As Cana­dian as Maple Syrup

New Zealand Logger - - Iron Test - Story & Pho­tos: John El­le­gard

IT’S TEMPT­ING TO ASK WHANGAREI based log­ging con­trac­tor Steven Stokes whether we re­ally need an­other brand of forestry ma­chine in New Zealand, but I al­ready know what his an­swer will be.

Steven is stead­fastly sold on the Cana­dian-built El­tec, to the point where he now jointly holds the sales and dis­tri­bu­tion rights in this mar­ket. And af­ter spend­ing time with his all-new El­tec 417 tracked har­vester/pro­ces­sor at Wood­hill For­est, the first of the new brand to go into op­er­a­tion in New Zealand, it’s easy to see why.

It has power to burn, prodi­gious hy­draulic per­for­mance, runs at cool op­er­at­ing tem­per­a­tures and is im­pres­sively fast. Plus, the El­tec is built like the prover­bial brick shit­house and ap­pears very ca­pa­ble of with­stand­ing the pun­ish­ment dealt out by Kiwi log­gers – it does have to put up with sav­age Cana­dian win­ters, af­ter all.

In short, it’s a grouse piece of equip­ment.

But se­ri­ously Steven, did you re­ally need to go and grab the NZ dis­tri­bu­tion rights to El­tec just to ob­tain a ma­chine like this?

Well, it ap­pears he did, be­cause it’s a sure-fire way of get­ting pre­cisely what Steven re­quires for his five North Auck­land har­vest­ing crews.

Now other con­trac­tors are set to ben­e­fit, both here in New Zealand and across the Tas­man, af­ter he and joint-ven­ture part­ner, Cam­bridge-based Shaw’s Wire Ropes, re­cently picked up the dis­tri­bu­tion for Aus­tralia, too. More on that later. First, some back­ground on what led Steven to beat a path to El­tec’s doors.

“No dis­re­spect to other man­u­fac­tur­ers, but I couldn’t get ex­actly what I was af­ter,” he says.

“I was look­ing to re­place a felling ma­chine and a pro­ces­sor, and I started cast­ing around for dif­fer­ent op­tions. The way things are go­ing, we’ll have smaller har­vests (in North­land) in the fu­ture and I wanted a multi-pur­pose ma­chine that could work in a num­ber of set-ups; fall­ing and bunch­ing, work­ing with a for­warder, mak­ing stems, pro­cess­ing on the skid – an all-round pack­age.

“It had to be heavy enough to deal with the big­ger wood we get up this way. But I wanted it to be well­bal­anced, with a low cen­tre of grav­ity, so that meant it needed a low cab. I just wanted to be able to have things made to suit the way we work.

“And I wanted some­thing that was run­ning more stan­dard com­po­nents – Cum­mins en­gines, Linde pumps and valve banks, Rexroth track mo­tors and Dan­foss, so we can source di­rect lo­cally if we need to and not be re­ly­ing on one com­pany to pro­vide back-up.”

This El­tec 417, work­ing with Stokes Log­ging next to Wood­hill For­est, is the first of the new Cana­dian brand to ar­rive in New Zealand.

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