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Wisconsin Logger Specializes in Pulpwood

Delaney Forest Products Benefits from Cleanfix® Reversible Fans on Logging Equipment

By Diane M. Calabrese
Date Posted: 9/1/2005


WARRENS, Wisconsin — Pollen is the bane of allergy sufferers. In some parts of the nation, it is also a huge nuisance to machines — so serious that it can bring them to a halt.

        To Rick Delaney, managing partner of Delaney Forest Products, pollen and dust are well-known problems in the spring. Both become so dense that they frequently contributed to equipment downtime.

        “We were having trouble when pine pollen starts,” said Rick. The pollen was so thick and heavy that machines would have to be idled four times a day to blow the dust and debris out of the radiators and intake screens.

        The spring of 2005 was different, however. In April, Rick added Cleanfix® reversible fans to his two Timberjack 1270D wheel harvesters. The Cleanfix® fans, which are distributed in North America by Novatrax International Inc. in Lakeside, Ontario (Canada), have made all the difference, he said.

        Rick credits one of his subcontractors with alerting him to the benefits of Cleanfix® reversible fans. Kevin Gilbertson, who subcontracts to Rick and runs a Fabtek 133 harvester, added a Cleanfix reversible fan from Novatrax to his machine a year earlier. Kevin reported great results with Cleanfix®, and Rick decided to get the reversible fans installed on his two harvesters.

        Besides the two Timberjack harvesters owned by Rick’s company, Kevin and other subcontractors operate equipment on Delaney Forest Products job sites. One runs a TimberPro with a Risley Equipment Rolly II head, and another operates a John Deere 653 excavator with a Fabtek processing head. The owner of the TimberPro added a Cleanfix® fan a year ago, too.

        Rick owns Delaney Forest Products with his wife, Evelyn. The couple also owns a separate company, Rick Delaney Trucking. There are 10 employees in the forestry company and eight employees in the trucking business. Evelyn works as a secretary to both companies. Laura Delaney, the couple’s daughter, is also a secretary in the businesses.

        Delaney Forest Products dates to 1974. Rick did not start out in logging immediately, although he discovered he had an affinity for the industry within a few years after high school.

        A native of Mather, Wis., Rick graduated from high school in 1972 and went to work for a construction company. His first introduction to logging came during the winter of 1972-1973.  There was a lull in construction work, and he got a job with a logger. It was his first encounter with the industry because no one in his family had worked in logging previously.

        “In the winter of 1972, I hand cut for another logger,” Rick recalled. “In the winter of 1973, I hand cut for another logger.” Those two stints in the woods were all he needed to make a decision. “I liked it better than construction,” he explained. “I liked being in the woods.” Instead of going back to construction work in 1974, Rick got a chain saw and skidder and started his own business.

        Reflecting on the way logging has changed during his 31 years in business, Rick noted that today chain saws are never used on harvesting jobs that his company performs.

        Delaney Forest Products cuts pulpwood timber on private, state and federal land. All the wood is cut to length, most of it to 100-inch specification. The certified Master Logger business produces a little over 60,000 cords annually.

        Even as the managing partner of Delaney Forest Products, Rick sometimes finds himself working in the woods. “I do all the road work and I manage the job,” he explained. “I still move equipment. If a forwarder operator is out, I drive the forwarder.”

        In addition to the two John Deere-Timberjack harvesters, Rick owns five Timberjack forwarders; one forwarder is an eight-wheel machine and the other four are six-wheelers.

        “I’ve been using Timberjack equipment since 1998,” said Rick. He got his first Timberjack harvester two and one-half years ago. The second was purchased a year ago. “I wanted to try something on rubber,” he explained. “I’d been using tracks before.”

        Rick likes the way the wheeled harvesters have performed. They maneuver well in the snow, too; the snow averages 18 inches deep during the winter. Rick uses bogie tracks on all his wheeled machines in winter.

        With a record of working in agricultural, construction, waste and recycling equipment, as well as in forestry machines, the Cleanfix® reversible fans were a proven technology when Rick adopted them for his harvesters. Adding the Cleanfix® reversible fans in the spring made a huge positive impact for Delaney Forest Products. To operate the fans, all the machine operator must do is touch a button in the cab.

        The fans are also designed to remove ice. Ice on equipment is not much of a problem for Rick, however; although cold in the winter, the region benefits from dry air, which mitigates icy conditions.

        Modern heavy equipment, such as logging machines, demand high performance cooling; this requires higher air flow, which can lead to higher accumulation of dust and debris that clogs radiators and air intake screens. Benefits of using the Cleanfix® reversible fans to periodically purge debris from heat exchangers and intake screens go well beyond reducing stress to the engine cooling system. Properly operating cooling systems preserve the life of the engine and hydraulic components.

        The basic Cleanfix® reversible fan system relies on nine specially designed fan blades. Each blade rotates on an individual axis to provide its cooling and debris dislodging effects. An integrated air cylinder and eccentric linkage reverses the fan blade pitch with air pressure. It is housed within a central fan hub. The reversible fans are reset by spring tension. A 12/24-volt compressor supplies the required air pressure or the cleaning process can be automated with an optional electronic control module.

        Recently, Cleanfix® introduced the VP (variable pitch) series fan. The VP series combines the patented Cleanfix® reversible fan with a thermal control system to provide the blades with a true variable pitch and automatic blade pitch adjustment. When the system is cool, the blade is at a small or reduced angle. When the temperature starts to climb, the thermo elements — which contain an elastomer — begin to expand and move the blades to a bigger or steeper angle. Just the opposite happens when the thermo elements cool; they contract, so the blades begin to flatten out—return to the reduced angle — and create less airflow. The blades in the VP-series can move through an 18-degree span in response to the thermo elements.

        Changing cooling performance with the Cleanfix® VP series reversible fan can provide significant savings in both horsepower and fuel consumption. The VP series also offers an energy-savings ‘Eco’ setting for reduced fuel consumption, a full ‘max’ setting for maximum cooling performance, and the blow-out setting for radiator cleaning. Additional benefits include providing more useable power, reducing warm-up times and overcooling, increasing cooling in summer and reducing cooling for winter.

        Having the harvesters retrofitted with the Cleanfix® fans went very smoothly, according to Rick. “I had them installed by Nortrax,” he said. Nortrax is the John Deere dealer that sold Rick his two Timberjack 1270D harvesters. Nortrax has a large, regional facility in Eau Claire, Wis. that anchors several Midwest branches of the company.

        “I brought the Timberjacks home one evening,” said Rick, and Nortrax service personnel took care of the rest. “They came to my shop and did them both in one evening,” he explained.

        Rick has been so pleased with the performance and benefits from the Cleanfix® reversible fans that he plans to have Nortrax install them on his five forwarders. “I’m installing them on all the forwarders,” he explained. “I don’t think (a machine) should be without them. The machine runs a lot cooler” with the Cleanfix® reversible fans.

        Besides the local dealership that helps Rick meet his needs, Nortrax has 48 locations in 13 states. With more than 1,000 employees, it is the largest John Deere dealership in the world.

        Delaney Forest Products is based in Warrens, a village of less than 300 people located in west-central Wisconsin. About one-third of the company’s work is performed for Plum Creek Timber Co. and about 20% for Domtar. Most of the work is pine thinnings but Delaney Forest Products also does clear-cuts. The main species the company cuts are oak, aspen and jack pine. The job sites usually average 40-80 acres. “Everything is fairly flat,” said Rick.

        The Timberjack 1270D harvester is designed for high volume production in most thinnings and select cuts in plantation and natural stands. Its compact size makes it suitable for cutting in dense stands, and its suspension is built for rough terrain. The Timberjack 1270D uses a Total Machine Control TM measuring and control system; it adjusts machine performance to the type of terrain, including boom functions, and automates the tree processing cycle.

        Rick likes to keep Delaney Forest Products on jobs within a 150-mile radius of Warrens. “We have been out as far as 220 miles,” he said.

        The trucking division has lowboy trailers to move the logging equipment to job sites. In addition to the harvesters and forwarders, Rick has a John Deere 700H dozer and a John Deere 544G front-end loader; the dozer and the front-end loader are used to build access roads to job sites.

        When Rick committed to the logging business, he got thoroughly involved. He has a full-time forester, Chad Ziegler, on staff. Chad buys standing timber and takes care of some of the regulatory paperwork.

        Plum Creek, which trades on the New York Stock Exchange, is a private timberland owner that holds 8.1 million acres in 21 states. The company combines its interest in timber with natural resource businesses that relate to minerals, natural gas and more. There is a specific manufactured products segment that processes logs to lumber, plywood and other products, and also converts chips, sawdust and other residuals to fiberboard.

        Domtar traces its longest root to England and 1848 and Henry Potter Burt, the founder of Burt, Boulton Holdings Ltd., a company that treated lumber exposed to moisture and rot. With the expansion of railroads and the need for railties, Burt, Boulton Holdings began selling in North America as well as in England. By 1903, Dominion Tar and Chemical Company, Ltd. formed as an offshoot of the original company. In the 1930s, however, paper became more important than railties. The company was renamed Domtar in 1965. By the end of the 1990s, the company was focused on manufacturing containerboard, I-joists, and commercial printing and business papers.

        Much of the history of Wisconsin is reflected in the forest products industry. The 30th state (May 29, 1848) got its first railroad in 1851, a line that connected Milwaukee to Waukesha. Although it is nearly synonymous with dairy products in some spheres — the Green Bay Packers’ fans are noted for their ‘cheesehead’ headwear — Wisconsin also has long been a leader in paper manufacturing.

        Rick is vice chairman of the southwest chapter of the Wisconsin Professional Loggers Association (WPLA), which administers the Master Logger certification program in the state. He also serves as director of the Wisconsin Loggers Council branch of the American Loggers Council.

        The performance standards for achieving Master Logger certification encompass seven areas, including an audit of harvesting practices. Bi-annual re-certification is required.

        The WPLA refers to the Master Logging certification as the ‘gold standard.’ The certification is designed to be recognizable and fully appreciated by landowners and mills. To achieve the certification, loggers must demonstrate competence by meeting or exceeding strict performance standards.

        In addition to having passed a successful audit of harvesting techniques, loggers must meet requirements for protecting water and soil quality, compliance with government regulations and acceptable silviculture and utilization methods, techniques in aesthetic management, adherence to site-specific plans, use of sound business management principles, and on-going participation in training.

        At the beginning of his fourth decade in the logging business, Rick is quite happy with the decision he made to enter the profession of logging. “The freedom to make my own decisions, to do my own thing” is important, he explained. And he gets that opportunity day-in and day-out at Delaney Forest Products.

                When he has time off, Rick likes to take advantage of the beautiful settings that Wisconsin has to offer. “I have a cabin on a lake up north,” he said, and he enjoys trips there for hunting and snowmobiling.


 






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