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Versatile Machine Does Many Jobs on Farm: SUPERTRAK Machine Performs Many Tasks
Versatile SUPERTRAK Machine Does Many Jobs on Farm
By Diane M. Calabrese
Date Posted: 6/1/2009
JASPER, Alabama – Take some great pieces. Put them all together. Get a result that is much more than the sum of its parts. With imagination as a guide, inventive people in settings as varied as farms, coal mines and manufacturing achieve a greater whole every day.
That brings us to the principals in this story: Sleepy Hollow Farm, Drummond Co. Inc. and SUPERTRAK Inc. The entities are linked by more than enterprise. They are tied together by creative thinking, which they tap to build better and greater wholes from excellent parts.
Steve Smith is the farm manager at the 800-acre Sleepy Hollow Farm, which he operates for John Drummond, one of the brothers who co-owns Drummond Company, headquartered in Birmingham, Ala. The farm is located near Jasper, a town of more than 15,000 in north-central Alabama.
As farm manager, Steve relies on equipment from SUPERTRAK, which is headquartered in Punta Gorda, Fla. SUPERTRAK is an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) that uses Caterpillar® components. Caterpillar is music to the ears of John. “My boss…is a die-hard CAT man,” said Steve. For Drummond’s mining operations, John depends on Caterpillar equipment.
When Sleepy Hollow Farm was searching for a machine that could quickly convert wind-blown trees to mulch, John gave Steve the go-ahead to pursue a SUPERTRAK solution. “John was all for it,” said Steve, when he learned about the Caterpillar components.
It was just a few years ago when the need for a SUPERTRAK with mulching capabilities became immediate. A tornado damaged timber on the farm. After marketable fallen trees were sold to mills, logging slash and smaller wind-damaged trees needed to be removed.
The slash and small downed timber was mulched with a then-new SUPERTRAK SK120TR. “I was doing tops and twigs to 3 inches,” recalled Steve. With 127 horsepower, the SUPERTRAK 120 could mulch larger trees, too – up to 7 or 8 inches, according to Steve – although the process was slower.
The SUPERTRAK 120, a skidsteer with a mulching attachment, served for years, not only at Sleepy Hollow Farm but also on acreage owned by members of John’s family in southern Alabama and near Panama City, Fla.
SUPERTRAK machines are used to clear vegetation and downed trees and debris in a wide range of applications, including logging, right-of-way maintenance, landscaping, creating firebreaks, wildlife habitat restoration, preparing land for building development, and much more.
SUPERTRAK was formed in 1986. It specializes in units in the 100-400 horsepower range. Its custom-built equipment is available on rubber tires as well as tracks.
Just about the same time that Thompson Tractor in Birmingham, Ala., became a dealer for SUPERTRAK, Sleepy Hollow Farm was ready for a new, more powerful forestry mulching machine. The company traded in the SUPERTRAK SK120TR toward the purchase of a SUPERTRAK SK140CTL-C at Thompson Tractor.
“Howard Weldon, the salesman from Thompson Tractor, knew we had the 120,” said Steve. Conversations about the machine led to discussions of upgrading. “He showed me brochures he had on the CAT 299,” said Steve. The Caterpillar 299 could become the carriage for the SUPERTRAK SK140CTL-C. That possibility sparked the interest of Steve and John.
With the Caterpillar 299 forming the base of the 140-horsepower SUPERTRAK SK140CTL-C, Steve knew he could have a more stable machine as well as a more powerful mulcher. “It’s just a whole lot heavier,” he said. “It’s balanced better. It will get around a lot better.”
On the steep and often slick slopes where Steve runs the SUPERTRAK equipment, getting around can be a challenge. Tracks are a must, he explained. “On these hillsides, a tired machine wouldn’t be able to run,” said Steve. “It would just sit there and spin.”
The added power of the SUPERTRAK SK140CTL-C comes in handy because Steve uses the machine for more than mulching. “We use the skid-steer with a lot of different heads,” he explained. “We’ve got it with quick-coupling.”
The simple screw design behind the quick-coupling means Steve can easily switch to forklift tines to move pallets, drainage pipes or other materials. Managing a beef cattle farm where wildlife habitat is also a priority requires doing a very wide range of tasks and moving different materials.
Maintaining and repairing fences is a constant task as the cattle continually test them. The farm is crisscrossed with wood, wire mesh and barbed wire fences, and it buys fence posts and 5/4 lumber by the pallet to keep pace with the repairs.
The versatility of the SUPERTRAK SK140CTL-C mulcher distinguishes itself. “With SUPERTRAK, you’ve got two individual pumps, so you can travel and mulch,” noted Steve. Having dual hydraulic pumps makes jobs go faster.
The SUPERTRAK SK140CTL-C also is easy on the terrain, according to Steve. “It’s got less ground pressure,” he explained, so it maneuvers well in wet, swampy conditions. Even if it bogs down and gets stuck, “It’s got the winch on it so you can hook yourself up and pull yourself out,” he added.
The 12,000-pound hydraulic winch with bumper kit is just one of several user-friendly features on the SUPERTRAK SK140 STR, which moves at 5 mph. Other features include halogen lights, emergency engine shut down and side window screens on the enclosed cab. Mulching is accomplished with a Fecon Bull Hog® attachment. With the Fecon attachment, the machine weighs about 8 tons.
Among the optional attachments for the SUPERTRAK SK 140 STR are 14-inch or 16-inch steel grouser pads, a cab pressurizing kit and an external air filter and pre-cleaner kit.
When Sleepy Hollow Farm purchased the SUPERTRAK SK140CTL-C from Thompson Tractor, it kept the Fecon mulching head and also bought a Davco brush hog head.
“We bought this brush hog from Thompson,” said Steve. Davco Manufacturing Ltd. is based in Grand Prairie, Alberta, Canada. “They make a super-heavy brush hog,” he added. “It’s got a big flywheel with four small blades. I use it in a lot of places…to clean out undergrowth. I cut out everything to about 4 inches.” The compact, 6-foot width of the head makes it a good attachment in tight undergrowth, explained Steve.
Other equipment at Sleepy Hollow Farm includes two CAT excavators and an IT18 rubber tired machine with quick change capabilities for use with a bucket, pallet forks and hay spear for varied tasks on the farm.
“I also have a large tractor with an FAE mulching head,” said Steve. The tractor is a Fendt 926 with 240 PTO hp. “I use it on chewing up stumps,” said Steve. “It’s a four-wheel drive.” And there are “places in hollows” where it is the best performer.
Steve uses a trailer to move the SUPERTRAK SK140CTL-C among the farms owned by Drummond family members. He already has a range of trailers to tap from a big lowboy to a gooseneck trailer paired with a Ford 450. Even so, he is building a rollback trailer to accommodate the SUPERTRAK SK140CTL-C.
In addition to raising beef cattle, Sleepy Hollow Farm grows corn and soybeans. The farm was “just woods and fields when it started,” said Steve, who has been the farm manager for 25 years. “I helped develop the farm.” Before going to work on the farm, Steve worked for John at a Drummond mine for 10 years.
In 2008, Drummond shipped about 30 million tons of coal. The company produces low sulfur coal, which meets Phase II requirements of the Clean Air Act. Besides mining operations in Alabama, the company also has mining operations in Colombia.
Drummond has about 2 billion tons of coal reserves. The company also is known as a leader in the environmental arena. It has received nearly 50 state and national environmental awards for reforestation, mine reclamation and re-vegetation.
“I was born in Miami, Florida, raised in Hollywood, Florida,” said Steve. “I’ve been working since I was 14 or 15…My dad got sick. I was going to school at the time and had 100 to 200 calves to feed.”
Steve has done a little of everything related to farming, including working on truck farms in the Sunshine State. “I pulled cows and horses since I was young,” said Steve. “When I was growing up, I worked for truckers moving collards, turnips.”
He moved to Alabama in 1972 when he married. He went to work for the coal operation at Drummond the same year.
“I enjoyed the mines, but I like this more,” said Steve. “I run the equipment. I repair the equipment. I’ve got a truck with my equipment on it. I’ve got a crane.”
The truck that Steve depends on is his Ford F800 with a utility body. The truck holds his tools, an air compressor, welding equipment and a crane. The crane is a must, he said. “You’ve got to be able to pick up disc axles and other heavy parts,” he explained.
In order to keep the farm operations going and keep all the equipment running properly, “you’ve got to have your bearings,” said Steve.
John purchased the property and house across from the farm, and the house was renovated and became Steve’s home. A large shop was built later beside the house.
Working to support John’s vision for the land, Steve has helped to build a barn, a house, a shop, fences, as well as carrying on normal day-to-day operations, such as feeding livestock and cutting hay in season.
Passersby often stop to take photos of the farm, said Steve, because of the picturesque landscape. And Steve credits the SUPERTRAK SK140CTL-C with helping to ensure that the entire farm remains picture perfect.
The SUPERTRAK equipment is designed to shred and mulch brush, undergrowth, trees, stumps and logging slash quickly and safely. Logging operations are not part of the day-to-day work at the farm. However, logging is sometimes required to open up new habitat or agricultural land or to deal with the aftermath of a tornado or hurricane. The SUPERTRAK is used for mulching after these kinds of logging jobs on the farm.
Sleepy Hollow Farm belongs to the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association and the American Angus Association. The interconnected activities of the farm make for an interesting day. “We’ve got a cow-calf operation horses,” said Steve. “We do our own hay for cows. We’ve got habitat around here for deer, turkey and quail.”
Living and working on the farm has its rewards. There are three man-made ponds on the farm that have been stocked and support good fishing, and the property supports fox, deer and other wildlife. This year, bald eagles nested on the farm – a first. “They’ve got a nest that’s about five feet in diameter on top of a pine,” said Steve.
Steve likes his niche job. “I’ve always enjoyed it,” he said.
It’s been almost 10 years since he has taken a vacation, but with two young grandchildren now, Steve is taking more hours to be with the youngsters. “I’m taking a little more time now,” he said. “I keep them close to me.”
Steve’s two sons and his three stepchildren, a son and two daughters, all work in various roles at Sleepy Hollow Farm. So he has the opportunity to work in an environment he enjoys and be with family at the same time.
The setting at Sleepy Hollow Farm is ideal for family, he said. “It’s a great place for kids to learn,” said Steve.
SUPERTRAK Partners with CAT Dealers
SUPERTRAK Inc. now offers its product line of custom built mulching carriers with assistance from the Caterpillar dealer network in the U.S. and North America.
SUPERTRAK, based in Punta Gorda, Florida, has been a mainstay in the forestry and vegetation management industries for over 23 years and has been a CAT® original equipment manufacturer the same number of years.
SUPERTRAK machines are built utilizing CAT base units, power modules, and components. Parts and component commonality provide CAT dealers with a high horsepower, high performance, custom machine to accompany their existing product line. Parts, technical assistance, service, and warranty support are authorized and performed through the CAT dealer. SUPERTRAK machines are registered with unique serial numbers in the CAT network and database.
SUPERTRAK announced several new dealers through the CAT dealer network: Thompson Tractor, covering Alabama and the Florida west panhandle, Yancey Bros./Pioneer covering Georgia, and Holt CAT-Texas covering west Texas.
SUPERTRAK also is negotiating with other CAT dealers in California, the Pacific Northwest, Mississippi delta states, the Midwest, Eastern Seaboard, Alaska and Canada.
SUPERTRAK provides durable, custom equipment for vegetation management, including applications in forestry, right-of-way, plantation and orchard management, invasive species removal, forest fire prevention, wetlands restoration, biomass harvesting, re-forestation, land-clearing and real estate.
The company’s extensive product line ranges from equipment with 120-450 hp and carriers utilizing tracks (rubber or steel) or wheels. SUPERTRAK machines offer versatility and the ability to run mulching and shredding attachments and also standard application attachments.
Visit www.SUPERTRAK.com to see the company’s complete line of new and used mulching carriers.
For more information, call SUPERTRAK at (800) 446-9858 or contact an authorized CAT dealer.
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