Addition of Wood Beaver firewood processor accelerates production at BTM Lawn Care.
ALLENTON, Wisconsin — Having built a conveyor, a wood splitter and more, Troy Modschiedler, decided to build a firewood processor. Why not, really? It could be fun. “I was going to make my own wood processor,” explained Troy. “I made my own plans.”
The design plans were ready to move from drawing board to fabrication shop when a Wood Beaver Model 16 from Wood Beaver Forestry, Inc., in Hartford, Wis. caught and held Troy’s attention. “A friend of mine bought [a Wood Beaver]… and he liked it,” said Troy.
Discussions with the friend caused Troy to rethink building. For Troy, an expert mechanic, who works full-time at KSM Industries, Inc. in Germantown, WI, fabricating a firewood processor was a manageable and interesting project. But was it an economical use of time? He concluded it was not.
Seven months ago, Troy purchased the Wood Beaver Model 16, which now serves as the efficient workhorse of the firewood processing business that he and his wife, Beth Modschiedler, run under the name BTM Lawn Care. Troy and Beth both run the processor. And Troy said that it is so easy to run that one person can handle the entire process.
Beth often splits while Troy is at his full-time job. “The machine is very woman-friendly,” said Troy. That, of course, is just an inclusive way of saying the machine is imminently operator friendly. Safety, durability, reliability and convenience are the four cornerstones on which the Wood Beaver product is built.
Troy explained that he does not tally rate of production by hour. Yet working at a comfortable pace, it takes about two hours to split a cord of wood.
The wood can be split much faster, if desired, and the metrics for the Wood Beaver model 16 demonstrate that one to two cords per hour can be expected. “We just split with a six-way split,” said Troy. The goal is to produce a piece of firewood that is “manageable” whether it heads to a fireplace or a wood stove.
“We buy all our wood,” said Troy. “We buy by semi loads, all eight-foot logs. We buy 14 cords at a time.”
When we talked with Troy in mid-December, the processing for 2011 was at end. “I’m sold out of wood,” he said.
Troy plans to process twice as much wood in 2012, or about 120+ cords. The strategy, he explained, is purchasing logs a year ahead, allowing them to dry on his six acres and then processing.
The Beaver Model 16 accommodates wood as large as a 16+-inch diameter. Troy said he goes to the limit and the machine performs very well.
“It works great,” said Troy of the Wood Beaver. “It cuts the log lengths. It splits real nice. That thing has split logs that I said, ‘That’s not going to take that.’ And it does. It really does a good job. I push it right to the limit on diameter.”
Plenty of the logs that Troy and Beth feed the Wood Beaver are gnarled. But the machine cuts and splits the lengths with ease.
The Wood Beaver embodies the be-there-for-the-customer philosophy of its manufacturer. “Scott [Eifler], he stands behind it,” said Troy.
Scott owns Resource Recovery Systems (WBF), the maker of the Wood Beaver line of firewood processors. Scott will market the Wood Beaver firewood processors under Wood Beaver Forestry, Inc. He is committed to quality products, which he ensures by beginning with the highest-quality parts.
Understanding the importance of reliability to owners of machines, Scott does whatever he can to ensure that disruptions do not occur. Part quality is one component of the equation. Another is taking the stress out of getting needed service.
The Honda engines on Wood Beaver machines are Honda Certified. Because WBF participates in the Honda certification program, the owner of a Wood Beaver processor can take the engine to any Honda service center.
In fact, the Wood Beaver belongs to the MVP Beaver Firewood Processor line. MVP stands for Maximum Value Performance. MVP Beaver processors are made in Wisconsin.
The quality parts and ease-of-service dimensions of the Wood Beaver add to Troy’s satisfaction with the machine. In the next year or so, he expects to upgrade to a larger model.
If he does, it will likely be the MVP Beaver model 18, which is his only truly electric over hydraulic system. The proprietary system was developed by WBF. It is available as a PTO gas or diesel model.
With the unique WBF electric over hydraulic arrangement, the second cylinder of the processor is actuated only when a heavier splitting force is required. The components used in the MVP Beaver line are what Scott means by quality parts. They are top tier products from Parker, Eaton, Bucher, Voac and Aeroquip.
Troy chose a gas engine for the MVP Beaver model 16; he purchased a Honda GX630. He has seen no limitations in terms of matching gas prices to productivity goals. His model 16 includes a live in-feed hydraulic 3/8 saw chain combination. An adjustable wedge and hydraulic stacking conveyor augment its capabilities.
WBF offers an extensive range of products. The roster at WBF includes conveyors, wood gleaners, wood grinders and forestry equipment, as well as the Wood Beaver Twister firewood bundler. Whether a customer rents or buys from WBF, the customer will find that WBF strives to build personal links, so that communication flows and products are used to their best advantage.
BTM Lawn Care ceased doing landscaping about four years ago when the economy soured in Troy’s region. He sold some parts of the business and some equipment. But with the equipment he retained, he may get back into landscaping on a limited basis in the future.
Troy is also looking at changing the way he delivers firewood. “We deliver – by face-, full- and half-cord,” said Troy. “I have a dump truck and a pickup truck. We’re talking about next year, going into smaller stuff — packaging.”
Having had many queries about packaged firewood, Troy said it only makes sense to consider an expansion in that direction. There is a big demand for firewood in all forms. Frequently, when stops at gas stations, where much of the packaged firewood is sold, he gets a shout out asking him when BTM will begin supplying the convenient packs.
BTM Lawn Care is located in Allenton, Wis., a town with a population of approximately 900. It is in Washington County in the southeastern part of the Badger State.
Before Troy started BTM, he served in the U.S. Navy for four years. He was a signalman stationed in California. A native of Wisconsin, Troy was eager to return to the Upper Midwest when his tour of duty concluded.
The Golden State is a beautiful place and a crowded place, explained Troy. He relishes being able to walk out his door and take in a great expanse of open space. Then, there is the star-filled sky at night, a sky that reveals more of its astral bodies to the naked eye because there is less illumination from population centers on the ground.
The transition from landscaping to firewood processing began gradually. “With my landscaping, we used to take trees to make firewood,” said Troy. “We started selling.”
As for experience with wood processing, Troy and Beth had none. “We learned as we went along,” said Troy. “I’ve always enjoyed wood cutting.”
“Before the Wood Beaver, I used a cutting table from auction, a Stihl chain saw, a log conveyor and my own splitter,” said Troy. “It was very time consuming.”
The features of the Wood Beaver model 16 make it a very different experience than the manual cutting and processing. Its cycle time is just 4.5 seconds. It has a clean-out grate and sawdust clean-out chute. Safety is enhanced by protective lockout covers – cutting and splitting. And a log-length CAM measurement system moves to align cuts. It’s a firewood factory!
The hydraulic saw 18-inch harvester bar and 3/8 chain on the Beaver model 16 get positive reviews for service and strength. Troy said that in more than one-half year of operation, the machine has given him no problems and he is very pleased.
With a single axle and at one ton, the Beaver model 16 can be towed. It is equipped with highway lights. Options for the basic machine, which have not already been mentioned, include a two-strand dead deck with adjustable legs and three-point hitch (stationary model).
There’s much to like about running BTM. “I like dealing with customers,” said Troy. And the autonomy is great too, he said.
What does Beth like most about firewood processing? “The work out,” said Troy. It’s definitely a great way to keep fit and be productive simultaneously.
“We’ve been doing this together for some time,” said Troy. Being able to work together is also part of the joy of the enterprise.
In their free time, Troy and Beth take advantage of the recreational opportunities all around them. “We do a lot of camping and fishing,” said Troy. They also just enjoy the place where they live, a small community characterized by palpable vigor and warmth.