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iron test: Stan Barlow

FULL OF PROMISE IT’S HARD NOT TO FEEL OVERWHELMED in the cab of this new Alpine yarder – there’s so much going on. I found myself looking all over the place; at the camera, at the information, the rope distance, the pressures in terms of overrevving it or having too much weight on it was a little confusing to take in at first. And the complexity of all those buttons…….. But gradually it all started to make sense and by the end of the Iron test I was feeling my feet and enjoying just how good this machine is. Man, it’s fast. You can’t help but be impressed with the line speed, the braking system, even with the drag when I sort-of overloaded it – I’ve never seen anything like this where a yarder this size can hold that sort of weight and hold that line speed. This thing is competing with the smallest of our swing yarders and it’s working just as well. There’s a lot of potential for a machine like this out there. The combination of the carriage and how the yarder system seems to work nicely together is impressive. Once you get used to the grapple set-up and how it works, it’s very good. Maybe for a new person jumping on without any

experience of an accumulator carriage, perhaps it would be helpful just to have a manual grapple while they get used to it. Even for someone like myself, who has yarding experience, it’s not hard to mess up. And it you do make a mistake, you’ve got to pull the carriage back again to charge up the accumulator. It doesn’t take any prisoners, you’ve got to be very precise. But I reckon It makes you a better operator. I’ve worked yarders where most of the functions are on the joysticks, but this one took quite a bit of getting used to because there’s so much to remember. I can’t wait to see how they simplify the controls, because it will be a much easier machine to operate and probably much smoother, too. It does feel a little clunky now and Andy says the new software that’s going in soon will overcome that. I do like the way you just work off the pressures on the screen, trying to keep them in the green zone. Simple to understand. The camera worked well and I could easily see the wood, helped by the distance reader telling you when you’re getting close to where it last grabbed stems and then it’s just a case of guiding the grapple down.

Iron Tester, Stan Barlow.

Or re

With the bucket planted in the ground you don’t have the luxury of easy sideways movement with the boom, but I still found it easy to control that grapple movement, forward or back, and placing it on the logs. If you really needed to get some sideways movement you can lift the bucket and swing, provided it’s stable. I didn’t feel experienced enough to do that in the test, though. In the hands of someone like Major, who demonstrated that when you do have a very proficient operator at the controls, the Alpine is excellent at pulling wood. It has lots of promise for the future. NZL

Since it arrived last October, the Alpine shovel yarder has improved productivity for Complete Logging.

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