Stump grinders & log splitters

The latest models have been designed to get the job done faster and more easily, Sally Drury explains.

Grinders: speedy and less labour-intensive option for removing unwanted tree stumps - image: HW
Grinders: speedy and less labour-intensive option for removing unwanted tree stumps - image: HW

For whatever reason, the tree has come down. The material that can be chipped, has been chipped. That leaves the stump and any sizeable material that could be used for other purposes, and perhaps needs planking or simply splitting into saleable firewood chunks.

Digging out a stump is a back-breaking, time-consuming job. If you do not want to burn it out or use chemicals, the solution will be a stump grinder. There are plenty available — self-contained units or attachments for compact tractors, two-wheel tractors, excavators, skid steers and even flail-arm mowers.

Sole importer

Firmly established nationally in the hire, sales and servicing of arb machinery, Orange Plant is now the sole importer of American-built Carlton stump grinders. These are walk-behind, self-propelled and tracked models designed to meet the requirements of most situations.
New this year is the Carlton SP5014TRX, a compact, tracked stump grinder with a short track base to aid manoeuvrability that is radio remote-controlled to gain access and work in tight spaces without compromising safety. With an impressive 50in cutting arc and a working depth down to 14in, it is powered by a diesel engine.

Showing a line-up of machines at IoG Saltex in Windsor last month, Orange Plant also displayed the popular walk-behind Carlton SP2010. Its narrow width makes it a solution for operating on those hard-to-reach stumps. It has a 0.5in-thick cutter wheel with 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 Carlton 7015 series, including the SP7015TRX — one of the largest of its kind in the UK. This go-anywhere, do-anything stump grinder has a massive 70in (1.78m) cutting arc to take stumps in its stride. It offers an impressive 1.06m cutting height above ground and 0.34m below, while the unit’s high track base provides a powerful grinding platform and increased ground clearance for work on taller stumps. A clever trick is the retracting tracks, meaning the unit can be manoeuvred through gateways. Power comes from a four-cylinder 66hp turbo diesel engine.

Recent developments from Predator Manufacturing include the 460, a stump grinder with a central pivot that gives a 4ft swing to significantly reduce operator fatigue and quicken the job of removing stumps. Features include Predator’s trademark narrow-access design, 27kp Kohler petrol engine and 18.5in wheel with six Multi-Tip teeth.

For smaller applications, Predator has introduced the 360 Swinger. It includes the best features of its predecessor, the 350, but with the added benefit of a central pivot to allow the machine to be effortlessly swung from side to side in a 32in arc. The 360 can be supplied with a 14hp Kohler or 13hp Honda engine and comes with the US-patented Multi-Tip cutter wheel as standard. The overall machine width is just 26in.

Predator also offers tracked and remote-controlled stump cutters, the 50hp P50RX and 65hp P65RX having a hydraulic power take-off at the rear to run attachments such as mulcher, flail or powerpack.

Coming from the well-known Vermeer stable, the SC30TX tracked stump cutter arrived in the UK last autumn. It features a 27hp Kohler engine with electronic fuel injection and individually controlled tracks that provide a zero turning radius. The shaft-driven machine has a 16in cutter wheel and a compact 35in-wide footprint. Optional on this model is Vermeer’s AutoSweep system, which monitors engine speed and automatically adjusts cutter wheel sweep to reduce engine and structural stress.

Easy to use

Also built in America, the STX-26 stump grinder is the latest model offered by Toro. Noting that some stump grinders are overcomplicated, Toro has designed this machine to be easy to use. The patented Toro Dingo TX-style control system has just two simple levers.

To help productivity it has a tracking transport speed exceeding 4mph and the head is hydraulically driven, eliminating the need to tighten belts or replace cogged pulleys and clutches. Hydraulic drive also eliminates shock loading to the engine caused by belt slippage.

As you would expect, the track design on this Toro stump grinder provides zero turn capability but in addition it has a low centre of gravity and large footprint to give increased stability when working on hillsides and to assist with movement over wet and soft ground. An offset cutting head provides the operator with a clear view of the stump. Weighing 545kg, the STX-26 has a 119cm arc and it is powered by a Kawasaki engine.

Users of flail-arm hedge cutters should note that Bomford of Salford Priors, near Evesham, has introduced a new Pro Drill Head attachment to provide owners of its arm mowers with uses outside of the normal hedge-cutting season. The Pro Drill Head incorporates a heavy-duty hydraulic motor that can be used at oil flow rates ranging from just 60 litres per minute up to 135, ensuring that it is suitable for use with a wide range of Bomford arm mowers from the Raven to the top-of-the-range Eagle and Heron. It can be used to power either a post hole-borer — ideal if you have a lot of tree planting — or a tree stump planer for those situations where trees have been lost.

The Stump Planer can be used to remove stumps of any size and works on the same principle as a wide drill bit. A screw pilot point pulls the planer into the stump so that the blades maintain an even and clean cut.

The high torque of the Pro Drill Head gives high work rates even when removing the hardest of stumps and the fact that the wood is "shaved" off makes it safe to use near buildings or in confined spaces. It also means that, after stump removal, cleaning up is quick and easy because the shavings are left close to the stump rather than being scattered, as chips would be from a grinder.

With so many new models coming to market, it is clear that stump grinders are continuing to evolve to meet the industry’s needs, and the manufacturers are listening. Earlier this year (HW, 7 February) we reviewed machines built in Denmark by FSI Powertech. Since then, UK supplier Spectrum Plant has been showing the D30-470 and the consensus is that it is "an amazing machine but it should be on tracks". We expect to test a unit with an expanding track base in the near future.

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