Shaws Iron Test: Smooth land prep operation

Shaws Iron Test: Smooth land prep operation
     Story & photos: Tim Benseman

This Sumitomo is a great land prep machine. Smooth and stable. One of the key differences between a logging operator and forestry land prep op is that the latter is reaching out fully almost every time they perform a manoeuvre, so smoothness and stability at full reach is number one.

This machine has the heavy-duty boom for forestry and the high lift which is good for getting the boom and stick up closer to the cab when sidling through narrow road cuttings, raking up debris, squeezing between log stacks and the like. Without a high lift in land prep you have a few frustrating moments and can also get your rake stuck on top of the cab if the rake isn’t set up right for the machine. This boom is about a metre longer than some other brands as well, so that adds to its capability and efficiency. 

Climbing up into this machine it has that familiar rock-steady Sumi feel to it. Kind of hard to believe it’s only a 210-sized machine actually. 

Owner, Darrin Kealey, told me I might have an issue running this with the Cat controls but I have a Cat 320 of my own so I wasn’t fazed. Turns out my old Cat is running Hitachi controls so I actually didn’t know what I was on about and quickly concluded that there should be a law against different digger controls. 

I managed to perform the basic land prep tasks but there were a few times I went to do one thing and another thing happened and I had to stop and scratch my head for a sec to figure out WTF was going on. 

Tracking back and forth in the raked rows, this machine is nice and stable with minimal jolting and smooth power. The reason I think it’s a great land prep machine is that smooth power and stability are what operators really need to stay in the land prep game. 

It’s all too easy to get wound up in high SPH blocks where every push-up of debris leads to two or three stump strikes, rattling the operator. Then when they draw in the stick for the next push the rattled nerves can tend to kick in and before you know it, the inside of the cab turns blue and you hope nobody is listening to the obscenities being muttered or shouted depending on the severity of the conditions.  

I used to have to button back throttles sometimes by 70% and yet still hit target and, just as importantly, didn’t have to get a full replate done on my booms. There were a few small cracks here and there though.

The gun op in the crew I was in had about $10,000 worth of plates and engineering work done on his boom inside 6000 hours and those plates covered the entirety of both sides and half the underside and top of the bend in the boom and, within 2000 hours, more cracks had...

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