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Maryland Logger Benefits from Machines

Maryland Logger Relies on Komatsu''s Timbco-Valmet Machine

By Diane M. Calabrese
Date Posted: 11/1/2005


OAKLAND, Maryland — Two and one-half years ago Jimmy Glotfelty was logging exclusively with a chain saw and a cable skidder, a method he had relied on for more than 10 years. Then, Jimmy, who owns J&B Logging, Inc., changed his approach with a trio of purchases.

      When Jimmy decided to make J&B Logging a mechanized operation, he bought a Timbco 445D feller-buncher to start. He soon added other machines. “I went with a Timberjack 460D grapple skidder,” he said. “I even bought a dozer with a cab on it, a 700H John Deere.”

      Today, said Jimmy, he and his employees are “very seldom on the ground.” The result of the switch to mechanized logging has been dramatic in more ways than one. “It’s a lot safer,” he noted. “And it increased my production about 50 percent.”

      This past summer Jimmy added another important machine to his lineup, a Tigercat 240B log loader. “We had a little logging show at Hazleton (West Virginia),” he explained, part of the Log-A-Load for Kids fundraiser for Children’s Hospital in Morgantown, W.V. He was impressed with the maneuverability of the Tigercat loader that was exhibited and demonstrated at the show and decided to buy one. In large part, he recognized the loader as a good team member for the line that began with and hinges on the nimble Timbco 445D.

      For the Timbco 445D feller-buncher and the other equipment, Jimmy turned to a dealer he knew well, Lyons Equipment Company Inc. Lyons has several locations in addition to the Little Valley, N.Y. location where founder Harvey (Jack) Lyons began in 1947 when he began selling Frick sawmills, chain saws and other equipment to loggers and sawmills. Today, Lyons Equipment has branches in Flatwoods, W.V., Brookeville, Pa., Allenwood, Pa. and Circleville, Ohio.

      Thinking about the changes he has made in his operation during the last three years, the owner of J&B Logging assessed the situation with candor. “I wouldn’t be logging without a Timbco,” said Jimmy, emphasizing that he would have gotten out of the logging business. The Timbco meets almost any challenge presented by the steep, mountainous terrain around Morgantown and Fairmont, W. Va., where Jimmy’s company does most of its work.

      Occasionally J&B Logging encounters rock ledges so big and steep that even the Timbco cannot operate around them. In a word they are “severe,” said Jimmy.

       “When we’re on real steep ground, I’ll say 80 percent of each job we’ll cut with the Timbco, 20 percent with Stihl chain saw felling,” explained Jimmy. J&B’s dozer operator, Terry Alexander, handles a Stihl chain saw for manual felling as required.

      J&B Logging has three employees besides Jimmy in the woods and two truck drivers. Jimmy runs the Timbco 445D. Bradley Beckman runs the Tigercat 240B loader. Jerry Alexander, Terry’s brother, runs the Timberjack 460D grapple skidder. Pat Friend and Kenneth Reckart are the truck drivers for J&B Logging.

      J&B Logging is based in Oakland, Maryland. Oakland is in the far western panhandle of the state in Garrett County. The town, which is 81 miles south of Pittsburgh, Pa., has a population of 1,930. Oakland is the county seat. One of its landmarks is a restored 1884 train station.

      All of the work J&B does is for specific companies. “I contract cut,” explained Jimmy. “They buy the timber, and they hire me to cut.”

      Jimmy’s company provides contract harvesting services to supply grade logs for Allegheny Wood Products in Kingwood, W.V., pulpwood for NewPage (formerly MeadWestvaco) in Luke, Md. and Weyerhaeuser, and pallet logs for Blue Ribbon Lumber in Red House, Md. He also supplies logs for fencing to Ed Arey & Sons in Buckhannon, W.V.

      The tie to MeadWestvaco and NewPage is one that links J&B Logging to some long local roots. Westvaco was founded in 1888 in a mill in Piedmont, W.V. The name it took in 1969 heralds its state of origin. Given its strong link to the state, the company has a history of sharing its managed timberlands with residents. Low-cost usage permits allow West Virginians to hunt, trap and fish on company land, and residents can hike and pick berries without a permit. Jimmy has a good relationship with his NewPage forester, Kent Fleming.

      Most of the contract work that J&B Logging does is within 100 miles of Oakland. That takes the company into the heart of the Appalachian Mountain chain and the Allegheny Mountains.

      In the region where Jimmy and his employees work, it is not uncommon for winter winds to reach 40-50 mph. “Sometimes we get two and one-half to three feet of snow,” he said.

      The town of Oakland holds the distinction of the lowest winter temperature on record in the Old Line State, according to Allan Carpenter and Carl Provorse in The World Almanac of the U.S.A. It was 40 degrees below zero in Oakland on Jan. 13, 1912.

      Through all conditions, said Jimmy, the Timbco has performed well. It has also provided a comfortable environment because the cab has heat and air conditioning.

      The Timbco 445D Jimmy had in service when he talked with TimberLine in September was soon replaced. “I’m actually dealing on another one now with Lyons Equipment,” he said at the time. “I’ll either trade this one in or find another buyer” if a new machine is purchased.

      Jimmy decided to buy a new 445, and the machine he purchased was exhibited at the Paul Bunyan Show in early October at Hocking College in Nelsonville, Ohio.

      Komatsu Forest is owned by Komatsu Ltd., the second largest manufacturer in the world of construction and mining equipment. Komatsu Forest’s main manufacturing and technology center is in Sweden with a North American engineering and manufacturing center in Shawano, Wisconsin. Komatsu’s ownership has created an opportunity to streamline manufacturing processes, improve quality, standardize parts distribution, offer attractive financing packages, and blend the best characteristics of its forestry brands – simply slated as ‘Timbco toughness and Valmet technologies.’

      The new 445-EX series machine that Jimmy bought might be branded either Timbco or Valmet, but Komatsu Forest proudly manufactures both to identical toughness, reliability and performance. Jimmy expects it to be a high production machine.

      The new EXL (cab leveling) can work slopes up to 55%; the EX (non-leveling) machines handle slopes from about 15-28%. EX features include closed-loop track drives with independent 55 gpm flow for each track and two-speed track motors. The hydraulics on the new 445 machines will register a flow rate as much as 237 gpm, depending on the model.

      The one constant in the equation, as far as Jimmy is concerned, is the Timbco. Knowing that the 445 EX from Komatsu derives from the Timbco lineage counts for a great deal.

      Even when updating to a newer machine, Jimmy was sure he would stay with a derivative of the Timbco 445D. “It does the same thing in winter time as it does in summer,” he said of the Timbco. That consistency in performance means a lot.

      “With the machines we have now, we can work an extra day or day and one-half in winter each week because we’re all in cabs,” said Jimmy. That makes logging a lot “easier on the body,” he explained, as well as “safer.” But most important, “you can still work days you wouldn’t want to work” outside a cab, he said.

      On some jobs, J&B Logging builds access roads, including putting down gravel. “If I get on a long truck road and it’s pretty rough, I have an old road tractor I use to pull the trailers in and out to the road,” said Jimmy. That reduces wear and tear on the trucks and reduces the amount of gravel needed for access roads.

      “We usually move six to eight loads per day,” said Jimmy. “It’s four loads of logs and two loads of pulpwood or three of logs and three of pulpwood and scragg wood.”

      Because J&B works in two states, the business is a little more complicated. “I have a Maryland corporation and a West Virginia business license,” Jimmy explained.

      Mechanization has been important to J&B Logging as it meets its workers’ compensation goals. “We are in a LSI program — Logger Safety Initiative — through the state of West Virginia,” said Jimmy. It meets requirements of West Virginia workers’ compensation, where the “idea is to get them back to work as soon as possible.”

      Loggers in the LSI program complete an eight-hour training class. After that, they participate each year in continuous education and demonstrate expertise in the machines they operate. LSI inspectors make unannounced visits to job sites to ensure that all those in the program meet expectations. Such a rigorous program not only keeps the focus on safety, but it also helps prevent workers’ compensation insurance premiums from escalating.

      As for how he got into logging, Jimmy credited his uncle with serving as a role model. His uncle owns Glotfelty Lumber Company Inc. “That’s where I learned” the business, he explained.

      When Jimmy was deciding on the machine to get his mechanized operation going, he knew he wanted a Timbco 445. As for how he wanted it configured, he relied heavily on recommendations from Lyons Equipment. “Jerry Smeek (at Lyons), I told him to sell me the machine he would set up for himself.”

      The Timbco 445 Jimmy has is equipped with a 30-degree lateral tilt head. He believes it is a better fit for the jobs he works than a head with 360-degree rotation. “For the environment we’re in, it’s actually less maintenance,” said Jimmy. “And it has more lateral tilt power.”

      “We do most of our own routine maintenance,” said Jimmy, “Every 200 hours, we change the oil, steam clean the radiators.” And if there are “any big issues, we call Lyons,” he explained.

      Wood products organizations are important to Jimmy. “I belong to the West Virginia Forestry Association. I belong to the Mountain Loggers Group.” Through MLG, Jimmy participates in the Log-A-Load fundraising efforts that take place as part of the Children’s Miracle Network, an organization that raises funds to support children’s hospitals nationwide. The Log-A-Load campaign is sponsored nationally by the Forest Resources Association.

      As for what he likes to do in his free time, Jimmy said he does not have much. “There is really not much time away from work,” he said. But he enjoys the change of pace when he takes time to sharpen the buck saw or the saw head. “I like to relax and spend time with my family whenever possible,” Jimmy added.

      “I hope that Timberjack, Timbco and John Deere keep up the good work,” said Jimmy.

      There is every reason to believe the workmanship and quality will continue to be high and higher still. For example, Komatsu Forest AB, the new comprehensive name for the line once known as Partek Forest (and by consolidation the previous owner of Timbco), has a commitment to presenting what it calls “one face to customers.”

      Therein is the philosophy that defines Komatsu. It is one of making it a simple matter for a logger to get the full range of equipment needed to tackle any kind of job, from road-building and clear-cutting to selective cuts and everything in between. The Komatsu outlook matches well the one of Lyons Equipment, which is “provide the best products to the best customers in the world.”

      Even now, said Jimmy, it’s sometimes hard to believe that he was doing things so differently just two and one-half years ago. “I was running the dozer and helping to cut and top trees,” he explained.

      A strong advocate of mechanized logging, Jimmy had some words of encouragement for those still considering options. “If it’s possible for any other logger to go mechanized the way I did,” they should, he suggested. “You feel better when you are off work. You’re not tired.”

        There are many things that Jimmy enjoys about logging. “It’s actually fun,” he said. “It’s a challenge. Every day it’s different. You cut 200,000 to 300,000 feet and then move.” Just as important, he explained, with each new venue there is the opportunity to “meet different people.”


 






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