EVEN at the frantic pace with which time passes us all by (seriously, how can it be June already?), the speed at which technology marches on is head-spinning. The very fact there are foresters out there who still remember doing everything by hand says it all. In fact, we’re pretty sure it won’t be long until some newfangled AI is putting together this magazine in our place (feel free to insert your joke about how that would improve its quality). 

There was one major story that got members on the Forest Machine Operators Blog talking last month. It concerned Husqvarna’s bold decision to unveil an electric chainsaw with a clutch, in a bid to win over more petrol users to battery-powered tools. This trend is something we’ve seen a lot in recent times – we all remember Ponsse’s hybrid forwarder concept that was launched to much fanfare last year – but there’s been one problem; few, if any, electric tools/machines have been any good. Maybe they’ve been okay for DIY gardeners or trainees just starting out in the woods, but when a job has needed doing, they’ve too often let operators and foresters down. 

Hoping to change that is Husqvarna with its 542i XP and T542i XP, and, if discussion on the blog is anything to go by, some are ready for the change to come. 

“Bring it on,” one operator replied to our news story about Husqvarna’s release.

“Professional electric saws can’t come soon enough in my view. 

Forestry Journal: Husqvarna launched a range of products last month Husqvarna launched a range of products last month (Image: PR)

“We need reliability back in the chainsaw range – the petrol saws of the last few years from Stihl and Husqy have been frankly s****! And the introduction of more ethanol in fuel is causing all sorts of problems and adding to unreliability and increased costs. 

“To me, as long as a battery lasts 2.5 hours on a pro saw, it’s good enough. Stop and change battery, then carry on. Be interested to see how long the new pro batteries last on a charge.” 

With the saws slated for an August 2023 release, it’ll be really interesting to hear just how they work in reality on the ground. 

However, there are, of course, many operators and foresters who remember saws of yesteryear with fondness. And our story had a couple of members reminiscing about past tools. 

Forestry Journal: Craig MckerralCraig Mckerral (Image: Bites)

“Never beat the ’80s for saws,” one declared, only for another operator to interject: “I know what you’re saying, but my feckin back aches at the thought of wrestling with that 181 then 288 all day.” 

We shudder at the thought! But, the original replier reeled off a few of his favourites, and had us all remembering days gone by. 

“I was thinking about 266 XP 254 XPg, 262 XPg, and my Jonsered 630; good saws all round.” 

From chainsaws to something a little more frightening. A video was shared into the group last month that showed a John Deere 1470D sliding down a snow-covered hillside, while its operator frantically tried to wrestle it back under control. Thankfully, it appears he emerged unscathed but it certainly give many a member the jitters. 

“I’d say clean undies were needed after that episode!” is how one operator put it, with another adding: “I think, trousers as well! Difficult to say anything about the cab!”

Frankly, we doubt we’d ever get back in a cab again after that. 

But an episode like this always has members wondering just what went wrong. It’s safe to say, they were divided on this point. 

“No band tracks or chains, on a bank in winter ... Pre-planning prevents piss poor performance!!” suggested one, perhaps rather harshly. 

Another member certainly seemed to agree it was unfair to pin all the blame on the poor operator, replying: “Looks like his tracks might have broke or come off. One is being held in the harvesting head.” 

Forestry Journal: Jure MegličJure Meglič (Image: Bites)

Another operator even went so far as to praise the driver for rescuing the situation. 

“Very unlucky, chains on the back and band tracks. Good operator getting himself out of a very difficult situation that many wouldn’t have managed.”

However you feel about it all, at least we can agree that it’s a good thing no one was hurt. 

Are we getting a rough deal in the UK? Answers on a postcard, please. But it was this very question that sparked another discussion on the blog last month. 

This time it was the price of used machines, and whether or not they lose their value much quicker on these islands than elsewhere around the world. 

Forestry Journal: Brice CardosoBrice Cardoso (Image: Bites)

Kicking off the conversation, one member wrote: “Flicking through Mascus (as you do). Machines seem to hold their value a lot better everywhere else in the world than here in the UK.” 

We’ll start off with the replies that seemed to back up his point. 

“Weakened pound against both euro and dollar certainly hasn’t helped.” 

“Export of machines back to Europe is more problematic since Brexit, particularly with phytosanitary certification.” 

“Funny really, we had a machine come in from the US last week, no problem at all, no-one asked about anything. We have a machine going to Germany this week, different story.” 

“That’s because no one in the UK has got any money to spend on one!”

Hard to argue with that! 

Forestry Journal: Kenny FergusonKenny Ferguson (Image: Bites)

But several members pointed to one crucial difference between the UK and other countries. 

“Are you taking into account the import taxes they pay when buying the machines in? In America, for example, they pay £100,000 more than we do because of the higher import taxes. Hence why a five-year-old machine is still worth a lot.” 

Another agreed. 

“Nailed it. We start quite a bit higher so the percent of depreciation is probably pretty similar. Actually, it’s closer to £200,000 price difference for harvesters. When I bought our scorpion at the end of 2017 it was $180,000 more than the same machine in the UK new. That was accounting for exchange rate as well. Was pretty crazy honestly.”

So, maybe we are getting a good deal after all? We’ll let you decide.

Forestry Journal: Kestutis ZabinskasKestutis Zabinskas (Image: Bites)

Finally, members on the Blog are well known for their helpfulness, and they were at it once again. This time, it concerned fuel cards, and whether or not they are worth taking a punt on. 

“Fuel cards – anyone on here use them and are they worth it? If so which company is the best? Cheers all.”  

Replies included: 

“I use a Shell one. Currently 20p a litre cheaper than the pumps.” 

“I’ve a Texaco card from fuel card services and it does me. I get a text on Friday telling me next week’s price and it’s accepted in Coop, Tesco, etc. Get a statement each month, direct debit payment. Never had an issue in 10 years.” 

“Rightfuelcard has been good for us. Four cards across four vehicles. Shell only.”

Forestry Journal: Urh GroznikUrh Groznik (Image: Bites) 

“I have three. Shell only, as it’s the cheapest one I’ve got. If you do a lot of motorway miles, it’s great to pull up and know you’ll be paying 40-odd pence less than pump price. No receipts needed either as they come through weekly.” 

So, there you have it. If you need fuel on a consistent basis, get a fuel card. Another helpful tip from the world’s forestry operators. 

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