SHAW’S WIRE ROPES IRON TEST
The first new Tigercat 632E skidder to go to work in New Zealand has a serious appetite for hard work. Operated by DK Logging in the Tarawera Forest, the big 4-wheeler can pull almost as much wood as the 6-wheel Tigercat 635 – and it’s very quick. The NZ Logger Iron Test team found out how quick.
IDON’T KNOW WHAT THEY’RE FEEDING THE brand new Tigercat 632E that’s working with DK Logging in the Tarawera Forest, but it sure must be something special.
The new skidder gets up and goes as if on a race track. It’s a real speed freak.
Top speed is officially supposed to be 23km/h, but crew joint-owner Kevin O’Malley and his driver, Rick Royal, swear it’s quicker.
And watching the 632E cover the 500 metres out to the cut-over and back to the skid site with a full load in a matter of minutes, I’m inclined to agree. Not just about its ultimate speed, but the all-round work rate. It’s lightning fast in all respects.
Someone must surely have put a Tiger in the Tank – a nod to the Tigercat name, as well as an oblique reference to the famous international advertising campaign for ESSO (now Mobil) fuel from the 1960s.
In reality, it’s more likely to be something to do with Tigercat’s EHS system, or Efficient High Speed drive, which automatically provides extremely high tractive effort or very quick travel speeds, depending on load and terrain conditions. It obviously makes the most of the extra power derived from the upgraded FPT N67 engine – now the most powerful in any 4-wheel skidder on the market.
We’ll explore the effects of those technologies as we dissect the 632E a little more in this Iron Test. In the meantime, let’s recap on what brought this latest skidder to the market.
The 632E is Tigercat’s response to the challenge thrown down in the four-wheel skidder space by Caterpillar a couple of years ago with the big, new range-topping 555D, and then John Deere last year with its new flagship 948L.
This race to bigger, more powerful and more productive skidders has been a most interesting tussle, as each successive machine has attempted to outdo the other.
Is there an out-and-out winner?
Yes. It’s you, the contractor. You now have three mighty grapple skidders from which to select the machine that most matches your requirements. That can’t be a bad thing.
Competition is always great for improving the breed and it’s brilliant to see these three manufacturers taking up the challenge to build machines that deliver a better outcome for customers.
Let’s be clear about this from the very start, all three skidders offer contractors the opportunity to shift similar amounts of wood and they accomplish their task supremely well. Each has its own idiosyncrasies, little points of difference that mark it out from its competitors. But any of them will do an excellent job for you. The choice is yours.
We’ve already put the 21.5-tonne Cat 555D and 22.4-tonne John Deere 984L through Iron Tests over the past 18 months. Now it’s the turn of the 21.9-tonne Tigercat 632E.
Whilst it’s big, the 632E isn’t actually the largest skidder made by Tigercat. That honour still belongs to the six-wheel 635, which has recently been upgraded and released as a new G-series model. But the sixwheeler can be a little too big in some circumstances, so the more compact dimensions of a four-wheel skidder makes sense where space on the skid or out in the cut-over is restricted and turning circles are tighter. Hence the reason Tigercat developed the 632E, instead of relying on the 635 to take on the big new competitors.
Kevin O’Malley has enjoyed a long association with Tigercat skidders. He was the first in New Zealand to put a 635 to work in the forest, almost a decade ago. He was also the first in the country to get a
630D skidder. And
DK Logging’s Tigercat 632E is the first to go to work in New Zealand.