I needed to build a fence, so I needed to clear some land, so I could use the logs to mill into fence boards and build the fence around the newly cleared land. So I needed a way to get the logs to the mill, about 400 yards away. So I needed a log arch....Here's my build....
I've read many threads on homemade log arches and decided I wanted my own. I built it with all scrap metal and ended up not having to pay for anything, other than the winch itself and the fairlead.
I figured I would share my log arch build with all of you because looking at pics of other log arches really helped in my design.
I knew I would be using this with a tractor and not ATV so I made it HEAVY! I wanted to be able to easily skid a 16' log totally suspended, so I made the main top beam about 8' long, + the tounge. I don't have much trouble with maneuvering the arch through the woods, just need to pick my line correctly
Here are some pics of my build, a friend of my father's was kind enough to weld it up for us as a favor....
I started with 2 pieces of 8' 4X6 box steel, they were laying in the dirt (literally had to find them digging off a couple inches) for many many years. they had a lot of surface rust but nothing major, after running a wirewheel over them quickly they looked in good shape.
I didn't want to cut the beams in sections and have to weld them back together, so what I did was mark off the spots where I wanted the 'bends' to make my full arch, then I used a metal cutting blade on my mitre saw (I have since learned to NEVER do this, so I will NEVER do that again, if I ever need to cut steel again I'll buy a dedicated steel chopsaw)
I set the saw to 22.5 degree angle and cut out a 'wedge' shape.
I then flipped the beam over so the wedge openings (45degrees) were facing down. I heated the only remaining side up with torches until it was hot enough where the steel would start bending down under it's own weight. Using a large triangle square I bent the steel until it was at exactly 45 degrees.
I repeated this for all the 'wedges' that I had cut. This worked extremely well and was a simple way to get a perfect shaped arch using basic geometry.
Here is the general idea...
"Dad, I swear it's gonna work, my forum friends do this all the time..."
We didn't have any other steel laying around other than those 2 beams, so my father (one of those guys that just ALWAYS seems to find a deal) found a trailer for sale on craigslist for cheap money, well long story short it didn't have a solid axle, the asked why he needed that, he explained what we needed, the guy said "oh I have just what you need, and you can HAVE it" So my dad, being the good guy that he is, picked up this trailer for me, for free...
Perfect! We cut that bad boy up in no time, I actually didn't want to cut it up, it was in good shape and would have made a great woods trailer, but hey, the price was right...
The day before we started cutting the trailer, I had just had lasik eye surgery, so I stayed away from the 'steel fragments flying everywhere' jobs. (Note:this build was many different days over a couple month period)
Obviously the axle would be too long so we had to shorten it. (you can see where I used the left over waste from the "wedges" to tac the arch into the right shape)
Arch welded into shape and spikes removed:
We cut one of the wheel and hub assemblies off the axle:
We welded the this plate onto the bottom of the arch, ....The plate was one of the brackets that held the wheel/hub assembly on the axle (if I remember correctly.)
Truing up the wheel alignment....
Now it's starting to take shape...
The plate we used on the bottom of the arch beam (old axle bracket) worked great for attaching the hub, it couldn't have been a more perfect size.
Blury pic of fitting the main beam into position...
Installing a little extra stability with the brackets:
The main beam is welded on:
From here we do have more pics of installing the tounge and crossbar in the back, but I don't have them at this computer so I'll skip them for now. Hopefully I'll remember to add them later. Anyways I'll post some pics of the finished (mostly) product and some of it in use.
Here is a little creative 'custom' work....
The cup holders are made of a solid piece of steel going across the bottom, and 2 spare muffler clamps welded to the main beam, this was another perfect fit...
This was my only mistake, up to the point of needing a winch and fairlead I hadn't spent a dime on the log arch, so I made the mistake of buying a northern tool Note:Please read the Forestry Forum's postion on this company
:AKA JUNK AND CRAP STORE cheapo winch. I wanted a self braking worm drive winch which is what I got, however it was way too cheap for what I was using it for. We ended up using a cumalong to get us through the first few days of use. I still need to buy a heavy duty winch for it, any recommendations??
The fairlead worked well, but the diameter is too skinny for my liking, I will buy a larger diameter heavy duty one that should last a good while. I never should have skimped on these two important things, I should have bought the heavy duty, expensive winch. Lesson learned.
(I'm still keeping my eyes out for a good used heavy duty winch
Putting it to use clearing land for my new dog fence (which was made out of 1x4 lumber I milled from the trees I cleared from the land)
Not a log arch photo but some of the logs we 'skidded'
and as a side note, here is the first appearance of my nephew on the forum, he LOVES tractor rides and playing outside....he'll be a forestry addict soon enough....
Nephew with his grandpa (Bubba)
I think I'm a bad influence..
Okay back to business, here is the longest log I have skidded so far...
Your probably wondering why I didn't just cut it into smaller sections since this won't fit on the mill anyways.......Well........because I wanted to prove my new arch alright!
If you've seen any of my other posts...you'll know I always have to throw in a pic of my 'kids'
The newest member of the family..
One of my helpers taking a well deserved rest...
And the final product of many of the skidded logs:
I think that about does it for my log arch build, all in all it has worked great, aside from the cheapo winch. I am very happy with the size, I read a lot about the advantages of the smaller ones in tight woods but I'm glad I went with the one I did. I knew I would be using it behind the tractor so I made the width of the outside of the wheels about the same as the tractor, however still a bit skinnier.
One thing that I thought of after I built it, that I wish I had planned into the design, was to make it wide enough so I could back the arch over my LT15, and lower the log right onto the arch. I haven't tried this yet (or measured the width of my mill) so maybe it will still work. I think if it is wide enough the the vertical clearance will be the next obstacle. If it works then great, if not then oh well, however something to keep in mind for someone who is planning on building an arch and not worried about the size. If I ever built another one I think that would be the main consideration in sizing it, however I don't think I'll ever need to build another one, this thing will outlast me and is built like a tank.
I think if the width of the arch is enough to fit around the mill frame (so I could back the log right onto it) but I don't have enough vertical clearance, then I might keep my eyes open for some large military type tires and rims, that would give me enough clearance I would think.
The width of the inside of the arch is about 38" I don't have a tree on my land that is that large but I did this so it will make it easier when picking up multiple logs, like say 5 or 6 firewood logs. The arch has saved a lot of grass, and keep the logs nice and clean for the mill. Also helps with my chain life on the saw when I'm cutting firewood. It really does make it pretty easy to skid a huge log!
In the end my father helped a TON, both in the log arch as well as clearing, cutting, and building the fence. He's a good guy to have around!
Hope you enjoyed.....