Learn­ing not to be greedy

New Zealand Logger - - Iron Test: Stan Barlow -

IT’S HARD NOT TO BE GREEDY WITH A SKID­DER like the Tiger­cat 632E. You’ve not only got that big grap­ple hang­ing off the boom, just wait­ing to be filled, you also have an abun­dance of power to lift and pull wood back to the skid.

Re­sult? It’s easy to take too much wood on board and, if it isn’t held tightly in the grap­ple, then you’ll likely lose a few on the way.

That’s ex­actly what hap­pened to me on my first drag. I was so im­pressed with how Rick was work­ing the ma­chine I just jumped in, boots and all.

Serves me right that I looked like a Jack-ass, spilling stems all over the place.

This is a ma­chine that re­wards mea­sured and thought­ful op­er­a­tion. It was a real plea­sure to see some­one like Rick makes this ma­chine sing. Once I re­laxed and started to think more about what I was do­ing, in­stead of charg­ing in, ev­ery­thing be­gan to fall into place.

I sup­pose it threw me a bit when I found that the joy­stick steer­ing was in the op­po­site hand from the ma­chine I had been op­er­at­ing in the morn­ing. Took a while to get used to that. I’ve driven other ma­chines with joy­sticks, but very few skid­ders, and my brain still wants to go back to the old steer­ing wheel method.

The joy­stick op­er­a­tion comes into its own when you start us­ing the boom and grap­ple. It’s rel­a­tively the same as other skid­ders in the con­trols of the boom and grap­ple, which are on the right-hand side. The steer­ing is on the left, so for­ward, re­verse and neu­tral – that’s op­po­site to what I was driv­ing in the morn­ing on the Ko­matsu.

With the swivel seat, go­ing for­ward was fine. I had more trou­ble when I turned around to face back­wards and then us­ing the joy­stick steer­ing – mind over mat­ter, I guess.

I’ve been on a few dif­fer­ent skid­ders over the years and I would hon­estly say that the 632E has the best vis­i­bil­ity when fac­ing the grap­ple. I found that opened-up arch re­ally good. Look­ing through to the boom at­tach­ments, the ex­tra bits that they’ve taken out of the mid­dle makes a hell of a dif­fer­ence. You can see down to where the end of the grap­ple tips are, so when you are grab­bing wood you have bet­ter con­trol be­cause you can see what’s hap­pen­ing.

That grap­ple holds a lot of wood. On that first grab I just got greedy, took too much, and it took it all even though it re­quired a lit­tle bit to lift. Ease the arch back and then work it around and suck it in, and you re­ally can get hold of big loads.

But I agree with Rick about grab­bing just enough and keep­ing the wood flow­ing – much more pro­duc­tive. Lift­ing the wood up is also nec­es­sary. You don’t want to be drag­ging too much on the ground. On some lifts I had a bit more lead in my logs, which re­stricted my lift. The last drag I got a lit­tle bit shorter and had a lot more lift so I could bring it in more. I no­ticed that I was able to drag the stems to the skid a lot quicker and eas­ier.

The ma­chine is so well bal­anced that I didn’t re­ally no­tice the weight. Even though I had too much in the grap­ple on that first drag, the ma­chine still pulled it but when I learned not to be so greedy I was able to move faster and with more ease.

Ev­ery­thing on that ma­chine works a lot faster than you ex­pect, in­clud­ing that grap­ple, which seems to have the same speed as a loader grap­ple. You can al­most drop a log and grab an­other one in the same move­ment be­fore you lose the whole lot. That’s down to the speed of the hy­draulics, which is re­ally im­pres­sive.

Once I got my mind around the joy­stick steer­ing I was able to en­joy how easy it was to move such a big ma­chine around the skid and put the stems right where I wanted them.

Other as­pects I like are the quiet­ness, out­side and in the cab. You no­tice the hy­draulics work­ing more than the en­gine. And I’m im­pressed with that Turn­Around seat – click it with your foot and around she goes. A re­ally good fea­ture.

It would have been nice to spend more time get­ting to know the 632E bet­ter than just this bit of speed dat­ing.

Iron Tester, Stan Bar­low.

Left both pics: New FPT en­gine in the 632E is smaller than com­peti­tor skid­ders, but de­liv­ers more peak power.

Right: The blade ex­ten­sions were made in the Tiger­cat fac­tory to suit New Zealand con­trac­tor de­mands.

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