Logging Industry & Its Machinery
Logging, often referred to as Forestry today, was once the industrial revolution's driving force in the United States. Early settlers in New England discovered vast forests for producing lumber needed for homes & ships both in the US and back home in England.
The need for lumber quickly spread throughout the US as settlers moved west. One of Americans' iconic heroes, Paul Bunyan, and his blue ox, represented the hard work and rugged nature of early logging. Early logging was hard and dangerous work but was a staple of life for many early settlers.
Shipbuilding Drove Demand for Logging
During the 1700s and the beginnings of the industrial revolution, demand for lumber increased dramatically for shipbuilding in New England. The early logging industry was exporting as many as 300 ship masts and 36 million feet of pine boards each year.
The demand for wood and wood products grew as America grew. Soon timber companies began looking for new sources of lumber. These sources needed to be near rivers or streams to float the lumber to market. As these sources' convenience diminished, loggers devised new techniques to move the cut lumber to local mills and river transportation.
History of Logging Equipment in the US
Early cutting of trees was a manual operation. The trees are cut by hand near a river or stream. When that wasn't possible, horse teams drug the logs to the streams. It wasn't long before more mechanized methods of transportation for the lumber evolved.
Steam engines were adapted to winch logs from the forest to sluices that would slide the logs down mountainsides to water transportation. Gasoline power tractors developed for farming were adapted for towing logs. It wasn't until the early 1900s that these mechanical marvels were explicitly designed for the logging industry.
John Deere's Model D tractors were among the first adapted into services as logging winches. In 1883 Deer's Equipment catalog featured a complete sawmill. These small sawmills were an often seen feature in family farming.
After WW II, housing demand for returning soldiers and their families drove the need for better logging machines and equipment. Other companies appeared like Timberland and Weyerhaeuser specializing in managing forestry and manufacturing equipment.
What is board feet of lumber?
A board foot of lumber is the unit of measurement most often used for identifying an amount of lumber. It is equal to the one-foot length of a board, one foot wide, and one inch thick.
When calculating the cut logs' board foot, one can use graphs and formulas for estimating called Doyle Log Rule. Edward Doyle developed this rule around 1825.
Around 1846 J.M. Scribner developed another rule table similar to Doyle's calculating board footage based on the height, diameter, and different wood loss assumptions. When cut for lumber, different diameters and types of wood create different board feet of lumber.
Logging & Forestry Equipment
Equipment and Machinery designed for improving productivity and safety in the logging industry are now referred to as forestry production systems.
Enclosed cabins, efficient controls, improve productivity.
Logging machines evolved to improve the capability for rough terrain and weather conditions. Simultaneously, the equipment now provides for more efficient operator controls, navigation, communications, and comfort.
Climate-controlled cabins are now the norm, along with digital controls, GPS, and communications. Operators can remain comfortable and in contact with the forestry teams in the most rugged terrain and hostile conditions.
The in-cabin devices must be as rugged as the engines, drive trains, and outside hydraulic attachments. Contributing to these devices are low voltage heaters and cooling modules. PTC element heaters or Peltier thermoelectric coolers are the right choices for their ruggedness and simplicity.
These heating and cooling systems have the unique ability to automatically adjust to temperatures inside the cabin, maintaining a comfortable environment for the occupants. More sophisticated environmental controls can include humidistats for increased comfort.
Harvesters were developed that would grasp the tree trunk before cutting. These machines propelled on tracks or wheels have various cutting heads for trimming branches and falling the tree. They grip the tree's trunk before cutting, minimizing the damage to other trees or creating safety hazards for loggers.
Their articulated arms grasp the tree trunk and cut it. While still holding the trunk, the head moves the tree's length, trimming branches and cutting the trunk into specific lengths for transporting.
Forwarders are used in place of the skidders causing less damage to the forest in that they carry the logs above the ground to the roadside pickup point. Using tracks or rubber wheels best suited for the terrain, they are driven to the felled trees, pick them up one at a time or bunches, and carry them to the loading site.
Larger forwarders are designed for stacking logs onto a truck-like bed to be carried to the loading site. Unlike a truck intended for highway transportation, these vehicles are designed for rough terrain and tight spaces.
Logger and Loaders can be tracked, wheeled, or fixed on legs to grasp and load logs from piles onto trucks or train cars. These machines come in various configurations to grab, articulate, and size the timber for loading.
Feller Bunchers drive up to the tree trunks, grasp the tree, cut it, and then another. Hence the term bunchers. These machines carry two or three trees and lay them clear of trees' stand for skidders or forwarders to haul away.
Large tractors with articulated steering for maneuverability and mass harvesting of smaller diameter trees are widely used in replanted forests designed for lumbering.
Regardless of locations, Pacific Northwest or Southern US pine forest, these environmental enhancements for operator comfort contribute to the increasing efficiency of man and machine in forestry.