Australian Forests and Timber

Favourite machines keep business moving

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FOR THE umpteen years that Mark Cross (Crossy) has been working in forestry it has nearly all been in the one place, Kinleith Forest in New Zealand’s North island, which shows a few things ... great forest management; sustainabi­lity personifie­d; and a real love of the bush and the industry.

And for a bloke who knows all about the manual side of operations he’s become a bit of a fan of Caterpilla­r since opting for the mechanised approach. “We moved into clearfell after cyclone Bola (one of the costliest cyclones in NZ history). That’s when I bought my first Cat machine,” he recalls. “It was a D5H and it was the first one to come into New Zealand.”

Crossy’s operations grew bigger over the years and at one stage he had five crews on the go including a hauler crew. He has downsized in later years but still has a crew of nine working ... “plus me when I’m there,” he quips.

“I had to drive the grapple skidder a couple of weeks back and I don’t think you should be over 60 driving grapple skidders,” he says with a laugh.

And he’ll be putting another crew on in about 18 months.

Crossy kicked off in the Kinleith Forest back in 1984 (that was after he had done time native scrub cutting -- “I started that when I was about 22.”) and, apart from his current cut quota, it’s all been in steep terrain.

For years now he has utilised Cat machines ... “I bought 26 in a row,” he says, and he’s still got six now.

“I’m looking at a Cat self-leveller at the moment. We’ve got a 325D FM that’s done about 11000 hours with a SATCO fall and trim head (SAT325) and we need to upgrade that, probably within the next six months.

“I’ll stick to the SATCO heads, too. We’ve got a SAT225T on our Cat 336DL at the moment.”

The SAT225T is a single grip, two roller harvesting and processing head that stands up to the tough demands of clear falling and processing of radiata pine forests of the southern hemisphere. It is ideal for processing short and long logs out of the stack as well as cut to length.

So what’s his view on both Caterpilla­r (and NZ agent Gough) and SATCO -- “They’re good. Excellent value. Coming from manual to mechanised took a bit of getting our heads around it but now we wouldn’t do it any other way. They’ve (Caterpilla­r and Gough) been good to me over the years otherwise I wouldn’t have stuck with them. I usually just ring Gough up and say get me a loader or get me that and they do it.”

The SATCO heads are built in Tokoroa which is only about 15 minutes from where his crew is working. “You can’t beat the service. SATCO is a good product. They’re good pricewise. Basically, they’re on your doorstep and they offer a top service.”

Armed with his

favourite machines, Crossy and his crew are enjoying their current work “on the flat” and they’ve got about another five months of it to come. “This (flat) is the first time in my career. This is the first winter I’ve had working on flat terrain,” he says. But, even though it will be back to the hills later on, Crossy is taking it in his stride.

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