Tigercat equipment proves sure-footed match for rugged Adirondacks.
TUPPER LAKE, New York – Beech, balsam, cedar and soft maple are among the towering beauties that grow in the Adirondack Mountains. Thanks to abundant photos and video from the 1932 and 1980 winter Olympic Games, which were held at Lake Placid, NY, we can all call up images of the Adirondacks.
What’s beautiful, of course, can also be challenging. And although the steep slopes of the Adirondack region are less challenging than those at St. Moritz in Switzerland or Innsbruck in Austria – two other well-known Olympic venues – they do require the match of sure-footed logging equipment.
Larry Richards, partner at Richards Logging, LLC, knows the Adirondacks well. Richards Logging, which was started by Larry’s father, Bruce Richards, has been operating since 1977.
“[We are] a full-service timber harvesting company,” said Larry. Working exclusively on private land, the company cuts all species but primarily hardwoods.
A team of 25 employees works at Richards Logging. The equipment roster that supports their efforts is dominated by Tigercat machines. Tigercat, which is headquartered in Brantford, Ontario, Canada, builds machines for what it labels as severe duty.
“[We] purchased the first Tigercat 245 loader they built,” said Larry. For the last 18 years, he explained, Richards Logging has relied on CJ Logging Equipment in Boonville, NY to meet its equipment needs.
The most recent purchase Larry’s company made from CJ Logging Equipment is a Tigercat 635E skidder. The bogie configuration of the six-wheel machine combines versatility with strength. It is intended to be a match for not only steep, but also soft terrain.
With snow and snow-melt, the terrain of the Adirondack region does soften up well before serious mud sets in. When we caught up with Larry in late March, his crew was working long hours to do as much as possible before mud season forced a pause. The Tigercat 635E is built to perform across long duty cycles, even as it moves across substantial distances and grips oversize logs.
In addition to the Tigercat 635E, Larry’s team depends upon two Tigercat 822 feller bunchers, one Tigercat 630E grapple skidder and one Tigercat 630EHS skidder. The EHS refers to the efficient high-speed drive that Tigercat introduced. It allows load and terrain conditions to be finely factored to achieve high tractive effort or the fastest possible travel speeds.
Larry has experience running all the equipment. “As needed,” he explained. Yet he does see a particular star in an excellent lineup. “[It’s] the [Tigercat] 822 bunchers because they are bullet proof,” he said.
The Tigercat 822D is a track machine. Built for stability, the Tigercat 822 has a compact tail swing. It can be used for final felling, select felling or thinning.
Machines see long hours of service at Richards Logging. So durability matters. Despite the size of some of the trees felled by the crews at Richards Logging, chain saws are never used.
Jobs are approached according to feasibility and specific requirements, so there are no set number of jobs being run simultaneously or a set number of employees sent to a particular site. “We mix and match depending on site conditions,” said Larry.
Richards Logging cuts primarily within a 30-mile radius of its home base in Tupper Lake, N.Y.
Tupper Lake is part of Franklin County. The northern boundary of Franklin County is the Canadian border; the adjoining Canadian province is Quebec. Tupper Lake is a village. In 2016, it had a population of 3,667.
The well-known resort and Olympic venue of Lake Placid lies about 20 miles east of Tupper Lake. Lake Placid is near Mount Marcy, the highest point in the Adirondacks at 5,344 feet. Lake Placid is part of Essex County.
Richards Logging does its own trucking. Ten tractors and 12 trailers make up the fleet. There are nine Kenworth tractors and one Western Star tractor. Trailers break down as five Deloupe, three Stairs, two Manac, one Mac and one Talbert.
Larry is also involved in the operation of a log yard, which operates as Richards Forest Products. “All sawlogs go to our log yard,” said Larry. “Pulp and biomass go direct to market.”
Richards Forest Products is located in Childwold, N.Y., a town that’s about a 20-minute ride from Tupper Lake.
The long association with CJ Logging Equipment is easy to explain, said Larry. “Our business needs dependable equipment and people; we get both at CJ’s.”
The Boonville site for CJ Logging Equipment is just 60 miles southwest of Tupper Lake.
Besides New York, the territory for CJ Logging Equipment encompasses Pennsylvania, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland. To serve customers in the best possible way, CJ Logging Equipment has locations in Little Valley, N.Y., Allenwood, Pa., Wheelock, Vt. And Buckhannon, W.V.
The equipment sold by CJ Logging offers excellent choices to loggers who work in the Adirondack region and throughout the Appalachian Mountain chain. Its offerings include Tigercat, Komatsu Forestry Equipment, Link-Belt, TimberPro, Hood, CSI delimbers and much more. For loggers in the region that do require a chain saw now and then, CJ Logging Equipment also sells saws from Husqvarna and Oregon Forestry Products.
As the tag line at the CJ Logging Equipment website emphasizes, the company has been ‘talking timber’ since 1981. Family-owned and operated, CJ Logging Equipment has great engagement with communities across its territory. For instance, they offer special buckets for $1 at the NYS Woodsmen’s Field Days and give the proceeds to Log a Load for Kids. Last year the company donated $2,640 to Log a Load.
The philosophy of “progress” is what guides Larry each day in his work, he explained. That word encapsulates quite a lot of meaning, especially in an industry as dynamic as wood products. Advancing toward perfection by using the most refined approaches to logging and making the most of every bit of wood fiber are part of what defines progress in the industry.
Richards Logging is a member of the Empire State Forest Products Association (ESFPA), which is headquartered in Rennselaer, N.Y. The association represents the interests of an industry that contributes $4.6 billion to the state’s economy and employs 58,833 residents of the state.
ESFPA (so named in 1909) derives from the Adirondack Lumber Manufacturers and Shippers Association, which was founded in 1906 – demonstrating that sustainability has been on the minds of people for a very long time. Ensuring that wood fiber continues to be as or more abundant than it is today is part of the sustainability equation. And it’s part of progress.
Try this for a summation of how progress and sustainability are linked: According to the ESFPA, the forests in New York State are growing three times faster than they are being harvested, cleared or lost (to insects or disease). Every tree represents a significant uptake of carbon dioxide, which becomes part of the molecular building blocks of wood fibers. Consequently, sustainability goes well beyond the wood fiber itself as trees play their vital role in carbon capture and recycling of water and nutrients.
The ESFPA website (www.esfpa.org) is filled with fascinating facts about forests in the Empire State. Consider these (from the website): New York has more forests than any other state in the Northeast. Sugar maple (at 18 percent) predominates in the forests of New York State. Most of the forested areas in the state are in private ownership.
It’s the little things, the accumulating innovative approaches, as well as the big things, that have put the wood products industry on a sustainable trajectory. Larry is part of the effort. His machines from Tigercat and other companies incorporate sophisticated technology to guide and extract the most from strength.
Recall the EHS innovation on the Tigercat 630EHS skidder. EHS has taken to a new level the hydrostatic drive system that Tigercat first developed and released on its 630 series skidders in 1996. The EHS shares with the Tigercat standard hydrostatic drive system are two variable displacement motors, which serve as inputs to the transfer case. The front and rear output shafts connect directly to front and rear axles.
Tigercat’s EHS provides tractive effort of the deepest gear ratio offered in the standard transfer case. And it also provides top speed of the shallowest gear ratio offered in the standard transfer case. All this is possible because of computer algorithms that monitor and then, take one of the drive motors offline when high tractive effort is not needed. By taking a motor offline, all pump flow can be directed to just one hydraulic motor, which in turn increases travel speed and motor efficiency.
Engine options for Tigercat machines include Tier 4 engines that meet the EPA off-road requirements working their way across industries. Every option serves as another tool for loggers like Larry who are aiming to sustain and grow not only their companies, but also the industry as a whole.
Progress is where one seeks it and advances it. And Larry is doing both.
What does Larry enjoy most about his profession? “Working with so many great people,” he said.
When Larry gets time away from Richards Logging and Richards Forest Products he most enjoys spending his free time with family.