The Predator CH150 is a towable, turntable 6' (150mm) chipper. We reckon this is possibly the lightest and cheapest turntable you can buy. That makes it ideal if a lot of your work is on the roadside or if you need to position the in-feed chute away from hazards or obstacles. Its bright yellow colour is an added bonus if working close to traffic. And for a turntable machine it is light - it weighs 1,100kg. All this for £14,342 plus VAT.
This chipper is so new it has only seven hours on the clock. Certainly a lot of thought has gone into the design of this machine. For starters, only one spanner is required to tackle all the 24 bolts you are ever likely to need to undo. Then there's the hydraulic pipe work: it's all hidden underneath the machine to protect it from being caught up in vegetation as you manoeuvre the unit across site. A spare wheel is neatly tucked under the chassis.
What we all love about this machine is the ease with which the turntable revolves. Pulling the lever and giving the unit a gentle nudge will set it in motion.
Power comes from a 28hp Lombardini two-cylinder diesel engine. It takes a minute or two to warm up from cold, then you gently apply the revs. This one has manual engagement.
The CH150 comfortably takes 6' timbers. It has a proven German-made no-stress device fitted. Flat out, the 120kg flywheel reaches 3,100rpm. There are two straight-edged reversible blades and the price is £100 per set ex VAT.
The combination of the chipping mechanism and stress control quickly sets up a rhythm - feed, grunt, feed, grunt. However, it's not fast enough for our testers, who complain that the machine seems slow, but there are 10 testers lined up with timber ready to feed into the rollers.
"It's a good machine, stable and with no vibration, but it feels as though the no-stress system comes in too early. It's too sensitive," says one. A single operator may find it about the right speed.
Another tester finds it a bit of a stretch to reach the re-set button that is mounted to the top of the in-feed chute - although he likes the working height.
"I thought it would be a pain to load because the table looks quite high, but actually it is a nice loading height," he explains.
Roller feed control is from a lever on the side of the in-feed chute. It's a simple forward/neutral/reverse affair - but one of the F/N/R stickers was on the wrong way round to try and catch us out.
It wouldn't be a proper test if we didn't need to clear a blockage. And at one point we do have to. But we find that the easy access means it takes only a few minutes to remove the offending timber and get back to work.
"It's all singing, all dancing; but with a few issues," Bartlett sums up. "It certainly looks the business. It is easy to use and we are all very impressed with the turntable, but I feel that there are a couple of minor tweaks needed."
Looking to develop the product further, Predator plans to fit a compressor to clean the filter.
The test was carried out by the college's young arborists who were taking down wind-damaged Thuja. Conditions were cloudy but dry.
Engine: Lombardini 28hp diesel
Flywheel speed: 3,100rpm
Blades: 2 double-edged
Roller opening: 290mm x 220mm
Feed rollers: Twin hydraulic
In-feed control: No stress
Cutter rate: 42m/s
Fuel tank capacity: 20 litres
Fuel consumption: 4.9 litres/h
Working length: 3.50m
Transport length: 3.50m
Price: £14,342 ex VAT
Contact: Predator Manufacturing on 0845 402 1756
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