Vermeer BC160XL

Yes, it is an American name, but the BC160XL has been designed for the European market and it shows.

Vermeer BC160XL - image: HW
Vermeer BC160XL - image: HW

TESTED THIS WEEK

Hardmet Landforce Duo 235
Schliesing 220MX
Vermeer BC160XL
Greenmech Arborist 13-23
Timberwolf TW350TDHB(t)

THE REVIEW PANEL

- Ian Bawcutt, deputy-head gardener, Sir Harold Hillier Gardens
- Tom Dewey, junior arborist, Sir Harold Hillier Gardens
- Matt Noyce, senior arborist, Sir Harold Hillier Gardens

In this review, we put the Hardmet Landforce Duo 235 through its paces to see whether chipping and shredding really can be done by one, industrial-sized machine. We look at the Schliesing 220MX - a machine you may want to look for on the used-machinery market. We also see whether the BC160XL from Vermeer is what the European market expects.

The machines were tested by the arborists and deputy-head gardener at the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens (SHHG) near Romsey in Hampshire. The gardens, established in 1953 by distinguished plantsman Sir Harold Hillier and set in 73ha, hold one of the most important plant collections in the world. There are more than 42,000 plants from around the world, including 12 national plant collections and 300 champion trees. Conditions on the test day were cool but dry and sunny.

From the plant collections at SHHG to the magnificent trees at Westonbirt - we move sites to let the arboretum team test two of the latest models from Greenmech and Timberwolf. The Arborist 13-23 is Greenmech's lightest chipper to date and the TW350TDHB(t) is Timberwolf's biggest. Conditions here were also dry on test day.

VERMEER BC160XL

Yes, it is an American name, but the BC160XL has been designed for the European market and it shows. It is compact, easy to use and, as chippers go, quiet. What is more, at 750kg it is convenient to tow, even when ready for work and complete with 18 litres of fuel. The transport length is just 2.7m.

This is the newest machine from Vermeer and it is a disc-style chipper with 160mm (6in) capacity. The unbraked version has been designed specifically to meet the sub-750kg criteria, so things like the mudguards and wheel chocks are lightweight.

Heavy-duty materials are, however, used where needed. The chassis, for instance, is made of high-tensile steel and though the engine may be smaller than the competitors' 160mm machines, the flywheel is heavier than most. Power comes from a 26hp Lombardini engine, which incidentally is badged as Kohler. It is fully enclosed to reduce noise.

We particularly like the twin-feed rollers. They are aggressive and grip the timber to pull it in. The momentum and weight of the flywheel mean short timbers of three or four inches in diameter are easily and quickly dealt with. The autofeed starts when tackling thicker or longer timbers, pausing momentarily while the engine revs pick up and is then off again.

We are even more pleased to find this compact chipper is mounted on a turntable to increase operator efficiency. There are six set work positions within the 360 degs of rotation. Controls on the BC160XL are also simple. A flashing light indicates when the bottom bar has been triggered and the in-feed requires resetting. In the event of the operator falling against the top bar, the feed rollers are reversed in an instant.

"The Vermeer doesn't trip as much as some chippers I've used and I really like the angle of the hopper because it helps to fold in the branches," says Noyce. "But I have to admit, it does throw you a bit when the machine pauses and thinks about bringing the revs back up. You soon get used to it though and then you can feed it and just leave it to collect the next load."

Dewey likes the top bar but is surprised when he hears the machine's price. He says: "That seems a lot of money, especially for a small firm dealing with pruning and crown reductions."


SPECIFICATIONS

Max capacity: 160mm?
Engine: 26hp Lombardini (Kohler) diesel?
Feed: Two independently-driven rollers?
Turntable: 360 degs with six set positions?
Chassis: 80kmph?Weight: 750kg
List price: Price on application?
Contact: Vermeer UK - 01933 274400


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