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A Champion Swing Yarder
It seems that everyone in the New Zealand forest industry is taking a keen interest in the new Log Champ swing yarders as the first machines begin to arrive from Canada.
And why not?
You don’t see an entirely new brand of yarder turn up very often. Rather the opposite. We’ve lost some great yarding names over the years, such as Thunderbird, Washington, Skagit and Cypress. Even our home grown Active machines have now been consigned to history, following the liquidation of Rotorua-based Active Equipment a few weeks ago.
In fact, you couldn’t purchase a new swing yarder anywhere in the world for a while.
One of the longest-running names in the yarder business, Madill, almost disappeared a decade ago after falling into receivership. It later re-established itself on Vancouver Island with new owners, first licensing Nelson-based Brightwater to produce the 124 and then pulling production back home. Porter Group represents Madill here these days, with new Canadian-built 124 swingers already hard at work here.
So why the interest in another brand of swing yarder? Do we actually need it?
To answer the first question, the interest is based on the increasing amount of forests planted on steep land in New Zealand that require a yarder to pull the wood to a landing. Currently, around 60% of harvesting entails some form of yarding and we have a lot of very old yarders in our fleet that need replacing.
As for the second question, there is no doubt that competition is good for everyone as it leads to better products, better pricing and better availability.
Which brings us back to Log Champ, a brand that didn’t exist until a couple of years ago. It’s the name for a range of swing yarders produced by a company called T-Mar Industries, which has a history in providing engineering services for the forestry, mining and hydro-electric sectors in British Columbia.
T-Mar decided to go into the yarder manufacturing business as wood demand began to pick up around the world, snaring ex- Cypress engineer, Jim Mantle and Ed Hughes, a former Madill engineer, as part of its development team, with the aim of updating the swinger concept with 21st century technology.
They started off with a lighter, 45-tonne model – the Log Champ 550 – but plans for the larger 64-tonne Log Champ 650 sat on the drawing board until a bunch of Kiwis turned up.
A group of New Zealand contractors assembled by AB Equipment, which had been appointed as distributor for this market, visited the factory on Vancouver Island to see the LC550 models already produced and view plans for the LC650. By the end of the trip, two orders were signed for the first LC650s to be built and were later followed by four more – an LC550 was also sold...
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