Keto Heads Are Getting the Job Done in South, NW

- Advertisement -

Logging companies from the Northwest and South comment on Keto heads.

Bark exists for a reason. It protects the wood fiber beneath. So intact bark is a good thing, particularly with loggers and sawmills striving to get the maximum number of boards from every log. In today’s competitive markets, any fiber damage is too much. Consequently, processing heads that respect the integrity of bark, allowing it to shield fiber all the way to the mill, get attention.

Several companies have approved Keto processors for zero fiber damage, according to Hakmet Ltd. in Vaudreuil-Dorion, Quebec, the Canadian company that distributes the Keto processors.

Given the nods that Keto processors have received from companies, it is not surprising that the heads are seeing service in far-flung environs. A Keto 1000 is operating in plantation pine stands in Arkansas, for example, and another is at work among the towering firs and hemlocks of the Oregon mountains.

Start in Arkansas, where Michael Bailey Logging, a 20-year-old company, is trying out a Keto 1000 processor. Hakmet demonstrated the head for Michael for several weeks, and then he leased it.

- Advertisement -

After using the Keto processor for six months, Michael will decide whether to purchase it. He has the processor mounted on a Timbco 445 carriage. When TimberLine talked with Michael, he was just a couple of weeks into the half-year trial. The Hakmet representatives he has come to know “are super nice people,” said Michael.

The majority of the work Michael Bailey Logging does is for Weyerhaeuser. His company has been performing clear-cuts and final harvests. Over the years, his company has used a combination of harvesting approaches, including cut-to-length logging and select cutting of hardwoods.

The Keto processor on trial at Michael Bailey Logging fits in with an array of felling, delimbing and processing equipment. The company uses a Tigercat 720 feller-buncher and a Hydro-Ax 611EX for felling. There are two Prentice 410EX loaders, each equipped with a pull-through delimber — a CTR delimber on one and a CSI delimber on the other. Three skidders, two John-Deeres and a Tree Farmer, get the wood to the landing.

Michael put the Keto 1000 in the line-up because Weyerhaeuser had an interest in it. “It’s a machine the Weyerhaeuser logging engineer wanted to try,” he said. He expects that it will prove efficient. With the Keto processor, “one machine and one operator” take the place of two machines and two people, explained Michael. The head has performed well, he said, and the mill has been satisfied with its delimbing capability. The Keto 1000 processor, which is available with a topping saw, has a maximum feed speed of 16.4 feet per second.

Keto processing heads fit into seven groups. All of them have patented dual track feed, which is a crucial feature for generating a tension that gives a secure grip but does not damage the tree. The Keto 1000TS, or topping saw model, has seven 39.5-inch knives. It weighs 5,700 pounds, and a carrier between 67,000 and 110,000 pounds is recommended.

The Weyerhaeuser plantation pine stand where the Keto processor is being given a trial is 29 years old. Trees range from 18 inches to 30 inches at the stump. Mechanized felling takes care of smaller trees. Above 20 inches, chain saws, usually Husqvarna, are typically used.

Michael gives all his equipment high marks. He particularly singled out the Prentice 410EX loader because of its speed. “The 410EX is a real fast loader,” he said. “It does real good trying to run through limbs.” The Tigercat feller-buncher, just one year old, is a very good machine that “can cut quite a bit of hardwood,” he added.

Michael Bailey Logging is based in Kirby, Ark., which is located in the southwest corner of the state, just 60 miles from both the Texas and Oklahoma borders. The company has 12 employees. Now that it is cutting mostly plantation pine, crews rarely have to travel more than 50 miles from Kirby.

A member of the Arkansas Timber Producers Association, Michael strives to keep ahead of ever-changing regulations. He said Weyerhaeuser sets a great example in that “Weyerhaeuser is always looking into the future, trying to get ready for everything.”

Michael’s father was a logger. “I was just kind of raised in it,” he said. He decided that if he became a logger, he would own his business. He enjoys working for himself and “being out in the woods.” When he takes time away from work, he likes to vacation with his family if possible.

While Michael is evaluating the fit of a Keto processor in southwest Arkansas, another logging company in the Pacific Northwest has found a Keto processor to be an integral part of its operations. Evenson Logging Co. used a Keto processing head for more than five years and was so satisfied with it that the company recently bought a new Keto head when it came time to replace it.

Evenson Logging, based in Clatskanie, Ore., is a family-owned business that has been incorporated for more than 25 years. The Evenson family has a continuous history in logging that spans a century.

Eric and Willard Evenson, who now run the Evenson Logging Co., said their business is primarily clear-cut harvesting with a significant amount of salvage logging. In the big timbers of Oregon, even dead, dying, diseased and wind-toppled trees have a lot to offer mills. Cable logging is the method used on steep terrain. But because of the younger stands and smaller trees in recent times, there is an important place for a Keto 1000 processor.

The Keto 1000 purchased new this year is mounted on a CAT 330B carriage. “It works great,” said Eric, noting that loaders must strive to “move fast enough” to keep up with its production. The Keto 1000’s measuring system is “very accurate” and “right on the button,” he said.

Eric called Gary Olaen, who runs the equipment, “an excellent operator on
it.” TimberLine had an opportunity to talk with Gary.

“I absolutely like [the new] one over the other one,” said Gary. “The new computer system is different, extremely fast. It’s a real production machine, and so far there has been no downtime other than replacing chains and bars.” Care in trouble-shooting saves a lot of hours and effort, and Gary does a complete “walk-around” and visual inspection before using the equipment each day.

Keto’s new computer system requires fewer inputs from the operator, Gary explained, and running the processor is less tiring. There is a psychologically demanding aspect to constantly operating the equipment productively and efficiently. The faster and more efficiently a processor works, the less taxing it is for the operator.

He is processing 17 truckloads of wood each day in an eight-hour shift with the Keto 1000, Gary estimated. The processing head will handle logs up to 25-30 inches in diameter “with ease,” he said. Eric normally likes to use the Keto 1000 with wood that is 25 inches in diameter and under. Employees using chain saws rely on Stihl and Husqvarna.

The company is equipped with two yarders in its cable logging operations, a Berger M2 paired with a Bowman skycar and a Thunderbird TSY-255 swing yarder. There are four shovels, all CAT models: a 330LL, 325B and two 330B machines, one of which carries the Keto processor. Between 22 and 25 people are employed by Evenson Logging at any one time. Logging is done all year, including in rain. Only fire or too much snow stops the crews from working.

For building logging roads, the company has a D4 CAT with a swinging grapple and three D8 CATs. The company also has five Kenworth log trucks and a Peterbilt lowboy.

The Evenson family owns timberland and also contracts to perform logging on private land. Douglas fir, alder, cedar and hemlock are the predominant species that it cuts. The company sells logs to domestic mills and also for export to Japan. Domestic fir goes to the Olympic Mill at Mist, Ore. Other logs go to some well-known companies, including Northwest Hardwoods (alder), Banks Lumber (hemlock), and Coffel Brothers (cedar).

Depending on the stand and the terrain, Eric decides whether to use the Berger, the big yarder tower, or the Thunderbird on cable logging sites. “We run a yarder year-round,” he said.

The Keto 1000 normally works with the shovel machines. Should it ever be needed near the yarders, its dangle head makes it a good fit; it requires less space to operate than a stroke-boom delimber, and that means less chance of tangling with cables or guy wires or interfering with chasers.

Clatskanie is located about 60 miles west-northwest of Portland in the Oregon Coast Range. The town has about 1,800 residents.

When Eric was in high school, he worked for his father’s company as a fire watcher and ‘whistle punk.’ Because radios were not widely used at the time, the whistle punk sent signals to the yarder operator. Back then, the whistle punk had to master a code and send it via wire to the yarder operator. After high school, Eric served with the Army in Vietnam and later graduated from Oregon State University in Corvallis, where he majored in business and minored in forestry.

Logging is “in my genes,” said Eric. His great-grandfather, O.J. Evenson, started logging in Wisconsin after arriving in the U.S. from Norway, where earlier generations of the family worked as loggers.

Eric’s father, Edvard, started a contracting company in Oregon in 1954, the immediate predecessor of Evenson Logging Co. Edvard, partnering with his wife, purchased an HT4 Caterpillar loader and began doing work around a sawmill. “We cleared land and handled over 1 million yards of sand for the Army Engineers,” said Edvard. By the early 1960s, the sawmill closed and Edvard turned to logging.

Edvard’s father and uncles once owned Clatskanie-based Benson Timber Co. Benson Lumber Co. assembled logs in huge ocean-going rafts that were towed to its sawmill in San Diego. The rafts were 1,000 feet long, and some observers saw them as cigar-shaped. From 1903 to 1936, Benson Timber Co. moved logs by rail to the Clatskanie River, and then they were transported by water to mills. Trucks came in beginning in 1936.

Edvard purchased the Berger tower in 1969. At the time he worried about the cost of that investment, but it has more than paid off. The 100-foot tower has had some modifications over the years, and guy wires and winches have been added, too.

Eric belongs to several logging organizations, including Associated Oregon Loggers. When he takes time away from the business, he likes to fish and hunt; he and his wife also enjoy digging clams.

Although Edvard is “technically retired,” he still likes to build logging roads for the company. He works on a Caterpillar D8K equipped with rippers.

At his father’s urging, Eric and Willard became the subject of a documentary film about logging. The Evensons are strong advocates for promoting the importance of timber as a renewable natural resource. “It is a crop,” said Edvard, explaining his perspective on standing timber. Moreover, when trees are harvested, new ones are planted, so the forest is renewed. He was eager for Eric and Willard to participate in the documentary in order to help people understand forestry and logging.

As it happens, Hakmet is a big player in replanting efforts and also sells silviculture equipment. The company makes disk trenchers for scarification and crushers for soil tilling. Hakmet got started by importing to Canada a paperpot seedling system for reforestation. Besides offering the Keto processor, Hakmet has introduced Arbro stroke harvesters and Prosilva harvester carriers.