THERE’S (probably) an old saying: a forester is only ever as good as their forwarder.

Okay, that phrase might not be found in the annals but it was certainly the mood among members on the Forest Machine Operators Blog this month. From Ponsse to Bruun, Timberjack to John Deere, they were united in their belief the first step to doing any job properly is having the right machine to suit you, and it didn’t take long for them to pick out their favourites. 

The talk of forwarders from days gone by all began when one member took to the blog to declare: “I have files upon files of old brochures on most of the forwarders and harvesters that have been seen in the UK since the ‘80s and thought I’d make the effort to share them with the blog over time.” 

It certainly got tongues wagging. First up was a Mini-Bruunett 578. Sharing pictures from its original launch, the member said the machine was “a common sight in the woods not all that long ago”. 

Forestry Journal: Ben Miller Ben Miller

Scores of members replied to the post, thanking the user for sharing his collection. Many commented with their own pictures of the Bruunett still in use today. 

“Cheers for uploading,” one replied. “Brings back memories. 

“I started in the woods operating the first Bruunett 578 P in UK, before the boss upgraded to the new 678 P, second in the country after John Boy Walton got the first. 

“Great tool in their day, fantastic visibility with crane on the roof.” 

Recalling its launch and how few of them arrived in the UK, another said: “First eight–wheeler I had. Great machine in its day. It could climb onto some funny places. Phone was non–stop with offers of work. Only about six in Scotland at that time.” 

It’s likely this operator wasn’t using one north of the border, as they wrote: “God it was warm in there in the summer.

READ MORE: Bites from the Blog January 2022: Blown away by Strom Arwen and tributes to Lars Bruun

“Can remember it well.” 

With every post, members got the chance to enjoy a walk down memory lane, of the ‘good old days’ of the Spice Girls and Big Brother launches, when Brexit and all the other issues of the new millennium were but a glint far off in the future. 

They were also the days of the Timberjack 870, and the brochure collector was back a few days later with his original documents. But this time the forwarder wasn’t universally loved. 

According to one response, “it wasn’t very reliable”. But, the member added, “went well when it was going.”

Forestry Journal: Chris Cowe Chris Cowe

However, most of those in the comments were only too happy to enjoy the chance to reminisce. “Cracking little harvester,” declared another. “I loved mine,” wrote one more. 

Unfortunately, a machine is only as good as the TLC given to it over the years and one driver told of the mistreatment a forwarder had gone through before it ended up in his possession. 

“I started harvesting with one back in 2007. It was a good machine, but it had gone through very bad hands,” he said. “It was impossible to put it at 100 per cent.” 
Now, the last thing anyone wants to read here – in this little slice of escapism – is recollection of another deadly disease that threatened industries. But that’s exactly where our final reply for the Timberjack 870 is heading. 

Forestry Journal: Graham Miller Graham Miller

“I went to Varnamo in Sweden to do a diploma in operating a harvester and we used one of these,” the member recalled. “Very good. January 2001, foot and mouth year. Stayed over there till June.” 

Yikes! Let’s move on. How about another Timberjack? This time it was the 1110 from the late 1990s and it didn’t take long for one user to declare: “Possibly the best forwarder ever built. What a machine. Drove a new one in 2007; was unreal.” 

Was the Timberjack 1110 the best forwarder ever built? It’s hard to say, but the replies to the collector’s post were nothing but positive. 

Forestry Journal: Jim Keogh Jim Keogh

“We have one of them. It’s done 27,000 hours and still going strong,” said one. 

“Best forwarder ever,” said another. One German member even shared pictures from a recent job with his Timberjack 1110 still doing the business. 

“Still going strong like on the first day and it makes every day fun,” he said. 

How many blog members remembered the Kockums 822? That was the next item on the agenda when the collector returned with another slice of forwarding history. 

It seems a few were intimately acquainted with them.

Forestry Journal: Sean Cuddy Sean Cuddy

“I had three 822s,” said one contractor. “One came from Wilson’s via Wales, fitted with a 400 Tapio. I also ran a JCB 360 fitted with a 3.8 m Skogserik stroke boom. That was a hell of a machine, lots of production in rough timber but like the GP the measuring was very approximate.” 

“Felled for one in Fife, Scotland with the Forestry Commission,” recalled another. “Great machines. Really handy in windblow areas. It could clear your feet as you were cutting.” 

Sticking north of the border, and another replied: “Was in West Argyll in 1982–83 when Mechpros brought a new one into the district – I thought it was the bee’s knees!”

Before the month was out, the collector returned with pictures of the Valmet 860 from the early 2000s – “Lovely old things, we got on well with ours,” said one member – and the Logset 6F. But the question remains: what is the greatest forwarder of all time?

Maybe we’ll be back next month with the answer. 

Talking about answers: members of the blog came to the rescue of two users who had run into problems. 

Forestry Journal: Steve Hope Steve Hope

The first concerns an SMV processor. “I keep losing hydraulics completely for a few minutes,” posted one user. “Then it will start working. It has 0 psi coming from the pump when it stops. Does anyone know what my problem could be?”

Several blog members with experience jumped in to offer advice. 

One replied: “I would be looking at the compensation valve on the side of the pump first. It’s about the size of two fag packets. If this is sticking, it won’t allow the swash plate to change angle, which gives you variable flow on demand.”

Another said: “I have the same machine. If I lose hydraulics, I go right to the servo-pressure relief valve, right next to all the magnets that run the ladder and saw return. 
“Unlock the jam nut and turn the adjustment screw all the way out. Carefully count how far it backs out – then turn it back in the same amount. It will flush any crud stuck in the valve. Should be set at 35 bar pressure.” 

“This happens when the minimum swash adjuster screw/stop on the pump has worn,” said one more. “Pumps have a minimum angle setting so there is always some flow, and they can work ... this is usually cured by turning the stop screw in a turn.” 

Turning to the second hot question and it concerns cameras. Namely, which one is best to look after machines? 

Forestry Journal: Wendy Darren Smith Wendy Darren Smith

“Acorn wildlife cameras are good,” suggested one user. “You can get with or without 4G. Loads on Amazon. Just get a couple of pay as you go SIMs and try out which one gets better signal at the time.” 

“I’ve got SPYPOINT,” replied another. “It sends you a picture by text when triggered. Decent picture.”