WHEN it comes to parting with their hard-earned cash, forestry’s operators are never ones to rush into anything. That’s not to say they are cheap – although we’re sure there are plenty out there who always manage to leave their wallet behind when it’s time for end-of-job pints – but with equipment and machinery coming at such a high cost, they just want to make sure they are buying something that’s right for them. 

It’s a good thing that advice and real-world experience can be easily sought on the Forest Machine Operators Blog. Sometimes it’s wanted, and at others it’s given without much prompting (“I can’t believe you’re still using a [insert perfectly serviceable brand/machine here]” etc). But for those times when an operator is in a bind, the blog remains an invaluable source of information. 

Take a couple of posts from recent weeks. Let’s start with one operator’s hunt for the perfect way to communicate with his team. 

Forestry Journal: Bedwyr JonesBedwyr Jones (Image: Bites)

“Is anyone using the Stihl ProCom helmet sets or similar? Looking to make things easier and safer when hand cutters and harvester driver are working together. Guessing you have to buy a helmet version and then just a headset (non-helmet set for harvester driver)?” 

Stihl’s communication kit has certainly impressed FJour writer called it a “great leap forward” in his 2022 review – and it seems many operators view the ProCom in similarly favourable terms. 

“They are great and make life a lot safer and simpler,” one operator replied. 

“Yep, been using them for over a year and had no problems with them. Range is good,” added another, before offering one titbit that’s worth bearing in mind. 

“Works out expensive if you buy them on the Stihl helmet. We fitted them to the Husky helmet.” 

Others went a little further, providing (as members do so well) more details on their real-life experience of Stihl’s kit, including some of the possible niggles they’ve found. 

Forestry Journal: Simon GrinnellSimon Grinnell (Image: Bites)

One replied: “We use Stihl ProComs. They are great especially when connected to your phone so you can switch between channels. 

“We are having some trouble with batteries not lasting long when it’s cold, but the supplier is going to sort that. Personally I think every company should be using them when people are working near machines.” 

Another told of his experiences using the ProCom in a sawmill. “If you have the mic off on the settings, it’s perfect. It’s pretty easy to operate the manual switch when needed, there is a slight delay on the switch but you soon get used to it.

“The only problem we’ve had with them was a slight issue with a mic, but we put that down to the constant rain we work in on Dartmoor. 

“Would recommend them to anyone – really worth the outlay.” 

In truth, there were very few complaints about Stihl’s headset, and the general consensus was that, if you have the money, it is worth every penny. 


“Best money I’ve spent in long time,” is how one operator summed it up. “If you have a big job with like 15 operators, they are a game changer.” 

From the small kit to the much larger now, and there was another discussion about what to buy that garnered plenty of response on the blog last month. This time it concerned timber trailers. 

“Looking at compact timber trailers in the two to three tonne range for use behind large quad/small tractor,” one operator asked. “Aside from the likes of Kellfri and Vahva Jussi, are there any manufacturers people would recommend?” 

Again, replies ranged from the short and sweet – “Kranman trailers are great build quality and last” or “I’ve got a Riko, it’s good value for money” – to something a little more in-depth like this. 

“I had a Kellfri for five years – great bit of kit, good lift and carry capacity and cheap – but that meant a bit if welding here and there to strengthen odd brackets etc (but I had no major failure issues). Good as a starter or moderate use trailer.

Forestry Journal: Radek HolbaRadek Holba (Image: Bites)

“Moved onto an Avestavagnen – awesome bit of kit. Much more expensive than Kellfri, but all the bells and whistles – steering drawbar, radio-control winch, linked drive system. 

“Excellent crane with high-lift capacity (and extending outer boom), movable bogies etc. Key-start Honda engine – can’t fault it and perfectly capable of full-time work.” 

Responding to the member, the original operator commented: “That’s great to hear!

"My thoughts are exactly as you’ve said. The Kellfri is a cheap entry-level trailer and I can accept that there may be areas to improve but for the price point, as long as they don’t fall apart, I don’t think you can grumble. 

“It’s not for heavy commercial use, merely managing a 30-acre wood, so I’d like to think with me as an owner operator it would last well.” 

Forestry Journal: John Saj SajevecJohn Saj Sajevec (Image: Bites)

There was one other suggestion that stood out, and that was that the operator should instead consider buying a mini-forwarder, like an Alstor. However, in response, the member said: “Not got that much budget I’m afraid.” 

Elsewhere on the blog, members turned to another evergreen topic – the weather. 

“In the cream, but I’ve had enough of this rain,” wrote one operator, sharing a picture from a harvesting site. And it seemed he was not alone in having had enough of living like a duck. 

Replies included: 

“Bloody weather been brutal for months.” 

“Yes it’s amazing how wet you can get running to the truck at the end of a shift.” 

“Imagine it under two feet of snow. Give me the rain any day.” 

However, one member had a little less sympathy for the UK’s operators. 

Forestry Journal: Kieran WallKieran Wall (Image: Bites)

“Must be tough on the windscreen wipers and that heater blowing warm all the time ... Signed, hand cutter.” We’ll just leave that discussion for members to have between themselves. 

But we’ll end on a lighter note. Last month, FJ shared an image of an AEC Matador doing some forestry work into the blog. For those who don’t know, this was a truck built during World War II, and many of them were later converted for other uses, such as in the woods. Few are left now, and there’s always a tinge of sadness about the disappearance of a beloved machine of old. 

“Drove one of these in early 70s. Great old tools,” is how one operator put it, while another added: “Got to love a Matty.” 

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