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Doing the splits Firewood is a readily available source of cheap heating for many farms and estates, but its preparation for use can be time consuming and hard work. David Williams exchanged his axe for a selection of the latest log splitters to see how they perform. Google log splitters and it produces a long list of makes and types, from entry-level base specification to space-age designs with all sorts of automation but for the Farmers Guide group test we asked the advice of four major UK suppliers, all of which are experienced in the agricultural market. With tractors providing a readily available source of power, we asked them to lend us one tractor-mounted model popular with farmers from each of their ranges, and our test contained versions costing from just over £700 to almost £5,400. The suppliers were Spaldings, Wessex, Marshall and Ryetec, the latter two specialising in forestry equipment and supplying professional models suitable for frequent heavy use. Spaldings and Wessex products

are available through many agricultural distributors and their log splitters are keenly priced and often held in stock by dealers during the autumn, making them popular sellers. Two of the splitters came with standard spool valve connectors, ready to accept hydraulic power from almost any modern tractor, but the other two came with optional PTO-driven pumps, allowing use with tractors of any age with PTO drive and rear linkage. Since very little power is needed, even older, classic tractors could be used, saving wear and tear on the modern tractor fleet.

Typical tractor For the test, Farmers Guide borrowed a brand new Claas Atos 340 tractor to power the splitters. With 102hp and hydraulic flow rates up to 60-litres/

Four tractor-mounted log splitters were tested by Farmers Guide, from entry-level models for occasional use to professional versions with capacity to keep a village supplied.

min it had way more power than was needed, but is a good example of a typical tractor available on UK farms and its eco PTO setting reduced operating noise and saved fuel while its superb manoeuvrability proved ideal in tight working areas. A local estate provided an

unlimited source of freshly cut wood removed during recent ditch clearing. Larger oak logs had already proved a considerable challenge during attempts to split the damp wood by axe. It was anticipated that the progressive hydraulic splitting action would prove more effective.

Spaldings 14t Hydraulic Log Splitter, £706.73 Splitting force: 14t Log capacity (length x diameter): 600mm x 400mm Max weight 45kg Tractor mounted: 3-point linkage Cat 1 & 2 Hydraulic flow: 1–50-litres/min, maximum pressure 2,500psi The Spaldings splitter arrived in kit form, requiring the linkage cross arm and top link assembly to be attached as well as the spool valve actuator linkage and levers, hydraulic hoses and safety shield.

the splitter is on the floor, making it awkward to hitch up without lifting the splitter or adjusting the tractor’s lower link arms. Hydraulic hoses with push-in connectors are supplied.

Mounting to the tractor

In use

The cross beam for the lower linkage mounts is very low when

Operation at floor level and the low main beam makes it easy to load

The cheapest machine was from Spaldings. Ground level splitting made it easy to load heavier logs but after a while became hard work.

heavy logs. A cradle frame each side of the beam supports large or uneven shaped logs and is effective. The large splitting head is well designed. A gradual taper allows it to penetrate the log, followed by a more aggressive angle forcing the wood to split. The push plate is a good size with protruding grips holding the log in position. Like the other splitters, the Spaldings machine requires both hands to be on the controls before splitting can take place and a simple guard prevents single-handed use, and the opportunity to place hands in the splitting area.

Two levers, one either side of the top guard, are pushed forward and held for the ram to extend. When these are released travel stops and when they are pulled back the ram automatically and fully retracts, allowing the next log to be loaded. The splitter is efficient, and there is little of a reasonable size that it won’t handle. Work rate is moderate, but the low beam height means split logs quickly accumulate to interfere with the splitting process and require frequent clearing. The low beam height makes loading heavy logs easier but continued over...

Simple controls. Twin levers either side of a guard prevent one-handed operation to ensure safety. The top linkage mount was a weakness, and suitable only for moving around the yard.

September 2017 www.farmersguide.co.uk 51

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Farmers Guide September 2017  

Farmers Guide Magazine September 2017 Issue

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