Sunday, June 21, 2009

collateral damage . . . roads and trails

If only trees had wings and the dead ones could fly.

Unfortunately for the few strips of bush that will become roads and trails, we need a way to get at our dead pine and haul them back to the mill. We will try to do that without doing too much damage but some obstacles will have to be removed. Fortunately we have had a while to plan. The topography has it's own constraints which have a tendency to minimize discussions. We have a couple of levels to our property so attaining elevation without pointing the nose of our machinery too far skyward is pretty important, considering snow is often present for 6 months at a time.

Carefully clearing the right of way minimizes damage to the adjacent forest. The trees we have had to sacrifice for the cause are limbed and bucked and hauled to the mill yard to be utilized. Removing the stumps is the next process and is best done by a machine big enough to do the job. This one is . . .

but it is also heavy and is not suitable for anything but roads. It does an unacceptable amount of damage to the forest floor and so its moves are planned pretty carefully. It is also the largest piece of equipment we have and getting it stuck is not an option. We have plenty of places where this could happen what with springs and muskeg all over our property so we are very cautious.

We had a lot of things to consider when we bought our track loader. We needed a machine that would load our truck to haul gravel and something large enough to build roads. A larger piece of equipment like this is a money pit. Just when you think you have all the bugs out of it, something else happens, and parts are fairly expensive. To our good fortune, our lead hand is a heavy duty mechanic and he pretty much grew up on these machines. More importantly he is always willing to immediately fix whatever crisis appears, a quality that is unbeatable and unbuyable.

We bought a grapple for this machine for some of our larger timber and it required a considerable amount of modification to fulfill our needs. Again our lead hand is proficient with an air arc gouger and has his own welder which he donates to the cause along with his ability to run a fine bead. He also has a home machine shop with a metal lathe to machine the eight bosses he had to gouge off and reposition and cut down and machine larger in order to fit the grapple to our loader. So I'm not complaining about the costs because they could be soooooo much more!

The end result is fairly impressive!

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