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What Size Tractor For Harvesting Firewood

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justseth
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 3 nh
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2008-07-09          155192


I've got about 12 wooded acres behind the house. Live in central NH and am looking to manage the woods for harvesting firewood and as such, am in the market for a compact tractor. The primary use of the tractor will be to skid & stack logs, transport the split wood to the wood shed, stack the brush etc . . .
Some of my thoughts/questions/concerns:
1. What is the minimum hp recommended? I'm willing to make extra trips w/ shorter/smaller logs if necessary.
2. Can this be done w/out having to purchase a logging winch?
3. Does any one tractor brand have better ground clearance/4x4 capability than another?
4. Are there any used brands/models/years that might work for my application?

Your responses will likely initiate more questions. Thanks for the help

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What Size Tractor For Harvesting Firewood

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
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2008-07-09          155197


Much depends on the size of your trees and the terrain. The trees in our overgrown douglas fir stand 4-10" diameter. Our 32hp JD 4310 with a mid-size compact frame does everything we need. It is small enough to maneuver through dense trees but large and powerful enough to do a good amount of work. The land is flat enough that we don't skid or winch - we cut, limb, and buck the trees where they fall and haul from there. A BoDozer grapple is used to handle brush and can pick up and move fallen trees (usually after cutting them into shorter lengths). We chip a lot of the remaining slash with an 85hp tow behind chipper (could burn but don't like the smoke and black mess and the chips make a nice mulch for a walking trail). So I'd recommend something in the 30-35hp range. Ground clearance hasn't been an issue, but we cut the stumps low (4" or so). We did add a skid plate kit from Deere to protect the underside of the machine (especially wiring harnesses that are mounted underneath and could catch on brush and the hydro filter that hangs underneath). R1 AG tires are mandatory here with our clay soil. ....

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What Size Tractor For Harvesting Firewood

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treeman
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 251 Wisconsin
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2008-07-09          155199


I also cut to length at location first. If you skid the logs you will get lots of dirt in the bark that wear out your bar and chains. Are you cutting short 18", or long 3' for outside woodburner? Your terrain makes such a difference too. Growing up on 30 acres of hilly woods with loose black dirt we used old 2x4 tractors and ag tires. We hauled wood out of some tight spaces and you used the brake peddles a lot for control. I'm ready to cut my next oak ASAP. It's 38" dia and the first branch is 35' from the ground, but it died and needs to be taken down. I sure wouldn't try to use my NH TC33d to move the log. I would either split on location or load chunks onto a trailer to move. If your going to try to move big like that, you will want a 50-75hp BIG tractor. ....

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What Size Tractor For Harvesting Firewood

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 7141 Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada
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2008-07-09          155200


The other important factor in this discussion is safety.

Just because a certain size tractor can DO the job, it doesn't mean it will be able to do it SAFELY.

Skidding winches are a sort of hazard all by themselves. If used for the job intended, winching, they're not too bad, but when used as a means of skidding a log they can become very dangerous, very fast!

The 3pth of a tractor is a handy tool, but is designed to take a load in really just one fashion, pulled low and from the two lower arms almost exclusively. The upper link is only really there to allow the lifted load to be held steady while lifting or transporting an implement itself.

A skidding winch usually has the pulling point very high on the device if not right at the top, and the chain hooks also well up from the lower arms, and thus any load is transmitted through the upper link point.

If you pull too hard from the upper link you will damage the hitch, roll the tractor over backwards, or both!

Best of luck. ....

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What Size Tractor For Harvesting Firewood

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justseth
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 3 nh
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster

2008-07-10          155211


Thanks for all the info. To provide a little more info:
- most of what I'll be cutting will be ash, beech and oak mostly in a wide range of diameters from saplings to 24"
- the terrain has some mild to moderate grades w/ some unavoidable wet soil; if i can avoid a logging winch, i will
- i'm planning to cut, limb & buck the logs to about 12', drag them back near the woodshed to be processed into firewood. i'll pile the slash & will probably rent a chipper every so often
....

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What Size Tractor For Harvesting Firewood

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
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2008-07-10          155212


To reduce the amount of labor required (esp lifting, dropping, stacking, lifting, moving) I'm setting up to use a different firewood handling technique. See this link to another thread here. There are some simple ideas there too. ....


Link:   Firewood Handling

 
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What Size Tractor For Harvesting Firewood

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 7141 Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada
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2008-07-10          155214


You best by really careful about how you hitch those logs to the tractor and have PLENTY of front end ballast.

Just as an example, a Red Oak 24" at the butt and 12' long will be more than 1500 pounds.

It wouldn't be hard to get yourself in a heap of trouble really fast with that out the back of a smaller tractor and in rough terrain.

Best of luck. ....

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____________________________________________________________________________________
What Size Tractor For Harvesting Firewood

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kthompson
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 5219 South Carolina
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2008-07-10          155215


Don't miss Ken's advice on the dirt you will pick up dragging those logs and the cost that will be. kt ....

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What Size Tractor For Harvesting Firewood

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DRankin
Join Date: Jan 2000
Posts: 5111 Northern Nevada
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2008-07-10          155216


Hey Murf..... what do you think of this????? ....


Link:   

Click Here


 
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What Size Tractor For Harvesting Firewood

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yooperpete
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1413 Northern Michigan
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2008-07-10          155217


While growing up, Dad and I cleared about 40 acres of woodlands. Most was Elm, Oak and Maple trees. We had many 2-3 ft. diameter and larger trees that took a 45-50 HP 2WD farm tractor to pull out. We generally short chained them to get some lift while pulling to stop the trunk end from digging in. We also did most of that pulling during cold months when frost and/or light snow was on the ground. I remember more about being cold, wet and miserable than really how hard the work was. Dad also built a skid plate that we would roll the log on and chain it down and then pull it on the skid. That worked much easier. Some of the trees were large enough that the tractor had difficulty in getting started for pulling. We would wrap the chain around the log at a 2-3 o'clock position and start slightly off sided. That way when starting out the log would roll slightly getting enertia working for us.

As everyone has said, "BE CAREFUL" it is dangerous work!!

To clean up we used a 2 point sub-soiler to dig up the tree roots around the periphery of the stump before pulling it. That made it go easy and clean. I will post a picture of the heavy duty subsoiler on my pics in the near future (it is going up for sale).

My $.02 would be a minimum of 45HP 4wd with R-1's (large diameter front& rear tires for clearance) with heavy duty FEL and lots of ground clearance. ....

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What Size Tractor For Harvesting Firewood

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 7141 Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada
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2008-07-10          155218


Mark, that, IMHO, would be the better way to do it, basically convert the log into a trailer behind you.

There's a bunch of people out there making similar products, just search for "logging arch" in your favourite flavour of search engine, Google will give you the one linked to below as it's number 1 hit.

The big difference is that when using one of these arches the load is being pulled by the draw bar, the way (if you read the operators manual) it is supposed to be done.

Overloading the tractor when pulling by the draw bar will not tend to roll the tractor over backwards on the operator.

Best of luck.

....


Link:   Nova Jack Logging Arch

 
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What Size Tractor For Harvesting Firewood

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kthompson
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 5219 South Carolina
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster  View my Photos  Pics

2008-07-10          155220


My dad logged using mules many many years ago using such device. It looks a lot like the trailers they use to move Gas tanks with. I was always told to not hook the butt end as pulling the smaller end helped keep it from digging into the dirt. Sure looks like fun. kt ....

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What Size Tractor For Harvesting Firewood

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster  View my Photos  Pics

2008-07-10          155221


I never bothered with an arch because any log longer than 35 feet or so could never be maneuvered through the twisting trails we use. The trails could be straightened but we kind of like the twists and turns because it adds character to the trail as a walking trail. ....

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What Size Tractor For Harvesting Firewood

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 7141 Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster  View my Photos  Pics

2008-07-11          155232


Ken, there's a way around the narrow trail problem.

Use two arches, the first at the tractor, the second a little more than half way back. The rear one holds the log up, but you don't chain the tongue to the log, instead you run cables from each side forward to the first one, crossing them as you go. When you make a sharp turn, the outside of the front arch moves ahead pulling the inside of the rear one ahead thus making the rear end swing wide, like a hook & ladder fire truck with crab steering.

Kenneth, our family still does a lot of draft horse work around here. In fact it's becoming very popular now, the 'green' movement means we are being hired to do work that used to be done by machinery. Still lots more fun to me to drive a horse or team than a machine!

Best of luck. ....

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What Size Tractor For Harvesting Firewood

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kthompson
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 5219 South Carolina
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster  View my Photos  Pics

2008-07-11          155235


Quote:
Originally Posted by Murf | view 155232
Kenneth, our family still does a lot of draft horse work around here. In fact it's becoming very popular now, the 'green' movement means we are being hired to do work that used to be done by machinery. Still lots more fun to me to drive a horse or team than a machine!Best of luck.


Yep, those horses have the ability to leave it much more green as they water and fertlizer along the path they travel. There is a certain satisification from working with animals no machine can match. Murf, do you sing those mule skinner songs to them as they pull or something else?. At the end of the job do you get to give them a kiss or a hug and ride off into the sunset as the old cowboys did? I would not doubt depending on the job site you can do more with them than a machine or at least leave the woods no worst for being there. kt ....

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What Size Tractor For Harvesting Firewood

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 7141 Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster  View my Photos  Pics

2008-07-11          155236


Kenneth, not much of our work is actual logging. The vast majority of it is doing 'line work' in sensitive areas for utility companies.

We have had two crews each consisting of a single horse and handler in the really ritzy lake country just north of here placing and replacing utility poles for several summers in a row now. Everybody wants electricity and telephone service, but nobody wants the pole lines built or maintained. When we go in there are no angry neighbours, instead they bring the kids out to watch.

We even did one job on a large island where the horse swam out to it while the handler paddled alongside in a canoe! Way cheaper and less stressful for the animal than a powered barge ride.

Sing? No, but the 'cowboy' drives the truck horse rides off into the sunset.

Never given one a kiss or a hug either, but I've received more than one kick, and several (usually playful) bites.

Best of luck. ....

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What Size Tractor For Harvesting Firewood

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marcus10
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 16 Huston
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster

2011-07-07          179299


Quote:
Originally Posted by justseth | view 155192
I've got about 12 wooded acres behind the house. Live in central NH and am looking to manage the woods for harvesting firewood and as such, am in the market for a compact tractor. The primary use of the tractor will be to skid & stack logs, transport the split wood to the wood shed, stack the brush etc . . . Some of my thoughts/questions/concerns:1. What is the minimum hp recommended? I'm willing to make extra trips w/ shorter/smaller logs if necessary.2. Can this be done w/out having to purchase a logging winch?3. Does any one tractor brand have better ground clearance/4x4 capability than another?4. Are there any used brands/models/years that might work for my application?Your responses will likely initiate more questions. Thanks for the help

Hi justseth.
Below i'm giving you link to some forestry machinery. I think you'll something proper for you as other forum members adviced.
Good luck.
Mark ....


Link:   forestry machinery

 
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What Size Tractor For Harvesting Firewood

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Cwfarms
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 5 Roe, ar
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster

2013-12-24          188513


If traction was a problem, why not R2 rice and cane tires? ....

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