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Author Topic: What's your favorite small skidder for steep terrain?  (Read 1623 times)

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Offline modifier

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What's your favorite small skidder for steep terrain?
« on: September 28, 2017, 01:03:59 am »
I need to haul it around with a 1 ton dually Dodge and a raised flat deck trailer so it can't be too big.  I've asked on a couple logging page on facebook for opinions and read a lot of threads on forums like this one and more people seem to like Timberjacks over anything else.  I'm thinking a 230D would be as big as I can go. There are some nice features about John Deere 440s but I think I have decided to stay away. People always say they tip over easy and are expensive to repair.  I like how low slung the TJs are too.  A couple of guys have said they prefer a rigid front, articulating rear axle for rough terrain but then others say the opposite and prefer a rigid rear axle.  All the skidders I've been looking at have a fixed rear axle so I'm not sure what models they are talking about that articulate in the back.  C4 or C5D Tree Farmer are other possibilities. I've seen some clean looking TJ 240Ds and found a good deal on a JD 540 turbo for sale but maybe those are too big to haul without a lowboy. It's hard to find technical information on any of the older skidders to compare specifications, like weight, length, width and height.  Is it easier to get parts for TJs or Tree Farmers? I don't have time to buy something that needs work, except maybe paint, I already have too many projects that don't get done.  Thanks for your help.

Offline Riwaka

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Re: Looking to buy a small skidder
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2017, 03:59:31 am »
Have you measured the slope of the terrain to determine how steep the property is? If very steep a bulldozer might be better for log extraction than a rubber tired skidder.
How far is the haul distance to the load out area?
Is there a problem with loggers in your area not wanting or able to do this work for you?
How large are the trees? e.g  (nasty surprise at end of vid)


Offline Neilo

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Re: Looking to buy a small skidder
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2017, 05:15:41 am »
The skidders without a front walking beam have a central oscillation, not rear axle. Examples are Cat 518 and Franklins.

Offline coxy

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Re: Looking to buy a small skidder
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2017, 06:04:43 am »
case, pettibone  also had the rear oscillation  also welcome to the FF

Offline modifier

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Re: Looking to buy a small skidder
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2017, 10:25:36 am »
Thanks for the welcome and the reply. I'm not harvesting trees.  If the trees are nice I want to leave them for the most part. If I do take down any good ones I can skid them to a landing and someone else can come haul them away and pay me. I want to create a driveway, a building site and clear out some of the trees down in the hollow for a better sight line and some trails.  I don't want to just cut the trees down and leave them laying there.  There are lots of large boulders down in the bottom and a tracked machine would not do well down there.  If the rocks aren't big then the ground is covered with what looks like deep large gravel.  Kind of odd.  If it is mine tailings they sure had a lot of it and distributed it well.  There were zinc mines just down the way. The property is steep enough in places it's difficult to walk and except for maybe a rock bouncer buggy I would not want to take any other kind of 4x4 rig down or up the worst parts, a trials motorcycle would be best.  There is an old narrow skidder road going down into the gulch and up the other side that after the work I want to use as a 4x4 and dirtbike trail as part of that system. It borders a wilderness area and the forestry dept has cut some fire roads through the hills.  Hard to stay on your feet walking down them. 

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Re: Looking to buy a small skidder
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2017, 10:27:42 am »
Maybe half a mile to where logging trucks could get to a landing. It varies. I have 250 acres.

Offline mike_belben

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Re: Looking to buy a small skidder
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2017, 10:36:21 am »
That steep rock stuff just sounds like trouble in any machine.  How are you gonna extract a skidder with a cut tire, or rolled into a rock patch at the bottom?


The driveway and pad work you want to do may be wiser in a 6way bladed dozer.      How big are the rocks? Moveable or eternally stationary?  Or It might better suited to excavator.. Their undercarriages just position them to work.  Look up shovel logging they do some steep stuff.    In dozing and skidding, no traction = no travel.  No travel = no work.

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Re: Looking to buy a small skidder
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2017, 10:52:21 am »
I've thought about what to do if something went wrong if I'm in the bottom and I guess I'd have to get another logger in the area to help.  Like I said there is a skidder road so it has been done before.  I'd hire someone to grade the road after I laid out the route and cleared a path.  But it's not going to be for 2wd cars. I don't have any desire to own a dozer or an excavator. I'm not moving any rocks, unless I want to build a dam. I'm looking for a nice small skidder.

Offline mike_belben

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Re: Looking to buy a small skidder
« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2017, 10:56:57 am »
Fair enough.

Offline coxy

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Re: Looking to buy a small skidder
« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2017, 08:54:34 pm »
when I get a flat sneaker I just drive to the landing I changed just one tire in the woods and will never do it again you never have the right tools and going back and forth to get them takes time so ill take my chances on having to get another tire if I mess the flat one up 

Offline modifier

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Re: Looking to buy a small skidder
« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2017, 10:59:40 pm »
I guess skidders don't have bead locks do they?  Driving to the landing sounds like a good idea as long as you don't loose the tire from the bead on the way.  I was thinking more of needing help if I rolled over.  I'd be working alone, so maybe having an electric winch just for self righting might not be such a bad idea.  I've wondered why skidders don't have self recovery winches behind the blade anyhow.  In case you get stuck in the mud and need to go forward. Or to get up a hill you can't drive up. So far no one has touched my main questions about what their favorite small skidder is in the woods and why, or if someone has a nice 230D for sale. :)

Well I guess strike that question.  I just got a warning to not advertise.  At first I didn't know what they were talking about since I am not advertising anything for sale, but I'm guessing asking if anyone has a skidder for sale is considered advertising.  So if that is it maybe that is why no one has responded.  ??  I looked in the for sale section and not much there.  No address to reply to in the warning to ask why.

Offline Spartan

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Re: What's your favorite small skidder for steep terrain?
« Reply #11 on: September 29, 2017, 12:14:02 am »
If you are just backing up the hill or coming straight down, probably doesn't matter much which machine.  If you are going to do some sidehilling, thats when the pucker factor comes in.  You want a machine with a low center of gravity and a wide stance, decent chains (4).  don't skimp on the traction department or you can get into a bad situation real quik on the steep stuff.  I have a larger skidder but not huge by any means.  Its a timber Jack 450, older one.  I love the way it handles on a side hill.  I have driven some older CAT skidders, and older John Deere and by far I enjoy steep stuff on my TJ compared to those.  You can also fill tires with fluid to help keep you planted as well.  I like a lighter machine if I am just motoring around on sidehills also, they slip less, the trade off is when you hook a heavier hitch and sidehill with it, the lighter machine can walk downhill on you.

I also like the front articulating axle better, you can judge  slope and machine tilt angles by watching the front tires before you commit the whole skidder

Offline Neilo

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Re: What's your favorite small skidder for steep terrain?
« Reply #12 on: September 29, 2017, 05:38:55 am »
My 230D is on aftermarket wheels and is 9' wide, but I still don't like it on steep slopes. The older Timberjacks with the one drum brakes don't stop well. The late D with the handbrake are a little better.

I'd look for an E or A with better brakes and a door if you want to go hard places.

Offline Riwaka

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Re: What's your favorite small skidder for steep terrain?
« Reply #13 on: September 29, 2017, 05:42:10 am »
Go for a machine with a longer wheelbase , the skidders with the front and rear tires close together can be problematic around large rocks. The Cat 527 logging dozers are used in some pretty rocky places.



Offline mf40diesel

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Re: What's your favorite small skidder for steep terrain?
« Reply #14 on: September 29, 2017, 10:03:58 am »
I have an older TJ 225. We have some steep land where I work in western Maine, although likely not as steep as your referring too. My ole jack is pretty stable, definitely more than my buddies Deere 440c.  I think his machine might be a shade faster, but I really do think mine will out pull him. Hahah.

I will totally second the comment about the brakes, mine, while they do work, are not real good. I think if I were doing what you plan to, I would at least do the disc brake modification which I hope to do one day myself.

Also, getting on and off the old jacks is way way easier than anything else. Although working on parts of the drive line is a challenge for anyone due to accessibility. 
John Deere 5055e, mfwd. Farmi JL306 Winch. Timberjack 225 Skidder. Splitfire splitter & Stihl saws.

Offline mf40diesel

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Re: What's your favorite small skidder for steep terrain?
« Reply #15 on: September 29, 2017, 10:04:29 am »
Can we see some pictures?  Your land sounds pretty beautiful actually
John Deere 5055e, mfwd. Farmi JL306 Winch. Timberjack 225 Skidder. Splitfire splitter & Stihl saws.

Offline modifier

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Re: What's your favorite small skidder for steep terrain?
« Reply #16 on: September 29, 2017, 12:01:11 pm »
You know what year the better brakes came out?  Also what are the differences between a 230D, 230E and 230A?

Like I said, hard to find info on model and year changes.  Maybe I should look for a Timber Jack forum.  If there is one.  Or a skidder only forum.  Probably neither.

My 230D is on aftermarket wheels and is 9' wide, but I still don't like it on steep slopes. The older Timberjacks with the one drum brakes don't stop well. The late D with the handbrake are a little better.

I'd look for an E or A with better brakes and a door if you want to go hard places.

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Re: What's your favorite small skidder for steep terrain?
« Reply #17 on: September 29, 2017, 12:07:03 pm »
Can we see some pictures?  Your land sounds pretty beautiful actually

It has potential.  There is a big rock cliff on one side before it drops off into the hollow.  There are some bigger trees down there but up on top it was logged at some point and they took all the big good trees which allowed all the little trees to take over so now it is just a mess pretty much.  You can't see very far in any direction at most parts.  We'll see what I do.  It would be a lot of work to make it nice.  Or just make a road to the cliff, build a simple house hanging out over it and take down some of the trees in the bottom to allow for a bit of a view and leave the rest.  I don't have many photos.  A few when walking around but I can't figure out how to post photos here.  It says I'm not allowed.

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Re: What's your favorite small skidder for steep terrain?
« Reply #18 on: September 29, 2017, 12:10:20 pm »
Is that your video?  JD440?  If it is yours, is it hard to fix the brakes and why is there trouble lifting the blade?  Operator seems to be able to work around it and the lack of power, but it'd be nice to have both working imo. ;)

Go for a machine with a longer wheelbase , the skidders with the front and rear tires close together can be problematic around large rocks. The Cat 527 logging dozers are used in some pretty rocky places.


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Re: What's your favorite small skidder for steep terrain?
« Reply #19 on: September 29, 2017, 12:14:47 pm »
I was thinking the same thing about doing a disc brake conversion if they are so weak, maybe even add a brake booster, although that would require a vacuum or air pump.  I was talking to someone with a C4 a few days ago who had done a disc brake conversion and he liked it. No one makes a kit do they?  That would be easier, not that it's that hard of a project, but bolt on is always nice.

I have an older TJ 225. We have some steep land where I work in western Maine, although likely not as steep as your referring too. My ole jack is pretty stable, definitely more than my buddies Deere 440c.  I think his machine might be a shade faster, but I really do think mine will out pull him. Hahah.

I will totally second the comment about the brakes, mine, while they do work, are not real good. I think if I were doing what you plan to, I would at least do the disc brake modification which I hope to do one day myself.

Also, getting on and off the old jacks is way way easier than anything else. Although working on parts of the drive line is a challenge for anyone due to accessibility.