Landfill costs and limitations on burning are driving the development of new machines that deliver more benefits and cost savings, says Sally Drury.

Timberwolf TW 230VTR: tracked machine offers low vibration, open-top infeed, high ground clearance and expandable tracks - image: HW
Timberwolf TW 230VTR: tracked machine offers low vibration, open-top infeed, high ground clearance and expandable tracks - image: HW

The UK woodchipper market continues to grow and expand, driven largely by rising landfill costs and the limiting of burning as outlined by legislation such as the Environmental Protection Act and the Clean Air Act. But using a woodchipper also has benefits in terms of reducing the volume of wood, brash and bushy material, so saving on transport costs. Many machines are capable of 6:1 reductions, meaning six times fewer loads of waste material.

While the woodchipper is clearly an essential tool for arborists, more users are welcoming the benefits of these cost-saving machines. Estate and grounds mangers, caravan parks, prisons, zoos and conservation bodies are among those who now regularly hire or buy a woodchipper. Such demand continues to drive development.

Manufacturing landmark

Last September, Suffolk-based chipper manufacturer Timberwolf produced its 10,000th machine. Fittingly, it was a TW 18/100G, which has been in production for more than 24 years and evolved from the Entec Trukloder released in 1991. In the same month the firm broke records by producing 100 machines — a dramatic increase on 1995 when just 85 units were built during the entire year.

Timberwolf’s newest machine is the TW 230VTR, released at the Arb Fair held at Westonbirt Arboretum in June 2015, and it is attracting a lot of attention. The 6.25in tracked chipper follows on from the successful launch of the TW 230DHB road tow model in September 2014.

With the same chipping performance and ease of service as the road tow version, the tracked machine offers low levels of vibration, open-top infeed design, high ground clearance of 195mm, expandable tracks, two-speed travel and a ride-on platform that can be stowed if walking is preferred. Total machine weight, fuelled up and ready to go, is 1,280kg.

Power comes from a Kubota V1505 four-cylinder water-cooled diesel engine. At the infeed end,
the twin hydraulic rollers give a 230x160mm opening and are held by four springs to give a crushing power of one tonne per square inch. Close behind the rollers, so reducing the risk of jamming, the double-sided, fully hardened 135x100mm blades are mounted onto a 66kg flywheel, 25mm in thickness and 595mm in diameter.

Other key features on this chipper include a large chip chamber, central greasing point, integrated jacking system, removable feed funnel, 36-litre fuel tank, twin feed-control positions, 12V socket for ancillaries and a winch bracket option. Throughput is recorded at more than five tonnes an hour.

The latest machine from Warwickshire-based GreenMech, the QuadChip 160 MK2, also made an appearance at the Arb Fair in June. Now fitted with a turbocharged 34hp Kubota engine, it is attracting a lot of interest, not least because it fits the sub-750kg towing class so can be towed by most drivers. What makes it different from other sub-750s is the fact that it is on a turntable. This gives the convenience of easy positioning without uncoupling the chipper from the towing vehicle.

Other features that set this machine apart from the competition include the folding chute and the way the exhaust exits through the chip chamber. Infeed is via a 6x9in letterbox, enabling brash to be accepted, and the chipping mechanism employs GreenMech’s disc blades, which are reported to last up to three times longer than normal flat blades. As with the
TW 230VTR throughput is reported at around five tonnes per hour.

Another high-performance machine to enter the UK market is the 1712 from Carlton, a company that may be better known for its range of stump grinders. The 1712 has a 300x440mm throat and 700x 1,200mm infeed hopper opening. A main feature is a precision high-speed balanced cutting disc with a diameter of 950mm and carrying four knives. To meet all relevant EU legislation, the American base model has had a number of adaptations, including the fitment of a 74hp engine to ensure compliance with emissions regulations.

The 1712 is available exclusively from Orange Plant and is currently among the hire fleet based at OP’s Peterborough depot, but it can easily be relocated through the firm’s nationwide depot network.

Feeding a biomass boiler

One person who has already hired the machine is smallholder John Compton. He purchased a biomass boiler with the aim of making his smallholding as self-sufficient as possible. But then he found the price of woodchip doubled so he sought a more viable source. Having tried various small chippers, Compton booked a demo of the 1712.

"During the demo I was able to put 3.5 tonnes of wood through in just 45 minutes. With the smaller chippers I was only getting through six-to-seven tonnes in a whole day," he says. "It’s a phenomenal piece of machinery. It’s got such power behind it and produces a consistent chip that’s perfect for the boiler. Using the 1712 has significantly contributed towards an approximate 60 per cent reduction in my expenses for woodchip."

Orange Plant is the European partner for the US-built Carlton range and offers hire, sales, service and parts supply for Carlton stump grinders, Carlton and GreenMech woodchippers and also the Hakki Pilke range of firewood processors.

Jensen dealer network

After 15 years of collaboration with a sole dealer, respected brand Jensen became available through a new dealer network last year. Jensen has a long history dating back to 1884, when Peter Jensen invented and built the world’s first woodchipper for local authorities to maintain public areas.

Today the range of road tow models, including some with turntables, offers infeed apertures of 140, 190, 200, 220 and 300mm. Tracked chippers are also available, including the 540 Spider, as well as a selection of power take-off models.

Four dealers now import Jensen woodchippers and spare parts. Beaver Plant, owned and run by Alan Oldfield, is based in Stamford Bridge, York, and has a well equipped hire fleet as well as models for sale. Dennis Barnfield, a family-run business in the Lake District established in 1964, is contracted to deliver Jenson machines for construction to the Environment Agency but is well known for supplying spare and used parts as well as new machines.

In Wales, Jensen is represented by J Davies & Son in Pencader. Also a family-run business, founded and running since 1946, it is now managed by Gary Davies. Finally, young company Arbrep in Alton, Hampshire, specialises in the repair and maintenance of chippers and stump grinders as well as offering a hire fleet for delivery across the UK.

There is also a new distributor for TS Industrie. The manufacturer of mobile woodchippers and shredders has appointed PSD Groundscare as exclusive UK distributor for TS Industrie parts. PSD boasts a large stockholding and offers next-day delivery on in-stock items ordered before 3pm.

Arboricultural service: towed or tracked unit?

When Wolverhampton City Council looked to purchase two new chippers for its arboricultural services, it was decided that a tracked model on a turntable was just what was needed.

Three brands were tested but the GreenMech QuadTrak 160 (pictured below) was chosen — the only one that came with a bespoke trailer — and two units were purchased.

Richard Johnson, arboricultural officer for highways and leisure at the city council, was in charge of the team that settled on the machine. "We didn’t want something just tracked, that could only be used on the leisure land, but something that could be used universally," he explains.

"One of our subcontractors, Acorn Tree Services, uses GreenMech chippers so we were familiar with the brand. The benefit of the model is that it acts like a standard chipper when it’s on the trailer, but once off and on the tracks it can be used anywhere.

"Having the option of road tow and tracked just makes the QuadTrak more versatile. In woodland areas or spaces with restricted access, tracked is best because it can chip straight into the woodland rather than into a HGV wagon, which could get stuck in wooded areas."

Winter running

Timberwolf offers the following tips for keeping chippers working throughout winter:

  • Be sure to check engine coolant mixture. Mixtures that are too weak could see the engine damaged in freezing conditions.
  • Timberwolf chippers are fitted with maintenance-free batteries but it is always a good idea to clean corrosion from terminals and apply Vaseline to slow down further build-up. Older machines may have lead acid batteries and these will need additional checking to ensure that the electrolyte is covering the battery plates.
  • Make sure that all lamps are working and clean them regularly. Spray the plug and trailer socket with WD40 to help keep water away from the connections.
  • Check tyres’ pressure and inspect them thoroughly, ensuring that they have a good tread depth and that the tread is wearing evenly with no damage to the sidewalls.

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