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Vermont Logger Stays Small, Efficient: Stripper Pull-Through Delimber Works Well for Three Vermont Logging Families
Stripper Mfg. Delimber Works Well for Vermont Logger
By Diane M. Calabrese
Date Posted: 5/1/2007
NORTH DANVILLE, Vermont — The son and grandson of loggers, Richard Riendeau anticipated staying in logging. Ultimately, he did. However, Richard, the owner of Richard Riendeau & Sons Logging, took a career path that was not quite a straight line.
“I started for myself in 1985, doing timber harvesting,” said Richard. By 1996, his company was mechanized. Along the way from the mid-80s to the mid-90s, there were a few changes and even a detour.
The detour took Richard to Greensboro, Vt. and a stint as a dairy farmer for a few years. Then, it was back to logging. Seven years ago, Richard added excavating to his company’s services.
When Richard started out logging, he was cutting with a chain saw and using a cable skidder. In 1996, he added a Prentice 210 loader and a pull-through delimber from Stripper Manufacturing in South Paris, Maine. The loader did extra duty, lifting and handling the logs through the delimber and bucking the logs with a ProPac slasher. At that point, about 11 years ago, Richard had a good start on the transition to fully mechanized logging.
In the winter of 2005-2006, Richard replaced the 10-year-old Stripper delimber with a new Stripper delimber. The durability of the original Stripper delimber was one reason why Richard bought a second one when it was time to replace it.
As long as Richard Riendeau & Sons has been mechanized, the only delimber in service has been a Stripper. “That’s all I’ve ever delimbed with,” he said. “It’s simple, and it does a good job,” said Richard. “There’s very little upkeep.”
Richard’s company has a three-man crew. They work mainly in softwood forests, “mainly spruce and fir and cedar,” said Richard. A Timbco 425 is used for felling. The trees are topped and then pulled through the Stripper delimber, which easily removes the limbs.
Not only does Richard get many years of service from his Stripper delimbers, they prove to be durable under a tough daily workload. “Sometimes we run it eight to 10 hours per day, six days per week,” he said. Richard operates the loader, using it conjunction with the Stripper delimber and the ProPac slasher.
The Stripper’s simple, efficient design makes it easy to maintain. It needs no hydraulics. “There’s not much” routine maintenance, noted Richard. The Stripper has three grease fittings that require regular lubrication, but that’s about it. The Stripper pull-through delimber is available as a model that can be mounted to a loader trailer or its own chassis.
As Richard used his first one, however, he envisioned a better arrangement for his needs. He wanted to put his next Stripper on steel runners — which he affectionately calls “skis” — so the loader grapple would not “pinch the tires.”
The new Stripper delimber is mounted on steel runners. “I use skis on mine instead of wheels,” said Richard. Getting the runners was only a matter of asking Sam Sessions, owner of Stripper Mfg., said Richard. Sam was determined to equip Richard with exactly the configuration he wanted.
With the steel runners, Richard moves the Stripper delimber to job sites on a low-bed trailer. Richard has a brother and a brother-in-law who are loggers, and they have Stripper delimbers also – regular models mounted on wheels.
Sam works to accommodate customers, said Richard. In fact, his brother and brother-in-law each chose different combinations. His brother, Gerard, chose the chassis-mounted Stripper delimber on tires; his brother-in-law, Russell Barry, who also uses the chassis-mounted Stripper, bought both the tires and skis set-up; they can be easily swapped in about five minutes.
The Prentice 210E loader is probably “the smallest you’d want to use” for pulling tree-length wood through a delimber, said Richard. He has been very pleased with the performance of the Prentice 210E but is considering moving up to a more powerful loader in the future.
There is one particular attribute of the Stripper pull-through delimber about which Richard and the others agree: its ability to work so well without hydraulics. “It’s one of the better investments I’ve ever made,” said Richard. “I’d get another one in a minute. It pulls through easier than some of the hydraulic delimbers.”
Since he has used Stripper pull-through delimbers for quite a number of years, Richard is somewhat of an expert on getting the most from them. “It really works well in fir, cedar and spruce. We’ve delimbed hemlock with it, too.”
Richard said he has received strong service and support from Sam. “Sam Sessions is real accommodating, a real good guy,” he said. “Any problems, he was great.”
The Stripper pull-through delimber, which weighs just 1,600 pounds, features a simple but effective design. When in the open position, ready to receive a tree, the weight of the tree will cause the Stripper to close as it is put into place so that the tree is ready to be pulled through the knives. The design requires no hydraulics. The bolt-in knives are reversible and can be changed easily.
The Stripper pull-through delimber can be used for softwood trees ranging from 3 ½ inches to 15 inches in diameter. It will also do a good job on poplar and other small hardwoods. Working in good conditions, cycle time — from picking up a stem, delimbing it, and picking up the next stem — is about 40 seconds, according to the manufacturer.
Richard rarely has to reach for a chain saw to remove any limbs, but when he does, it is always a Stihl — “the only one I’ll use.” The Stihl saws are so reliable and used so rarely that he gets five years of service from one.
Stripper Manufacturing offers a number of options for the pull-through delimber. They include: an adapter plate for various mounting options, a Stripper trailer (with an extendable tongue), and a Hultdins hydraulic topping saw.
Richard Riendeau & Sons Logging is based in North Danville, Vermont. About 2,300 people live in the neighboring communities as year-round residents. The region, on the western plateau of the White Mountains, has long made the towns attractive to vacationers, especially in summer.
Most of the jobs that Richard Riendeau & Sons Logging takes on are within a 60-mile radius of North Danville. Richard, his son and another employee round out the crew of three. About 75% of the company’s work is timber harvesting, and the other 25% is excavation, including site preparation for homes and septic systems and building roads.
As the operator of the Prentice 210E loader, and using the Stripper pull-through delimber and ProPac slasher, Richard makes all the wood merchandizing decisions for saw logs, pulp logs and firewood logs. When the market for pulp and paper chips is strong, Richard contracts with another company to provide chipping services.
Richard’s company works for private landowners and on state and municipal land. “I’ve worked for a lot of private landowners,” said Richard. “In summer, we will be working for A. Johnson in Bristol.”
The A. Johnson Company in Bristol, Vt., is a member of the National Hardwood Lumber Association. It was founded in 1906 near Saratoga, N.Y. by Andrew Johnson and three sons. The company moved to Bristol in the 1930s. A. Johnson Co. manufactures both hardwood and softwood lumber and has drying operations and a planer mill.
A native of Vermont, Richard was born just south of North Danville in the town of St. Johnsbury, which has long been known as a center for maple syrup production. (The sugar maple is the state tree.)
Forests in Vermont are lush and pervasive. The state’s name comes from the French words for green (verd) and mountain (mont). According to the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, the state is 78% forested; only three other states have a higher percentage of land as forests. The state itself owns 300,000 acres of forestland.
A recent inventory of forests showed that that growth exceeds harvest by a 2:1 ratio. Low-quality trees are used for fuel wood, and removing them from the forest improves the health and growth of residual trees.
Wood is an important, integral source of fuel in the history of Vermont. Many residents use wood for their primary heat source, depending on wood stoves or boilers. The number of Vermont residents who use wood as a heat source – at least indirectly – is likely to keep increasing. Gov. James Douglas has put an emphasis on wood as a 21st-century fuel source. The state also has a number of biomass generation plants that rely on wood chips for fuel.
Vermont deems wood a near carbon-neutral energy source. On the list of public buildings being heated by wood are 25 schools, two office complexes and seven other state buildings.
Richard Riendeau & Sons Logging is equipped with a Caterpillar 525B grapple skidder and a Franklin 170 grapple skidder, and Richard has two truck tractors for hauling log trailers and equipment, a Kenworth and a Mack.
“We just go to work every day and try to do a good job,” said Richard. “Making the landowner happy is what is important to us.”
On some tracts, Richard’s crew does both timber harvesting and excavating. The variety of the work keeps each day interesting and challenging. What Richard enjoys most about his work is “the independence, being your own boss,” he explained.
The Stripper pull-through delimber makes the independent life as a logger much easier, said Richard. More than that, it has boosted the productivity of his company. “It’s probably tripled my production with the same or less people,” he said.
Sam explains the concept of the Stripper pull-through delimber to visitors to his Web site, www.striperdelimber.com. He sums it up this way: “The crane places the butt end of the tree onto the tripping device and into cradles equipped with bolt-in knives. The weight of the top pivoting arm holds the knives firmly against the trunk of the tree. In the delimbing process, the tree is pulled through the stripping head in one direction and the pushed back through in the opposite direction, cleanly removing the limbs.”
Seeing is believing, as the saying goes. Richard’s success with the Stripper delimber is what caught the attention of his brother and brother-in-law, who each bought one soon after for their own logging businesses.
When Richard takes time away from his business, he enjoys hunting and fishing.
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