WITH the workload building up, Jonathan Cook Forestry Services Ltd (JCFS) needed a significant upgrade in extraction capability.

For a few years, Jonathan Cook himself has been swinging a Keto harvesting head around in the woods of the Midlands and the Cotswolds from the comfort of the cab of a Hitachi excavator base machine.

The chainsaw operators were still required to deal with any sizeable trees marked to come down, but the mechanised harvesting capability led to a significant increase in the Worcestershire-based concern’s timber production. Forwarder operator George Gilder was the key member of the team feeling the pressure.

Forestry Journal:

The pre-owned Rottne F9 had turned out to be a very capable machine for the workload for which it was intended. The appointment of Nigel Overton of Pershore by Jonathan Cook as a full-time maintenance engineer three years ago kept the mechanical side of all JCFS operations running smoothly. Nigel now has eight vehicles and half a dozen forestry machines to keep in safe and efficient running order. In agreement with Jonathan he can now prioritise the workload: a slight rattle on the exhaust on one of the tree surgery trucks could be checked and the work postponed to the following week; any issue with the Rottne forwarder had needed to be sorted without delay.

Even with George Gilder fetching and carrying tools and parts for Nigel – and inevitably, crawling into inaccessible places to hold a spanner on the end of a turning stud – half a day’s production at roadside was often lost. Jonathan Cook took advantage of the APF Demo last year to find out what the major forest machinery manufacturers could offer in their forwarder ranges. 

Forestry Journal:

A medium-capacity machine was required, but with the business regularly working in hardwood crops, a more powerful than average loader would justify a slight increase in cost and overall machine weight. John Deere’s 1110G 8-wheeled forwarder, fitted with the CF7 boom, immediately put itself forward as a candidate for the JCFS fleet expansion.

The increase of around 25 per cent in both lifting moment and slewing power over the CF5 option was sure to be used to great advantage on a high proportion of the harvesting sites lined up in the JCFS contract book.

The standard dimensions and manoeuvrability of the JD1110G would still make it perfectly capable of forwarding thinning produce out of softwood plantations, for example, but expanding the machine’s operating envelope for the more complex harvesting situations was a priority. Shifting hardwood harvesting residues, or transporting hardwoods to the roadside for chipping, entails an increased risk of hydraulic hose damage. John Deere’s ‘hidden hoses’ option encloses most of the hosing inside the booms and extensions and out of danger from snagging.

Forestry Journal:

John Deere’s IBC (Intelligent Boom Control) allows the operator to concentrate solely on the position and angle of the grapple, rather than managing individual boom joint movements. With the aforementioned ‘hidden hoses’ option, the only hydraulic connections at risk are the two pairs of hoses to the rotator and grapple – always in the operator’s direct line of sight.

Both Jonathan Cook and George Gilder agree that the IBC system is probably the most impressive asset of the 1110G delivered by John Deere. The overall speed of the IBC operation is adjustable to suit the operator’s requirements, as is the specific speed of the various boom functions. There is always the option of manual control of the boom extensions and the IBC can be deactivated by the flick of a switch, reverting loader control to conventional operation. Cylinder-end damping momentarily reduces hydraulic power as rams reach the end of their travel, reducing the shock and hammer often associated with hydraulic components working fast and coming into close proximity. The durability and longevity of the loader and its constituent components is significantly enhanced.

Forestry Journal:

The double extension option – increasing the maximum reach of the CF7 loader to 10 m – was always going to provide benefits on many of the JCFS harvesting sites. In mixed woodland with trees of assorted dimensions, Jonathan Cook will walk the ground before taking a first pass through with the Hitachi/Keto combination. The extraction routes will be set out and mechanically harvested material can be forwarded to roadside. Oversized trees can then be felled and processed by the chainsaw operators. With the forwarder loader’s 10 m reach, George Gilder now rarely needs to venture off the well-prepared extraction routes.

From the operator’s point of view, the headboard design gives a good view into the load space and the levelling cab (10 degrees to the side and 6 degrees fore and aft) improves the working environment considerably. Having worked excavator-based machines, George found adapting to the rotating cabin easy. A few of the buttons on the controls took a day or two to settle into the back of the mind, but timber production was well up from the start.

Working recently clearing ash on an estate in the South Cotswolds, the attributes of the John Deere 1110G forwarder have been well tested. The lower range of the gearbox (0–7.5 km/h) worked well on the haul up from the stream to the woodland edge with a full load of timber aboard. The higher range (0–23 km/h) took the forwarder gently across agricultural land until the stone track was reached. There, the six-cylinder 6.8l diesel engine could be opened up on the kilometre climb to the timber landing accessible to the wagons.

Forestry Journal:

With well over 200 m³ of timber through the landing or still awaiting uplift, ground damage in the woodland and over the stone tracks has been minimal. With the estate managing its farming interests mostly ‘in house’, access over the agricultural land for the duration of the contract was assured by the management. Nevertheless, as a short spell of wet weather set in and the forwarder’s tyres started leaving marks on the grass, Jonathan Cook shifted the team and the Rottne forwarder to a more suitable site for a week.

The 1110G had already built up a considerable quantity of timber at the landing, and had already proved it had the speed and efficiency to make good any shortfall when the soil conditions improved.