Turning Archive 2004

Big Madrone

Bob Smalser, Seabeck, WA
>Another boring day at work….a 60” DBH Pacific Madrone or Arbutus. Two hundred and forty years growing in full sun on the beach. For those unfamiliar with this West Coast understory tree, it likes gravel soil in the forest or forest edge and twists as it grows to reach for the sun…straight-grained ones like this monarch are rare. The wood has the texture of beech but is significantly harder and heavier…the few straight boards make wonderful flooring and it’s popular with turners.

By the time I get there with the Peterbilt, Joe and crew have it pretty much topped and ready to fall.

Mark and Joe make the face cut…

…the tree falls under control of the hinge onto a bed of logs prepared for it…

…and slides further down the beach away from the stump than we planned, creating a challenge moving and loading 8-foot, 8500lb logs with a 6000lb machine barely capable of picking up one end at a time on logs this heavy….hydraulic loaders have maximum power close in, not at full extension. As we are at weight limits for both loading and hauling, Mark cuts the buttress back to sound wood, as the extra weight versus the waste of rotten pith isn’t worth it.

The crew compensates by rigging cable chokers and chains to keep within the machine’s powerband, as this wood is [i]heavy[/i].

We try a couple different tricks to ootch the whole logs onto the back of the Pete…the log loader is on the cabover Freightliner on the left with the Pete backed in close…but finally decide to rip the logs into halves the loader will handle easily. The tree is on a construction site and the mission isn’t to spend time saving a few BF but to finish the removal job today.

Lower log is on the Pete and the 3’ stump section is being swung onto the Freightliner.

There’s a load that goes around 10 tons….right at my weight limit….and while the crew grinds the stump and chips the remaining waste, I drive home and prepare the logs and the mill for action as the crew will drop by after breakfast tomorrow to see how the first boards look.

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