Bear Cat CH922DHXE

The Bear Cat CH922DHXE is a cat with attitude and appetite. It's a 9' (230mm) chipper so naturally it takes more timber than the others in this test; but it takes it with force.

Bear Cat CH922DHXE - photo: HW
Bear Cat CH922DHXE - photo: HW

We reckon it's probably a thirsty cat - this one has a 68-litre fuel tank.

The machine weighs 1.225 tonnes and is mounted on a single chassis. You'll need to be careful towing it - it's just that bit wider than your average pick-up truck. Bartlett is just telling us she thinks "it's terribly wide" when it is fired up - "And that's noisy," she yells.

The Bear Cat is built from heavy-duty steel and is based on a solid 100mm "C" channel frame with torsion axle suspension. The power is provided by a more-than-capable 50hp Kubota diesel engine. The triple-banded belt drive generates positive power. It has gauges for temperature, pressure and charge. There is a manual in a waterproof document box on the machine.

We take a look at the blades. Being American-built, all components are in imperial measurements. We find a spanner to fit. Inside the chipping chamber there are four reversible heat-treated steel chipping blades set at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock. According to the company rep, you should get 10 sharpens out of each - so that's 250 hours per set under normal conditions.

Paddles on the flywheel create tremendous draught to eject the chips with force. This woodchipper produces some of the smallest chips we've seen.

What is more unusual about this beast, however, is the fact that it is single roller feed. "We believe it avoids wrapping," explains the company rep. "And of course it only needs one set of hydraulics." But does that mean we'll get kicking of long timbers as they are fed in? No, this chipper takes misshapen timbers without complaining.

"It's taking some really awkward timber," confirms one tester, but he spoke too soon. At least it gives us the opportunity to see how easy it is to unblock. And it is incredibly easy. A bottlejack on the side is used to wind up the roller and the delinquent timber is teased out so the machine can run again.

Feed control is easy on the Bear Cat, being operated from the top/safety bar. The stress control is good and is adjustable for all types and sizes of timber. But there is then a problem with fuel flow, which means we abandon the Bear Cat.

"Apart from it breaking down, this is a brilliant machine," says one tester.

THE REVIEW PANEL

Darren Chambers, arboriculture tutor, Cannington Centre for Land-based Studies, Bridgwater College, Somerset

Caroline Bartlett, learning support co-ordinator, Cannington Centre for Land-based Studies, Bridgwater College, Somerset

National Awards Level 3 arboriculture students - Tom Crichton, Ton Sellick, Tom Vaulters, Jack Nicholas, Rob Morris, Matt Holcombe, Alex Thompson, Will Keating


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