SUPERIOR, Wisc. — Like any production market, forestry has seen its fair share of technological evolution, with manufacturers like Barko constantly innovating new features to improve their machines.
Of course, plenty of people still remain attached to certain pieces of older equipment that have served them well over the years. The dealers and service shops that keep equipment in operation know this firsthand.
“We started off doing repair work and fabrication for forestry machines,” said Michael Jewell, owner of Jewell Machinery, a Barko dealer located in Rocky Mount, Virginia. “We saw the equipment we were asked to service was getting older. Originally we had no OEM product, so we had to sell ourselves. Barko came along at a perfect time (in 2013). We had a loyal customer base, and now we had new equipment to offer.”
Jewell Machinery’s early sales successes with the Barko line focused on Barko’s 495ML loaders, both for cross cutting and loading timber in the forest, and for mill applications. The majority of the sales to mills included some form of carrier built for the loader; however, Jewell said he kept hearing one repetitive thing from customers: “We wish somebody would build a new articulated carrier.”
Articulated carriers were extremely popular in the 1970s and 1980s, before today’s straight-frame carriers became the norm. There are plenty of decades-old articulated machines still operating, even if they are in very rough condition.
The inherent problem with this type of carrier, however, is that it was highly unstable. When a loader is mounted on a carrier, it is tall and the center of gravity is high. When going into a turn, the front of the machine would often react like it wanted to tip over.
Rough Terrain Carrier Solution
A possible answer to the problem came up during a meeting with Barko and Pettibone reps at Jewell’s facility. While the group was discussing Pettibone’s newest Cary-Lift unit, the path to a brand new solution seemed to present itself.
It’s a common anecdote that when people sit inside a Pettibone Cary-Lift with its solid steel frame design, they instantly notice the stability. The machine is very agile, can get around quickly, and the lifting capacity is significantly more compared to a typical wheel loader. These features, combined with the added safety and ease of operation, have made the Cary-Lift what it is today.
The discussion shifted toward the possibility of incorporating design elements from the Cary-Lift into a self-propelled carrier for Barko loaders. The idea was hatched, and work began on a prototype for a new Barko Rough Terrain Carrier (RTC) loader package that would offer an ideal solution for navigating around log yards, sawmills and other tight jobsites.
The beauty is that the concept allows Barko to mount a standard loader on a straight rail carrier with a standard control package, yet now essentially have a 4-wheel-drive carrier with enhanced maneuverability and stability features, including planetary axles and 2-wheel, 4-wheel and crab steering.
The new design of the RTC was tested not only at the Barko manufacturing facility in Superior, Wisconsin, but the product was also extensively tested in the field. Regular use at mills allowed engineers to gather customer feedback and fine-tune various performance aspects of the carrier. Upon official introduction last fall, Barko’s engineering team was supremely confident that the RTC was ready to deliver a new level of productivity to the market.
“The RTC offers amazing stability and a tight turning radius,” said Steve Talaga, Product Manager for Barko. “Both the front and rear axles steer 35 degrees. One axle is rigid in the frame under the majority of the load, and the other axle pivots under the front of the machine, but also has an oscillation lock if you need to keep it from pivoting. The contact patch on the ground never changes. The loader never knows it’s turning, just that it has the support it needs. It’s just a much safer and more stable way to get around the yard without sacrificing productivity.”
Exceptional Mill Performance
The impressive pulling capacity of the RTC loader package helps make it the most maneuverable and powerful log loading machine in the Barko product lineup.
The 4-wheel-drive RTC loader package features an exceptionally stable rigid frame that provides 2-wheel, 4-wheel and crab steering capabilities. When 4-wheel steer is engaged, the RTC offers an 18-foot turning radius that is sharper than many half-ton pickup trucks. All four wheels constantly maintain ground contact to provide proper support, allowing the machine to easily traverse rough terrain as it moves from one wood pile to the next. The RTC also includes front and rear planetary drive axles.
The unit can travel up to 12 miles per hour and is equipped with a power shift transmission that allows operators to shift on the fly, swiftly moving from pile to pile to maximize operating efficiency.
Additionally, the RTC delivers approximately 21,000 pounds of drawbar pull. This raw power is enough to pull a small log trailer or other loads, move easily through muddy conditions, and climb steep grades of up to 45% – normally in a mill yard, the maximum amount of grade encountered is around 5%.
Engineered for maximum dependability and productivity, Barko’s 595B, 495B and 295B RTC loader packages offer boom length options of 30, 32, 36 and 40 feet depending on model. Tried-and-true Barko loader technology makes fast work of unloading tasks. All three models are powered by a 173-horsepower Cummins Tier 4 Final diesel engine. Maximum lift capacities range from 38,820 pounds for the 595B to 22,820 pounds with the 295B.
In addition to the carrier’s overall stability when loading or traveling, the RTC loaders offer many safety features that many mill machines do not. Walk-up steps and a solid platform minimize the potential for slip-and-falls when entering the forward sloping pressurized cab with sound suppression insulation. The RTC features a hydrostatic dynamic braking mechanism and hydraulic disc brakes on all four wheels.
Other standard features of the RTC include steel lines along the inside of
the frame, a 3/4-inch hitch plate for pintle hitch mount, and a travel alarm. Loader options include various boom lengths and capacities, boom lights, cab risers and more.
The speed, agility and tractive effort of the Barko RTC loader package are true difference makers for this remarkable product – factors that can help contribute real time and money savings, especially to mill yard operators.