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Skidder

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Forestry Equipment
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2004 Tigercat 630C Grapple Skidder
A skidder is used to haul cut or "bucked" logs from the site where they are chopped down and hauled to a location to be loaded onto another vehicle for delivery to a mill.

Choking and cutting logs were primarily done near waterstreams or in areas where little or no distances were required to travel for the import of logging. As logging evolved, so did machinery, hence the need for skidders.

Contents

[edit] History

As more and more lumber was required throughout the 19th and 20th century to build villages and buildings, logging became an industry in and of itself. Prior to the use of modern equipment, logging was carried out manually, a laborious and time-consuming task. Between 1890 and 1920, new technologies revolutionized the industry.[1]

[edit] Early Skidding Methods

Animals such as horses, oxen, and mules assisted in the logging process in the 1900s and even as late as the 1950s. When trees were bucked by a feller, they needed to be hauled by animals with the use of tongs or chains, or bummers and drays (which would raise the front end of the logs for easy hauling). This was efficient to a degree—mules were the animals best suited for hot temperatures. The weight of the trees pulled was determined by the strength of the animals.

This technique came to include the use of wagons and wheels. In some terrain, the use of flumes and chutes were required. The flume, a V-shaped trough partly filled with water, was loaded with logs that skidded into a pond and were used as a last resort. Chutes would send logs down a slope and sometimes required horses to lead them.[2]

[edit] Steam Engines

Steam engines began changing the way logs were skidded. The first "Donkey" steam engine appeared in 1881. It was a stationary logging machine used to skid logs. Dolbeer & Carson Lumber Co. of Eureeka, California, first patented a machine referred to as a "gypsy" machine with "a vertical tube boiler" and a "wood-burning firebox that supplied steam to a single vertical cylinder, which powered a vertical spool or gypsy with a circular gear." This piece of machinery operated with a rope that hauled the lumber and pulled it towards the machine after it had been cut.

In 1983, the Washington Iron Works of Seattle improved the skidder by powering two vertical stream cylinders that replaced the spool with a drum. Wire ropes replaced the standard, less durable rope. The steam cylinders available made big changes to the industry. At this time, they went as high as a 13- to 18-inch (33 to 46 cm) stroke and had 225 pounds (102 kg) of pressure. Skidders were later changed so they could be run with gas or diesel.[3]

Market demands meant more manufacturers were getting on board. By 1880, there may have been as many as 200 steam engines manufacturers in the U.S. alone. Clyde Iron Works of Duluth was one such manufacturer in the 1900s that set out to meet the market and developed the "Universal Self-Propelling Skidder and Loader", a machine with a 40-foot (12.2-m) steel swinging boom and a frame boom used for skidding.[4]

In the late 1930s, manufacturers Caterpillar and Hyster were met with demands to produce a solution to pile pulp logging. Their response was a 1930 rubber-tired arch. This invention solved one problem, but loggers in the industry were met with more - how to haul logs that were too long for the machines they worked with.

Other problems were posited because loggers were hauling heavier loads than ought to be hauled. In response to this, Lombard & Linn produced a hybrid of a crawler tractor and a truck. Its 100 horsepower gas engine meant it could even be used in icy and stormy conditions. Logging was not a seasonal industry anymore, especially when motor trucks entered the scene.[5]

2004 John Deere 648G Series III Grapple Skidder

[edit] Rubber Tires

One problem plaguing the loggers was whether the logs should be processed at the site or if improvement should be made for more efficient delivery of the logs. Rubber tires were one option that would allow the skidder to go longer distances on challenging terrain and some sources consider the first rubber-tired skidder the first proper skidder.

Paul Westfall from Portland, Oregon had a hand in the production of some of the first rubber tire skidders in 1951. The "Performer" had 225 horsepower, ran on a Cummins diesel engine, and had wide tires that could be used as floatation devices. The skidder was complete with a dozer blade, Carco logging winch and air-controlled steering.[6]

Bob LeTourneau also began selling rubber tire skidders during this period. The Tourna-skidder was a four-wheel drive vehicle that preceded the 1953 LeTournarch. The LeTournarch had a two-wheeled arch with articulated steering. The front wheels were powered. This machine led to the evolution of LeTourneau's Electric Logger, which powered all of the wheels and had 235 horsepower and ran on a Buda diesel engine.

[edit] Hydraulics

Hydraulics is considered one of the best advancements within the skidder (or most machines in the industry). Hydraulics meant easier and more advanced control of the skidder and no leaks. The O-ring made hydraulics the more sophisticated option and provided tighter hoses for better use.[7]

[edit] 1970s to Today

The logging industry suffered a recession in the '70s, a problem that saw the logging industry taper off. One of the problems to accompany this was the exorbitant costs associated with repairs of such a diverse range of machinery.[8]

As opposed to other machines in the forestry industry, skidders have developed very little in the last 40 years. The biggest changes have been using smaller rubber tires and increasing the available horsepower on the skidders. Most machines have a hp that ranges from 100 to 200. Tires are available in up to four different sizes.

John Deere has contributed some developments in this period by developing a "hard drive" and powershift transmission as compared to the standard torque converter.

Perhaps one of the biggest advancements with the skidder occurred with Morgan Silva Com in 1996. The Morgan Silva Com utilized a hydrostatic drive, with the power being run on hydraulic pumps. Each wheel is made hydraulic with motors and removes the lines and drive axles and the challenges that arise from steering.[9]

[edit] Machines Throughout the Ages

1998 Timberjack 460C Grapple Skidder
The Duplex, a four-wheel drive skidder built in 1924 had cables on its rear wheels to assist in slippery conditions.

The Hyster was designed with a lead winch on top a Caterpillar D7 in order to skid logs in 1943.

The Harrison Pulpwood Harvester appeared in the mid 1950s and was capable of hauling short logs from the site of bucking to the road.[10]

The Blue Ox was essentially a front wheel drive to which Ontarian company KVP added a winch and A-Frame in 1952.

Timberland Machines produced the Timberskidder in 1956. It was the most popular machine in the world to skid logs from the stump to the skid. It consisted of a 200 hp, Chrsyler V-8 gas engine, and was efficient for long-distance skidding.

The 1970s' Koehring Shortwood Harvester was one of the most successful machines produced.

Rudy Vit's first feller skidder was a machine well ahead others. The Vit Feller Buncher was mounted on a Bombardier in 1957.

Osa and Volvo worked on a series of skidders in the 1960s and produced Little Bear, a skidder that contained a cab roof and hydraulic traction in the tires.

Timmer-Kalle took Volvo's design further by focusing on high quality comfort inside the cab with the Big Bear 661.

The Log All Feller Skidder in 1968 was a machine that could fell and skid. This all-around mechanic contraption had a felling head placed on top of a knuckleboom.

Perhaps the most fashionable of skidders was the Blondi. Produced by Rottne in the 1970s, it was classified as one of the most beautiful machines.

The Timberjack 480 Model was a grapple skidder developed in the early 1990s. Along with being able to grasp the logs, it could also handle some of the steepest slopes.

The Morgan SilvaComa skidder, produced in the 1990s contained the first hydrostatic drive.[11]

[edit] Features/How it Works/Types

[edit] Grapple Skidders

Grapple skidders, as the name implies, use grapples, a hydraulic claw-like attachment, to grasp logs. They are usually good for covering longer distances. Grapple skidders can have a hydraulic claw instead of a winch, or they can have a secondary hydraulic system that allows it to lift the claw to the rear of the machine as well as the lowering motion. Some skidders can even swing the trees from side to side.

[edit] Cable Skidders

The cable skidder uses a winch to attach to the log, usually with the help of a lumberjack but is most convenient in circumstances where the machine is unable to get close to the site of the bucking.

[edit] Clam-bunk Skidders

A clam-bunk skidder is a hybrid of a forwarder and a grapple skidder used primarily for skidding logs in full-tree logging and tree-length logging operations. Clam-bunk skidders are either tracked or wheels and come equipped with a knuckle boom loader and an inverted hydraulic grapple or claw that is used to load and grasp the end butt of trees. The advantage of a clam-bunk skidder is that they can carry a much larger payload than conventional skidders and can operate more effectively over longer distances. The boom can  reach trees and load them into the clam bunk up to seven meters on each side of the machine.[12] In this way, fewer passes on a site are needed and overall site disturbance is minimized. Some of the drawbacks include the loading of trees, larger trails for transporting, heavier and more expensive machinery, and the requirement of larger landing to process skidded wood.[13]

[edit] Common Manufacturers

[edit] Ritchie Bros. Marketplace

Skidders for sale

[edit] Additional Photos

2005 Blount CTR 950 Grapple Skidder
1968 John Deere 440A Line Skidder
1989 Caterpillar D5H Grapple Skidder
2001 Caterpillar 545 Skidder
2001 Ranger H67H Grapple Skidder

[edit] References

  1. Creighton, Jeff. Logging Trucks, Tractors and Crawlers. Motorbooks International: 1997
  2. Creighton, Jeff. Logging Trucks, Tractors and Crawlers. Motorbooks International: 1997
  3. Creighton, Jeff. Logging Trucks, Tractors and Crawlers. Motorbooks International: 1997
  4. Creighton, Jeff. Logging Trucks, Tractors and Crawlers. Motorbooks International: 1997
  5. Creighton, Jeff. Logging Trucks, Tractors and Crawlers. Motorbooks International: 1997
  6. Druskka, Ken and Konttinen, Hannu. Tracks in the Forest. Timberjack Group: Helsinki: 1996.
  7. Druskka, Ken and Konttinen, Hannu. Tracks in the Forest. Timberjack Group: Helsinki: 1996.
  8. Druskka, Ken and Konttinen, Hannu. Tracks in the Forest. Timberjack Group: Helsinki: 1996.
  9. Morgan Silva Trak. Vannattabros. 208-09-24.
  10. Druskka, Ken and Konttinen, Hannu. Tracks in the Forest. Timberjack Group: Helsinki: 1996.
  11. Druskka, Ken and Konttinen, Hannu. Tracks in the Forest. Timberjack Group: Helsinki: 1996.
  12. http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/MNR_E005368.pdf
  13. http://www.forestencyclopedia.net/p/p2274