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Tree Cutter Clears 8 Foot Swath
"It'll cut 3-ft. dia. trees at 1 to 2 in. below ground level in minutes and also clear all the brush in its path," says Nolan Howe, Neosho, Mo., about his giant home-built self-propelled tree cutter that's equipped with an 8-ft. dia. saw blade in front.
Howe, who owns a saw mill, uses the one-of-a-kind 4-WD tree cutter to clear land. What's more, he's also built a huge, totally automatic whole-log "firewood machine" that comes in afterward and chews up 4 to 5 trees at a time, turning them into firewood that he later markets as part of his profit.
"As far as I know it's the first self-propelled machine of its kind that'll cut trees at or below ground level without leaving any stumps. It leaves the ground looking as slick as a golf course and ready for seeding," says Howe, who built the tree cutter and firewood machine over an 8-year period.
"The key to cutting trees below ground level is that the blade can be hydraulically tilted forward and is equipped with carbide teeth. Once the operator tilts the blade, he lets it down slowly into the ground and drives forward. It takes 15 to 20 seconds to cut a 1 1/2-ft. dia. tree but about 4 min. to cut a 3-ft. dia. tree. Most of that time is spent positioning the machine because big trees have to be cut from three directions since there's only 24 in. of cutting area on the blade. It turns slower than a conventional saw blade which allows the carbide teeth to cut through dirt and to push rocks the size of washtubs out of the way without breaking off."
Howe uses two "pusher bars", powered by air suspension bags removed from semi trucks, to push trees over as he cuts. One bar mounts on front of the machine and one on the side. The front-mounted bar is used to lean the tree forward while the blade cuts. Howe uses one side of the blade to cut part way through the tree, then drives forward and uses the side-mounted bar to push the tree over. "About 95% of the trees fall right where I want them to," notes Howe.
His tree cutter is powered by a 220 hp Cummins diesel engine and is equipped with an 8-speed Road Ranger transmission removed from an old Diamond T semi truck. The blade is driven by a Mack truck rear end that's mounted at a 90 degree angle to the saw blade. It drives an inflated rubber tire that sits inside a42-in. dia. steel ring welded to the center of the blade. The tire drive system lets the blade slip if it hits an immoveable object.
The tree cutter's driveline also came from a Mack truck and the axles from a semi-trailer. The four 23.1 by 26 tires were taken from a pair of old Deere combines. Roller chains removed from a D-5 Caterpillar tie the two wheels together on each side and allow the machine to maneuver like a big skid steer loader. Each wheel is driven by a hydrostatic motor, and the motors are powered by a pair of hydrostatic pumps that are driven by the engine crankshaft.
The pull-type "firewood machine" can cut up complete tree tops or whole trees up to 20in. in dia. It's equipped with two 22-in. dia., 48-in. long feed rollers and a 50-in. dia., hydraulic-driven saw blade mounted on a track. The rollers pull the tree through and the blade moves back and forth across the tree, cutting it into 18-in. lengths that are fed into a loading conveyor. "It can cut a 50-ft. long tree into firewood in 1 1/2 min.," notes Howe, who notes that the rig is powered by a Deutz 3-cylinder 30 hp engine.
How spent about $10,000 apiece to build the tree cutter and firewood machine. He charges $75 to $100 per acre (plus what's cut down) or $50 per hour straight time.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Nolan Howe, Rt. 4, Box 410, Neosho, Mo. 64850 (ph 417 472-3705).

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1992 - Volume #16, Issue #2