Q: Are there any new products to help tree surgeons climb and work in trees?
A: For starters, Honey Brothers has added the Harrison Rocket throw bag to its online store. This compact bag was designed by three times New Zealand climbing champion Andy Harrison. Each is handcrafted by his wife, Ali. The bags, slender-shaped to limit snagging, are available in various weights - the most popular are 8oz, 10oz and 12oz. Prices start from £15 + VAT.
Honey Brothers is also offering the Stein single-bollard lowering device. Although weighing in excess of 14kg, it can be mounted by one person utilising the top attachment point as a suspension point. The drum has two sets of rope guide bars specially angled at 45 degs. Working load limit is 300kg. Also worth checking are the Stein lowering device and small (200kN) and large (300kN) rope-friendly impact blocks.
Among the latest products available from Fletcher Stewart is the Stein Outreach rope retriever - a tool designed to help climbers in positioning and reaching climbing lines. Outreach has four locking segments extending to 2.7m but collapsing to just 65cm. Made of lightweight plastic and aluminium, the device can be attached to a harness.
Richmonds has a new website with several fresh features including a facility to find products by brand via easy-to-navigate drop-down menus. The site offers an extensive range of forestry, arboricultural safety clothing and groundcare equipment that includes machinery, ropes, harnesses and a wide range of hand tools. Product photos, features and specs are all easy to find and orders worth more than £50 are delivered free.
Recently added to the Richmonds website is a lightweight, all-purpose, anodised aluminium climbing karabiner (30kN), with 22mm gate opening, for £13 + VAT.
Q: What are the latest offerings in ropes and cords?
A: Honey Brothers has added several new ropes to its latest catalogue, including the Armor Prus 8mm accessory cord. A low-stretch cord made from Technora and polyester, Armor Prus is easy to splice and meets ITCC climbing competition rules. It is priced by the metre - maximum length 25m - but is also available in 80cm lengths, 8mm or 10mm in diameter, with a spliced eye at each end for £24.95 + VAT.
Another new rope from Honey Brothers is Yale Poison Ivy (EN 1891 Type A). Designed for use with advanced climbing tools and techniques, as well as traditional methods, this rope is of kernmantle construction - two ropes in one.
It is said to have great knot-tying characteristics and can be used with mechanical ascenders as well as self-belaying split-tail techniques. Lightweight and spliceable, the round rope keeps its shape under heavy loads - elongation is 1.8 per cent at 245kg. The diameter is 11.7mm and the online price is £2.60 per metre + VAT.
Q: What is the latest news in terms of saws and other hand tools?
A: Flectcher Stewart is now supplying Stein Supersharp handsaws with high-performance blades and cushioned rubber handle. Choose from 300mm straight or 330mm and 390mm curved.
Q: Have there been developments in chainsaw protection?
A: Severnside is now stocking Francital design C seatless chainsaw trousers. Conforming to EN381-5 type C class 1, this garment has a front pocket with flap and full-length zips in the rear of the legs so there is no need to pull them on over mucky boots. One size fits most but size XXL is also available. Expect to pay £82 + VAT.
Also from the Francital stable and offered by Severnside is the design C chainsaw "bib n brace". Priced at £98, this type C class 1 protection includes four pockets, elasticated waistband and bistretch material in the crotch.
Ellen Lightning heavy-duty boots are featured by Richmonds for those needing class 2 protection (24m/s). The soles are made of high-grip rubber, the heel being defined to enable the fitting of spikes. There is an anti-twist steel insert and flexible stainless steel plate plus wide fitting steel toe cap. The upper is 2.8-3mm-thick cowhide incorporating 360 degs multi-layer polyester clogging fibres all around the foot, including the heel. The price is £169 + VAT.
Q: Has anyone got any special offers at the moment?
A: It is always worth checking the main websites on a monthly basis. Buxtons has a buy-one-get-one-free offer on all Oregon chains. The firm's online shop also has some great ideas for Christmas - from socks to books and toys.
Stanton Hope has loads of Christmas offers, such as Lavoro Sherwood chainsaw boots (class 3) for £129 + VAT, or save 13 per cent on Sandvik 70cm loppers - now £65.95 + VAT.
Q: How can Husqvarna's new top-handled saw benefit arborists?
A: Husqvarna's brand new professional T540XP chainsaws will be available early in 2011. Designers consulted arborists worldwide, asking them for their thoughts on the most important features of a good chainsaw. At the top of their list were good balance and ergonomics, a fast engine, strength and low weight. The T540XP combines these features and delivers high chain speed, fast acceleration, a high centre of gravity for low gyroscopic force, air injection and low vibration levels.
Fitted with an X-Torq engine, compared to standard engine models the T540XP boasts improved torque and fuel efficiency while reducing exhaust emissions. The new saw is also equipped with AutoTune to provide optimal engine performance via an automatic engine setting function.
No time needs to be spent on carburettor adjustments because the saw automatically adjusts for differences in fuel, altitude, humidity, temperatures and air filter performance.
Weight, balance and cutting accuracy are aided by the new TechLite guide bar. Twenty per cent lighter and with better stiffness than the previous standard bar, the TechLite features a nine-tooth nose wheel for durability, designed to reduce overall weight, lower the chance of permanent bar deformation and to assist in balance.
Q: What other new chainsaws are available for 2011?
A: Stihl has introduced several new saws for next year, including the 50.2cc MS 261. A replacement for the legendary MS 260, the new model delivers 2.8kW - a 7.6 per cent increase on its predecessor. The power is translated into higher torque, delivered over a wide range of speeds for better lugging and limbing performance.
Stihl 2-MIX engine technology makes the MS 261 economical in terms of fuel consumption and environmentally friendly. Exhaust emissions are reduced by up to 50 per cent. The microprocessor-controlled ignition system plays a significant part in this by ensuring that the fuel mix burns optimally.
Other features of the MS 261 include long life air filter with cyclone pre-separator - lasting five times longer than the previous model. It also has a newly developed HD2 filter, made from waterand oil-repellent polyethylene, with up to 70 per cent finer pores to filter out ultra-fine dust.
Air filter, spark plugs and cylinder fins are housed under a single-piece shroud with just three simple quick-release locks to do up or undo. Captive nuts are used on the sprocket cover so they are not lost when changing the bar.
Starting is via the ElastoStart starter grip and decompression valve. The saw is fitted as standard with the low-vibration Stihl.325" Rapid Super Comfort chain. Combined with the Cellasto anti-vibration elements, this results in vibration levels of 3.5m/s2. Weight is 5.2kg without fuel, guide bar or chain. The recommended retail price is £540 + VAT for the saw with 32cm guide bar. Bars of 40cm and 45cm can also be fitted.