Dalbeck Logging Adds New Equipment to Logging Operations: Pairs New Risley Rolly 3.0 Head with Tracked TimberPro

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Risley Rolly 3.0 harvesting head incorporates new features logger wanted to see.


WAKEFIELD, Michigan – To write that George Dalbeck takes a keen interest in the equipment he purchases for his company would be an understatement. When a new machine is added to the roster at GA Dalbeck Logging, LLC, it has been thoroughly evaluated by George.

More than that, George has often had a direct hand in getting the machine ready to use. So it was when he bought a new Risley Rolly 3.0 head last year.

“I’m kind of a jack-of-all-trades,” explained George. “I like to be there [when a machine is being readied] to make sure it’s done my way.”

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George selected a TimberPro 725C track carrier for the Risley Rolly 3.0. Both the carrier and the head were purchased from Pioneer Forestry Equipment in Rhinelander, Wis. As a result, when the head was mounted on the carrier, George, along with Steve Ory, the owner of Pioneer Forestry Equipment and Tim Gafner, the USA sales and support manager for Risley Equipment, which is headquartered in Grand Prairie, Alberta, were involved.

“Pioneer mounted the Rolly head on the TimberPro,” said George. “We were all there.” The selection of the TimberPro 725C for George came out of a good experience with the company’s 725B model. He commented that the 725C had increased cab visibility and is designed for improved serviceability.

One thing must be understood about his approach to equipment, said George. “I work with all dealers.”

At the same time, all the dealers with which George works have one thing in common. “They don’t believe in downtime,” he said. In short, the dealers understand the bane to a logger downtime is.

“Basically with George, he knew what he wanted,” said Steve, regarding how he interacted with George to provide the Rolly 3.0 on the TimberPro 725C. “He’s a good logger. He knows what he wants. It’s a joy to work with him.”

At times, said George, he even fields calls from fellow loggers, answering questions about Rolly heads. That would not surprise Steve.

“George is just very well advanced in [use of] the Rolly [heads],” said Steve. As such, he was a perfect adopter of one of the first Rolly 3.0 heads, approximately one year ago.

The Rolly 3.0 head is the latest iteration of the continuous improvement in the Rolly head. “We’re always trying to make it better,” said Tim. “The 3.0 came about because of what we heard from customers. We are always fine tuning.”

Because George makes select cuts in hardwood stands, the Rolly 3.0 is a particularly good fit for him, said Tim, who has been in equipment sales more than 35 years. Tim joined his father’s business, Gafner Machine in 1979, manufacturer of the “Iron Mule” forwarder. Tim stayed with his father until he sold the business to Valmet in 1988. Tim’s grandfather was the inventor of the Iron Mule. Tim has been with Risley for seven years.

George also had an inventor in his family. His paternal grandfather, who died when George’s father was eight, held two patents on the Dalbeck Hoist, perhaps the first mechanized log loader.

Emphasizing his commitment to do what he considers best in terms of the optimal fit in equipment, George pointed out that he went to another dealer for the computer controls on the Rolly 3.0. “We work with Woodland Equipment on all computers,” said George. “Russ [Fennick] at Woodland is exceptional.” Woodland Equipment is headquartered in Iron River, Mich.

Home to GA Dalbeck Logging is Wakefield, Mich., a town of 1800 residents in the westernmost county (Gogebic) of the Wolverine State. The 15-member team at the company general works within 200 miles of the home base.

“Mainly, we harvest wood for many of the local paper mills, lumber mills,” said George. “We do a lot of selective clearing. We’ve been doing it for many years.”

George and his father, Gary A. Dalbeck, started the company. George had been working for another logger since graduating from high school and his father had been in construction.

Motivation for the launch of GA Dalbeck was partly practical. “My father’s job in construction was slower and slower.”

Son and father established their business by doing hand cutting. “We bought an old skidder and got started,” said George. The skidder was a Tree Farmer C-4. The chain saws were Husqvarna.

In 2007, GA Dalbeck Logging moved to a mechanized approach. “We started with an old Bobcat buncher with a four-stroke delimber on it, and an Iron Mule forwarder,” said George.

The first Rolly head was purchased in 2007. It was mounted on a Timbco track machine.

By the time George moved to mechanized logging, Gary was not participating in the business because he was not well. When Gary fell ill in 2003, George’s brother, Clarence got involved. Today, Clarence owns three forwarders, two six-wheel 2016 John Deere 1010ES and one 2007 John Deere 1410DE. The forwarders were purchased from Nortrax in Ashland, Wis.

“The main reason we got the John Deere is their excellent service,” said George. He explained that the equipment served well and the support from the vendor is great.

“Nortrax – they don’t believe in downtime either,” said George. “One forwarder [a 2016] has computer system, JD-Link.” The system monitors functions remotely. George once got a call from the store and was told a filter on his motor was dirty; it was.

In addition to the Rolly 3.0 on the TimberPro 725C, George owns two other Rolly heads, a Rolly and a Rolly II. The Rolly is on a Valmet 415FX track carrier, the machine he operates, and the Rolly II is on a Valmet 425EXL carrier. (Valmet is now Komatsu.)

Being an expert mechanic, George does not see any machine as perfect, as in there is always an opportunity for improvement. He is always thinking about the way things could be better, as well as sharing his suggestions with manufacturers. Nevertheless, he very much likes the Rolly 3.0.

“Our 3.0 is nice,” said George. “It has heavier rotate-gear boxes. It’s a very good hardwood head. It takes a lot of abuse.”

The Rolly 3.0 represents further and always ongoing improvements to the Rolly II head. Known for its agility as a single-grip harvester that makes it possible to fell, delimb and optimize at the stump, the Rolly II was a strong performer made even stronger in the Rolly 3.0.

The mixed hardwood stands in which GA Dalbeck logging works include sugar maple, oak, red maple, birch and yellow birch. “We buy a lot of [standing timber] on state land,” explained George. “We buy a lot of [standing timber] on county land. We work with pulp mills – [such as] GMO Land Company. We subcontract for SAPPI in Cloquet, Minnesota. We do a lot of subcontracting for Biewer Lumber in Prentice, Wisconsin.”

Merchandising of wood from the standing timber that GA Dalbeck buys is a combination effort. George does a visual assessment when he buys and then processor operators evaluate and sort when cutting. The Rolly processing heads allow the operators to tackle specific sorts and cuts in the woods, which saves time and increases productivity.

Although George fondly recalled “the Huskies” that got GA Dalbeck Logging going, he noted that chain saws are not a part of the logging operation today. The processing heads can handle anything he encounters.

GA Dalbeck does its own trucking with a fleet of Kenworth tractors and Pitts trailers. The trucks come from Rihm Kenworth in Superior, Wis. and the Pitts crib trailers come from Don Dens Sales in Carlton, Minn.

Reflecting on the industry, George again emphasized the importance of having equipment on which he can rely. “That’s the biggest thing with this industry [is] downtime,” he said. A logger cannot tolerate it.

If there is ever an issue with a machine, George knows that he has fast backup. “Tim Gafner [at with Risley], he’s very good for service. Pioneer, they’ve been excellent with service calls.”

“Tim has even taken calls on Sunday,” said George. “And Steve [from Pioneer] came right out to a job site to resolve a joy stick issue.”

There’s no question why George has stayed with the Rolly since buying his first Risley Rolly. “[It’s] because I’ve had good luck with them in the last eight years,” he said. “They’re easy to hook on. They’re good to work on. And they’re tough.”

GA Dalbeck Logging is a member of the Great Lakes Timber Producers. Having owned a logging company for nearly two decades, George has experienced the ups and downs of the industry. Currently, he said, the market for wood fiber in his area is “tightening” a bit, but he is optimistic.

The variety is what George most enjoys about his profession. “It’s different every day,” he said.

In his free time, George dirt races. “I race open-wheeled modifies all over the state of Wisconsin.” He and a friend work on the vehicles. (We also know from a web search that George had a win just this year.)

George also does some fishing in his free time. He explained that fishing is a passion for his wife and she encourages him to go fishing with her. He added that his wife has a great interest in horses, which she raises on their farm.