Tree work, whether pruning healthy trees or felling those that are unsafe, diseased or in the way of road improvements and building development, generates a lot of waste. Or does it?
To lower transport costs we are used to chipping timber, reducing the volume and producing chips that can be used for mulching, surfacing or fuel purposes. Large pieces of timber can also be processed. With the right equipment they can be turned into planks, posts, fencing, decking or logs for the wood burners that have become so popular of late.
At best, log splitting is a time-consuming, boring task. Wessex International points out that there are two ways to view it. "You can take a splitting wedge and a sledgehammer and use the exercise to warm you up on a chilly day," suggests sales director Steve James.
"You might, however, run the risk of a 2lb metal object flying at speed through the air and hitting you on the shin or worse, injuring an innocent bystander. Consider another image, one of breezing through the work with a powerful log splitter — a tough machine that offers up to 10 tonnes of hydraulic splitting force."
James is talking about the Wessex CountryLine LS-100, a strong, simple solution that fits to any tractor with category 1 three-point linkage. "This will power through logs up to 18in [45cm] in height and with a floor-level splitting bed it’s easy to position the logs in place," he says.
"The two-handed operation makes for safe use and the speed of dealing with large volumes makes a measurable impression, whether you’re using the LS-100 commercially or for farm and smallholding work."
Log splitters can be stand alone, as with the LS-100, or can be part of a multi-tool kit. At the Arb Fair, held at Westonbirt Arboretum in June, Access Platform Sales showed the Hinowa HS1150 stand-on, crawler-mounted mini-dumper. This multi-tool machine provides a fast travel speed of 6kph and features interchangeable attachments, including a winch pack and log splitter, enabling users to deal with wood waste while also providing self-loading dumper units, mini-excavator, trencher, self-loading concrete mixer, post hole auger and bale tines.
Keen to provide a cost-effective firewood processor for the user who wants simplicity of operation, reliability and value for money, Ryetec Industrial Equipment has launched the CP800 and 1000 Eco range of wood processors with high output and virtually maintenance-free circular saw blades.
"Whilst some customers embrace electronics, which can boost productivity and reduce operator input, the simple and straightforward approach is often preferred by many," points out Ryetec managing director Mark Harrison. "Our new Eco range offers a simple, strong processor with mechanical joystick controls and the complete absence of electronics. A tungsten-tipped saw blade is driven by a set of heavy-duty belts and an internal hydraulic system powers the splitter, intake belt, log gripper, saw movement, axe height and loading conveyor."
The processors are available with 13in (325mm) or 16in (395mm) capacity, 10t and 13t splitting rams and either an 800 or 1,000mm circular saw blade. Logs are held in place by an automatic gripper, measured into lengths from 8in to 20in and then cut. Falling into a trough, the log is split and then loaded by a 4m conveyor. The Eco machines feature a tough chassis and build quality to cope with the cruel world of timber handling and have interchangeable 2/4, 2/6 and even 2/8 (on the 1000) axes that are hydraulically controlled and can be swapped without tools.
More processors became available to UK users in July, when Spectrum Plant was appointed sole UK importer for the Italian-made Balfor range of firewood and forestry machinery. Balfor machines are already known across Europe for a large range of professional splitters, saw benches, conveyors and firewood processors, and the company is about to expand its offering to include winches, log trailers and log cranes.
Balfor recently extended its range of horizontal and vertical log splitters with the new PRO range of machines. Designed for day-in, day-out operation in busy wood yards, the range includes 13t-16t, 19t-22t and 26t-36t vertical splitters as well as 22t-45t horizontal splitters. At the smaller end of the range, the PRO13 and PRO16 models can handle logs up to 1.13m long and feature adjustable-height tables for rings of timber. PRO19BIG and PRO22BIG are the mid-range units, with capacities up to 1.26m, while at the upper end the vertical PRO26BIG and PRO35BIG machines are the largest of their type on the market.
All PRO vertical splitters are available in electric and tractor-driven versions, and are fitted with a quick-release lowering cylinder to make them compact for transport and storage. They are also fitted with a two-speed valve as standard. A 1t winch, with automatic unrolling device, is available as an option.
Spectrum Plant, one of the UK’s biggest Timberwolf dealers, is also sole importer for the FSI range of stump grinders.
After the timber has been removed from site, it may be necessary to eliminate the stump to put building foundations and utilities in place or simply because it is likely to become a trip hazard. It is work that contractor WSH Services knows well.
The Leeds-based company deals with local authority, railway, highways and site clearance works, felling and pruning trees as well as undertaking commercial arboriculture projects. Now in its 20th year and employing 12 people, it finds a common task to be building site clearance. This means its fleet of machines has to cover all aspects of the business — from felling and chipping of waste material and, finally, stump removal.
"We used to have a tractor power-take-off stump grinder for site clearance work," say WSH Services director Wayne Hargreaves. "As work began to get further and further spread out around the country, we decided to look at alternatives that would be easier to transport using our low-loader."
The need to invest in a compact, easily transportable machine took the firm to Orange Plant, sole importer of Carlton stump grinders. "We had previously hired Carltons, so we were familiar with the brand," adds Hargreaves. "We decided on the Carlton primarily because of the build quality. Of course the price came into it, but the Kubota engine and Orange Plant back-up service clinched it."
The machine chosen was the Carlton 7015TRX stump grinder, which Hargreaves had painted orange to match all the company’s other machinery. Although it is a large machine, weighing 2,460kg and powered by a 66hp diesel engine, the 7015TRX still fits onto the low-loader for transport around the country.
Having now used the stump grinder for several months, a couple of things especially impress Hargreaves. "The Carlton wireless remote control is compact and easy to use, and the wearability of the wheel is also impressive," he finds.
The Carlton 7015TRX cuts 1,060mm above ground to 340mm below and boasts a 1.7m arc.
The track system features four-speed ground drive, traction control and telescopic tracking.
Offering a machine hire service, Orange Plant has also been involved in stump removal at the 18-hole Moortown Golf Club in Leeds. The first UK host of the Ryder Cup, the club has celebrated its 100th anniversary but recently had to implement a three-year programme of tree removal due to ingress of growth from surrounding woodland.
Good woodland management is essential for any golf course because trees encroaching beyond the wooded areas can change the characteristics of the soil, in addition to fallen leaves causing problems in terms of turf health. Deputy course manager Kevin Fox and his team have therefore been reducing the woodland around the course. Orange Plant and its range of Carlton stump grinders have helped with stump removal.
"People have asked me why we don’t just dig the stumps out of the ground after feeling the trees," says Fox. "Obviously once you get through the initial visible stump there is still a lot more going on underneath that has to come out — sometimes over five or six times the dimensions of the tree. It would take a lot of work to get this out and not only cause a great disturbance to the site but also leave a load of material to remove.
"With their hydraulic systems and remote control, stump grinders make the job much easier and quicker. I regularly hire the Carlton SP7105TRX but have also had the SP5014TRX. The benefit of these self-propelled tracked units is that you can literally take them just about anywhere. There is some pretty uneven ground on the course — unstable terrain — but with the tracks you can take them anywhere."
For anyone unfamiliar with the operation of stump grinders or firewood processors, Orange Plant also offers a "hire the plant and hire the operator" service.