable engine rpm for reduced fuel consumption. The hydrostatic drive system allows a smooth ride with no gear shifting. Inside the cab, the seat and joystick controls are rotated 40° to the right for reduced neck strain and an improved view. Grapple and arch functions are controlled by one joystick.  Circle Reader Service Card 158

Timberjack offers 4 skidders with 9 different configurations. The 360D, 460D, equipped with the 6-cylinder John Deere 6068T engine, can be configured as cable skidders with the Timberjack 4000 winch standard and the 6000 optional on the 460D. The sealed winch units include a wetdisc clutch and brake and pressurized lubrication. With standard equipment, operating weight for the 360D is 22,780 lbs with 23.1 x 26 tires yielding a ground pressure of 7.4 psi. The standard 460D operates at 30,025 lbs. with 30.5 x 32 tires and a ground pressure at 8.0 psi. Loads balance with front-to-back weight distribution that keeps traction on the front tires and four axel configurations equipped with hydraulic lock differentials are available to match tire and ground conditions. Grapple configurations are also available on the 360D, 460D and 560D. The largest in this series of articulated skidders, the 560D is powered by a John Deere 6081H, 6-cylinder engine. With a single arch grapple it weighs 33,335 lbs. while the dual arch brings the weight in at 34,309 lbs. Grapples available for this series have 360-degree continuous rotation and closed-center load-sensing hydraulics to maintain constant pressure on the tongs. The 660D, the largest machine in the line-up, has an extra-long wheelbase and the power and size to skid large loads over long distances with no hang-ups. It is available in a cable configuration with the Timberjack 6000 winch or as grapple skidder. The cast-steel dual function grapple continuously rotates 360-degrees and opens to 130 in.  Circle Reader Service Card 159

TimberPro has been working for over two years to develop a tandem axle grapple skidder and now that a heavyduty bogie axle has become available, they are now ready to market the TS 620 E. This skidder has a 6-wheel dual arch design with continuous rotation 25 sq. ft. grapple and 300 hp engine. One of the most unique features is the large operator cab with a power rotating seat and controls. This allows the operator to never have to turn around because forward can be either direction. Hydraulics and engine service points are designed with easy access for maintenance and the hydrostatic wheel drive features dual 160 Rexroth drive motors.  Circle Reader Service Card 160

The TG88D grapple skidder offers the proven powerful and low ground pressure traction of the TG88D clambunk skidder plus the advantages of a gigantic 45 sq. ft. grapple mounted on an 18 ft. reach dual boom set. These booms fold upon themselves for better weight distribution and the ability to push itself in difficult ground situation. With a 35-ton payload capacity, it is very productive on short and long skidding distances. Thanks to the small loading time and the excellent steering ability, it is also an effective and safe complement to grapple yarder and highlead operations to reduce harvesting cost. This innovative grapple skidder is a productive and economical solution to high volume producers. The TG88D Track Clambunk skidder is powered by a 400 hp Cummins QSM engine. The proven and reliable 100 percent hydrostatic drive traction provides a huge 160,000 lbs. draw bar pull, exceptional maneuverability and optimum driving speed for maximum productivity. Long 80.5” bogies and a choice of track shoes from 28” to 60” wide allow low ground pressure and high performance on soft grounds, deep snow and steep slopes. The robust TG loader with a gear reduction swing box is controlled by state-of-the-art load sense hydraulics for fast and smooth functions. With a load capacity of 35 tons, it is essentially an off-road hauling truck for long skidding distances.  or [email protected]  Circle Reader Service Card 161


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This page was last updated on Tuesday, November 15, 2005