Newfangled Logging

Everyone has heard about the mountain pine beetle, and the damage it has done to B. C. forests. Mills are closing because of lack of logs.  So loggers are looking around to find wood that has previously been uneconomical to harvest. What about the steep mountainsides that normal logging equipment can’t access?

Enter Hi-Tech Logging

Coastal loggers have been handling this problem for years with huge, high-lead logging equipment that works large areas of the mountainside. But modern technology allows smaller setups that can get into a difficult area, set up and get the job done quickly and efficiently with a small crew.

As with all rough-ground logging, a faller is required to cut the trees down. No machine can work on these slopes. But once the logs are on the ground, technology takes over.

The Equipment

Instead of the huge spar tree of the coastal logging, this system works with two 50-foot metal spars on the booms of 45-tonne excavators. The machine at the top of the face is fitted with a 3/8 inch “straw line,” which is used to haul the 7/8” skyline up the hill. The skyline spar stands at the bottom, and the heavy skyline is pulled tight between them to lift the drag of logs over obstacles as the system hauls it down the mountain. The winches are pre-set to pull the skyline at exactly the right tension.

The key piece of new technology is a radio-controlled carriage with a diesel motor and a winch in it. This car rides the skyline, dropping its ½” skidding line with three chokers on it to the chokerman, who attaches them to the logs. The chokerman then uses his control pad to signal the carriage to raise the front ends of the logs and tow them down the hill. When the carriage gets closer to the operator at the bottom, control automatically switches to that operator’s control pad. Once the front end of the drag is hovering above its proper position on the bottom deck, the operator sends the signals for the chokers to release the trees, and if everything goes well, the logs drop into place. If one of the chokers doesn’t release, he tries again. The art of the job comes in releasing the logs while they’re still dropping.

Once the logs are down to a more accessible position, a processing machine limbs, tops, and cuts them to length, and they start the long ride to the mill.

This system can also be used to haul up the hill, which is of course more difficult.

And Why Am I Interested?

Well, my children, long long ago when I was young, I paid my way through university by working as a logger. My two jobs? Faller and chokerman. And those are only two workers who actually set foot on the hillside in this operation. So I have sympathy. High tech can make it easier, but good old human beings with courage and skill are still required.



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