Stumps left in the ground to rot down can play an important role in ecology by supporting bugs and beetles as well as fungi. But where stumps are likely to present a trip hazard or where the ground is needed for development, they need to be removed.
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Winches can be used for smaller stumps but the power and efficiency of a stump grinder is more usually the preferred method.
Arriving in the UK this year, the US-built Toro STX-26 tracked stump grinder is hydraulically driven, with the advantage that there are no expensive belts to break or slip and no tensioning adjustments required.
The head on the Toro machine also features a built-in braking system. Within three seconds of the operator releasing the joystick, the head stops rotating. Measuring 48.3cm in diameter, the wheel has 12 three-position Greenteeth and the head swings through a 119cm arc. An offset head configuration means that visibility to the stump is enhanced.
Designed for ease of use, the STX-26 has T-bar style controls, offering smooth operation and fewer knobs or levers than conventional stump grinders. In fact, just two simple controls operate all its traction and grinding functions. One gives forward and reverse movements. The second operates the sweep, lift/lower and engagement of the grinder head.
Providing productivity, the machine has tracks for manoeuvrability and it boasts transport speeds exceeding 4mph (6.4kmph). To minimise vibration, rubber gaskets are located between the moving parts and the handles. Maximum cutting height is 89cm and cutting depth 31.8cm. The machine weighs 544kg.
Suitable for use in tight spaces, two Toro-branded wheeled handlebar-style stump grinders featuring centrifugal clutches are expected to follow soon.
One of the latest machines from Predator Power, the 38X is also tracked for ease of travel between stumps on the same site. Grinding 35 per cent quicker than the P28, the new model uses less fuel and is anticipated by the company to become its best seller in the Predator brand.
The 38X is compact - it will pass through a 26in gap - yet grinds out stumps to a depth of 18in and has a slew of 4ft 6in. Power comes from a lean-burn 38hp Kohler petrol engine and it features fully proportional radio controls.
In the compact tracked category, Westcon Equipment has introduced the go-anywhere Rayco RG1635 Super Track Jr self-propelled stump grinder. An all-new design from the American manufacturer, it is said to raise the bar by offering a small grinder that is full-featured.
With a huge 47in cutting wheel built to tackle big stumps and a hydraulic backfill blade for easy clean-ups, it carries Rayco's exclusive swing-out control station, allowing the operator full view of cutting but allowing the machine to pass through standard gateways. Power comes from a 35hp Vanguard engine.
The rubber tracks on the RG1635 exert less than 4psi ground pressure and counter-rotate for manoeuvrability in tight spaces. Two-speed travel gets the unit quickly between jobs and its total weight is 725kg.
Three new self-propelled stump grinders join Westcon's offering this year - the Rayco RG1625soa, 1635soa and 1645soa powered by 25hp, 35hp and 44hp engines respectively. All are of the increasingly popular swing-out arm design, have Quick Stop cutter wheels and are just 34.5in wide for accessing gateways.
Sitting in the small stump grinder category and powered by a 27hp petrol engine driving two hydraulic pumps - one for the self-propelled undercarriage, the other for the cutter wheel - Bandit's new 2250XP wheeled machine is available in the UK from Global Recycling Solutions. It uses a heavy-duty hydrostatic motor to directly power the cutter wheel, eliminating the need for a clutch, jack shaft, drive belt, tensioning system and all the associated nuts, bolts and bearings, so maintenance should be quicker.
Already one of the lightest four-wheeled stump grinders on the market, the 2250XP still has large flotation tyres for reduced damage to lawned areas. A maximum width of 35in means it can also access awkward sites, while the 50in swing arc of the wheel gives a broad reach. Working depth is 13.5in.
Also new from Bandit is the 2550XP. Bringing the range up to 15 models, this unit is equipped with the same technology as the 2250XP and uses a hydrostatic motor to drive the cutter wheel. One simple lever is all that is needed to engage the wheel.
The 2550XP comes with a 45hp Kubota turbo diesel engine and boasts a 50in swing arc. Greenteeth are standard but options include radio remote, four-wheel drive, in-built hydraulic pressure check system, hydraulic grading blade and Sandvik cutter wheel.
If you are looking to save on the cost of an engine and run a stump grinder from a tractor or other hydraulics, two new machines worth looking at are the Compact Stumpgrinder from BLEC and the Stump Beaver from Geko Engineering based in Chorley, Lancashire.
Under 1m in width, BLEC's Compact Stumpgrinder has been designed for use with small tractors of 20-45hp and is suitable for use by contractors, local authorities and hire companies as well as landscapers and estate managers. With hydraulic lifting, it can move side to side and has independent valves. Tungsten-tipped teeth are sited two to a clamp and each clamp is held in place on the wheel with two bolts. There are eight clamps in total.
Geko's Stump Beaver is an exciting concept that brings stump grinder capabilities to owners of micro and mini excavators. Designed and built in the UK, the machine fills a gap in the small plant/tool hire market and it is intended to be serious competition to walk-behind machines used by landscapers.
The cutter wheel on the Stump Beaver is housed in a rugged heavy-duty frame topped by a baked paint finish. Easy to adapt to various excavator models, it is effective at low flow and pressure, but it is also capable of handling higher outputs.
The launch of the Compact Stumpgrinder and Stump Beaver models increases the choice for users and, in these times of tight budgets, brings welcome options to make greater use of tractors and excavators already in a landscaper's armoury.