Timberwolf TW-PRO HD
By Bill Gove | Reprinted from IS&WM, April/May, 1998. | Edited to reflect current Specifications.
Can a firewood processor help out a busy logging contractor who moves large quantities of sawlogs and pulpwood? Firewood processors have found a place in the woods in recent years, primarily among part-time and full-time firewood producers. But how about a larger timber harvest operation?
Visits to logging operations in the Adirondack Mountains of New York and to the Green Mountains of Vermont showed just how smoothly a firewood processor fits into the mix of getting the most value out of each harvested tree. Each of the operations was using a Timberwolf PRO-HD firewood processor, the largest of the processors made by the Rutland, Vermont Company.
George Welden Logging out of West Chazy, NY is a diversified timber harvest company operating under contract with the Domtar Company on the extensive Domtar ownership in the northeast corner of the Adirondack Mountains. Welden moves large volumes of hardwood to quite a variety of markets. On the job the day I visited were three grapple skidders, two loader/slashers, a whole-tree chipper, and a Bobcat yard machine as well as company trucks and contract truckers. Sawlogs were cut out of the tree stem if the quality was there; otherwise the tree was cut into 8 foot long pulpwood. The trees were skidded out with tops still attached, and the tops were piled for later chipping into industrial fuel wood.
So, where does a firewood processor fit into the picture?
Set off in a location removed from the hustle of a busy log landing, George Welden fires up his Timberwolf processor as the work plan allows. He is able to do what many firewood producers wish they could do: Welden sorts his wood for the best market use, pulling out the large, rough logs as well as those that are quite small and setting them over in a pulp wood pile. For the firewood processor, he sorts out the medium-sized logs that are reasonably straight. It makes for faster production when the processor is running - and for better looking firewood.
Welden said he is pleased with his Timberwolf machine. With only one man on the machine, producing 30 "face cords" of 16-inch firewood takes about 5 1/2 hours. A normal cord of firewood is 4 feet X 4 feet X 8 feet. A face cord is 4 feet high and 8 feet long, but is only the depth of the cut wood, which in Welden's case was 16 inches. It would take about three of those face cords to make a full cord, meaning Welden was getting about 2 cords an hour out of the Timberwolf.
Welden usually doesn't see logs longer than 20 feet, and the 16-foot feed trough for the saw worked well. However, a chain-feed trough system has its inherent difficulties. Sometimes the teeth on a chain-feed fail to catch crooked wood, and don't quite want to dig into frozen wood. George Welden said he did get frustrated with those occasional problems.
The guillotine style clamp used by Timberwolf appeared to be a little slower than other types of cutting clamps when first lowered down onto the log, but it held the wood tightly.
Processor manufacturers use a variety of designs for allowing the wood to drop from the cut-off chainsaw to a position in the splitting trough between the ram and the wedge. One of the design challenges is to have short sticks fall to rest in a position properly lined up before the wedge.
Timberwolf uses a slide tray. The wood slides down a sloping surface as soon as the saw cuts it free.
Welden prefers the slide tray over a straight drop tray, which some manufacturers use. He feels the wood drops into place a little better. Another advantage of a slide tray is that the operator is able to flip the piece of wood end for end as it slides down. Sometimes uneven or slopping ends of a stick may not split well if left facing the wedge, and being able to flip the stick helps.
The Timberwolf TW-PRO HD has a standard 4-way and 6-way removable wedge, with an 8-way wedge available as an option. The wedge is raised and lowered hydraulically, ant the post serves as a stationary 2-way wedge when the movable wedge is raised. The multiple wedges are changed by unscrewing one nut and pulling a couple of pins, which only takes a few minutes. Welden said he seldom changes wedges, using the 4-way wedge almost entirely.
Customized Processor Serves B&J Wood
Over in the steeper terrain of the Green Mountains, the B&J Wood Corporation of Stafford, VT was harvesting a hardwood sale on National Forest land in Granville, VT. With a crew of three people and one skidder, owner Bret Lewis logs out 25 to 30 thousand board feet of sawlogs and 25 cords of pulpwood weekly, plus his cut of 600 to 700 cords of firewood a year. Like George Welden, Lewis also is able to sort out the large, rough logs for pulpwood or sawlogs.
Lewis said he chose a Timberwolf TW-PRO HD because he likes that the manufacturer is close by and offers fast service on needed parts. This same advantage has been voiced by other operators regarding various manufacturers, and, in all fairness, most processor manufacturers I have talked to go the extra mile for their customers, including quick delivery of parts even over long distances.
Bret Lewis had only run his processor for a few months when I visited, but it seemed to fit well into his logging system. during the summer months he takes the machine into the woods and sets aside an area at the job site for part-time firewood production. Since the machine must be taken in over woods roads, he hauls it with one of his larger firewood trucks. Because the hitch is under the truck dump body, Lewis had to have his processor customized by the manufacturer with an extended draw bar and pintle hitch instead of the standard ball hitch.
Another change Timberwolf made for Lewis was lengthening the splitting chamber. Lewis' largest customer (about 150 cords a year) is a commercial greenhouse which uses 2-foot wood for its heating system. The 8 X 8-inch I-beam was extended, as well as the cylinder on the back of the push block.
I was interested in how the splitting chamber would handle the centering of 2-foot wood in front of the splitting wedge, and noticed that Lewis had to frequently reach in to straighten the piece after it had been cut by the saw and dropped down. With a two-man crew operating the processor there was little time lost, but the second man was kept busy straightening wood. There appeared to be a need for a little design improvement on this splitting trough, which I understand the company has made recently. The custom-length trough Lewis ordered looked to make the problem a bit worse. It was a pretty tight fit in the chamber with 2-foot wood. On all the standard machines now, Timberwolf reports they are changing the crop angle into the trough, which they hope further speeds things up.
An operator's seat is standard with this model, but Lewis removed it in order to give himself more mobility.
Lewis said Timberwolf gladly made other changes for him when he ordered his machine. The feed trough chain was strengthened by putting a bridging between each set of teeth to prevent bending. The double gear connector between the hydraulic chainsaw and the saw's motor, used to absorb shock and slack, was strengthened with a chin coupler. Many of these improvements have now become standard on Timberwolf's new machines. Timberwolf is diligent about customer needs and making design improvements.
Lewis' machine has the standard three-strand live deck with 5 feet between rails; which is certainly sufficient, except for one time when he tried to feed some extra-long crooked pieces without cutting them in half with a chainsaw first. Time was lost jockeying them into the feed trough. The log deck on the Timberwolf TW-PRO HD is easily retractable, using a small winch mounted on the frame to raise it to an upright position for moving.
During the winter months Lewis sets the processor up in a roadside location near his home, and brings sorted wood home at the end of a day in the woods. The processor is then operated on weekends as a family operation. Lewis said he gets production of about two cords an hour with two men.
The machine ran very smoothly the day I visited, powered by a standard 80 HP John Deere diesel. An Isuzu diesel is an option.
B&J Wood Corporation uses two wood trucks for delivery, a 2-cord and a 3-cord capacity, and sells only green wood. After Lewis serves his greenhouse customer, the remainder of his 600-700 cords each year are sold to homeowners during the summer months. Winter-cut wood has to go to his premium customer, the greenhouse. If a domestic customer only wants one cord, Lewis charges him an extra delivery charge.
After visiting these two logging operations, it was obvious that there is a slot for a firewood processor in the timber harvesting scheme of a larger operation. But to be successful, it takes careful planning, scheduling and a smooth-running, heavy-duty processor. The Timberwolf TW-PRO HD is just such a heavy-duty processor, and it is well suited to the heavier demand of a busy logging operator.
Timberwolf also makes a smaller model.
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