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Oklahoma Logger Cuts Pine Plantations
Shawn Gibson Loggins uses Denharco 4400 delimbers for roadside delimbing
By Diane Calabrese
Date Posted: 5/1/2004
BROKEN BOW, Oklahoma — Shawn Gibson, owner of Shawn Gibson Logging, does not come from a family of loggers. When he was growing up, none of his relatives worked in the forest products industry. It was experience at a part-time logging job that hooked Shawn.
“While I was in school, I hauled short logs,” explained Shawn. “I fell in love with the outdoors.”
Shawn worked for other loggers for several years and then started his own business. Today, Shawn Gibson Logging works exclusively as a contractor for Weyerhaeuser. “I harvest timber for Weyerhaeuser, 100 percent,” he said. For the most part, Shawn Gibson Logging performs final cuts in pine plantations.
As he has built his business, Shawn has been moving to ever-more efficient mechanized operations. But it was actually a force of nature that put Shawn on the path to investing in two stroke delimbers from Denharco, which is headquartered in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec.
Following a severe ice storm in the winter of 2001, Shawn had some work to remove damaged timber. The trees slated for removal were bigger than plantation pines — mixed species that often included hardwoods. Shawn leased a Denharco 3500 one-piece boom delimber for a couple of months to work in the storm-damaged timber. He initially chose the Denharco because he could get it on a track carrier.
It did not take much experience with the leased Denharco before Shawn decided he wanted to invest in one of his own. In May 2001 he bought a Denharco 4400 delimber, which has a larger, more powerful winch drive than the Denharco 3500. Shawn had added a second Denharco 4400 by the end of the year. “I flew all over the country looking at machines,” he said, and also made trips to Canada.
“I pretty much log six days a week,” said Shawn. The Denharco delimbers have kept pace. “They’re a very dependable machine,” said Shawn. With the move to the Denharco delimbers, chain saws are essentially out of the picture.
The Denharco 4400 machines can handle exceptionally big branches. In the native timber of southeast Oklahoma, the machines get their toughest test. Shawn’s crew works in stands with trees that are routinely 34 to 38 inches in diameter and up to 120 feet long. “In native timber, bigger wood,” said Shawn, “that’s where they really shine.”
In stands of the big, mixed hardwood and softwood timber, each Denharco 4400 has been able to produce as many as 157 loads per week, said Shawn, whose loads average about 28.5 tons of wood.
Shawn mounted his first Denharco 4400 on a John Deere 270-L track carrier. The newer Denharco 4400 is mounted on a John Deere 2554, which is designed especially to offer versatility to loggers. The JD 2554 can be fitted with a delimber, a harvester-processor head, a shovel, loader, or other attachments.
When Shawn bought the Denharco 4400 machines, he relied on Warrior of Arkansas, an equipment dealer in Texarkana, Ark. He has been dealing with Warrior of Arkansas since he started his company.
Brad Akins, manager at Warrior of Arkansas, said he started with the company the same year Shawn launched Shawn Gibson Logging in 1989. The two men have worked together since 1998 on Shawn’s equipment buying decisions. Brad has been selling heavy equipment for 27 years. In an interesting twist, before beginning a career in equipment sales, he directed a nuclear medicine facility for five years.
Shawn said the personnel at Denharco and Warrior of Arkansas have been “very supportive.” Whenever he has needed technical support, he explained, he has gotten it quickly.
“The first delimber has 6,500 hours on it,” said Shawn. It has performed very well with minimal downtime. The longest period out of service was for a repair that took less than a day.
“As far as maintenance on the machines,” said Shawn, “it’s very simple.” Shawn Gibson Logging does almost all its own maintenance on equipment. The modular components of the Denharco 4400 stroke boom delimber facilitate quick changes when something must be replaced. Hydraulic system components on the Denharco 4400 are located on the boom base, a design feature that provides easy access.
Denharco offers many options on its 4000 series stroke boom delimbers, including a choice of one-piece or telescopic booms. A more rugged delimbing head that combines a top saw and a butt saw is another option.
Working in the pine plantations, Shawn’s crew generally fells with a Hydro-Ax 670 and skids the logs to roadside for delimbing, bucking and loading. “It’s just more efficient to run delimbers,” said Shawn.
“Everything we cut is cut-to-length,” he added. “We recover the tops down to a 12-foot piece.” Weyerhaeuser follows up after the job by preparing the site and replanting trees.
Shawn Gibson Logging operates year-around with a seven-person crew. Besides the two Denharco 4400 delimbers and the Hydro-Ax, the crew is equipped with three John Deere skidders and two Timberjack log loaders. The track carriers for the delimbers and loaders maneuver over the slash, which acts as a pad and reduces ground disturbance.
The crew averages about 200 loads per week in the pine plantations, which are about 25 to 28 years old. Shawn’s company does all its own hauling, relying on six Peterbilt and two Western Star tractors. Drivers are employees.
Weyerhaeuser sets up Shawn Gibson Logging four or five jobs ahead so Shawn can plan logistics. Most of the timber harvesting is done within a 75-mile radius of the Weyerhaeuser mill in Wright City, which is in southeast Oklahoma.
According to the company website, Weyerhaeuser owns one of the largest supplies of merchantable softwood timber in the world. In Oklahoma and Texas, it has 507,000 acres of softwood timber.
Shawn Gibson Logging is headquartered in Broken Bow or about 30 miles east of Wright City. The town has approximately 4,200 residents. Because it is so far east and south, Broken Bow is within 100 miles of the Oklahoma borders with Arkansas and Texas. The town is not much more than 100 miles from northern Louisiana.
Logging is a significant part of the economy in and around southeast Oklahoma, Shawn noted. He enjoys being part of the forest products industry and running his own business. “I like to be a leader,” said Shawn, who is a member of the Texas Logging Council.
The ice storm that prompted Shawn to try a Denharco delimber proves there can be the proverbial silver lining in a dark cloud. The damage and power outages caused by the ice storm were not pleasant. But out of it all, some good came.
Shawn said he could not be happier with the Denharco machines he got to know because of the ice storm. “I love ‘em,” he said, “It’s the only way to log.”
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