Review - Woodchippers

Sally Drury tests the Timberwolf TW 230VTR and Forst 8 woodchippers.

Timberwolf TW 230VTR - image: HW
Timberwolf TW 230VTR - image: HW

Tested This Issue

Timberwolf TW 230VTR
Forst 8

Review Panel

Mike Cullen, head of arboriculture, Bridgwater College
Andre Gardner, manager, Cannington Centre for Land-based Studies, Bridgwater College
Daniel Woodbridge, Jason Buckton, Rhiannon Rhodes, Simon Nothard, David Hyman, Level 3 arboriculture students, Bridgwater College

Timberwolf, a well-known and respected name in the market, continues to develop woodchippers for arborists. At the Arb Fair, held at Westonbirt Arboretum in June, the firm launched its latest model — the TW 230VTR tracked machine. Promising to be bigger, stronger and faster, we booked it for testing.

Entering the market just two years ago, Forst woodchippers, available as 6in and 8in units, are already making inroads into the market. We look at the 8in tracked model and put it through its paces with some serious pieces of hard timber.

Both have Kubota diesel engines — and you can’t go wrong there. "They hardly ever go wrong," Buckton points out. Both have tracks and both chip wood, but that is where the similarities end.

The Timberwolf is 6.25in whereas the Forst is 8in. The Timberwolf has dual-speed tracking but the Forst only single. We find many features we like on each but the testers cannot agree on which they prefer.

Conditions on the day of the test were partly cloudy but dry and warm, with only a light breeze.

If you need to move between chipping points, then it is well worth having a look at this machine. It has two-speed tracking, meaning you can hasten travel across the site and then slow down the speed to manoeuvre into the best possible position. With a deeper chassis beam, this unit has bigger, longer and taller tracks, meaning the ground clearance is increased.

"It has good manoeuvrability up and down slopes and over rough ground," notes Buckton. "The speed is good too."

The tracks are also retractable, letting you get through gateways (with the hopper removed) and then breathing out to give the stability needed to climb slopes and pass over fallen items as well as for enabling chipping operation. We especially like the comfort platform to take away some of the jolts of transport and the integrated jacking system that allows you to clean gravel and muck out of the tracks. Now add in the open-top hopper, the larger chipper throat, wide rollers and heavy-duty rotor for speedy operation, and it should all result in improved productivity.

At the hungry end of the machine — and it does have an appetite — we find the rollers give a 230x160mm opening and are held by four springs to give a crushing power of one tonne per square inch. The gap between the rollers and blades is small to reduce the risk of jamming.

The controls on the side are positive and well protected — you would be unlucky to damage them. Although the roller speed is not adjustable, it is something that Timberwolf is looking at for the future. The no-stress kicked in a lot during our arduous testing of the machine and runs off the alternator. Chips were less even than those produced by the Forst, but it certainly took some big timbers.

Servicing has been designed into this machine from day one. The panels — yes, they are a plastic material — are easy to remove from either side, revealing the engine, filters and belts. The radiator guard also scores highly. It is designed to be sufficiently strong so that it can be cleaned by banging it on the ground.

Access to the blades is by removing two bolts. The 66kg flywheel, 25mm thick and 595mm in diameter, has two chipper blades and four hardened-steel fins to reduce the wood to chip at a fast and productive rate. The blades are 135mm fully hardened, double-sided reversible and it is possible to turn them in the field. Simply insert the rotor lock, undo the bolt, turn and refit.

Interestingly, all the bolts in the Timberwolf are just two sizes — 17mm and 19mm — so you only need to carry two spanners and they are likely to be the same sizes as you need for your chainsaws. "That’s really useful," notes Woodbridge. The anvil is also easy to access and change. There is a central system so that greasing can be completed in seconds with just a gun.

Two features that make the TW 230VTR user-friendly are the 12V supply and the winch. It is an advantage to be able to charge your phone while chipping — a dead battery is the last thing you need when working on site. The winch, although an option at an extra £1,000, can take the strain out of hauling logs to the machine. "It’s a lot of money but it certainly pulls logs up slopes faster than we could," says Cullen.


Max capacity: 160mm
Infeed: 230x160mm
Engine: Kubota V1505 four-cylinder water-cooled diesel
Fuel tank capacity: 36 litres
Machine width: 1.12m tracks in/1.3m tracks out/81.2cm funnel off
Machine length: 2.8m funnel shut, foot plate up
Machine height: 2.22m discharge chute on/1.77m discharge chute off
Ground clearance: 19.5cm
Weight: 1,280kg excluding winch
Tracking speed: 2.6kph positioning/5.2kph transport mode
Warranty: Two years (third year optional)
List price: £22,000 + VAT
Tel: Timberwolf — 01449 765809

Forst 8

If looks count, you will love this machine. It is modern and stylish, a smart piece of kit that could add a touch of class — even prestige — to your business. We totally approve of the one-piece bonnet that opens via two simple catches. "Clips are good — you can’t lose them," notes Buckton. Inside we find direct access to filter and belts.

The fuel tank also gets the thumbs up. We like the way the filler neck is angled to reduce the risk of fuel spills. The clear tank is also a useful feature although, as Nothard points out, many clear tanks go cloudy over time. The radiator is well protected with three layers.

Two bolts get us into the guts of the machine, where we find a large-diameter flywheel with two 10in blades. They are only single-sided, so there is no turning them round in the field, but we like the fact there is only one bolt to remove the anvil.

The open flywheel system, with large gusseted draught fins, means chips are physically thrown, not blown, up and out of the discharge chute. It is a continuous, fast and furious stream of evenly sized chips with little dust.

At the business end we find the infeed hopper is well supported and Forst has put emphasis on crushing power, the top roller climbing in an arc towards the timber and then with Forst Grip pulling the material in. Thanks to the twin high-tension springs either side, together with the sheer weight and gravitational pull, the toughest of forks are smashed. Roller speed can be increased or decreased to alter the size of chip.

The bar around the infeed hopper is for safety only. It keeps things simple, being purely to stop the infeed and not controlling forward or reverse. Instead, forward and reverse are found on the illuminated touch-buttons either side of the machine. These are like train door buttons and work well. A nice safety feature is that when the machine is started the rollers go into reverse and it has to be a conscious decision to press the button for feeding.

Half the team like the buttons but the others are not sure. "I would prefer something that you have to physically press," says Nothard. Hyman agrees: "They could get accidentally knocked."

But we love the computer. Called "AutoIntelligence", it is the brains behind the chipper. But again it has been kept simple and there is not a lot that has to be done by the operator. It displays fuel status and highlights any problems. The preset stress control sittings — upper, mid and lower bands — are also here along with the four-second preheat indicator. It will also tell you when it is due for a service.

There is no excuse for poor maintenance on this machine. There is a bank of grease nipples on the side and Woodbridge is quick to notice the attention to detail here. "It’s good they are all in one place, but look, they also have covers," he observes.

We find the tracking system, although single-speed, is quite fast and makes the machine very manoeuvrable. It has no problem climbing slopes and even tracks over fallen timber without faltering, and for safety the infeed roller drive is cut as soon the drive levers are engaged. The machine we test has fixed tracks, but a variable-width system is available as an option.

Future development work is looking at incorporating an anti-theft mechanism, such as a GPS device that immobilises the machine once it is moved out of a given GPS location. We think that will be a good idea. This machine could well attract a lot of attention.


Max capacity: 200mm
Engine: 45hp Kubota V1505T four-cylinder water-cooled turbo diesel
Fuel tank capacity: 35 litres
Machine width: 1.5m hopper on/1.25m hopper off
Machine length: 2.73m
Machine height: 2.37m discharge chute on
Weight: 1,500kg
Tracking speed: Single speed
Warranty: Three years
List price: £26,000 + VAT
Tel: Redwood Global — 01264 721790

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