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Thread: Mini excavator for logging

  1. #1
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    Mini excavator for logging

    I want to start a bio mass harvesting operation to follow loggers of large timber and to thin tree plantations in hilly Wisconsin. I'd want to pick up the larger limbs and put them on a wagon.
    I am aware that Valby grapples with rotators can be used with excavators.
    I also need to buy or rent used to begin with. I assume a 50 hp, over 12,000 lb machine would be required.
    Are steel tracks a must?
    How steep a side hill can these operate or drive on (even if a flat spot needs to be made for picking)? (our land is 20% sloped, or greater, and often roads are made on the traverse of steeper slopes to winch to.)
    Is is possible to design a way to pull a farm wagon style trailer with a machine so that it follow the excavator to be loaded on a trail?
    There is a tremendous need to harvest this material to use for alternative power and heat generation in our area.

    I have a sawmill and am designing a Combined Heat and Power system to make power and to use the waste heat to dry wood chips for sale to larger plants. This operation will not work without some material handling beyond my current farm tractor.

  2. #2
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    I'm thinking of pigging a receiver hitch on my Mimi's blade for towing a trailer to load with the mini.

  3. #3
    Senior Member 245dlc's Avatar
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    What size of mini are you using? Are you doing all the cutting by hand or using a harvester or buncher?

  4. #4
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    Unhappy

    Quote Originally Posted by 245dlc View Post
    What size of mini are you using? Are you doing all the cutting by hand or using a harvester or buncher?
    I log by hand
    I'm trying to come up with a smaller scale version of the big equipment that I can't afford..

  5. #5
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    Crofton - You'll want steel tracks for going through slash fields, and rocky terrain. I'd also consider getting an extendable arm so you can reach farther. If the timber isn't huge, then you don't need a large machine...a 8,000lb or 10,000lb machine might do the job. Guess it depends on how thick the tree plantations are. I can snap 4" limbs easily with a 8,000lb machine...saves me from getting out the cab. Speaking of which, I cleared my acreage with it (real forest). Name:  2012-07-24 13.42.54 (Small).jpg
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    If you look in the pic in background, are you planning to pick up stuff like that? I used a 15' 14k dump trailer to move it. If you don't put too many logs aboard, you can haul quite a bit. Hauling one through the forest on steep terrain is a no go, imho. On forestry roads, no problem. Used a stout dodge 2500 4x4 to tow the crap around and the machine.
    Slope is tricky...depends on what your tracking on. Have lots of exposed bedrock here, and traction is an issue (better with steel tracks). Can climb some pretty steep slopes if I have stumps or whatnot to grab onto. Get experienced before you start hill climbing.
    BTW - it doesn't take much time to load a box trailer up.

  6. #6
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    I don't see how an excavator is going to be cheaper to buy/operate than a forwarder or skidder, especially if you factor in productivity.

    I don't know anybody that uses forwarders on the hills around here, but not any feller bunchers or processors either... All hardwood and skidders. There are lots of forwarders the closer you get to the paper mills, in any price range you want to look at.

    You might want to ask down in the forestry section, they'd know what to recommend better than I can.

  7. #7
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    A skidder is only good for one thing,skidding logs. Same with the forwarder.. Mini excavators uses are only limited by your imagination....literally. So when you are not logging with it you can make some money doing other things which means that even if the excavator is more money,you should be able to make more back. LB

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by lumberjack View Post
    I'm thinking of pigging a receiver hitch on my Mimi's blade for towing a trailer to load with the mini.
    I made a removable bracket (for blade) for towing a trailer for fuel/tools into woods. Also on ex made a chainsaw & shovel holder that way I can stop worrying about driving over them and trying to find if put beside a tree. 50% of my ex work is in the woods, if cleaning up after felling use blade to push limbs into pile -load on truck/trailer and haul. My sawmill handles 16'-18' feet and the ex does a great job in picking up logs and getting into tight places when selective trees are taken.For firewood its a cutters dream lift the log to comfort level and cut.Using a new sharp frost tooth on bucket allows hooking log when you can not use thumb and log can be skidded .

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by jack345 View Post
    I made a removable bracket (for blade) for towing a trailer for fuel/tools into woods. Also on ex made a chainsaw & shovel holder that way I can stop worrying about driving over them and trying to find if put beside a tree. 50% of my ex work is in the woods, if cleaning up after felling use blade to push limbs into pile -load on truck/trailer and haul. My sawmill handles 16'-18' feet and the ex does a great job in picking up logs and getting into tight places when selective trees are taken.For firewood its a cutters dream lift the log to comfort level and cut.Using a new sharp frost tooth on bucket allows hooking log when you can not use thumb and log can be skidded .
    You must show some pics of your attachments...like the frost tooth idea. The chainsaw and shovel holder I'd like to see....been driving me nuts where store it on a mini. Everything I think of, is prone to disaster or restricts visibility.

  10. #10
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    Thanks everyone for the advice. Being able to use a smaller machine than I planned could help a bunch
    I've located a Gehl 603Z that rents for 3,500 a month or 46k used, so a smaller one would be great
    I'm looking at fabricating a root rake like the one at this link (http://www.amiattachments.com/attach...xcavator-rakes) and using a valby style rotator and grapple.

    Big loggers use skidders around here but they don't clean up the mess. That mess is the fuel that could dramatically change our economy around here. I'm also interested in offering fence line and stream bank clean outs, using the harvested bio mass for fuel too

    thanks again for tips and advice, using the blade for attachments and hauling is also a great idea. I was thinking of making a tool carrier for the grapple and rake. It could hang on the blade for transport.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by melli View Post
    You must show some pics of your attachments...like the frost tooth idea. The chainsaw and shovel holder I'd like to see....been driving me nuts where store it on a mini. Everything I think of, is prone to disaster or restricts visibility.
    Pics I have have to be sized to 640 x640 to fit once I learn will post. The frost tooth is a 23WTL about $10. at local JD Dealer. Note my buckets are made in Canada and use reg backhoe 23 series teeth. pins with rubber sandwich &pins from side not top like Kubota made bucket and other ex teeth.

  12. #12
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    Name:  640_HPIM1967.JPG
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    Chainsaw & Shovel carrier
    Name:  640_HPIM1966.JPG
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    A set of new 23WTL frost teeth & tow bar for trailer uses factory holes in blade to attach.

  13. #13
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    I have 2 thoughts:

    If you are going to pull a trailer much, you really want to put the hitch on the sprocket end of the carbody, as tracking backwards greatly increases undercarriage wear.

    You are going to have a hard time getting enough tonnage of limbs to make this pay, as a 25 ton load of chips is a mountain of limbs. I have tried just chipping logging debris on the deck, and it is amazing how much volume reduction there is. I bet a farm wagon won't hold a ton. We used to figure a 24' dump trailer would hold 6-7 tons of limbs, or 20 tons of chips.
    "Don't sweat the petty things, and, don't pet the sweaty things." That's what I live by.

  14. #14
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    Thanks Jack!
    I have a cab, so the chainsaw and shovel setup you have wouldn't work for me. Like the tow bar...got me thinking.
    From what I could see, it looks like you have a clean machine.

    I agree Mitch, a wagon full of slash isn't all that heavy...pretty much need to chip it in the woods before hauling. Even though my trailer is 14k rated, it can only really haul 5 tonnes. It is the standard for dual 7k axle trailers. Might even be better to get a single axle dump truck to load the chips into...the truck can haul the excavator and chipper.

  15. #15
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    Here is how I'd set it up if it was me trying to do that. 1. buy a track chipper. They are like having an excavator with a chipper underneath. Right of way companies ude them to clear slash out of their way. Then you want to chip into single axle dumptrucks or simular. Or buy several army trucks and mount chip boxs on them. send a excavator or skidloader out in front to windrow the slash for the track chipper. Idealy you what to be able to reach everyting that you want to chip without having to deviate from a straight line. For handling chips a richardson dump wagon is handy cause it can load a full size dump or semi trailer, but they are a farmers tool more than a forestry tool. Really the scandnavians are light years ahead of us on biomass utilization.

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