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Discussion Boards > Active Subjects > Messages as Posted > Size Tractor Needed Forum

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 07-09-2008, 07:43 Post: 155192
justseth



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 What Size Tractor For Harvesting Firewood

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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 07-09-2008, 08:46 Post: 155197
kwschumm



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 What Size Tractor For Harvesting Firewood

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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 07-09-2008, 12:30 Post: 155199
treeman



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 What Size Tractor For Harvesting Firewood

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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 07-09-2008, 13:49 Post: 155200
Murf



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 What Size Tractor For Harvesting Firewood

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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 07-10-2008, 07:06 Post: 155211
justseth



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 What Size Tractor For Harvesting Firewood

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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 07-10-2008, 08:24 Post: 155212
kwschumm



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 What Size Tractor For Harvesting Firewood

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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 07-10-2008, 10:53 Post: 155214
Murf



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 What Size Tractor For Harvesting Firewood

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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 07-10-2008, 12:02 Post: 155215
kthompson



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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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 07-10-2008, 14:55 Post: 155216
DRankin



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 What Size Tractor For Harvesting Firewood

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






Link:   Click Here 

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 07-10-2008, 15:23 Post: 155217
yooperpete



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 What Size Tractor For Harvesting Firewood

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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