TIPS & HELPFUL ADVICE
Well equipped ATVs : great tools for Timber Stand
Since its inception about twenty years ago, the
ATV (formerly ATC-all-terrain cycle) has greatly evolved. From three
to four wheels, it has progressivley gained the heart of outdoors
enthusiasts. But in recent years, the advent of a new generation
of powerful four-wheel drive machines convinced many that the playthings
could also be put to work!
Necessity is the mother of invention, they say. These
early users adapted tools and work methods to the ATV. NovaJack
was one of the first companies to draw on the pioneers great ideas
and develop commercially available ATV logging equipment around
1990. Today, ATVs are widely used and remarkably well adapted to
small scale logging operations.
Light, versatile, economical, here are only a few of
the ATVs attributes. In fact, their lightweigth and small
footprint make them remarkably agile in a forest stand! A direct
consequence of this is very little soil disturbance and reduced
percentage of the land required for trails. But can all ATVs work
efficiently in the woods?
A good utility ATV must have four-wheel drive, and
a low range of gears. Of course, the larger the engine, the bigger
a load you can pull. And a heavier machine will have in theory more
pulling capacity (more traction). But you must chose the ATV for
your needs, and sometimes, it is desirable to use a smaller, more
agile ATV. Again, in other cases, you will want to get the biggest
ATV you can afford. No doubt, you will be able to do a lot with
your ATV, with the proper equipment.
For example, the addition of continuous traction chains
on the rear wheels will significantly increase both the pulling
capacity and the braking ability of your ATV. They will help prevent
the jack-knife effect when going down steep hills with
a loaded trailed by keeping the rear-end of the ATV stable. As well,
the continuous contact on the ground assures smooth riding on harder
trails, and smooth traction when pulling (no tire spinning). Not
to mention the longer tire life.
The second piece of equipement you wont want to leave
behind is the skidding cone. The cone allows for safe skidding of
logs on the ground. It has a 20 (50cm) opening, and
fits over the end of the log or bunch of logs to be pulled. On top
of doubling the ATVs pulling capacity, the skidding cone will
also contribute to the operators safety. A log pulled behing
an ATV without a cone is liable to get hung up on a root or a stump,
stopping the ATV in its tracks! The cone will prevent such
sudden stops, and will deviate the log when in contact with trees
along the path, preventing bark damage. The skidding cone is used
with a chain chocker around the log, then through the center of
It is then fastened to a rope or directly behing the
ATV on the pulling plate that slides over the ball hitch. The rope
used must be very strong to witstand the shockloading, but more
importantly, it should be a low-stretch rope. This will prevent
the whiplash effect if the chocker ever came undone, and there will
be no wasted energy. The Kevlar or polyester ropes offer these
caracteristics. Kevlar ropes, because of their stronger fibers,
will last much longer than polyester ropes, but are quite a bit
With a chain-equipped 4-wheel drive ATV and a skidding
cone kit, you can now skid logs a lot of logs.
If you need to haul logs over a long distance, a forestry
trailer is the ideal complement to the skidding cone kit. A forestry
trailer has many features that are not found on a standard ATV trailer.
It should have high ground clearance to go over stumps and through
wet spots. It should be roughly the same width as your ATV in order
to travel almost in the same tracks. It should be extremely solid,
yet as lightweight as possible in order to maximize the payload.
It should have loading aids for efficient loading of small and large
logs. It should also provide safety features such as a full-size
protecton grating and swivel pole to protect the ATV and operator
. As well, a low center of gravity, 4-ply tires (to avoid flat tires)
and pivoting stakes will help you tackle the rougher parts of your
woodlot. And you will propably be surprised yourself when you look
at the pile of wood at the end of the day.
With the proper tools and techniques - and a strong
dose of common sense ATVs have been instrumental in helping
landowners carry small-scale, low-impact forestry operations. And
the future looks bright!
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