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Feller Buncher

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2005 John Deere 759G Feller Buncher
If one piece of forestry equipment has single-handedly modernized logging practices, it is the feller buncher. The feller buncher is a dual-function machine that has come to replace the work done by lumberjacks or fallers, namely falling and piling trees into bunches. In terms of production, feller bunchers can fall and bunch as much as 200 trees per hour, a rate that could never be matched manually.[1] In fact, one feller buncher typically does the work of 10 to 15 men.[2]

In addition to feller bunchers, there are also other types of felling equipment. Single-function felling machinery is only capable of directionally cutting down a tree whereas multi-functional felling equipment called harvesters are capable of felling, delimbing, bucking and stacking trees.

Contents

[edit] History

[edit] Drott’s Feller Buncher

As a long-time builder of logging equipment, Erv Drott developed the first feller-buncher in 1968 after he sold his business, J.I. Case Co., based in Wausau, Wisconsin. The machine was simple enough in concept with an excavator base and a knuckle boom-mounted felling head with a scissor-like shear attachment. It had the capacity to clear a 16-yard (15-m) wide area that is equal to about 100 trees per hour. For this very reason, the machine was viewed as a threat to logging in North America, especially on the West Coast, where trees were cut down manually with hand-held power saws. The Drott feller buncher would dramatically transform mechanized timber falling practices, eclipsing earlier harvesting machine models. As a result, a number of manufacturers would step up to develop their own versions of Drott’s machine.[3]

[edit] Tracked Feller Buncher

One

[edit] Features/How it Works

A feller buncher is comprised of a tracked or wheeled chassis or undercarriage, power plant, operator cab, and grabbing apparatus attached to an extended moveable arm. This apparatus clamps onto the trunk of the tree while a cutting mechanism severs the tree at the stump. The machine then lifts the tree, lowers the tree into a horizontal position, and drops the tree on a bunch of logs piled on the ground. Trees are then placed onto a special sled pulled by a tractor called a skidder for further processing. Feller bunchers are widely used in clear-cutting but have been adapted for selective logging as well. Equally, they are useful in the wholesale removal of trees from construction sites.[4]

1999 Timbco T445C Feller Buncher
The machines utilize three basic mechanisms for felling and removing trees: shears, disc saws, and chain saws. The shears are like a big pair of scissors that use hydraulic power to clip the trees, mostly smaller ones. Disc saws are large, thick, circular rotary type blades that operate at a high speed. A third option is a large adaptation of a manual chain saw. These two cutting mechanisms are useful for felling larger trees. All three mechanical felling applications are similar in that the machine grabs the tree, powers the cutting mechanism through the stem, and applies force to the tree to control the direction of the tree’s fall.

These cutting mechanisms can also be attached to one of two types of carriers. A drive-to-tree machine has to maneuver to approach and cut down each tree and then drives away to drop the stem of the tree into a bunch or to cut down another tree. In a swing-to-tree machine, the cutting apparatus is attached to the end of a boom. The machine usually stays in a stationary position while cutting, swinging, and piling the tree stems into a bunch.[5]

The use of these machines, though highly productive in logging, has not come without some serious criticism. The machines have invoked some major ecological concerns by conservationists on the impact their use has on soil compaction and soil erosion.[6] Feller bunchers also have a reputation as being incredibly dangerous to operate. Sometimes it is hard to judge how a tree, particularly a large, heavy, tree, will react after being cut down. The weight of the tree can easily pull the entire machine over with it to the ground or branches can easily penetrate into the operator’s cab. The blade of the machine can also become lodged in a tree. Keeping the surrounding vicinity clear of workers when a feller buncher is in operation is a practice logging companies like to enforce to minimize the risk of danger; however, an operator’s safety can never be totally guaranteed.[7]

[edit] Common Manufacturers

[edit] Additional Photos

Case 1187B Feller Buncher
1994 Timberjack 618 Feller Buncher
1995 Timbco 445C Feller Buncher
1996 Tigercat 845 Feller Buncher
1999 Madill 2200 Feller Buncher
2000 Prentice 630AFB Feller Buncher
2003 John Deere 853G Feller Buncher
2003 Tigercat 720D Feller Buncher

[edit] References

  1. Mechanical Felling. Forest Encyclopedia Network. 2008-09-25.
  2. Box, Dan. “Harvesting the Forests,” The Ecologist, June 2003. pg.18
  3. Druskha, Ken and Konttinen.Tracks in the Forest. Harbour Publishing: 1997. 121.
  4. http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-feller-bunchers.htm
  5. Mechanical Felling. Forest Encyclopedia Network. 2008-09-25.
  6. Box, Dan. “Harvesting the Forests”. The Ecologist, June 2003. pg.18
  7. What Are Feller Bunchers. Wisegeek.com. 2008-09-25.