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.
Iron Tester, Stan Barlow.