New Zealand Logger - - Contents - Story & Photos: John El­le­gard

Af­ter win­ning a ma­jor con­tract late last year, Wood­lot Har­vest­ing needed to up­grade its har­vest­ing fleet for the high-pro­duc­tion job in the Ben­hopai For­est, south of Blenheim, with Cater­pil­lar ma­chines fea­tur­ing promi­nently. Most in­ter­est­ing among the pur­chases made by crew owner, Brad Pyer, is the Cat 558LL, one of the first of this all-new model to go to work in New Zealand.

AS THE SKIES EMP­TIED ON THE AL­READY SAT­U­RATED skid site over­look­ing ‘Spy Val­ley’, where the 5-Eyes satel­lite dishes are based south of Blenheim, Luke O’Ha­gan wasn’t about to aban­don the warm, dry com­fort of the new Cat 558 cab to come and talk to us.

And nei­ther were we in any hurry to ven­ture out­side the ute for a closer look at one of the first of th­ese new mod­els to land on New Zealand shores.

So we just eye-balled each other through the driv­ing rain and bided our time.

It turned out to be a great op­por­tu­nity to talk a lit­tle fur­ther with Wood­lot Har­vest­ing Ltd crew owner, Brad Py­ers, about the phe­nom­e­nal growth his busi­ness has un­der­gone this year, cul­mi­nat­ing in the ar­rival of the 558 – his fifth brand new Cat in the past 12 months.

Not bad for a crew that was still op­er­at­ing with just a cou­ple of sec­ond-hand ma­chines do­ing small forests and a bit of road­lin­ing not so long ago.

Brad must have a very un­der­stand­ing bank man­ager……….and wife! “I’ve been told by Lisa I can’t buy any new ma­chines for a while,” he laughs as we en­quire about the ex­tent of his bor­row­ings.

Well, you’ve got to be do­ing the busi­ness in or­der to have a busi­ness, which means you need the tools to make that busi­ness work. For Brad, Cater­pil­lar equip­ment is the pre­ferred tool for his busi­ness.

“I like my Cat machin­ery, it suits us,” he says. “Seems to go re­ally well and does the job we need it to do, and we’ve got good back-up from Goughs.”

Brad in­her­ited his Cat pref­er­ence from fa­ther, Ray, who has been har­vest­ing in the greater Nel­son and Marl­bor­ough re­gions for years and al­ways swore by the yel­low Amer­i­can brand. He now works for Brad. The fam­ily has a long as­so­ci­a­tion with log­ging in th­ese parts, as Brad’s grand­fa­ther and two un­cles also man­aged crews.

With such fa­mil­ial con­nec­tions, forestry was al­ways go­ing to be the ca­reer of choice for Brad, who says: “I was pretty much born into forestry. I didn’t re­ally have much op­tion.”

But he did make the smart de­ci­sion to start a forestry engi­neer­ing de­gree down at the Univer­sity of Can­ter­bury af­ter leav­ing school to im­prove his ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties. He just never got around to com­plet­ing the course.

“I fin­ished my first year at uni but re­alised af­ter I came back and was work­ing in the bush dur­ing the hol­i­days that I didn’t re­ally want to leave,” says Brad.

“I worked for my old man for a while and got a bit of hauler ex­pe­ri­ence with Si­mon Ray­wood, then I went to Aussie and spent nearly 10 years there manag­ing a land clear­ing com­pany out­side of Bris­bane. We started out with two and ended up with 55 guys – it got very busy. But then I fig­ured I might as well be do­ing it for my­self and we came back here, formed a log­ging part­ner­ship.

“We started do­ing wood­lots (hence the name of the busi­ness) around five years ago with a dig­ger and a skid­der, me, my busi­ness part­ner and my brother in-law. We’ve re­cently gone our sep­a­rate ways and I’ve bought him out.”

Brad had big am­bi­tions to grow the busi­ness and it’s fair to say he’s been on a me­te­oric rise since tak­ing on the whole com­pany him­self.

The big ex­pan­sion plans were spurred af­ter land­ing his cur­rent con­tract last Christ­mas, which saw Wood­lot Har­vest­ing take on a twoyear road build­ing and har­vest­ing stint in the Ben­hopai For­est at the end of the Wai­hopai Val­ley. That ne­ces­si­tated a mas­sive splurge on new equip­ment, much of it wear­ing the Cat logo and pur­pose-built for the task, which res­onates strongly with Brad.

“My old man had Cat gear and I’ve al­ways been a fan of it,” says Brad, adding that while he’s got yel­low blood cours­ing through his veins, he has been im­pressed with some of the other equip­ment they’ve used.

“This Hyundai here – our first ma­chine ever – was sec­ond-hand when we got it, with about 500 hours and has now done 10,000 hours and is re­mark­ably un­scathed for a ma­chine that was out do­ing shov­el­ling at the start – we like to look af­ter our gear. And we also had a (John Deere) 648 skid­der.

“But as we pro­gressed we started off down the Cat path and bought a sec­ond-hand Cat skid­der. Then a 324DFM, which is our shov­el­ling ma­chine, and we’ve just got a new skid­der, a 545D. We bought a new

320DFM (32-tonne loader) in the mid­dle of last year and a 552 Series 2 felling ma­chine with a SATCO 325T head. We took de­liv­ery of the 558 around March.”

The new 558 her­alded a shift to be­com­ing a fully mech­a­nised op­er­a­tion. Be­fore its ar­rival, a chunk of the log-mak­ing was done by hand, with the 552 felling for a cou­ple of days and then us­ing the SATCO head to process on the skid for three days each week.

That 325T head has gone onto the 558 so it can process full time, while the 552 has re­ceived a new SATCO 325M, which still gives it mea­sur­ing ca­pa­bil­ity but with­out the top­ping saw, thus pro­vid­ing some back-up abil­ity for both pro­cess­ing and felling. Brad is pleased with that de­ci­sion be­cause the stems dragged out for log mak­ing are al­ready de-limbed, which saves time and also slash from build­ing up on the skid.

And if that lit­tle shop­ping spree wasn’t enough, Brad re­cently pur­chased a Cat 928K wheel loader to speed up load-outs. Oh, and be­fore we for­get, around Christ­mas the crew also re­ceived an­other present from Santa, a Fal­con winch-as­sist sys­tem built onto a Hi­tachi 280 base to en­able the 552 to har­vest some of the steeper slopes.

As well as build­ing up the har­vest­ing crew, Brad re­cently ex­panded the ex­ist­ing road­ing /earth­works crew, which now con­sists of a Cat D8T dozer, Cat 323FL ex­ca­va­tor and a Hyundai 290-9 ex­ca­va­tor which are leased for now, and a Cat 311FL, which was pur­chased back in Fe­bru­ary 2017. On top of that, Brad also man­ages a har­vest­ing op­er­a­tion on the West Coast. Busy boy.

For some­one in his mid-thir­ties, he seems to be in a hell of a hurry to cre­ate a size­able busi­ness em­pire, but Brad says the growth spurt is at an end. For now.

And while it’s all come to­gether very quickly, Brad seems to have no trou­ble cop­ing with the growth, adding: “Hav­ing started out small it was good to get that ex­pe­ri­ence run­ning your own crew and manag­ing a con­tract.”

It helps hav­ing good peo­ple around him. Fore­man Luke has been in the bush a good num­ber of years and has ex­pe­ri­ence in most ma­chines. And the road­ing / earth­works crew also runs un­der its own ex­pe­ri­enced fore­man, Kain Percy.

“We worked for this for­est man­ager three-and-a-half years ago and when we came back we picked up the earth­works job as well, so we do that and road­lin­ing,” says Brad.

“That’s helped our pro­duc­tion pick up quite dra­mat­i­cally and we’re their top pro­duc­ing crew now.”

Brad’s for­est engi­neer­ing course at uni has also come in handy, he says: “With this block I worked with the for­est man­ager to plan it all, so I had in­put into where the skids and roads were go­ing and when you get to build them your­self you get them in the right shape, the right spot and some­thing that ac­tu­ally works.”

Makes life a whole lot eas­ier, doesn’t it? And right now, life is just about to get a bit eas­ier for the NZ Log­ger Iron Test team.

With the rain start­ing to ease, it looks like we may ac­tu­ally get to see the new 558 up close with­out get­ting our­selves drowned.

The 558 and its smaller brother, the 548, are the lat­est mod­els in the 500-series ex­pan­sion pro­gramme un­der­taken by Cater­pil­lar.

Whilst the 33-to-35-tonne Cat 548 re­places the 324DFM, the 42-tonne Cat 558 suc­ceeds the pre­vi­ous 325DFM in the Cat forestry line-up and some con­trac­tors might also view it as an op­tion to the 336, be­cause of its wide-rang­ing ver­sa­til­ity that adds heavy-duty load­ing and shov­el­ling to its po­ten­tial as a main­stream pro­ces­sor.

He did con­sider the smaller 548 and says: “It needed to have enough oil to run that head, that was the main thing.

“And while there was talk the 548 could po­ten­tially do it, I didn’t want to be a guinea pig, I wanted to make sure I had a ma­chine that would do the job.”

Brad was also of­fered a 336 but says that when he did the sums on guard­ing and prep­ping the ma­chine for the for­est, there wasn’t much dif­fer­ence from the price of a 558 and go­ing down this route meant get­ting the rear-en­try cab which he wanted for ac­cess-safety.

“I just like be­ing able to buy some­thing out of the fac­tory and put it straight to work,” he adds.

“This guard­ing stuff and all that sort of thing, it’s not built for pur­pose, it needs to be built from the ground up for the sort of work we do. I went to the fac­tory back in Fe­bru­ary and you saw that they are built from the sub-frame right up and that’s im­por­tant, es­pe­cially for a

pro­ces­sor that you are go­ing to have for a long time. You want it to be solid and long-last­ing.

“This one will prob­a­bly go to 15,000 hours with us, but ul­ti­mately I have a goal of try­ing to roll them over at 6,000 hours if I can, to keep them un­der warranty, al­though it would more than likely be 8,000. Be nice if I can achieve that.”

Brad never got to see his new ma­chine go­ing down the line at the fac­tory as it was al­ready on its way to New Zealand, but he says the trip re­in­forced his pur­chase de­ci­sion.

And when it did ar­rive, the new 558 was able to head out into the bush very quickly, with just the SATCO head need­ing to be plumbed in. Among it’s stan­dard equip­ment is a 1.2m riser un­der the cab and a rear door en­try.

“It came with pretty much ev­ery­thing I wanted, the rear-en­try cab, which I like be­cause there’s a spot you can at­tach a dicky seat to the wall, so some­one can sit in be­hind the op­er­a­tor, or stand, as they do now,” says Brad.

“Cur­rently our fore­man (Luke O’Ha­gan) drives it and it’s quite handy for him be­cause he can still be op­er­at­ing and the guys can pop in and have a yarn while he’s work­ing. The rear-en­try cab is good – just com­pare it to the 320 on a sim­i­lar high riser, which is too high to be climb­ing up the side. We’ve used a fish­ing rod for the op­er­a­tor to hand over load dock­ets to the truck driver out of the door.”

Not that his 558 is ever likely to be used for load­ing logs, but Brad

does have a point about high cabs. Just think what it would be like if he had or­dered the 558 with the op­tional 1.83m (that’s 6ft) riser for load­ing trucks – a fish­ing rod for hand­ing over dock­ets would be oblig­a­tory.

For Brad and Luke, the 1.2m riser is quite tall enough. From the ground it puts the driver’s eye­ball level at 4.3m, so the big­ger riser would take it to al­most 5m.

Brad has op­er­ated the new 558 him­self, not­ing that the cab on his ma­chine still pro­vides an ex­cel­lent ad­van­tage point for the op­er­a­tor to see the en­tire skid. An­other good fea­ture is the cab-over cen­tre cam locks, which means no more bolts to hold the cab down, mak­ing it easy to shift, tighten and check.

Al­though the 558 now spends most of its time planted on the skid site spit­ting out logs, it has done some fall­ing and trim work, too.

“This is a new set­ting and Luke has walked it down the track to grab what he can off the side to fall and process, help­ing out when there’s an op­por­tu­nity – it’s still quite ca­pa­ble of do­ing felling and that reach is good for grab­bing trees from the track.”

The 558 is not hav­ing to strain be­cause, Brad says, “the piece size is sup­posed to be 1.5 tonnes but from

the fig­ures we’re see­ing it’s prob­a­bly a lit­tle bit less, es­pe­cially with th­ese skinny trees along the edges.”

Right now, the 558 is hav­ing to work with some stems that have been plucked off the hills by the 552 and dragged be­hind the skid­der with their root balls in­tact. On a com­pact skid like this you wouldn’t want too many of those to dis­pose of.

For­tu­nately, the rain has now stopped and dur­ing a pause in pro­cess­ing we trudge through the pool­ing wa­ter and mud to in­spect the tall Cat and chat to Luke.

Stand­ing next to the 558 you ap­pre­ci­ate the size, even though it’s not the big­gest model in the 500-series Cat range – that hon­our goes to the 568. But it’s still big­ger than the 325DFM it re­places, es­pe­cially with the larger tail that now houses a 989-litre fuel tank in­stead of 520 litres to pro­vide more coun­ter­weight.

I leave our guest Iron Tester, Matt Goodall, talk­ing to Brad and Luke while I get a much closer look at this new­comer, start­ing with the climb up to the cab.

Once up onto the tracks, the walk­way is easy to ne­go­ti­ate thanks to handrails on ei­ther side and nice, wide steps to ac­com­mo­date big boots. Speak­ing of boots, there’s a 3-sided clean­ing brush bolted onto the top deck so the op­er­a­tor and any vis­i­tors can re­move most of the mud be­fore en­ter­ing the cab. Great idea.

Plenty of space to open up that big heavy door into the back of the cab, and once in­side it re­ally is a nice warm and cosy space.

I see what Brad

meant about hav­ing enough room to put a small dickey seat be­hind the op­er­a­tor, as it re­ally is roomy, with built-in stor­age for all Luke’s pa­per­work and other para­pher­na­lia. No pie-warmer or fridge though. A later ad­di­tion, maybe.

Some­times th­ese pur­pose-built rear-en­try cabs can be a lit­tle nar­row, mak­ing it hard for the op­er­a­tor to walk past the seat to sit down, but not in the 558 (un­less you’re a Sumo wrestler). Love the big glass win­dows set into the floor ei­ther side of the levers, which give a great view of the ground and tracks.

In fact, the view all round is pretty good, es­pe­cially to the left and for­ward, with min­i­mal use of bars, thanks to the Lexan glass. The big boom does ob­scure the right a cer­tain amount and there’s not a lot of vi­sion be­hind when seated. But I’ll leave Matt to de­scribe the op­er­at­ing en­vi­ron­ment in de­tail in his Iron Test col­umn on page 32.

Back out on the top deck, a wide steel hatch opens up to the en­gine, al­low­ing great ac­cess around it, as well as the cool­ing sys­tem to the right and ex­haust to the left.

The Cat C7.1 ACERT en­gine in the 558 is the lat­est Tier 4 Fi­nal unit, ca­pa­ble of pro­duc­ing 178kW (239hp) of peak power, up a solid 17% over the old Tier 3 C7 in the 325DFM. It also makes dol­lops of torque, reach­ing its 1,039Nm peak very quickly and stay­ing up there across a broad swathe of the rev range.

Among the many im­prove­ments are a side-by-side cool­ing sys­tem that boasts an in­crease of 33% over the pre­vi­ous ma­chine, in­cor­po­rat­ing a bet­ter ra­di­a­tor pack­age and stan­dard auto-re­vers­ing fan that pushes out ser­vice in­ter­vals, as well as main­tain­ing proper en­gine op­er­at­ing tem­per­a­ture.

The 558 also fea­tures isochronous speed con­trol to main­tain a con­stant en­gine speed of 1,750 rpm, re­gard­less of load, for im­proved fuel con­sump­tion, even while driv­ing a larger pump that pro­duces more hy­draulic oil flow.

Brad says he’s im­pressed with the econ­omy of the 558, es­pe­cially since it ticked over 500 hours, and Luke told us later that he fills up on av­er­age once ev­ery three days. It’s some­thing we’ve come to ex­pect when talk­ing to con­trac­tors run­ning Cats with Tier 4 Fi­nal en­gines – their ad­vanced, high-pres­sure fuel sys­tems are much more eco­nom­i­cal and cleaner than their pre­de­ces­sors. Even though it means the unit now re­quires a dose of Diesel Ex­haust Fluid, also known as AdBlue, with ev­ery re­fuel, con­sum­ing around 30-to-35 litres of the blue stuff each week.

The fill­ing point for the AdBlue is un­der a small flap in the first large step on the walk­way lead­ing up to the cab, which is easy to reach from the ground. And on my way down Luke points out the large stor­age box hid­den un­der the top step for keep­ing saw chains, tools etc.

The next-door flap opens to re­veal easy ac­cess to fil­ters and hy­draulic pumps and valve banks. The main pumps, con­trol valves and hy­draulic oil tank are lo­cated close to­gether to al­low for shorter tubes and lines be­tween com­po­nents, which re­duces fric­tion and pres­sure drops.

On the other side of the Cat a cav­ernous stor­age space sits within the riser (and the mech­a­nism used to tilt the cab for trans­porta­tion), next

to a pair of flaps that open to the bat­ter­ies and ra­di­a­tors.

As we stand back to take it all in, I ask about the LED light­ing pack­age and Luke says it lights up the skid like a Christ­mas tree on early morn­ing starts. Best of all, he’s got a re­mote-con­trol de­vice so he can switch on the lights from a dis­tance when he ar­rives, which is a nice safety fea­ture. Shame he can’t re­motely switch on the heated or cooled seat be­fore he sits down to work as well.

We all agree that the 558 looks the busi­ness, with a rugged frame and use of heavy-duty com­po­nents through­out, from track gear to car­body, to boom/arm set. It’s built like the prover­bial. With the stony ground con­di­tions found in th­ese parts, tracks also need all the pro­tec­tion they can get from rocks, as well as woody de­bris and the thick steel plate cov­ers should do the job.

Fur­ther­more, the 349 HEX HD track links are 216mm in pitch and are greased for added dura­bil­ity and re­li­a­bil­ity. Cat says the grease-lu­bri­cated tracks al­low more us­able horse­power be­cause of re­duced in­ter­nal fric­tion and this also ex­tends in­ter­nal bush­ing, sprocket and sys­tem wear life, re­duc­ing noise and min­imis­ing the chance of frozen track joints.

Be­ing able to put more power down onto the ground also con­trib­utes to the im­proved draw­bar pull, which now hits a max­i­mum of 321kN (72,230lb). Cat has fit­ted more durable fi­nal drives to en­able the op­er­a­tor to make use of that draw­bar pull when climb­ing some of the steeper tracks.

Whilst on the sub­ject of pro­tec­tion, it’s good to see Cat has en­gi­neered a big, strong cor­ner guard on the front, ahead of the boom, rather than leave it for the con­trac­tor to get made lo­cally. It’s such a vul­ner­a­ble area on any pro­ces­sor. Ad­di­tional guards are also fit­ted to the arm to pro­tect the cylin­ders and hy­draulic lines from way­ward branches.

Per­haps the only thing that hasn’t im­proved in the 558 is the ground clear­ance, which has gone down from 760mm on the 325DFM to 749mm. Prob­a­bly not a big­gie here on the skid, but ev­ery mil­lime­tre counts if the ma­chine has to go out into the cu­tover.

Our at­ten­tion turns to the SATCO dan­gling un­der the drop nose stick, which had a tough life work­ing pre­dom­i­nantly as a felling head be­fore go­ing onto the 558. In spite of that, the 325T hasn’t given them any trou­ble over the 1,500 hours al­ready racked up.

“We’ve had a pretty good run with it and they have good back-up ser­vice – if we need any parts we can get them down overnight,” says Brad.

The close al­liance be­tween Cater­pil­lar and SATCO means the 558 hy­draulics and plumb­ing is op­ti­mised to be com­pat­i­ble with the Toko­roa-built heads.

Talk time over, Luke needs to get back into the cab to deal with the pile of stems that built up dur­ing our in­spec­tion. He’s go­ing to give us a quick pro­cess­ing demo while we watch from a safe dis­tance and then call Matt into the cab for a close-up view and to pro­vide op­er­at­ing in­struc­tions be­fore the next phase of our Iron Test be­gins.

As Luke pow­ers through the stems, cut­ting them into a range of 11 sorts des­tined for ei­ther the lo­cal mill in Blenheim or ex­port, we’re struck by how quiet the 558 en­gine is. It was the same when we tested the small­est of the new 500-seres, the 538, last year.

It doesn’t take long for the stem pile to dis­ap­pear, al­low­ing Matt to join Luke for a while in the cab. Matt helps run a dou­ble­size crew op­er­at­ing within the Moutere Log­ging fam­ily near Motueka. Al­though he isn’t a reg­u­lar pro­ces­sor op­er­a­tor, he does have wide ex­pe­ri­ence with many dif­fer­ent types of ma­chines/heads and has been very keen to see how the 558 goes.

He’s got his chance now, be­cause Luke has just walked over to the of­fice con­tainer while I re­place him in the stand­ing space

be­hind the op­er­a­tor’s seat to ob­serve his ef­forts on the stems just de­liv­ered by the skid­der, which also ar­rive with root balls at­tached.

In spite of the ex­tra weight of the root, the Cat doesn’t flinch as Matt grabs each stem and watches the SATCO screen to see what the op­ti­mi­sa­tion sys­tem ad­vises him to cut.

He’s sur­prised and de­lighted by how much power the hy­draulics are feed­ing into the head, as well as the slew and lift – thanks to a 16% in­crease in hy­draulic flow. Yet, the whole op­er­a­tion is in­cred­i­bly pre­cise.

Cat uses an elec­tric swing pri­or­ity cir­cuit on the 558 to im­prove finer swing con­trol and head move­ments. This also works with the Neg­a­tive Flow Con­trol (NFC) sys­tem and the main con­trol valve to smooth out the whole op­er­a­tion. The NFC valve opens slowly dur­ing small move­ments of the joy­stick and opens rapidly when move­ment is faster.

There’s ac­tu­ally 35% more power in the swing, com­pared to the 325DFM, so it should be able to han­dle much big­ger stems with the same amount of ease. If Matt had wanted to vary the power, he has three modes to se­lect from; high power, stan­dard

power and eco mode, which are se­lected on the con­sole switch pad sit­ting on the left pil­lar. He’s de­cided to leave it in the power set­ting be­cause it works so well.

In ad­di­tion to the im­pres­sive swing, the 558 has plenty of lift. Like other man­u­fac­tur­ers, Cat has also fit­ted an elec­tronic boom re­gen­er­a­tion valve that min­imises pump flow when the boom low­ers by re­gen­er­at­ing oil from one end of the boom cylin­der to the other. This saves en­ergy and im­proves fuel ef­fi­ciency.

And if there is a par­tic­u­larly heavy ob­ject to shift, Matt can call on the heavy lift mode, which de­liv­ers an ex­tra 6%.

The only thing that takes Matt a lit­tle get­ting used to is the con­trol for the main and top saws, which con­fuses first timers by re­quir­ing a switch to the top saw then a switch back to the main saw. It was Matt’s first ex­pe­ri­ence of a SATCO, af­ter all.

Luke ad­mits he got caught out with the same is­sue when he first started us­ing the 325T head and says you need to watch the screen to make sure you know which saw is en­gaged.

It’s only one very small gripe about a combo that is oth­er­wise out­stand­ing, or “un­be­liev­able”, in Luke’s words

“It’s a big ma­chine and when you see how nim­ble and well it moves, it’s un­be­liev­able for its size,” says Luke.

“It has made a big dif­fer­ence to the op­er­a­tion. Al­though we did have the 552 pro­cess­ing part time, we were smaller and weren’t pro­duc­ing very much, but now we are a full-size crew and we’ve got to do the num­bers this is the ma­chine to do it.”

And Luke couldn’t be hap­pier with his new ‘of­fice’ en­vi­ron­ment, point­ing out the two coat hang­ers on which to hang jack­ets and ex­plain­ing how ef­fi­cient the heated/cooled seat is and the A/C, adding: “It can make it too hot in here and you’ve got to turn the cool­ing on.”

The stor­age scores top marks as “be­ing the fore­man I’ve got a lot of pa­per­work I need to keep in the cab and when I haven’t got drags ar­riv­ing I can whip it out, do it and store it away safely, so it isn’t loose fly­ing around the cab.”

Luke is also en­joy­ing the view from his new ‘of­fice’, al­though there is a bar right at the point where he is look­ing at the head, so

reck­ons it could come

It can get very wet here at the head of the Wai­hopai Val­ley, south of Blenheim, but the ground con­di­tions on the skid are very firm.

Fac­ing page: Some of th­ese stems are ar­riv­ing at the skid site with root balls in­tact, but that doesn’t worry the Cat / SATCO combo. Above left: Matched with a SATCO 325T head, the new Cat 558LL is pro­duc­ing plenty of wood for Wood­lot Har­vest­ing.Above right: There’s plenty of oil flow from the Cat 558LL’s new hy­draulic sys­tem for the SATCO head to cope with some of th­ese larger stems.

Above: It’s tall, but the new Cat 558LL is very sta­ble, even when work­ing with some of th­ese larger stems.Below: The stems ar­rive on the skid site very clean, so there’s lit­tle slash that needs to be cleared and much of it is cut over the side by Cat 558LL op­er­a­tor, Luke O’Ha­gan.

The tall cab on the new Cat 558LL out­ranks its Cat 320D si­b­ling and pro­vides fore­man / op­er­a­tor, Luke O’Ha­gan, with a com­mand­ing view of the skid site.

1: A flap opens up to the AdBlue filler point set into the first step; 2: The new Cat C7.1 ACERT Tier 4 Fi­nal en­gine is more eco­nom­i­cal and greener than its pre­de­ces­sor; 3: The large stor­age box hid­den un­der the top step on the right and a swing door opens to the fil­ters and hy­draulic pumps / valves to the left; 4: Plenty of stor­age in the riser for the oil and DEF con­tain­ers, along with ac­cess to the cab tilt mech­a­nism; 5: Handy boot cleaner fixed to the outer edge of the deck; 6: All the con­trols are well within reach of the op­er­a­tor, and there’s even a great view of the ground / tracks through the two glass pan­els in the floor.

Good view of the side steps and rails up to the rear-en­try cab on the Cat 558LL.

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