Waratah’s New Head Hits The Sweet Spot
Waratah’s new 623C processing head has proven to be a “sweet-spot machine” for contractor James Godsoe, offering the versatility he needs for harvesting a varied wood profile in the B.C. Interior.
By Jim Stirling
James Godsoe (right) calls the new Waratah 623 C processing head “a sweet-spot machine” because it delivers the versatility he needs for harvesting his varied wood profile.
Waratah processing heads have been a fixture at Godsoe’s logging shows for about a dozen years now. The owner of Marlo Logging, based in Quesnel, British Columbia, knows the equipment can do the job he and his licence demand.
For the second time, Waratah has enlisted Godsoe’s assistance to help put new models and refinements to the heads through periods of pre-production testing in the real world. And that’s a world where high production and performance expectations are essential every day, for consistent on-time delivery of precisely measured and sorted stems to the sawmill yard.
On the first occasion, Godsoe helped test the first Waratah 622 B processing head, a product which went on to be a successful head in the marketplace. He recently completed a similar process testing and fine-tuning the company’s first NA 623 C pre-production head.
That head has now logged tons of hours, all double shifted, on Marlo’s shows—exploiting that sweet spot—and proving to be an efficient and reliable addition to the equipment team.
It makes sense for Waratah to look to loggers like Godsoe to help add some finishing touches, complete durability testing, and provide a contractor perspective to their equipment designs.
Much has gone on in the evolution of mechanized log harvesting in the B.C. interior during the 20 years or so Godsoe has worked in the bush. It’s ranged from operating a line skidder (it seems like all the good regional contractors around today earned their bush stripes running a skidder) on roadsides and on to landings and moved on to using sophisticated dangle head processors like the Waratah.
Godsoe began working for Marlo in 1990 and formed a company in 1996 to look after the company’s log processing and sorting. The typical equipment he used was a Cat carrier with a Waratah processing head on the business end.
By 2006, the founders and owners of Marlo Logging, Bob and Don Sales, decided the time was right to step aside and move on. The brothers had been running the business since 1962. Godsoe put up his hand, a deal was struck and Marlo Logging had a new owner. Godsoe retained the Marlo Logging name out of a respect for the Sales’ and the company’s deep roots in the Quesnel region.
The last three years have been a baptism by fire. But both Marlo Logging and it’s licencee, West Fraser Mills Ltd., have made it through what seems to be the worst of the B.C. forest industry’s darkest days.
“Overall, it’s still fun,” says Godsoe. “At least when you own the company, you have got some idea of what’s happening,” he reasons.
What happens on Godsoe’s shows is the need to deal with a range of timber sizes from six to 24 inches on the butt. Depending on location—and Marlo is currently assigned wood northeast of Quesnel toward the Bowron Lake country— wood runs 70 per cent dead lodgepole pine and 30 per cent spruce.
The Waratah 623 head is in between Waratah’s 622 and 624, in Godsoe’s sweet spot. “The 624 is too big for the small wood while the 623 can still handle the larger wood,” he explains. “It’s got the drive power of the 624 combined with the speed of the 622.”
The 623 can operate efficiently with a smaller carrier than the 624 model. Waratah recommends a hydraulic requirement of 90 gpm for the 623. Godsoe had the head matched with an existing 860 Tigercat in his fleet that had been running a 622B. “There’s more bang for the buck for an equivalent cost,” Godsoe summarizes.
Waratah designers actually targeted the 623C head design to meet the hydraulic specifications and stability scales of the 25 ton forestry excavator market.
“The largest volumes of Waratah head sales are still for operations involving some variation of roadside or landing, and the forestry excavators have proven to be the most efficient suitors for running Waratah heads in this type of application in terms of both running costs and capital outlay,” explained Rob Agassiz, Waratah general manager for Canada. “It only made sense for us as a manufacturer to design this new head model ensuring that it fit our customers’ desire to stay in that size class and style of carrier.”
Godsoe says working with Waratah was a collaborative exercise. “I worked with their engineers and they asked for feedback on what I thought was good, bad or indifferent.”
Added Waratah’s Rob Agassiz: “As a team, our field support and engineering groups incorporated James and his operators’ feedback—as well as test results— and were able to both prove and tweak the design prior to production as a result.” That kind of feedback-testing process working with customers is common to Waratah, he says, and is the key to their ability to continue to build products that fit the needs of customers.
The new 623C has an optional bottom delimb arm which is handy and which Godsoe notes does not interfere when the head noses into the deck to retrieve a log for processing. “There’s also better protection of hoses, and hose routing is way better,” he adds. “Regular servicing access has also been improved.”
Marlo also helped in testing the latest software for the Waratah TimberRite measuring system—the new head comes equipped with the system. The mills demand accurate lengths and regularly change log specifications in response to market demands and expectations. When lengths were pre-set on some of the older measuring systems, there could be a brief surge after the specified lengths was reached. “This measuring system stops faster,” he says.
Testing prototype machines and equipment under harsh operating conditions can often lead to delays in the log production and movement phases. And there were minor issues to overcome during the 623’s testing period. “But with any of the glitches, we never had any downtime as a result,” reports Godsoe. “And when there was a problem, Waratah fixed it. It’s a very strong machine and it has to be.”
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