As Canadian as Maple Syrup
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.