Modern logging tech


Local History

In the past I have written several stories about logging in the old days with horses or oxen. Below is what I witnessed last week.

My property on Rt-11 is bordered by about 100 acres owned by Steve Pixley. Steve’s land is in land trust and is managed by forester Steve Kraft.

Kraft’s job as the forester is to mark trees that need to be harvested to maintain a healthy forest. Trees to be cut are marked with a horizontal blue paint stripe. Trees at a property line are marked with a vertical blue stripe.

Fuller Buncher machine. Photo by Ron Patch

Some trees contain premium lumber while others have no value but need to be cut to maintain a healthy forest. It’s like weeding your garden making room for choice trees to grow. Trees with good logs are selected for lumber. Junk trees are cut and chipped. Firewood is processed and nothing goes to waste.

Out of curiosity I went to see this modern logging operation. The operation is being conducted by Crown Point Excavating located on the Springfield-Chester Road.

At the landing I met Mark Kurtz who was a very courteous and helpful young man. Mark runs the Feller Buncher machine. This is an amazingly nimble machine and in the hands of a skilled operator like Mark Kurtz makes a big job seem easy. Mark explained to me how this machine works and then gave me a demonstration.

As I watched, Mark lowered the boom and saw to a pine tree about 18” at the butt. There are four grabbing arms above the 22” diameter circular sawblade that grab the tree. Then Mark engages the saw and in as little as two seconds the tree is cut. This saw makes a high pitch whine as it cuts the tree at up to 15,000 RPM. The grabbers hold the tree while Mark pivots the machine around and drops the whole tree where he wants it.

This was one of the most amazing aspects I witnessed that day. The Feller Buncher can tilt and pivot to almost any position. I couldn’t believe the ease and speed with which this machine worked.

The Feller Buncher can work on a slope with an incline as much as 35 degrees. Another interesting aspect of this machine is the cab the operator sits in. It adjusts to level so regardless of the incline the operator can clearly see what he’s doing instead of looking uphill as he would in a stationary cab.

Cherry picker loading tree into chipper. Photo by Ron Patch

After the trees are felled and dropped in a pile, a skidder with grabbers takes the trees to the chipping machine. Here another operator with a cherry picker picks up the butt of the tree and places it in the chipper. The whole tree passes through the chipper in no time. The chips are blown into a 40’ box trailer. When the trailer is loaded the chips are delivered to several biomass locations.

One plant is in Ryegate, Vermont with a second in Springfield, New Hampshire. The third location is in Berlin, New Hampshire to the paper mill there. Here the chips are burned to generate electricity to run the mill.

As I stood watching this operation I couldn’t help noticing how well choreographed the process was. All operators were in sync with each other reminding me of a well conducted orchestra.

Another thing I noticed was the pleasant and familiar smell of freshly cut trees. As I watched these machines I was reminded of the movie, “Terminator, Rise of the Machines.”

Pine logs were in huge piles as were hardwood logs. While I was there an empty trailer for chips arrived. The tractor trailer couldn’t back up the steep hill so a bucket loader went down and hooked a chain to the trailer. Then the bucket loader pulled the tractor trailer up to the landing. The rear of the trailer was positioned a few feet from the chipper discharge chute. As the trees were chipped the chips were blown into the trailer.

You can go to You-tube and type Fuller Buncher in the search bar to see the identical machine working.

The Chester Historical Society is seeking donations for our July 22 yard sale. We’ll accept anything of value. Maybe you have items in your barn or estate residue. We depend on your generosity. You can call Danny Clemons at 802-463-9324, Bill Lindsay at 802-875-2671, Steve Lavoie at 802-875-4542 or me at the number next to my photo to arrange pickup.

This week’s old saying is from Willie Nelson. “There are more old drunks than there are old doctors.”

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