Reviewed - Woodchippers

Piles of material at Bridgwater College presented a perfect opportunity to test a selection of new and updated machines, writes Sally Drury.

Timberwolf  TW 160PH woodchipper - image: HW
Timberwolf TW 160PH woodchipper - image: HW

Reviewed - This Issue

  • GreenMech Arborist 200
  • Forst ST8
  • Vermeer BC190XL
  • Vermeer BC1000XL
  • Timberwolf TW 160PH
  • Timberwolf TW 280TFTR

Review Panel

Bridgwater College arborists: working in the industry on part-time study with lecturers and technicians

It is a practical day at Bridgwater College and the arborists have the task of removing a row of leylandii from Richard and Wendy Stirling's garden at Combwich. Work is underway and there are piles of material - just what we need to test the latest woodchippers.

Introduced this year, the GreenMech Arborist 200, Timberwolf TW 160PH and Vermeer BC190XL are road machines. The new Timberwolf TW 280TFTR is a tracked unit, ideal for use by utilities and those needing to cross rough ground. Updated is the Vermeer BC1000XL, a big machine with improvements. Forst is the youngster, a brand that is barely three years old.

After several hours' work on a sunny autumn day, some conclusions could be drawn. All the machines performed well. We had no blockages. All had good working heights and strong infeed chutes. Infeed was smooth for all units, with no testers reporting being whipped by the more slender material. Most testers were uncertain which they would buy. General comments were that all the machines took big timbers and were easy to control. The Timberwolf 160 was favoured by some for its towability and price.

GreenMech Arborist 200

If looks count, the Arborist has it. In its new GreenMech livery - now with a touch of grey - it looks modern and slick. But GreenMech has also got the construction right, giving a beefed-up machine with sound engineering yet simple to use. It has also kept those useful handles that help you haul the machine into a safe work position.

Promising generous chipping capacity and aggressive output, the Arborist 200 is big brother to the 150 model and was launched at APF 2016 at Ragley Hall in September. It is the latest in GreenMech's traditional in-line format road-tow chipper range and is rugged. It weighs 1,300kg and rides on a chassis constructed from deep beam, high-tensile steel. The chipper is all metal - no plastic panelling - to keep it robust.

Picking up where the 150 leaves off, the new 200 has a large infeed hopper to reduce snedding time and keep the brash infeed rate up. The tray drops down on piano hinges. There is no top bar. Future-proofing the machine, GreenMech has fitted a bottom bar ready for a pending change in legislation.

Furthermore, the safety bar now has a single function - to stop the rollers. Forward and reverse controls are manual buttons on the side. Yes, buttons. But they are weatherproofed with a rubberised coating and have to be operated with a definite push. They are unlikely to be accidentally triggered.

Beyond the curtain, the infeed throat is 8x11in and has twin horizontal hydraulic rollers to crush woody material and help dispose of heavily forked branches quickly without further reduction. We had a chainsaw at the ready but did not need it. Chipping efficiency is further enhanced by GreenMech's No-Stress system. This patented, electronically controlled system automatically manages the throughput of material, and it really does help.

The 6in discharge chute is curved. It seems to give a smoother flow of chips and perhaps could be less liable to blocking than fabricated chutes. When you open the chute to access the blades and flywheel, a spring-loaded shoot-through pin locks off the flywheel to prevent it turning on you while you work on the blades.

The chipper is powered by a Kubota 1505 turbocharged diesel engine pushing out 45hp. It is protected by insulated panels that are easily removed for maintenance.

What we particularly like from the maintenance point of view is the over-centre clutch. It is a manually operated lever that disengages the drive belts so when you need to spin the flywheel to bring the banks of blades into position for turning you are not fighting the compression of the engine. It makes the task so much easier and safer.

Specification

Max diameter material 8in (200mm)

Engine type Kubota four-cylinder turbo diesel

Maximum power 45hp

Roller feed Twin hydraulic motor, horizontal rollers

Infeed chute aperture 1,200x840mm

Infeed throat size 200x280mm

Processing capacity Seven tonnes per hour

Fuel capacity 27 litres

Hydraulic oil capacity 27 litres

Flywheel Disc blade, 15,000rpm, four cuts per revolution

Blades Disc blades

No-stress system Yes

Clutch Optional

Chip size 14.9mm

Weight 1,260kg

Dimensions (LxWxH) 3,990x1,440x2,695mm

List price £21,750 + VAT

Tel GreenMech - 01789 400044

Forst ST8

Forst is the new kid on the block. The youngest brand here, it has only been building woodchippers for three years. Yet in that time the brand has seen something of a storm of success and now has a good reputation. This year the company signed an agreement supplying chippers to Orange Plant.

The main features of this road-tow 8in chipper are strength and performance. It is covered by a three-year warranty, telling us something about the company's confidence in its machine.

This is a true 8in chipper, fed by an 8x10in ForstGrip hydraulic infeed roller system. The roller moves in a arc, rather than up and down, climbing over the timber and grabbing it aggressively to crush forks and drag the wood into the chipping chamber. It reduces, if not eliminates, the need to sned-up material before processing. The anvil is removable.

There are two bolts to access the chipping chamber, where we find the huge flywheel has slots cut into it but is strengthened with fins. The slots allow seating of the two large 10in blades, giving a cut every half revolution and ensuring that no chips can clog the blades. Thinking along the lines of inertia rather than speed, the fins on the flywheel literally throw the chips to discharge rather than just blowing them. We certainly had no trouble chipping damp leylandii during our test.

As clever as it is smart in appearance, the ST8 has Forst's Autointelligence no-stress system to take care of all the electrics on the machine and alert you to servicing requirements. On the sides, the illuminated touchpad gives feed, reverse and stop. It is IP 69 rated, waterproof and vibration proof.

Access is simple for checks and servicing. There are two clips to get at the engine under the one-piece bonnet. Two more bolts get you into the chipping chamber. Belts are tensioned on an adjuster wheel. A remote grease bank on the outside makes life easy and the fuel tank has a large neck for easy filling. The Kubota engine is packed with power. The whole machine is mounted on a big C-section chassis so it can be painted all over for durability.

Elsewhere, there is a full-length piano-style hinge on the fold-down hopper. All parts, except the mudguards, are metal.

Specification

Max diameter material 8in (160mm)

Engine type Kubota V1505T diesel

Maximum power 45hp

Roller feed ForstGrip horizontal

Infeed throat size 200x255mm

Fuel capacity 35 litres

Flywheel 728mm diameter, 30mm thick

Blades Two 10in blades

No-stress system Autointelligence no-stress

Weight 1250kg

Dimensions (LxWxH) 3,669x1,550x2,370mm

List price £18,950

Tel Redwood Global - 01264 721790

Vermeer BC190XL

Introduced this year, the BC190XL has already received good reviews, and that is not surprising. This machine has excellent infeed, good throughput and smooth discharge. You do not need a 7.5t truck to tow this Vermeer. A 3.5t truck will do. At 1.5t, this is the heaviest chipper in its class, yet it is quite compact and competitively priced.

Aimed at local authorities and specialist contractors, the 190 is soundly constructed. It is clearly built to last. It has market-leading oversized cutter bearings, disc, drive and infeed system mounted in a high-strength all-steel body. Even the jockey wheel is oversized for strength. There is chunky steel everywhere, making it suitable for loading either by winch or skid steer loader.

Just look at the infeed. It has two heavy-duty 8x12in rollers that are offset to give a "conveyor" feed so when a large, heavy timber is fed into the throat you do not have to try to get the top roller to open. The bottom feed roller pushes it against the top roller for you.

SmartFeed, as on the BC1000XL (see p39), is standard because the infeed rollers are so large the timber is backed off further so as to give it a better chance of breaking the fork or crotch when it is re-fed.

It works remarkably well and makes life so much easier because it takes out the snedding, meaning that you spend less time and cut risks by reducing the need to use the chainsaw to prep wood.

Vermeer is as big on safety as it is on strong construction. The 190 has safety bars mounted to top, bottom and both sides. Like the 1000, it has the override so false trips can be eliminated when feeding in large volumes of brash. Simply step to the side and hold the button to disengage the bottom bar while you stand in the safety zone.

Everything is big and strong, but that does not make servicing a nightmare. Clearly Vermeer has given thought to access and also to problems such as changing belts, which incidentally are fully automatic for tensioning. With a counter-lever weight, changing belts takes under 30 seconds. The main grease points are all accessible from the outside.

Coupled with the Kubota 48hp engine and with a 76cm-diameter, four-knife disc weighing 120kg, the BC190XL excels at chipping and discharges material up to 12m away, taking some of the hassle out of close-positioning the chipper and collection vehicle.

Specification

Max diameter material 8in (200mm)

Engine type Kubota V2203-M-E3B liquid-cooled diesel

Maximum power 48.1hp (35.9kW)

Roller feed Twin hydraulic rollers, offset, with 290kg clamping force

Infeed throat size 8x12in

Processing capacity 36m per minute feed speed

Fuel capacity 56 litres

Hydraulic oil capacity 22.7 litres

Rotor 760mm diameter, weighing 120kg, 1,480rpm

Blades Four A8 chipper steel

No-stress system Yes

Weight 1,450kg

Dimensions (LxWxH) 3,500x1,550x240mm

Price On application

Tel Vermeer UK - 01933 274400

Vermeer BC1000XL

Yes, it is big and American, but if you want productivity and safety then take a closer look at this chipper. You need to be in the premier league, generating big volumes of waste, to make use of this machine and you are going to need something like a 7.5t truck to shift it, but it has some great features that simplify the job while saving on time and money. It is a beast and the boys love it.

Targeted at councils and large contractors, the BC1000XL has been around a while but has recently had its final Tier 4 upgrade. Gone is the Cummings engine and power is now supplied by a 74hp Deutz.

It has also changed from a double-axled unit to a single axle - well, there is a saving on tyre changes then. Importantly, it is now all-metal. Any fibreglass on the previous 1000XL is now steel construction, removing the risk of damage in the event of dropped branches or badly handled timbers.

It still boasts a massive 12x17in infeed opening to take bigger timber and crush the most difficult forked wood, and the SmartFeed system remains on the upgrade. We are impressed with this patented feed-sensing control system that monitors engine rpm and automatically stops and reverses feed rollers so that the wood is not against the knives when the engine needs to recover.

There is also a clever setting to adjust the rollers to suit the material. When you are going for 10in or 11in straight timber, the rollers can be slowed down so processing is less stressful. It has also got EcoIdle engine control, which saves fuel - important on a big beast of a machine - by allowing the operator to set a slowdown period so that after one minute, or five depending on the setting, the revs will fall if the users are held up with feeding.

Access to all components is a doddle. The Vermeer has rubberised latches. There are two to get under the bonnet, where you will find all filters and daily checks right in front of you. It is a big machine and you might think the discharge chute heavy to reposition, but actually it's very easy.

Specification

Max diameter material 12in (300mm)

Engine type Tier 4 Deutz diesel

Maximum power 74hp

Roller feed Single horizontal hydraulic roller with 158kg clamp load complete with Auto Feed control

Infeed throat size 12x17in

Processing capacity 36m per minute feed speed

Fuel capacity 75.7 litres

Hydraulic oil capacity 26.5 litres

Drum 20in (508mm) in diameter, 2,220rpm

Blades Two 16mm-thick knives, double-sided, held by four bolts

Anvil 89x438mm, 25mm thick

No-stress system Yes

Weight 2,122.8kg

Dimensions (LxWxH) 3,810x1,689x2,565mm

Price On application

Tel Vermeer UK - 01933 274400

Timberwolf TW 160PH

Should you work as a landscaper, a grounds maintenance contractor or a tree surgeon just starting out in business, then this machine may appeal to you.

Timberwolf's new lightweight petrol towed TW 160PH is sort of an update on the TW 125 but it looks substantially different and has quite a few changes. For starters, the style of the infeed funnel has changed. It is now cut back at the top to allow more light and access when feeding in. The controls are now positioned on the sides - no longer on the top where they could have been knocked and damaged.

Power is also improved. Timberwolf has opted for a bigger engine, going up from 20hp to 22hp. It is a Honda v-twin petrol, so should be reliable. The 160PH also has remote greasers, as on the TW 230.

But perhaps one of the most important features is the change to the blade access. It is now the same as the 230, so the panel removes to reveal the double-edged blades. You can really get to them and this will make maintenance so much easier.

The bigger engine means that throughput is increased and you should find this machine faster than the 125. The rotor is also larger. So too are the blades. This chipper has real improvement to give it more oomph compared to its predecessor. It will now chomp through timber of 150mm in diameter.

But what has it added in terms of weight? After all, many users requested the 125 because its sub-750kg weight meant it could be towed on a standard licence. In truth, the new 160PH is a little heavier, but we are only talking a few kilos. This woodchipper is unbraked and at 608kg is still way below the 750kg limit.

There has been a small design change to the trailer. It now has a T-pole rather than an A-frame chassis but the only significance is that it makes it easy to convert for an adjustable drawbar should the machine be used on the continent.

A nice addition is the E-stop button, which kills the machine instantly for safety. We are likely to see more machines fitted with E-stop control in the future.

Other than that, most features are what you would expect from Timberwolf - a rotating, easily removable chute and the usual safety features. Obviously it is a petrol machine, but that does not seem to make much difference in terms of noise, and certainly not when you are wearing ear defenders. However, our testers expressed some concern about the potential for the exhaust to be knocked when travelling.

Specification

Max diameter material 6in (150mm)

Engine type Honda v-twin air-cooled petrol

Maximum power 22hp (16.4kW)

Roller feed Twin hydraulic motor, two six-bladed rollers

Infeed throat size 160x160mm

Processing capacity 3.5 tonnes per hour

Fuel capacity 18 litres

Hydraulic oil capacity 15 litres

Rotor 515mm diameter, 37.2kg, 1,908rpm, two cuts per revolution

Blades Two, reversible

Anvil Reversible vertical and main anvil

No-stress system Analogue speed switch

Chip size 14.9mm

Weight 608kg fixed tow head, 613kg adjustable tow head

Dimensions (LxWxH) 2,935x1,266x2,108mm

Price £12,110 + VAT

Tel Timberwolf - 01449 765800

Timberwolf TW 280TFTR

Timberwolf understands that there are times when the terrain is rough - seriously off-road - and you need to get the chipper to the job, not bring the job to the chipper. That is why it developed the TW 280 TFTR. The tracked 8in machine has ground covering performance and the fixed track base is rugged, has wider tracks than the TW 190 and gives two speeds - up to 5kph when you can and 2.5kph for difficult ground and final positioning.

As 5kmph is a good walking pace, a fold-down operator platform is provided. The travel levers are comfortable to operate, requiring less pressure than some machines so your wrists and thumbs do not complain while tracking distances. In addition, the levers are progressive.

With good ground clearance, combined with smooth tracking, this machine should get you to work on time.

When it comes to the chipper itself, this is the business. It is built big and strong yet is still easy to use. It has an extra-wide feed funnel, bigger than on the TW 190, and open top section so you can see the feeding operation, and it has an 8.25x11in letterbox-style throat with twin horizontal Quad Force feed rollers that grip and crush the material down to fit the width.

There is easy access to the usual safety controls, though Timberwolf has moved them from the top on this model and repositioned them on the sides where there is less chance of them being knocked or damaged.

This model also features Timberwolf's legendary "no stress" auto-feed control for smoother operation, combined with a heavier rotor to give added inertia to get the job done faster. In fact, the rotor is 50 per cent heavier than on the TW 190. It is cast and gives the machine loads of chipping muscle.

Power comes from a 45hp Kubota diesel engine - no problem there then - and as you would expect from Timberwolf all components are easily accessible.

We like the fact that we only have to undo one bolt on each side to remove the sliding side panels that form the new-look sloping bonnet. That bolt also allows the chip screen on the radiator to be removed.

Another panel gives access to the blades through a cassette-style opening. The double-sided blades are easily removed for turning. The anvil is also easy to remove and turn for use on either edge.

All in all, Timberwolf has done an impressive job in designing and building this chipper. It is fast on its tracks and quick with its work. It is simple to use and easy to maintain. In short, the TW 280 TFTR has to be viewed and used to be appreciated, though you might want to turn the exhaust through 180 degs so it does not blow in your face while adjusting the discharge chute.

Specification

Max diameter material 8.25in (210mm)

Engine type Kubota four-cylinder turbo diesel

Maximum power 45hp

Roller feed Twin hydraulic motor, complete with Auto Feed control

Infeed throat size 8.25x11in

Processing capacity In excess of 6.5 tonnes per hour

Fuel capacity 36 litres

Blades Two 158mm blades, double-sided, fully hardened

Chip size 14.9mm

Weight 1,600kg

Dimensions (LxWxH) 2,740x1,410x2,320mm

Price £32,130 + VAT

Tel Timberwolf - 01449 765800.


CONTACTS
Arbrep Services 01420 544006; AT Osborne 023 8081 4340; Beaver Plant
01759 372552; Chippers International 01789 414871; Dennis Barnfield
01524 733422; Echo Bear Cat 0800 597 7777; FGM Claymore 01789 490177;
Global Recycling 01476 568384; GreenMech 01789 400044; Green Shredder Co
0121 243 3687; Hardmet Landforce 01886 884595; Kilworth 01530 412690;
M-Trac 01280 705353; Orange Plant 0845 838 6337; Overland Environmental
Services 0118 981 4297; PSD Groundscare 08450 773 773; Redwood Global
01264 721790; Richard Court Forestry Engineering (RCFE) 01483 208075;
Ryetec Industrial Equipment 01944 768232; Stihl 01276 20202; Timberwolf
01449 765800; Tracmaster 01444 247689; Vermeer UK 01933 274400


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