For starters, there are the feed rollers. These are independently driven by two separate hydraulic motors — there is no belt or chain — and the rollers give a very positive feed. It could even be described as aggressive. We have no problem feeding in stout branches and all the sticky foliage and twiggy bits of conifer, and the stress management system didn’t kick in once.
It’s worth noting, however, that the anti-stress is optional and will set you back a further £665. Chip length, as in other machines, is adjusted by varying the speed of the rollers.
Then there’s the chipping mechanism. The disk is big, thick and heavy, and it has directly mounted “blower” blades to ensure the chips are propelled out and to help reduce vibration and noise. The knives are tungsten-carbide tipped and require no adjustment. They are designed to last up to 1,000 hours and, should they need replacement, cost £30. What’s more, replacing them is a single-spanner operation. The counter knives, in sections for easy replacement, are said to be good for 2,000 hours.
The wraparound safety bar is fitted around the whole of the intake funnel, which means you can stop the machine from any angle, simply by knocking the bar forward. A lever on the side has to be raised to reactivate the feed. That’s a two-handed job. Sounds awkward, perhaps, but it’s safer using both hands and it makes sure you are concentrating on what you are doing.
The machine is strongly built and nicely finished in a bitumen-like paint to help deaden noise. A criticism could be that the chute does not fold, but Vandaele believes folding parts are weak spots and increase wear and tear.
We look at the 7" (178mm) PTO-driven version. Being tractor-mounted means it has the ability to go almost anywhere. We have no trouble travelling down the trackways to site and, once there, the chipper is simply lowered to sit on the ground.
Bunce, supplier of Vandaele equipment in the UK, offers chippers from 5" (127mm) through to 16" (406mm) as tractor-mounted or driven by Lombardini or Hatz engines and with high-speed chassis.
The manual with this machine also deserves a mention. Clearly written with excellent illustrations, it includes comprehensive details of operation, safety and maintenance as well as a parts list and logbook for maintenance and repairs.
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