Log Max Good Fit for Louisiana Logger: Cut-to-Length Harvester is Used at the Landing for Delimbing, Bucking

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Haynesville, Louisiana — Gary Taylor realized the benefits of cut-to-length logging equipment a number of years ago. He used a cut-to-length harvester mounted on an excavator for delimbing and bucking at the landing.

He decided to upgrade his equipment a little over two years ago and changed to a Log Max 10000 harvester that he is using in the same way.

Gary, 58, grew up in the logging business. He worked summers for his father, a logging contractor. He attended college briefly before returning to work with his father, Billy, who has been deceased two years.

Gary’s business, Taylor Timber Contractors, is based in Haynesville in northern Louisiana, only about five miles from the Arkansas state line, and about a 60-plus-miles drive northeast of Shreveport.

Taylor Timber Contractors has a 50×80 two-bay shop and two offices. The company is equipped with a pair of John Deere feller-bunchers, an 843J and an 840, for cutting timber. Two grapple skidders, a John Deere 748 G3 and a Tigercat 630B, skid the trees to a landing, where the Log Max 10000, attached to a Daewoo 300LL, is used for processing the stems – delimbing and bucking. The company also has a Prentice 2384 loader with a pull-through delimber as a back-up and also a Cat bulldozer. “And a huge bone yard,” added Gary with a laugh.

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Gary currently has five employees and is running one cutter and skidder with the Log Max and is producing about 70 loads per week in mixed timber stands. He has two log trucks and uses a logging contractor, Danny Pesnell Trucking, which runs five 18-wheelers.

Current hauling distance is about 120 miles. “And diesel is killing me,” said Gary. Diesel fuel is running about $4 a gallon, he said.

The company harvests pulp and saw timber, hardwood and softwood. “Everything,” said Gary, who contracts mainly for final timber harvest services.

Gary is a third-generation logger. His father worked with Gary’s grandfather, Jack Taylor, whose business was known as Taylor Timber Contractors. Gary and an uncle, Gerald Martin, purchased the business in 1976 and ran it together until Gerald retired and passed his interest to his son, Tim, in 2005. Tim died from an aneurysm in his early 40s in 2010.

Gary contracts mainly for Timberland Services in Taylor, Louisiana. The company buys timber and manages forest lands. He currently hauls to the Martco sawmill in Chopin. Hardwood pulpwood is taken to an International Paper plant in Atlanta, Tex.

Gary began working for Timberland Services in January. He previously contracted for Weyerhaeuser, which has sawmills, plywood mills, and oriented strand board plants in the region, and for its predecessor plants. His business has mainly contracted for other timber or industrial forestry companies; Gary has rarely bought standing timber to harvest and sell the wood products.

Gary invested in a Log Max 10000 a little over two years ago. He bought it to replace a Keto processor, which he turned to after owning four Denharco stroke boom delimbers.

“We use it for processing at roadside,” explained Gary.

“I did some online research,” said Gary, and compared equipment. He also went to logging shows to see equipment, including the 2011 In-Woods Expo in Hot Springs, Ark., sponsored by the Forest Resources Association and the Arkansas Timber Producers Association.

His mind was quickly made up to partner with Log Max, said Gary. “I just liked the way the Log Max was structured, the simplicity. I work on them myself, so I knew the way that it was built would save me a lot of time in repair.”

Pins and bushings are readily accessible in order to service the delimbing knives, noted Gary. “You don’t have to take the whole head apart to get to the pins. That probably was the main thing.” Changing knives or replacing would be simple and fast, he learned.

“Everything is well protected yet easy to access all the valving,” added Gary.

He traveled to southern Louisiana to witness another, smaller Log Max in operation.

“I’ve been well pleased with it,” said Gary. “Down time has been very minimum…Our relationship with Log Max has been excellent.” He can get parts the next day, and Log Max personnel have provided strong support, he said.

“My operator, Scott Mullins, is a real, real, picky, hard-to-please operator,” said Gary. “When Scott first saw the Log Max, he thought it was just another dangle head. But after about a week, he signed off on it. He said it was a really good machine.”

His brother had owned an equipment dealership and still had contacts with manufacturers, and Gary conferred with him to eventually get in touch with Log Max.

The Log Max 10000 is a productive harvesting head for felling and processing at the stump or working at a landing. Developed specifically for tracked carriers, it can handle trees more than 35 inches in diameter and is one of the company’s two most powerful models. Features include five movable knives with patented positioning to minimize friction losses, which increases the active pulling force, and a hydraulically driven chain saw with pressure controlled feed force.

The new generation floating top knife with active friction control automatically controls and adjusts the amount of friction between the log and the frame. Low friction normally is desirable because it reduces fuel consumption and heat and improves timber quality. Based on settings, the Log Max works optimally, depending on tree species and diameter.

The Log Mate 500 Windows-based computer control system monitors and optimizes machine performance, has a powerful reporting capability, and supplies accurate measuring. Log Max harvesters also can be installed on a machine running another control system; easy to implement interfaces are available for all major manufacturers.

Gary is one of about a half-dozen loggers in Louisiana who have turned to Log Max in recent years, according to Tom Hirt, the company’s regional sales manager for the Southeast. In addition, more loggers have purchased used Log Max equipment through the secondary market.

A Log Max can save loggers because of reduced fuel consumption and wear and tear on equipment plus the ability to measure wood more efficiently, said Tom. Gary “sees that as a real plus,” he said.

Cut-to-length equipment is gaining acceptance in the Southeast, said Tom. It depends on the application and the timber, he noted.

The difference between the cost of a processor compared to a knuckleboom loader operating with a pull-through delimber and a ground saw is narrowing, Tom observed. “Those costs…are getting closer and closer.”

“We are having more frequent conversations with loggers in the South,” said Tom, to explain how a slightly used excavator or track loader paired with a processing head “ can provide added value and revenue to their operations” than the traditional combination of a loader working with a pull-through delimber. The benefits really show up with those loggers who buy their own timber. The precise measuring of the Log Max head combined with the ‘brains’ in the computer system guarantee that the maximum value is extracted from every tree processed!”

The equipment is also easier on the operator because there is no stopping and jerking associated with a knuckleboom loader as it works with a pull-through delimber.

Log Max markets its equipment through equipment dealers in the region and coordinates with them to match its equipment with carriers, noted Tom. Log Max parts are readily available from participating dealers.

(Loggers interested in contacting Tom may reach him via cell phone at (214) 914-0132 or email tom@fskequipment.com.)

Log Max is a Swedish company that has been designing and manufacturing machines for mechanized forestry operations since 1980. The company’s main product line is single-grip harvesters; it offers a wide range of harvesters for various types of timber and applications. A variety of machines can be used as carriers, ranging from large agricultural tractors, excavators and loaders to purpose-built forestry tractors.

The company’s North American subsidiary is located in Vancouver, Washington. Log Max employees coordinate market activities, the central spare parts depot, and handle sales throughout the U.S.

Log Max manufactures close to 400 harvesters annually. Their primary export markets are North America, South America, and Russia. The company’s harvesters are at work in more than 30 countries.

(For more information about Log Max and its product line, visit the company’s website at www.logmax.com.)

Gary is increasingly working in small, plantation-type timber. He decided to move to a processing attachment because it reduces handling, he said. “When you hit the saw button on the Log Max,” he explained, and the bucking saw cuts off a length, “it’s in the stack…You don’t have to pick it up again. You’re still holding the top in the machine. You don’t have to reach around and pick it back up and start over.”

Although Gary’s primary role is getting the crew set up for the next job, he can fill any spot. He can do mechanical work on the equipment, operate the machines, and build roads. “Whatever needs to be done,” he said. He recently hired a new employee who will split his time between servicing equipment and operating a skidder.

He disposes of slash according to the directions of a landowner. Typically it is piled together and later burned. “There’s no market for fuel,” said Gary. “I wish there was.”

In his spare time Gary is a busy pastor for Haynesville United Pentecostal Church – the same church in which he grew up. He was named pastor after serving as assistant pastor for six years. His wife, Susan, also does church work with him. Gary and Susan have two adult children, Todd, 37, and Jennifer, 32.

“I was involved in teaching,” Gary recalled. “That just developed into preaching…Then all I can say is the Lord worked it out.”

The church has approximately 70-80 members. His pastoral duties occupy most of his evenings and a good portion of his weekends, and sometimes he is on his cell phone during the day for church affairs. “There’s hardly any time left for anything else,” he said.

Gary does have a couple of hobbies, though. He is president of a deer hunting club and has a pair of Harley-Davidson motorcycles – an Ultra Classic and a Road King – that he likes to ride.

The forest products industry and loggers in particular in Louisiana are still struggling, noted Gary, who is a member of the Louisiana Loggers Association and the Louisiana Forestry Association. The prices loggers are being paid have not kept

pace with rising prices for fuel, equipment, and insurance, he said. “In fact, we’re on these long, 120-mile-plus hauls. Fuel is killing us. We’re not making it very well at all.”

Asked if he saw any light at the end of the tunnel, Gary replied, “Not with the present administration.”

“Something’s going to have to happen,” he suggested, because loggers cannot afford to continue to bear the brunt of higher operating costs. “We’re not able to absorb all that the way we were able a few years back,” said Gary. “It’s just gotten out of balance.”