SHAW’S WIRE ROPES IRON TEST

New Zealand Logger - - Contents -

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.

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