Glen Luce Logging Pioneers a New Komatsu XT430-3 Track Feller Buncher

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Getting a new piece of equipment carries with it a sense of anticipation and eagerness to see what it will do. That’s especially true when it’s the first of its kind that your dealer has sold or is in your area.

 

Getting a new piece of equipment carries with it a sense of anticipation and eagerness to see what it will do. That’s especially true when it’s the first of its kind that your dealer has sold or is in your area.

Glen Luce, owner and president of Glen Luce Logging in Turner, ME, is pioneering a new Komatsu XT430-3 feller buncher this spring, the first person in his geographic area to use one of Komatsu’s new generation of machines.

Glen, who is now 47 years old, started logging when he was in high school.

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“My dad and stepdad are both loggers,” he said. “My stepbrother and I started working with them during the summer and vacations when we were 12 years old. I’d cut wood and do other things; in the summer and on any winter vacation time that I had, I’d spend time with one of the crews that worked for my stepdad. That’s how I learned the trade.”

When he was a senior in high school, Glen bought the first equipment of his own.

“I bought a 1978 Cat cable skidder,” he said. “I started this company on my own, with that one cable skidder and a 1989 Marmon truck, which they don’t make any more.” Glen graduated in 1985, and worked with those two pieces of equipment until 1990. Then he took off five years from logging to work for his father-in-law’s excavation business.

“It was hard working for family, and I missed logging too much,” he said. “So I went back to logging in 1992.”

Glen bought another cable skidder and a Wheeler logging truck, and went back to the woods.

“I was doing selective logging for private landowners,” he said. “I was cutting a mixture of hardwoods and pines.”

The contacts Glen had made during his five years in the excavation business paid off for him in his revived logging career.

“I started getting requests to do land clearing,” he said. “Then I broke two vertebrae in my back in an auto racing accident. At the same time, the industry was going toward the land clearing and chipping side of things. So in about 2004, I purchased a used John Deere 653 feller buncher, an old grapple skidder, a small chipper, and a truck and went into the land clearing business. And things just started growing from there.”

Over the years, Glen has done a lot of highway clearings, including clearing parts of Interstate 295 and some other roads up through northern New Hampshire.

“Right before 2009, there was a big demand for that,” he said. “We kept fairly busy for a while doing that.”

Today, Glen said, he has five trucks, a Peterson chipper, and two grapple skidders.

“We still do both select cutting and clear cutting,” he said. “We tend to do more clear cutting in the summertime for land clearing, and more selective cutting in the winter. We’re doing more clearing than we were, because housing development is starting to come back. I also buy small pieces of property of my own, selective cut them, and resell them.”

Recently, Glen said, he decided he needed to replace a feller buncher with a new piece of equipment. During the winter, he and his equipment operator Brandon Webb tested a number of feller bunchers.

“The old piece of equipment had a lot of hours on it, and it was time to upgrade,” Brandon said. “We tried a couple different models of the same brand, and we tried levelers and non-levelers. Obviously, having a leveler means more comfort for the operator when cutting on slopes. Glen wanted to look at a lot of things and get the best, and that meant trying them all out.”

After testing five or six different pieces of equipment, Glen and Brandon discussed which feller buncher would suit their needs the best.

“We looked at a lot of options, and I was leaning toward a different piece of equipment,” Glen said. “But Brandon had a preference for the Komatsu, which is sold by Anderson Equipment Company. A lot of it was support; Anderson always was there for us, and has shown us that they really are here to stay. You can tell they really want to support the loggers who are their customers. For example, they just put in a new $6 million shop in our area. They’re continuing to grow in Maine and support Komatsu products.”

So Glen talked with salesman Peter Webb at Anderson Equipment, and purchased a new Komatsu XT430-3, which is one of Komatsu’s new generation track feller bunchers.

“This is a brand new feller buncher,” Peter said. “The design of the machine has been around for a while, but Komatsu has fully upgraded it to make it a top class machine that’s one of the best around. The one Glen bought is fitted with a Quadco 21SC-360 high speed sawhead. The XT430-3 is an upgraded model with a redesigned cab for better visibility, and with much better fit and finish. It has a lot of multifunction capability that puts it head and shoulders above the rest. Komatsu has a triple pump system so you have a pump for each track drive and a pump for the implement. That way you can multifunction without losing any power. It also has large final drives that are well proven.”

The whole XT-3 series has a sloped roofline for increased headroom above and in front of the seat, and for reduced debris buildup. The operator has a widescreen field of view because of a large floor-to-ceiling front window, large side windows, and a 60% larger skylight window over previous models. For night operation, the XT430-3 comes with 11 brilliant white LED lights. The series also has a new programmable digital control system that accommodates individual preference settings for multiple operators, records harvest data, and provides advanced diagnostic reports.

One of the things Brandon really liked about the Komatsu was those three closed-loop pumps.

“You can completely multifunction,” he said. “You can pretty much pull all the joysticks and push all the buttons and you don’t have to worry about the machine bogging down or losing performance. The power is right there all the time, when you need it.”

A couple of the other machines that Glen and Brandon looked at offered the option of closed track drives with three pumps.

“Those machines didn’t come with the closed loop track drive like the Komatsu,” Brandon said. “They made it so we could get one set up that way, but it was an extra $30,000 to $40,000. But Komatsu builds their machines like that; they build them the best way they can, and that’s that.”

Brandon said one thing that makes running a piece of equipment easier on an operator is track power.

“If you can’t get around in the woods, you’re wasting time when you could be cutting wood,” he said. “That’s why I think this machine is a complete package.”

Glen Luce Logging took delivery of the new Komatsu XT430-3 in early April, and Brandon said he expected to have it in the woods by the end of the month. He said it should make his job a lot easier.

“One of the main things Komatsu did on these new models was updating the cab,” Brandon said. “The cab is pressurized and it’s big, and the windows are tinted. Everything is set up to keep the operator comfortable during the day, which is huge.”

The other thing he’s looking forward to, Brandon said, is the multi-function capability of the machine.

“When you have that multifunction capability, it’s easier on your body and on the machine,” he said. “You’re not always on flat, sandy ground. When you’re on hills and rocks, if your machine is top of the line, it’s easier for the operator. At the end of the day I’m not as tired and or as sore, and it’s easier on the machine too.”

Glen said he expects the new Komatsu to increase the productivity of his operation overall, including the cut-to-length processer he plans to add this summer.

“I’m pretty sure we can now lay down for my chipping crew and for the cut-to-length processer too,” he said. “I don’t think he’ll have any trouble keeping up with both crews with the one feller buncher. He was always ahead with the old machine, so he should be really ahead with the Komatsu.”

Brandon agreed. “It absolutely will allow me to do more,” he said. “Our last machine was always holding me back. It couldn’t do what I wanted it to do. With the new XT430-3, the operator is in charge of how much wood you want to cut; the machine is going to do it. And Komatsu machines run cool all the time; they don’t heat up.”

Even in the summertime, Brandon said, he won’t have to stop and let the piece of equipment cool off because the hydraulic system becomes too overheated.

“That makes everything go smoother and maximized production,” he said. “Komatsu has made a lot of upgrades to their equipment, and they have really paid attention to details on everything.”