Stump grinders & log splitters

Finding uses for waste material is a great way for businesses to add more to their offer and there is a range of machines that can help, Sally Drury explains.

Bob-Cat: has stump grinders that attach to wheeled and tracked skid-steer loaders (credit: Bob-Cat)
Bob-Cat: has stump grinders that attach to wheeled and tracked skid-steer loaders (credit: Bob-Cat)

As businesses wonder what living outside the EU may mean, now is surely a good time to consider whether there is any more you can add to your offer and whether there are other things that you could do with any waste material.

If you work with trees - whether a tree surgeon, landscaper or grounds maintenance manager - you might consider adding stump removal to your services. If you generate volumes of timber through tree maintenance work then supplying firewood for those increasingly popular log burners is a must, but you might also be able to use the timber in other ways.

Stump removal

Stumps on sites where they are liable to cause a hazard or where they are in the way of development need to be removed quickly. Burning is fraught with problems, digging is strenuous and time-consuming and chemicals take too long. A grinder or cutter is the solution. Purchased or hired, a grinder will reduce the stump to ground level or lower quickly and efficiently, and enable follow-up groundworks.

The most common types of stump grinder have a cutting wheel with teeth. They range in size from simple walk-behinds, where the operator puts in the effort swinging the wheel to cut the stump, to self-propelled and tracked units for bigger jobs and where the operator can stand a safe distance away and drive the machine remotely. There are also attachments that could fit machinery you already have, such as tractors, excavators and skid steer loaders.

The mini skid Kanga Loaders series 5, 6, 7 and 8 can be fitted with an hydraulic stump grinder, allowing the loader to be freed up for use in landscaping and land care work but providing the kit for grinding when required. The Kanga has four teeth on a 380mm-diameter wheel, gives 50 degs slew to left and right and has a 90 degs tilt angle.

Attachment options

Bob-Cat offers stump grinders for attachment to many of its wheeled and tracked skid-steer loaders. For good visibility, the work group of these grinders is mounted at 90 degs to the operator. Two wheel sizes are offered - 457mm with 16 teeth and 636mm with 32 teeth.

Owner/operators of Avant Tecno machines - the 400, 500, R, 600 and the latest 700 Series - can use the Stump Buster attachment. Rather than having a wheel, it features a three-bladed drill head with slow speed and high torque. There is no flying material with this type so it is ideal for use in confined spaces. The unit drills a 250mm or 350mm hole in the stump, shaving off the wood as it turns.

From the safety of an excavator cab, and with no associated hand/arm vibration risk, landscapers can remove stumps using a variety of grinders attached to the excavator arm. Cardley Group offers a unit with 260mm cutting diameter for mini diggers, a 530mm cutter for three-tonne mini excavators and an 800mm grinder for excavators of 10 tonnes or more with a flow of 130 litres per minute.

Power take-off

Tractor-powered stump grinders are also available, such as the grinding wheel by BLEC, a trading division of Charterhouse Turf Machinery. This power take-off grinding wheel sits on the tractor's three-point linkage and has hydraulic lift and swing. Two models are offered for tractors from 20hp to 80hp, both having wide swings of more than a metre to tackle small and large stumps. Model SG100 is fitted with a protective rubber curtain, making it ideal for use with uncabbed tractors.

When it comes to dedicated stump grinding machines the choice is vast, whether you want to buy or hire. Firmly established in the hire, sales and servicing of arb machinery, Orange Plant is the sole importer of US-built Carlton stump grinders - walk-behind, self-propelled and tracked models to meet the requirements of most situations. Popular machines include the diesel-powered compact, tracked Carlton SP5014TRX with radio remote control, 50in cutting arc and a working depth down to 14in.

Hard-to-reach areas

Also popular is the walk-behind Carlton SP2010 with a narrow width making it a solution for operating on those hard-to-reach stumps. It has a 0.5in-thick cutter wheel with a 19in diameter. In the four-wheeled category, the company offers the SP4012 with dual speed for quick travel across sites. At the top end of Orange Plant's delivery is the 66hp tracked Carlton 7015 series, including the SP7015TRX. One of the largest of its kind in the UK - a go-anywhere, do-anything stump grinder - it has a massive 70in (1.78m) cutting arc to take stumps in its stride.

Vermeer recently expanded its stump grinder line-up with the new SC362 stump cutter, developed for tree care contractors and hire firms. Equipped with a 35hp Vanguard engine, this wheeled cutter features Vermeer's AutoSweep system as an option to monitor engine rpm and adjust wheel sweep rate accordingly.

With so many options available, choosing a stump grinder may not be simple, but purchasing one, even if you opt for the attachment route and save money on the engine, should be viewed as an investment. Not only will it make stump removal quick and easy but it can add value to the services you already offer.

Specialist remote control stump grinder used at Penn Golf Club

Course manager Paul Mills is overseeing a major programme of tree maintenance at Penn Golf Club in South Staffordshire. "We are a heathland course with some wooded areas, which are basically just neglected, overgrown heath space. We are currently six years into a 10-year Higher Level Stewardship agreement with Natural England to remove the woodland and revert the area back to open heathland."

Around 1,000 trees have been felled so far, but it has not been without a few problems. "Initially, with any mention of removing trees we faced resistance and confrontation to the plans. But it was a case of explaining the end goal and getting people to notice that it was the right type of maintenance required to better the course," says Mills. "Once people have seen the finished results, the feedback has been positive and the work has been well received."

A task of this size has also required the use of specialist tools, one of which is a stump grinder that Mills has regularly hired from Orange Plant, the only European partner for the Carlton Range, from which the SP4012D and SP5014TRX models have been used on the course.

"Using these machines to remove stumps has meant we can get straight on with other machinery to start preparing the land for further works. Also, some of the trees that we've felled have been close to the playing line, meaning we needed to eliminate stumps as quickly as possible to reduce trip and other health and safety risks."

Mills and his team are impressed by the Carlton machines. "Both have been excellent - more than capable for the job. In the past we used a manual stump grinder, so remote control has made the job a lot easier and has meant we can eliminate more stumps per day," he adds. "The 5014TRX in particular has been fantastic because of the tracked base, which has meant we can get into all kinds of undergrowth and scrub."

Firewood for sale

Sizeable pieces of timber can have a variety of uses, but one of the most popular is firewood. There is a wide range of splitters and processors. The following are some of the companies displaying machines at recent shows:

Ber-Con Log splitter for use with excavators - tel: 00 1 353 872 533101.

Chippers International Importer of Gandini firewood processors - 01789 414871.

Concord King Full range of Canadian-built firewood processing machinery - 07904 157339.

Davies Implements Thor and Gwaza log splitters for commercial use - 01267 237726.

Forest Master DuoCut log splitters to tackle logs up to 50cm in diameter - 0191 276 6553.

Fuelwood Firewood processors, including saws and splitters - 01926 484673.

Jas P Wilson Forest Machines Posch firewood equipment - 01556 612233.

Kanga UK Log splitter attachment for Kanga loaders - 0845 260 4800.

Kilworth Machinery Tajfun firewood processors - 01530 412690.

Riko UK Firewood processors and log splitters - 01420 487300.

Ryetec Industrial Equipment Metal Agricola firewood processors with circular saw blades for commercial use, plus horizontal and vertical splitters - 01944 768232.

Spectrum Plant Continental 450 and 600 firewood processor - 0845 345 4866.

Titan Pro Electric log splitters, 4t, 6t, 7t and 10t forces - 0845 6800 962.

Rock Machinery Venom professional log splitters with forces up to 35t - 01555 820000.

Wessex International Tractor-powered log splitters - 01264 848610.

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