May 2021 Forest Focus - One 'L' of a skidder

May 2021 Forest Focus - One 'L' of a skidder
 May 2021    Story & photos: John Ellegard

Back in the day, woodlot crews typically ran the oldest, most worn out and least-efficient machines in the forest, but times have changed.

Many of the woodlot crews I visit now are equipped with gear that almost rivals their corporate colleagues as they seek to lift their professional standards, improve performance and safety. Like Hodgson Logging of Benneydale, which runs an impressive, up-to-date fleet of mostly CAT tracked machines in its tidy operation.

But a few months ago, a green interloper appeared amongst its sea of yellow – one of the first John Deere L-II series skidders to go to work in New Zealand.

The whole L-series range of skidders has gone through a makeover recently, with these Mark 2 versions receiving around 1,600 changes in the process.

Most of the changes are quite subtle and hidden from plain view, but collectively they add up to a real improvement on the previous L-series skidders, which in themselves were a significant step forward when introduced more than six years ago. 

That much was evident when NZ Logger looked at one of the first L-series to arrive here in 2016, a top-of-the-range John Deere 948L run by Wild Hog Logging north of Gisborne. It was a machine built to pull massive drags in any conditions. And it did just that.

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