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Tractor Forestry Skidding Winches

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candoarms
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 1932 North Dakota
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2014-02-26          189257


Howdy folks,

I received word today that my neighbor is removing three miles of tree rows from along one side of his farm land. I have the opportunity to take as much of it as I want.

Since I heat my home with wood, I'm very interested in taking as much as I possibly can.

Having now seen what I'm up against, I believe a skidding winch would be the best tool for the job. The trees have already been uprooted by a large excavator, and are laying in long rows, piled atop one another.

It's a fairly dangerous place to work with a chainsaw. I don't believe I'd attempt to cut the trees while they're so precariously perched in those heaps. It's difficult to tell which way the logs would move, once cut from the root ball. I believe it would be a whole lot easier to pull the trees from the pile, one at a time, then cut them up when on safe ground.

Anybody out there with any experience with skidding winches? I'd like to hear your opinions on which skidding winches to stay away from and which ones to look for.

Thank you for any help you might be able to provide.

Joel

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
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2014-02-26          189258


I've been warning folks about 3pth skidding winches for years.

The problem is one of pure science, the winch uses a high mounted pulley to lift and drag the log. That puts nearly 100% of the load on the upper mounting point. That point is designed to take very little load relative to the lower 2 points, the arms, or the drawbar.

Be very, very, VERY careful if you go this route.


Best of luck. ....

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candoarms
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 1932 North Dakota
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2014-02-26          189259


Murf,

Thank you for that.

I've been looking at a few skidding winches tonight, all of which have a very low pulling point. There are two pulleys on each skidding winch. One is mounted in line with the two lower link arms. The other is mounted higher.

The information I saw on the videos seems to suggest that most of the pulling force is applied to the lower pulley. The upper pulley forces the winch down on the dozer blade, which forces it to dig into the ground, serving as a brake.

I can see that there would be some torque applied to the upper link due to the dozer blade being buried, with the pivot point being the lower link arms -- but I'm wondering how much force would be applied to the upper link pin on the rear of the transmission housing?

There's no question that this could be a problem. I think if I come across a tree that won't budge from its resting place, I'd just move on to one that will. I sure as heck won't attempt to do anything that will put my tractor in the grave.

Maybe you have a better idea? I don't own an excavator, so my next best guess would be a hydraulic winch mounted on the front of my dump truck. This could be a cheaper solution, but the available cable length will be much, much shorter.

Thanks for the advice, my friend.

Joel ....

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Art White
Join Date: Jan 2000
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2014-02-27          189266



Joel, I'd just have a cable or chain to pull them apart from the pile. Skidding winches are normally used to bunch logs for skidding or in our area tops to make it easier to cut for firewood.

For us in this area the high winching point is often needed for getting over the bank with the cable so you can get the log out of a ravine.
I recommend you consider your tractor weight as the max for any skidding winch that you may buy. The skidding winches in this area when used have had a good resale when people wanted to get rid of them.
To drag or skid logs to far in the dirt is a problem for chain saws! When I was cutting I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I found I could get cull logs cheap if I hauled them and loaded them from the site. From skidding they were full of mud! About three logs and I'd be sharpening the chain! A friend had a 090 stihl, he set the thing to about 3500 rpm which you could do with the throttle linkage and he cut three loads for me without touching the chain! ....

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DennisCTB
Join Date: Nov 1998
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2014-02-27          189270


Hi Joel,

I hope the trees you are talking about are real small ones. I tried clearing some of the trees damaged by Hurricane Sandy and other dead trees this past fall. I felled quite few, it can be a bit scary.

Using an excavator to remove big trees is a very bad way to do the job and makes for danger for the next guy in the chain. I have found that even a 5 inch tree under unusual or unpredictable tension can offer the home owner impalement opportunities !

I wound up bringing in a land clearing crew with a log skidder like the one in the picture. Absolutely amazing how much work that thing can do in one day. And how it takes so so much of the danger out of the equation.

My neighbor was doing his own forest maintenance with his little Kubota until he wound up injured in the hospital. Wood is so damn heavy and a surprise can be very serious. ....

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stonehands
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 8 Michigan
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2014-02-27          189272


I had a fence row surrounding an old hay field that I cleared out. My buddy had a skidding winch and came over to help move trees and logs. After 1 day of several near mishaps, partly due to our inexperience, i told him thanks but no thanks.

I was using my bobcat skidsteer with a heavy duty grapple on the front. I used it to pick the logs and pull them out of the piles to cut and then clean up the brush to burn.

That skidding winch scared me a little. Be careful. When a log moves under that kind of pressure it moves quick and you never know the exact direction it will jump. ....

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Woodie
Join Date: Jun 2004
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2014-02-27          189273


Cando- I can't speak from experinece on that large a project- worst situation was when a major windstorm hit our area and my brother , who heats with wood , was called to get some of his fellow church member out from their residence(house was okay)they could not get down their 1000' drive -trees' were piled and twisted on top of each other. What we found was one person cut and 3 others watching from various vantage points for movement -once cut the part was moved and repeat process. most was cut to moveable piece for one or two people as large equip couldn't get in. Was about a 4 day cutting event.
From what I seen in a "farm tinker's/ inventors" magazine (guys that repurpose stuff). One guy is using one of the older arch trailers that propane companies would use to deliver and set the tank. He modified it some-it's been a while since I came across that article. Seems that would take the weight issue from being direct on tractor 3ph and convert the ball hitch to one for the draw bar. Maybe a some farmer might have a hydrahoe or construction loader backhoe unit that isn't being used. - Wish you the best. ....

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candoarms
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 1932 North Dakota
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2014-02-27          189278


I should probably post a picture of the tree rows I'm working on.

I have 160 clear acres on each side of the tree rows. There's plenty of room to work once the crops have been harvested in late summer. I won't need to drag the trees very far.....in fact I'll only need to move them about 30 feet in order to get them down off the pile an onto level, clear ground.

I'll run out there and take some pictures......though I won't be able to get very close due to the heavy snow that won't begin melting for at least another month.

Having a picture of the situation might help develop a good plan of attack from the group.

Joel ....

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kthompson
Join Date: Oct 2005
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2014-02-27          189279


Do you know a small logging crew they would go in and cut and load and haul the logs for you?

Woodie, what you describe sounds a lot like an old logging cart used here with animal crew to lift the front end of the log for ease of pulling.

How about a rough terrain front end loader to lift off of the pile or front end loaded with grapple on it? ....

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candoarms
Join Date: Mar 2007
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2014-02-27          189280


KThompson,

I have no crew available. In fact, there aren't many people where I live. The entire county.....40 miles long, 30 miles wide....has less than 2000 people. There's a whole lot of room to do whatever I want....but not much in the way of help.

A tractor won't work. The tree piles are pretty wide and fairly tall, making the reach too long for a loader. The trees were stacked by an excavator with about a 30' reach, so as to allow for maximum tillable acreage available to the farmer after being piled.

I considered using an electric, truck mounted winch. That's not going to work. Electric winches draw hundreds of amps and get very hot in short order. If I use a truck mounted winch, it will likely be a hydraulic model.

Truck winches are SLOW. Skidding winches are much faster. I don't believe I'd ever need the pulling power I'd have available to me from the truck mounted winch. I just need to pull the top tree off the pile, down onto the ground where I can predict the outcome a whole lot better.

I'm on my way out there now to take a few pictures. Back shortly.

Joel ....

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candoarms
Join Date: Mar 2007
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2014-02-27          189281


Nearly 90% of the available wood cannot be seen in these pictures, due to the snow drifts, which are nearly 15 feet deep. I had a tough time climbing around, as I fell in up to my arm pits a couple of times.

Anyway, here's the best I could do for photos this time of year.

Joel ....

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candoarms
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2014-02-27          189282


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candoarms
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2014-02-27          189283


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candoarms
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2014-02-27          189284


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candoarms
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2014-02-27          189285


This photo was taken from about 1/4 mile east of the first row of trees. I used the zoom, but the glare from the sun made it very difficult to see. ....

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DennisCTB
Join Date: Nov 1998
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2014-02-27          189291


Quote:
Originally Posted by candoarms | view 189281
Nearly 90% of the available wood cannot be seen in these pictures, due to the snow drifts, which are nearly 15 feet deep.I had a tough time climbing around, as I fell in up to my arm pits a couple of times.Anyway, here's the best I could do for photos this time of year.Joel


Looks like you are going to be waiting on the snow for quite some time....plenty of time to ponder your options.

....

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candoarms
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2014-02-27          189292


Dennis,

I have about 30 days per year to gather all the firewood I need to last through 7 months of winter. Planning ahead is very important. I can't be thinking about this project when it's time to bring the firewood home.

And yes....I have plenty of time. The snow will begin to melt around the first week in April, then we'll have nothing but mud until about the end of May, which is when the crops will be going in. When the crops come off, in late August, I'll be able to go out and tackle this project.....so about 5 months from now.

Joel ....

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kthompson
Join Date: Oct 2005
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2014-02-28          189296


Joel, if you told I missed it but are these full trees with stumps and tops or have stumps or tops been cut off giving you logs? If full trees are piled together you have a challenge I think.

I have no idea at all on what I am asking for here 6 inches of snow is deep and the only 24 inch snow here is still shown on the History Channel. We find often our worst winters follow our worst hurricanes.

But is working on the piles while covered with snow any kind of option or more dangerous? Reason asking realize the danger of falling is till there but you might could lay plywood on the snow to have stable platform and the snow I would think and frozen trees together should be less likely to move.

Understand the need for the wood but do be careful. Logging in the best is dangerous.



As to population our county is about same size, population is over 100 times yours and we are considered rural by the US Census department. Probably the largest agriculture county in our state. Also the largest tourist county in our state. ....

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candoarms
Join Date: Mar 2007
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2014-02-28          189298


KThompson,

Of the 2000+ people who live in our county, about 15% are what we call "Snow Birds".

They go south for the winter....coming home only to plant their crops and tend to their gardens for the summer. Once harvest is done, they head back to Yuma, Phoenix, and other points near the Mexican border.

We usually see our first snowflakes around Oct. 3 of each year. It doesn't melt. It's not warm enough to begin melting until around the first week of April. Last year we didn't get any melting days until May 11.

I heard yesterday that it is no longer possible to go ice fishing in our area without first putting an extension on the ice auger. My auger is 4 feet long, but the ice is now nearly 5 feet thick on our local lake.

Generally speaking, it's too cold for snow most of the winter. We get our heaviest snowfalls between now and the end of April. So far this year, we've received 47 inches of snow. We can expect another 30 inches or so before the temps warm enough to let it begin melting.

My nearest neighbor is 1/4 mile east of me. My next neighbor to the east is 11 miles away. North of me there's a neighbor about 5 miles away. To the west of us is the little town of Cando, which is the biggest city in our county, with a population of about 900 folks. About half of the county's population lives in Cando, which is 1 mile square.

As for these tree rows, I think I'd like a skidding winch mounted on the tractor, to be used for nothing more than holding/securing the trees in place while they're being cut. Once the branches have been removed and the root balls cut off, the logs could be pulled to the edge of the pile for recovery.

There's no question that this is going to be a lot of work. But, as you can probably see from the pictures, firewood is a precious commodity where I live. It's worth working for.....so long as I can do it safely.

Working in the snow is impossible. I have no access to the work site, but by sled, or on foot.

Joel ....

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Woodie
Join Date: Jun 2004
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2014-02-28          189318


Cando-I know 20/20 hindsight, too bad the farmer didn't call you ahead of time that way you could have cut the logs and they could have piling logs here , tops and rootballs there. Thats what one new farmer did here he bought close to 180acre parcel that had corn fields and fence rows from an old defunct forestry/nursery. He had logger crew come in cut the the main logs and hual them out and then are using a hydrhoe/excavator for the rootballs and tops. They've been doing that all winter here and we have had over 2 ft of snow on the ground in spots. How long from the first snow flake till the 'farm lanes' get impassable for you to access those rows? ....

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candoarms
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2014-02-28          189323


Woodie,

It's a rather ironic situation. These tree rows were planted in the early 1950s as a form of land erosion control and water conservation. Since that time, farming methods have undergone drastic changes. Farmers now employ "NO Till" farming methods, which saves ground moisture and prevents wind erosion.

These large tree rows once served to harness the winter snow, by causing huge drifts to form behind them. The added moisture in the spring was a good thing. However, with the new No Till farming methods, the tree rows now harness excess moisture, making farming nearly impossible. Farmers can't plant their crops in the muddy fields caused by late-melt snow. (Ground covered with straw doesn't dry out)

So the tree rows are disappearing quickly. Unfortunately, farmers don't want to allow time for someone like me to chip away at the tree rows. They want them gone....ASAP. The freshly removed trees won't burn right away. They have to sit a year or two before the farmer can burn them. This gives me time to harvest what I can before they get burned.

The best time to access these trees is right after the crops are harvested and with the crop stubble still standing. We then have about a month to work before the winter winds begin blowing, making a long day in the field horribly miserable for a guy. Once the snow comes, it's too late. Daylight hours are very short, and the temps are far too cold to allow for much, if any progress.

Joel ....

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Woodie
Join Date: Jun 2004
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2014-02-28          189327


Joel-Guess thats how it is here as well on the 'no-till' as I'm seeing fence row after fence row being ripped out.. i thought it was in combination with bigger machines -wider combines etc- easier turns etc fuel savings. But also they a drilling irrigartion wells left and right for pivots. makes me wonder about the water table and well depths.sorry for track.. I 've driven thru South Dakota twice once during the summer 1978 and second time during Spring break 2001..some aweome sights and but some areas it seems like only flat ground and sky...proably not close for comparsison to ND? ;-) Hope you have some wind breaks for you place as that what i seen at quite a few farms and at the edge of a small town. Just can't imagine having wind blow all the time-guess you find all the 'leaks' in weatherstripping and insulation. ....

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candoarms
Join Date: Mar 2007
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2014-03-02          189378


Woodie,

There's an old saying around here that dates back to the days of the wagon trains.

"It's so flat around here that we can see company coming from three days off."

That old saying no longer applies, due to the fact that we now drive cars, so we had to change it to "two days off". LOL

It's flat as a pancake around here, which makes for a horrible spring melt. All of this snow melt begins running......but there isn't much in the way of any "Downhill" around here. It's like spilling a cup of water on your kitchen table. Our little rivers turn into bodies of water that stretch 6-8 miles wide, but only 2 feet deep.

We have another old saying around here that still applies....."Don't shoot toward the trees! People live there!".

Joel ....

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kthompson
Join Date: Oct 2005
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2014-03-03          189397


If this is covered please forgive me but a question here: what is the advantage of the winch over just pulling the trees? Would it be not needing as much room for the tractor to be able to travel to pull the tree? ....

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candoarms
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2014-03-03          189400


Kthompson,

It's very difficult to tell from the pictures I posted earlier in this topic, but it's going to be a real chore (and fairly dangerous) to enter and exit log pile repeatedly.

Using a remote controlled skidding winch will allow me to......

1. Carefully make my way into the trees while carrying my saw, gas, oil, and toolbox. Create a small landing area for saw servicing.

2. Attach the choker cable around a downed tree.

3. Tighten the cable on the skidding winch, using the remote control, to secure the tree in place, or to prevent it from rolling down on me as I make the necessary cuts.

4. Cut the tops and root ball from the tree stem.

5. Stand clear of the area, then slowly loosen the tension on the winch, using the remote control.

6. Repeat on the next tree, until a safe extraction path has been created.

I could opt for the less expensive manually operated skidding winch, but that will require a second person to run the winch......which I believe would be a good thing, as it's not a very safe work site, and a second person might be required for safety purposes.

No amount of firewood is worth somebody's life.

Joel ....

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Woodie
Join Date: Jun 2004
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2014-03-03          189401


Joel- I agree ANYTIME your cutting with chainsaw have a second person. (might be worth a few 'steak dinners'-provided they are experinced with cutting wood) Especially in your upcoming project. Anytime my brother is felling trees i'm out there as his guide and observor/safety man. I would definitely watch cutting those root balls loose they can tip a dozen directions. Some one mentioned getting dull chains especially with the way those trees have been piled -mightbe expensive have you thought of carbide tooth chain. ....

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candoarms
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2014-03-03          189402


Woodie,

In this case, where the trees are down and about to be burned, salvaging as much firewood in the shortest time possible is my goal. I won't be tackling any trees that will cost me more time than they're worth.

Some of these trees have root balls that are suspended well above the ground, as they're laying atop other trees. I'll avoid all such situations. If those trees happen to fall to the ground after removing some others, I'll certainly go back for them, but it's not necessary. There's more firewood available than one man could possibly harvest in an entire year, let alone a month or two.

The goal here is to fill my firewood bins for the upcoming winter (Did I just say "WINTER"?), and then harvest as much as possible for the next year, as a bonus.

Standard saw chain will work just fine. These trees haven't been dragged through the dirt. They were tipped over on top of one another, creating a tangled mess, but the bark is clean.

Eye and face protection is a must. Dead branches are hard, stiff as nails, and they bite. If not for the fact that our summers are so short, I'd rather harvest living trees, but that would require two full years of curing before they could be burned.

Joel ....

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kthompson
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2014-03-06          189451


Joel on the winch the remote control makes sense how that would be advantage over pulling with tractor.

What you need is a Huck Finn or was it Tom Swayer who had the white wash painting contest style contest on cutting firewood. You would pay the team that could cut the most wood in a day say $500 with each team required to pay a $50 entrance fee and also have a BBQ cook off with same set up. Just require say 10 teams each to enter and you will look smart! Why you might could have US teams verse Canadian teams making it an International Contest and get ESPN and Food Channel there to broadcast. Would be better than many tv shows now.
....

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DennisCTB
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2014-07-05          190636


Hi Joel,

Wondering now that the snow has surely melted where you are... just how is this logging project going ?

Dennis ....

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candoarms
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2014-07-07          190651


Dennis,

Yes, our snow has melted, but the rain doesn't seem to stop. We've visited the tree pile twice over the past two weeks. The mud is at least ankle deep around what remains of those trees. It appears as though it may be August before we'll be able to get in there without getting stuck.

I'll keep you posted.

Joel ....

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Tractor Forestry Skidding Winches

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DennisCTB
Join Date: Nov 1998
Posts: 2644 NorthWest NJ
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster  View my Photos  Pics

2014-12-02          191559


Hi Joel,

Any luck with your firewood project? Must be getting cold in ND now!

Dennis ....

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