Both a hydraulically actuated cutting head (Woodcracker CL260) and a wood splitter (L700) of the brand Woodcracker(R) were put to the proof in a multi-week on-road test. Mounted to an excavator, the machines showed off their pros and cons.
At first, you need an appropriate carrier vehicle, to get the machines going. The testing business provided therefore a crawler excavator Takeuchi TB175 at their farm. The 8 ton vehicle has a 60 PS water-cooled Yanmar 4-cylinder engine and the two required hydraulic connections as standard. Using the quick-change plate, the provided hydraulic heads are easily installed and removed from the operator’s cab. The hydraulic connection is simple and well protected and are manually connected to the excavator.
GRAB, CUT, DONE (Woodcracker CL260)
The delivered cutting head Woodcracker CL is an advancement of the Woodcracker C series, which is a bigger felling head for heavier vehicles and professional safety tree fellings. Westtech designed the Woodcracker CL to be able to mount such felling heads to smaller excavators and farm loaders in agricultural businesses. For an excavator from 6 to 14 tons, like ours, the manufacturer recommends the cutting head Woodcracker CL260 with an accumulator. The unit with about 490 kg can be transported and moved without any trouble. The tested cutting head cuts up to 26cm in hard wood, in soft wood even up to 32cm. The accumulator which can be optionally mounted on the assembly helps cutting and collecting weak wood. Bushes and shrubbery can be felled, bunched and put down in one step. It is recommended to store the wood in close proximity. When thinning, large distances have to be covered.
The gripper is equipped with a strong cutting system. The essential unit is a replaceable, high-strength blade with a special blade salient. The well-protected hydraulic pipes ensure the movement of the gripper. The function “Autospeed” enables quick closing of the cutting system when working in weak wood with small diameters. It is important to observe a sufficient safety distance of 50m. With a long excavator beam, the CL260 can be moved to hights up to 7m, but safety fellings are not allowed with it.
THE SETTING IS IMPORTANT
When harvesting bushes of 10 to 15 years, the machine scores with a voluminous cutting unit. The strong gripper has an opening width of 80cm and presses the wood on the sharp blade when closing. When bunching wood, the unit could hold up to 20 trunks of 8 cm in diameter. It appeared that during thinning also wood of 30 cm in diameter could be cut effortlessly. The testing run best on frozen, hard ground. The cutting head also does a good job for landscape work and garden maintenance along roads. The cylinder slewing system (2 x 48 degrees) helps maneuvering the cutting head in inclined terrain. On slopes and in wetlands the weight of the carrier vehicle limited the possibilites of the Woodcracker. The blade is hard-wearing and resistant to dirt to a great extent. It only has to be sharpened every 100 operating hours. This service is also provided from the manufacturer. The blade can be removed and exchanged easily by unscrewing 10 screw-nuts. As a precaution, the operator should avoid damaging impacts of foreign matter like iron or concrete.
WOODWORK WITH AN EDGE (Woodcracker L700)
The robust wood splitter is used to split thick wood trunks up to 5m in length. The L-series is available in diverse sizes and attachments, depending on the carrier vehicle. “700” stands for the maximum opening width of the tongs in Millimeter. The series comprises the models L540, L920, L700 and L1200 with increasing net weight. The test product L700 fitted perfectly on the used excavator. The base model has a net weight of 285 kg. It is suitable for splitting larger diameters from 40 to 50 cm. Due to sturdy bearings with bushings out of sintered metal and grease nipples, the L700 is quite low-wear. The wood splitter uses a double-acting hydraulic connection. Westtech provides mountings for trucks, cranes and tractors on demand.
According to the manufacturer, 90% of the aggregates are mounted to forestry trailers with cranes. Due to the flat design and the stable frame, the log can be easily handled. The hydraulic cylinders are protected throughout the splitting process. Splitting wood causes a natural drying process and makes all further process steps easier. Diverse log types could be easy splitted, even logs with many branches or twisted fibers. After splitting, the wood was seperated, bunched and loaded with the excavator. In the practical test, the wood was lengthed to 1m logs and stored for further processing to wood chips.
In the test, suitabilty for daily use, reliabilty and efficiency of the aggregate were important. The robust hydraulic aggregates are simple designed and stand strong mechanical stresses and strains in agricultural organisations. The required maintenance is very low. The tested Woodcracker machines are made from high-strength Hardox-Steel with kathodic painting and corrision-resistant powder coating. How high the return on investment is, depends on the carrier vehicle and the operator. Besides saving time, using these aggregates is an important ease of work. Also the machines may be used for contracting work.
Weather and ground conditions (frozen, hard or soft) played a vital role in our test. The more weight the carrier vehicle has, the more soil protection gets important. In the testing conditions, the weight of the excavator and attachment was more than 8 tons. The properties of the carrier vehicle also limit the usabilty range of the cutting head. For example, using the cutting head with a bigger crawler excavator was more fun due to more reach and flexibilty.
The wood splitter split even crooked wood to small pieces in a few minutes.
If you consider buying a Woodcracker, your choice should be based on your existing equipment. The Austrian forestry manufacturer Westtech has many years of experience and practical know-how to help you with your choice. Further products from Westtech are grapple saws, root stock clearing devices, mulcher and many more.
Text Credit: Der Waldbauer, 01 | 2020 | Translated and summarized from German.
Foto Credit: Westtech Maschinenbau GmbH