This year marks the 30th anniversary of Logset and with that in mind we thought it would be a great opportunity to trawl the archives and take a look back at some of the best machines produced by the Finnish manufacturer.

BACK in the autumn of 1992, rising from the ashes of the once great Norcar, came Finland’s next great machine manufacturer – Oy Logset. A shrewd team of forest machine titans in Kristian Sten, Gustav Frantzen and Seppo Koskinen came together to acquire the assets of Norcar and her immaterial rights under the new guise of Logset, beginning a journey that would eventually see them compete with those at the very top of the timber trade.

Typically considered a mid-sized machine manufacturer, Logset has always been known as a titan of research and development, with most of their machinery produced in-house.

The company operated in its early days with a close-knit workforce, with all employees going through a rigorous vetting process. Even as success began, those at the top of the company remained grounded, sharing an office to maintain transparency and address any problems that arose quickly, efficiently and, most importantly, together.

Sten was the personality, the go-to man for sales and marketing; it was said that people instantly liked him and it went a long way to developing links in other countries and increasing sales. Frantzen was the technological brain, an innovator who was constantly looking to the newest of contraptions. Then there was Koskinen, providing the balance, there to count the coffers and make sure the company was heading in the right direction.

The trio covered all bases and gave Logset all it needed to get off the ground.

In 2000, the traditional green inherited from the Norcar takeover was gradually phased out during a rebranding of livery with a sleek new silver-and-purple design taking its place, making it more recognisable against other green-coloured competitors.

Fast-forward to modern-day Logset, with its workforce of more than 100 employees producing a range of seven forwarders, seven harvesters and seven different heads across a distribution network of 25 countries.

Self-evident in the full range of Logset machines are the firm’s long-established values: ‘Reliability, low running costs, with enough power to enhance the productivity without compromise.’

When it came to finding people to chat to about the history of Logset’s machinery, there was no one more qualified in the UK than the team at RJ Fukes Forestry Services from Llandovery, just north of the Brecon Beacons, which has been working with the Finns since 1995, becoming an agent in the early 2000s.

First forwarder – Logset 500, 504F, 1992–1999

Forestry Journal:

Logset began its climb towards greatness with the mechanical expertise of the best hand-picked engineers from the Norcar factory, incorporating all that was good about the previous iterations, while moving with the times and modernising. Step forward the debut Logset forwarder, the Logset 500. This was the range that started the journey to the present and without it the technology used now would not be in place. 

The load space on the original 500 models was limited and not designed for long-distance extraction. However, it proved a nifty navigator within tight thinnings and always performed strongly while on steep ground.

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Previous operators of the machine were rather complimentary of its ease to operate compared to similar machines of its age range, but, like most of the earliest iterations, it had its regular stumbling blocks – such as problems with hydraulics and performance on larger sites. Despite the slight changes of operational direction, many stayed loyal to the former Norcar machinery and took to Logset immediately, providing them with the framework for all that was to come.

Most popular forwarder – Logset 6F, 1997

Forestry Journal:

In a toss-up between the 6F and the 8F, it was the former that came out on top in John’s mind, having seen more of that model come through his door than any other. 

“It has stood the test of time and proved to be the most successful so far, and is without doubt the most popular with our customers,” said John, adding: “The 8F would come in a close second”. 

Most evident is its reliability, with several still operating to an impressive standard almost 25 years after leaving the production line. In that time, a chain bogie system (similar to what Valmet was producing at the time) was introduced, replacing the troublesome hydraulic wheel motors. 

“The green 6F was a very well-thought-of machine and some are still running with 40,000 hours on them here in the UK.” 

After scouring his records, John, with the help of his wife Sue, discovered Jim Wilmer bought the first 6F off the production line and it was running up until five years ago, when it caught fire. 

As the first forwarder released within the F-series, it paved the way for the 4F, 5F and 8F, making the 6F key to Logset’s successes.

Largest forwarder – Logset 12F, 2015

Forestry Journal:

The cream of the Logset forwarding crop is the 12F. It’s the largest forwarder in the Logset catalogue and has a load capacity of 20 tonnes. Its impressive 291 hp engine makes extraction easy even in the most difficult of scenarios, with the amplified tractive force of 250 kN powering the machine. 

John Fukes believes the 12F best shows how far Logset has come since 1992. He said: “When you look at where they started with the Logset 500, based off the Norcar, to now, it’s light years ahead, from the technology level to the build quality.” 

What really sets the current crop of Logset machines apart is the newly developed DeX – Decelerate Assistant and Protection System – which allows for safe operation on even the steepest terrain, protecting the operator and the machine’s engine from overspeed moments, which in turn increases its overall lifespan.

“In some ways it could be a little bit too big for some applications, but for heavy-duty forwarding and long extractions it’s ideal.”

The only 12F in operation in the UK is owned by timber contractor and haulier Harold Taylor, in  Angus, with its sheer size making it a worthwhile addition to his fleet while its reliability shines against its competitors. While its size makes it impractical for some operations, it makes it an essential piece of kit for others, with its main market directed towards further fields.

The 12F is so formidable that its uses are not reserved solely for forestry. April saw the delivery of one to Longyearbyen, Svalbard, with the intention of using the specially modified machine to restore historical mining sites to past glories. It is unofficially the furthest north that a forestry machine has ventured, which is a perfect advert for the resilience of Logset’s largest forwarder.

First harvester – 500H, 504H, 1993–1996

Forestry Journal:

Following its rebirth as Logset, the Finnish company released its first harvester in May 1993 – the Logset 500H, equipped with the Logset 5-55 harvester head.

Following the business dealings, which saw Logset acquire stock and rights to Norcar, Ponsse went its separate way, leaving Logset without a strong harvester side.

This meant they had to start anew. It began with a previously designed Loglift crane, which had been manufactured for a client but never put into mass production. Alongside the measuring system Motomit, supplied by Mitron Oy, Logset had the foundations laid for a solid machine. And with its close-knit team of designers – Gustav Frantzen, Rune Kald, Esko Aspholm and Birger Enholm – producing the firm’s first branded harvester head, Logset was onto a winner.

Taking inspiration from the Ponsse H60, Logset launched the 500H at Elmia Wood in summer 1993, just two weeks after it had felled its first tree. With many there to bear witness to the birth of Logset’s harvesting legacy, it was Christian Durchschlag from Germany who become the maiden owner of a Logset Harvester.

Most popular harvester – Logset 8H Harvester, 2000

Forestry Journal:

Logset’s forwarding fleet was well underway, but with just the 506H harvester still in production the Finns’ felling side was lacking. After months of rigorous research, a new concept took shape just in time for the Metko Fair; the Logset 8H Titan. A new millennium saw Logset’s technical developments speed up with the newly released Titan series, fitted with top-end SISU engines. 

With the slick silver design and introduction of a modern cabin, Logset was embracing modern times. “They were the only manufacturer who had the curved front cabin and it was heavily commented on about how futuristic it looked – the fact that design is still being used now is proof of that,” said John. 

The full range of harvesters looked completely original, but for John it was the 8H that stood out. “The 8H has been very popular – whether the six- or eight-wheeled model – with 8L or TH75 heads because they are so capable working to their capacity. It’s the perfect middle-of-the-road harvester fit for thinnings and clear-fells and its primarily the one we sell most of.”

With manufacturers beginning to increase the size of their machines, John believes the 6H will go on to become one of the most purchased harvesters in the range. “What most manufacturers have been doing is making their smaller machines bigger, so the new 6H is the same size as the 8H so people are dropping back one model.” 

First hybrid harvester –12H GTE Hybrid, 2016

Forestry Journal:

The groundbreaking 12H GTE Hybrid Logset Harvester was the first of its kind released on the market. With the current clamour for more eco-friendly operations, Logset made great strides within the industry with the electrical energy supporting its Agco Power 7.4L engine, giving it an extra pop of power. With the hybrid system an instant success, its output of 520 hp and torque of 2000 Nm mean it can compete with the traditional diesel-powered machines. 

The 12H GTE is the largest harvester Logset produce. With the reduced fuel consumption the GTE used up to 25 per cent less compared to similar sized diesel machines. It set the bar for those looking to modernise and has been a benchmark ever since. Self-proclaimed as the “most powerful harvester on the market”, the 12H came equipped with the biggest parallel crane available in the Mesera 285, which allowed it extreme lifting capacity powered by its double 210 cc hydraulic pumps.

Demoed around the UK, the 12H GTE began its journey in Scotland, equipped with the Logset TH75 head, and received rave reviews from all who sat within the cab, despite John’s initial reservations. 

“I had mediocre thoughts about the machine; I wasn’t 100 per cent sold on the concept, if I am being honest, before getting a demo, but we sold our first 12H last year to a contractor in Somerset and it is unsurpassed in productivity by anything else on the market currently. 

“We then sold an 8H GTE hybrid to the Doherty Forestry Group and the feedback from the operators was huge. It surpassed their expectations, which is very high praise.” 

So from being dubious to begin with, it is clearly evident from how highly he speaks of the machine that John is now sold on the hybrid system. 

“I’m not in the Green Party, I just like power, and one thing you can say about the hybrid machine is that it’s powerful; the torque available from the engine is instantaneous.

“The harvesters have come a long way since the early 2000s and I do believe that Logset is the fastest-developing manufacturer in the industry. 

“In 1999 it was still using the old Norcar system and today it is the only manufacturer with a hybrid system in operation. 

“So, technically speaking, Logset has developed faster than any of its competitors.”