If looks count, you will love this machine. It is modern and stylish, a smart piece of kit that could add a touch of class — even prestige — to your business. We totally approve of the one-piece bonnet that opens via two simple catches. "Clips are good — you can’t lose them," notes Buckton. Inside we find direct access to filter and belts.
The fuel tank also gets the thumbs up. We like the way the filler neck is angled to reduce the risk of fuel spills. The clear tank is also a useful feature although, as Nothard points out, many clear tanks go cloudy over time. The radiator is well protected with three layers.
Two bolts get us into the guts of the machine, where we find a large-diameter flywheel with two 10in blades. They are only single-sided, so there is no turning them round in the field, but we like the fact there is only one bolt to remove the anvil.
The open flywheel system, with large gusseted draught fins, means chips are physically thrown, not blown, up and out of the discharge chute. It is a continuous, fast and furious stream of evenly sized chips with little dust.
At the business end we find the infeed hopper is well supported and Forst has put emphasis on crushing power, the top roller climbing in an arc towards the timber and then with Forst Grip pulling the material in. Thanks to the twin high-tension springs either side, together with the sheer weight and gravitational pull, the toughest of forks are smashed. Roller speed can be increased or decreased to alter the size of chip.
The bar around the infeed hopper is for safety only. It keeps things simple, being purely to stop the infeed and not controlling forward or reverse. Instead, forward and reverse are found on the illuminated touch-buttons either side of the machine. These are like train door buttons and work well. A nice safety feature is that when the machine is started the rollers go into reverse and it has to be a conscious decision to press the button for feeding.
Half the team like the buttons but the others are not sure. "I would prefer something that you have to physically press," says Nothard. Hyman agrees: "They could get accidentally knocked."
But we love the computer. Called "AutoIntelligence", it is the brains behind the chipper. But again it has been kept simple and there is not a lot that has to be done by the operator. It displays fuel status and highlights any problems. The preset stress control sittings — upper, mid and lower bands — are also here along with the four-second preheat indicator. It will also tell you when it is due for a service.
There is no excuse for poor maintenance on this machine. There is a bank of grease nipples on the side and Woodbridge is quick to notice the attention to detail here. "It’s good they are all in one place, but look, they also have covers," he observes.
We find the tracking system, although single-speed, is quite fast and makes the machine very manoeuvrable. It has no problem climbing slopes and even tracks over fallen timber without faltering, and for safety the infeed roller drive is cut as soon the drive levers are engaged. The machine we test has fixed tracks, but a variable-width system is available as an option.
Future development work is looking at incorporating an anti-theft mechanism, such as a GPS device that immobilises the machine once it is moved out of a given GPS location. We think that will be a good idea. This machine could well attract a lot of attention.
Max capacity: 200mm
Engine: 45hp Kubota V1505T four-cylinder water-cooled turbo diesel
Fuel tank capacity: 35 litres
Machine width: 1.5m hopper on/1.25m hopper off
Machine length: 2.73m
Machine height: 2.37m discharge chute on
Tracking speed: Single speed
Warranty: Three years
List price: £26,000 + VAT
Tel: Redwood Global — 01264 721790
Tested This Issue
Timberwolf TW 230VTR
Mike Cullen, head of arboriculture, Bridgwater College
Andre Gardner, manager, Cannington Centre for Land-based Studies, Bridgwater College
Daniel Woodbridge, Jason Buckton, Rhiannon Rhodes, Simon Nothard, David Hyman, Level 3 arboriculture students, Bridgwater College
Timberwolf, a well-known and respected name in the market, continues to develop woodchippers for arborists. At the Arb Fair, held at Westonbirt Arboretum in June, the firm launched its latest model — the TW 230VTR tracked machine. Promising to be bigger, stronger and faster, we booked it for testing.
Entering the market just two years ago, Forst woodchippers, available as 6in and 8in units, are already making inroads into the market. We look at the 8in tracked model and put it through its paces with some serious pieces of hard timber.
Both have Kubota diesel engines — and you can’t go wrong there. "They hardly ever go wrong," Buckton points out. Both have tracks and both chip wood, but that is where the similarities end.
The Timberwolf is 6.25in whereas the Forst is 8in. The Timberwolf has dual-speed tracking but the Forst only single. We find many features we like on each but the testers cannot agree on which they prefer.
Conditions on the day of the test were partly cloudy but dry and warm, with only a light breeze.