11 September 1998

Quad bike has light touch in tight space

Woodland can make a

significant contribution to

farm incomes. In this special

feature we look at some of

the opportunities farmers

have to establish woodland

and to convert timber into a

value added product. We

start with a look at the

versatile quad bike

AS a small, light, nippy and reasonably economical vehicle, the quad bike is well suited to working its way into woodland for maintenance tasks and even light timber extraction.

Access should pose few difficulties; indeed, the diminutive quad can reach locations denied bigger machinery. And it will likely leave less evidence of its passage.

As long as out-and-out productivity is not the primary need, the easy mobility, economy and lack of soil compaction or rutting makes the ATV an appealing vehicle for small-scale woodland operations.

The development of a complementary range of implements also supports the quads case. ATV equipment may not have the ultimate capacity of purpose-made forestry equipment, or of adapted farm machinery, for that matter. But then it is cheaper to buy and use. Equipment is now available for the quad to perform a range of tree-related tasks, from spot spraying herbicides in young plantations and mowing rides in more mature woodland, to hauling timber from the forest in pole lengths or as saw logs.

The Forestry Commissions technical development branch has demonstrated the relative effectiveness of using a quad bike and timber trailer for short-haul extraction of logs from woodland. In one trial in Shropshire, two quad and trailer combinations were evaluated hauling timber along a small track leading to the main truck loading point.

Conventional machinery would likely have caused severe rutting in the wet conditions; the quads caused no lasting damage.

A 300cc Kawasaki KLF300 and TFM timber trailer managed an average load of 0.23cu m – some 206kg – over the 700m run, which included a steepish slope posing the biggest traction test. A 400cc Yamaha YFM400FW using the same trailer managed 0.29cu m – 264kg – a load, on average.

Both quads were equipped with rear tyre chains which made a significant difference to traction in the muddy conditions, and a length of chestnut paling at the loading point helped the combination pull away on the muddy slope.

The narrow track caused a somewhat convoluted and time-consuming turnaround, impairing work rate by 30%. That would have raised the output of the more productive combination from 0.62 to 0.82cu m/hour and with a useful reduction in costs.

These, based on labour at £6/hour, the trailer at 37p/hour, the 300cc quad at 183p/hour and the 400cc quad at 196p/hour, amounted to £13.44/cu m as recorded for the more powerful and productive machine, and £10.16/cu m had turnaround at the loading bay been quicker.

The TFM Multi Role Forestry Trailer used in the test is one of two logging trailers produced for use behind a quad. It has square-section bolsters (the uprights holding the load in place) that fold down to reduce initial loading height, handy, as the trailer will most likely be loaded by hand.

It can also be had with an optional body kit; a well-floored structure that fits within the bolsters, has a drop-down tailgate and usefully increases the jobs for which the basic trailer can be used.

Logics THT400 Timber Hauler has tall fixed bolsters shaped from tubular steel. Its mesh headboard can be adjusted fore and aft to accommodate different timber lengths and alter the drawbar loading and overall balance of the trailer. Four low pressure tyres on rocking beam running gear are used to spread the load for minimum ground pressure.

Alternatives to timber trailers include skidding sledges and "sulkies" which are used for dragging timber in pole lengths.

The skidding sulky is a wheeled frame that supports one end of a single or bunch of trunks; holding one end off the ground in this way enables the load to be dragged out of the wood.

Logics THT200 Timber Hauler has a hand winch to assist loading, with the gripping table mounted on a turntable for easier steering. TFMs smaller of two designs is similar other than having anchoring legs for the winch to pull against. The company also produces a larger, heavier duty model with a mesh butt plate, an electric winch and more substantial anchors.

Alternatively, the load can simply be streamlined by enveloping the butts in a rounded sledge that can then be pulled relatively smoothly across the forest floor and along access tracks. TFM makes these sledges in both fibreglass and aluminium.

For extracting timber from more awkward sites – or simply for pulling felled or fallen timber from the stump to roadside – TFM, Logic and ATV Direct produce winch kits for quads.

lCopies of the Forestry Commission Technical Development Branch report on the quad timber haulage trial and reviews of other quad-based forestry equipment are available from the organisation at Ae Village, Dumfries DG1 1QB (include a 60p sae). &#42

TIMBERHANDLING TOOLS

&#8226 ATV winches for light timber recovery

&#8226 ATV Direct (0113-277 8663): Cycle Country Mega Lift 680kg and 907kg electric winches with 15m cable and remote control. £299 and £349.

&#8226 Logic (01434-606661): Electric-drive winch for atv-mounting; 700kg winching capacity, 15m rope and hook, remote control. From £445.

&#8226 TFM Engineering (01539-733881): ATV front winch kit with drop down anchor legs, remote control, 900kg capacity. £700.

&#8226 Timber trailers for extracting cut-to-length timber

&#8226 Logic (01434-606661): THT400 twin walking-beam axle timber forwarding trailer. £1495.

&#8226 TFM Engineering (01539-733881): Multi-Purpose Forestry Trailer – twin axle timber trailer. £1495. Optional steel body £350.

&#8226 Timber skidders for extracting pole-length timber

&#8226 Logic (01434-606661): THT200 wheeled skidding sulky with hand (or electric) loading winch. £940. PB800 trailed pole bogie straps to centre of pole. £850.

&#8226 TFM Engineering (01539-733881): Pole skidding sledge in fibreglass or aluminium £180. Wheeled skidding sulky with drop-down anchor legs; small model with hand winch £550; large model £790 plus £150-£800 with electric or petrol engine-powered winch.