BREAK­ING OUT

New Zealand Logger - - Contents -

A long-time log­ger from the United States has es­tab­lished a crew in New Zealand with the in­ten­tion of har­vest­ing trees in his own forests near Wan­ganui. And he’s brought over ma­chines from Amer­ica to get the job done. It’s a great US/NZ part­ner­ship.

THERE ARE TWO RULES ABOUT DRIV­ING Jensen Log­ging’s new Ko­matsu 875 for­warder, ac­cord­ing to its op­er­a­tor, Karl Fisher.

Rule num­ber one; don’t mark the ma­chine! Rule num­ber two, don’t hit any of the trees! In that or­der.

What seems like a per­fectly rea­son­able re­quest is damn hard when you’re try­ing to weave through a nar­row gap in the trees and there’s stumps and lumps and bumps on the ground, be­cause it’s a big piece of equip­ment.

No pres­sure then.

I have to con­fess that I did touch one tree but there was no bark dam­age or paint dam­age. Not sure if Karl no­ticed, so all good.

Be­fore I go any fur­ther, I have a con­fes­sion to make. I’m more used to driv­ing skid­ders, load­ers, tracked ma­chines and yarders. You don’t come across that many for­warders in the bush, so the op­por­tu­nity to get in the driver’s seat doesn’t hap­pen very of­ten.

My brief en­counter with the 875 was very pos­i­tive. It’s an easy ma­chine to like and the more I drove it, the bet­ter it felt. I sup­pose there was a bit of sim­i­lar­ity to the log trucks I used to drive, ex­cept that mine never had a crane to load the bunk.

Nor did they have a swiv­el­ling seat so you can still face for­ward when you are re­vers­ing. The seat is easy to turn, you’ve got a but­ton on your left-hand side to lock it wher­ever you want, which is a re­ally good fea­ture – in some ma­chines you just have a set lock­ing po­si­tion and that’s it. And with all the con­trols on the arm­rest you don’t have to worry where it’s pointed and all the con­trols are ad­justable too. Very well laid out, I thought.

Steer­ing is by joy­stick, not a wheel, it’s on the right-hand side and I’d like to have spent a bit more time find­ing what most of the other but­tons were for, as there’s a hell of a lot of them and I only touched around 10%.

For an op­er­a­tor who has come off ma­chines like load­ers, some of the con­trols are the same, but then you’ve got to think about the open and close and ro­ta­tion of the grap­ple, which is all on the right joy­stick. So, mov­ing the joy­stick left and right be­comes your ro­ta­tor for the grap­ple and then you’ve got a thumb switch on the joy­stick for your open and close.

The crane is re­ally re­spon­sive, I quite like that the more you moved the tog­gle the faster it moves, so the re­ac­tion time is ex­cel­lent. And it’s good to have the squirt boom when you have to stretch that bit fur­ther to grab a log – the thumb tog­gle for that is on the left of the joy­stick. Squirt booms are fit­ted on most for­warders and a re­ally use­ful tool in thin­nings, where you are limited for move­ment.

There’s good vis­i­bil­ity all-round and al­though you have to look through the bunk grille and around the crane when driv­ing in re­verse, it’s the same with any for­warder and this one is as good as any.

Like Karl, I kept it in low ra­tio, even when out on the road and I found the speed pretty good for the short dis­tance I had to drive. The ride was com­fort­able, and even stand­ing or sit­ting on a piece of dash that wasn’t a seat, it wasn’t too bad. Very sta­ble, too, even when the bunk was fully loaded and we were climb­ing over rough ground.

Fi­nally, I wish ev­ery ma­chine I op­er­ated had an oven like this one. The smell of hot food in the cab makes it feel real homely. It gets my vote on that score alone.

NZL

32

Iron Tester, Stan Barlow.

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