Timbermax T10 Traction Aid Winch
We met John, from R.J. Fukes Forestry Services at his premises in Llandovery before setting off to see a Timbermax T10 Traction Aid Winch, which was working about 30 minutes away. The weather on our journey down the previous day had been shocking and, according to the forecast, we had a tight window to see the winch working as a very wet and windy afternoon was in store.
As we approached the site entrance, we saw Evan Davies, of MV & JM Davies and Son Ltd, harvesting a strip of Spruce/Larch with his John Deere 1170E along the edge of the road. His banksman was taking care of any passing walkers and traffic.
We could see the whole of the harvested bank as we drove in and I thought some of it was a bit too steep for conventional forwarder extraction as all the timber had to be taken uphill to the stacking area. Even if it could have been extracted downhill, some areas would see the forwarder sliding as the timber was predominately Larch and this does not offer the best brashmat for the band tracks to gain traction. This would involve a long drive around the road to return to the top of the hill as I don’t think the forwarder would be capable of getting back up the timber racks under its own steam.
This extraction method would never be allowed by the forest manager/land owner due to the damage caused to the forest road by the forwarder travelling on it with band tracks all round.
I eventually spotted where the Timbermax was working and I was greatly relieved to see that it was easily accessible from the forest road and that I would be able to claim a full refund on my unused climbing ropes, harnesses, karabiners, etc.
The Timbermax traction assist winches come in three sizes, T10, T14 and T20, with a continuous pull of 10, 12.5 and 20 tonnes respectively. The size of winch required depends on the size of the machine it will be assisting.
The one we were about to see was the Timbermax T10 which was attached to the quick hitch of a Doosan DX 255LC Excavator. Any excavator can be used as a base machine but the requirements are that it should be at least a 20-tonne machine with a minimum oil flow of 190 l/min.
The cable is 16mm in diameter and 500m in length, and it has a pivoting rope guide of +/- 45° off the centre. It has a perfect spooling system which has been designed to extend cable life and reduce operating costs.
An intermediate service is carried out every 500 hours with a full service every 1000 hours. The full service includes new gear oil, a new filter and a replacement winch cable. The service time is calculated on the winch working hours only (pulling and releasing), which are recorded by the Timbermax winch itself.
The site, which was being extracted by Jack Osborne on a Ponsse Elk forwarder with a K70 double extension loader, looked pretty steep.
Jack was in the process of finishing off a drift when we arrived and Evan Davies joined us at the top of the slope. Evan disclosed that Jack was pretty nervous about having us on site; he was just 18 years old and was a bit wary of being the centre of attention.
He had no reason to worry as it is always a pleasure watching a talented young operator who has a real zest for the job. Although the crane wasn’t fitted with a tilting king post and a single extension dipper boom would have given a bit more slew power, I will give Jack his due as he looked like an old pro who was exceptionally smooth and competent working on the steep ground.
After he was unloaded, it was time to move both machines along to extract the next drift of timber, which was a quick and simple task. Jack uncoupled the winch cable from the back of the forwarder and winched in the cable, then Evan got into the Doosan, lifted the main boom so the anchor spikes under the winch were clear of the ground, and tracked forward to the next drift. The tracks were at a 90° angle to the harvested timber racks so the Doosan was pointing in the correct direction for tracking. In less that five minutes, Jack moved the forwarder along, re-attached it to the winch and was ready to start the next drift.
I noticed Jack had pushed a rod into the ground behind the winch and attached a cable from the rod onto the winch. I asked John what it was for and he pointed out that it was a safety measure; the cable was attached to a kill switch on the winch and, if the excavator and winch moved whilst working, it would stop winching immediately and notify the operator in the forwarder of the problem.
My concerns with this type of system were mechanical failure or the tethered winch breaking its anchor point; however, John was quick to explain that there is a safety sequence that has to be carried out for the winch to work. Part of this safety sequence is that on the slope the winch will slacken the tension to ensure the tethered machine can support itself on the hill unaided, thus ensuring the operator’s safety is not reliant on the winch itself.
The mounting points are another vital link in the chain. Some manufacturers have or are in the process of making sure the towing eyes are calculated, tested and rated for purpose. For example, R.J. Fukes Forestry Service is running a programme with Timbermax where they certify that the manufacturer’s machine is Timbermax ready. What this means is that all towing eyes are calculated and tested to a recommended working load, i.e. rated for purpose. The CAN bus control system of the slope machines can link into the Timbermax system to safeguard that the engine and hydraulics are fit for the severity of the slope they are recommended to work on.
The Timbermax system takes control of the Doosan and all the information is relayed to a high quality resolution 12”, user friendly touchscreen monitor in the forwarder (fuel levels, temperatures, diagnostics, troubleshooting, etc). It has a drum camera which is displayed on the monitor for the operator to confirm that the system is operating correctly. Starting and stopping, slope gradient, winch tension and slope test data is all recorded and stored.
The Timbermax was extremely smooth with the cable taut at all times – rather than any snagging, there was just a constant smooth pull or release.
Jack had to go to the bottom of each drift more than once as there were quite a few different sizes of timber being cut and I was surprised by how little disturbance to the ground there was. While the band tracks were good and tight, due to the winch assist there was no need for aggressive grousers. The winch assist prevents any damaging loss of traction and reduces transmission/drive train wear to the slope machine as diff locks are seldom required.
Jack said he felt remarkably confident and secure when attached to the Timbermax on the 29-30° slopes, but he also pointed out that the site had a few short steeper sections where he had been at 35°. The T10 Timbermax has a constant pull of 10 tonnes and the 16mm cable has a breaking strain of 24 tonnes. This model is ideal for slope machines in the 20-30-tonne weight range with two larger versions to assist larger tracked or wheeled machines.
I asked Jack about the fuel consumption of the Doosan/Timbermax combination and he revealed that much of the time the Doosan was ticking over and would only increase in revs when winching. It was using less than a tank of fuel each week and held 410 litres, which I thought was pretty economical considering the size of the machine.
The Timbermax can either be attached to a carrier like the Doosan or mounted directly onto the slope machine. When mounted onto a carrier, it has the versatility to be used with many different machines.
Watching the Timbermax attached to the Ponsse Elk was spectacular, and it was a successful and safe method of extracting timber on steeper conditions. The Timbermax is a robust, powerful and reliable solution designed for working on slopes between 35 – 70% (20 – 35°) at speeds of up to 5.5km/hr.
Mechanised harvesting operations have significantly reduced the number of accidents in forestry and the Timbermax traction winch could help in reducing them further.
Operators must understand the safe working limits of the equipment they are using and R.J. Fukes Forestry Engineers are committed to operator safety. Every unit that is sold comes with comprehensive operator training and support so that the operators fully understand the safe working limits of their
Experiencing all the safety features which are integrated into the Timbermax traction winch assist has reassured me that this is a giant step in the right direction for increasing productivity, improving the safety of operators and reducing wear on the drive train of the slope machine.
Forest Machine Magazine is written and edited by a forest professional with over 40 years hands on experience. We are dedicated to keeping you informed with all the latest news, views and reviews from our industry.
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