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Georgia Loggers Work Steady with Langdale: Cleanfix® Reversible Fans Keep Lott’s Logging Running, Eliminate Down Time to Clean Radiators

Cleanfix® reversible fans clean radiators to keep Lott’s Logging running efficiently.

By Tim Cox
Date Posted: 9/1/2009

PEARSON, Georgia – As a logger, Kyle Lott knows the importance of having strong markets for his wood.

            Lott’s Logging, operated by Kyle and his father, Theopolis, has been fortunate to have a good working relationship with a company whose business remains steady – Langdale Forest Products, which operates three mills in the region.

            “Langdale has been a real good company to work for,” said Kyle, 41. “They try to give us a minimum quota. They know how tough everything is. They try to keep us working, and they have…They have been a tremendous company to work for.”

            Lott’s Logging’s two crews have benefited this year from retrofitting two machines with Cleanfix® Reversible Fans. The new fans have done nothing short of a remarkable job in keeping the machines running and eliminating down time.

            Kyle has been in business with his father about six years although he has more experience working in woods with Theopolis.

            Theopolis, 71, started out in short wood logging in the 1960s and transitioned to tree-length logging in 1975. Kyle worked summers for his father as a teenager and was ready to work for him full-time after high school, but Theopolis wanted him to get some other work experience first.

            “He knew I would not fully appreciate it unless I worked for someone else first,” said Kyle.

            Kyle went to work at a local Georgia-Pacific sawmill after graduating from high school.

            At the sawmill, Kyle worked a ‘grave yard’ shift overnight. His first child was born while he worked there. “I never got to see my family,” he recalled, “except on weekends.”

            He left the sawmill and went to work as an electrician at a textile plant because he wanted to work during the day and to be able to have a normal family life. At the textile mill, however, Kyle grew weary of working in a factory environment – “being cooped up inside.”

            “The time passes so much faster outside than when you’re cooped up in building,” said Kyle.

            He asked his father about going into business with him about 10 years ago. When he joined his father in the business, Theopolis turned over the trucking operations to Kyle. The business had one logging crew at the time, so Kyle supervised the trucking operations and deliveries, helped maintain them and drove a truck as needed. That was his role for the first two or three years he worked with his father.

            The company contracted primarily to individual landowners. The Lotts bought standing timber, cut it, supplied wood to mills and paid the landowners. They also did thinning.

            Langdale Forest Products asked them to work on its company-owned land. The Lotts were reluctant to turn their backs on the private landowners they had worked for over the years, and who provided them with substantial business. “That was a big customer base for us,” said Kyle.

            Instead of switching gears completely, they added a second logging crew, led by Kyle, to cut for Langdale Forest Products starting in 2003. Within a year or two, however, the primary market they had for private landowners had slowed. “We no longer had an outlet for that wood,” said Kyle. Langdale invited them to put both crews to work on Langdale land, and that is what they have been doing since. Theopolis oversees a crew and Kyle supervises a crew.

            “We cut their wood and haul it to their mills,” said Kyle. Langdale Forest Products operates a sawmill, an oriented strand board (OSB) plant and a medium density fiberboard (MDF) plant. The Lotts deliver an average of 80-100 loads per week to the company’s mills.

            The crews work in fairly close proximity, usually not more than five or six miles apart, and sometimes on the same tract. A full-time mechanic shuttles between the crews to maintain equipment for both groups of workers.

            The Langdale forest lands are pine plantations. The Lotts do first thinnings, second thinnings and clear-cuts – whatever the company needs on a specific block of land. A large majority of the work, 80%, is first thinning. Saw logs are hauled to the Langdale sawmill in Valdosta while the tree-length pulp wood is hauled to the OSB mill in Quitman or another customer. The Lotts also supply wood to the Langdale MDF plant in Willacoochee. The logging crews normally work within about 50 miles of Valdosta, which turns out to be a commute of about 40 miles from Pearson.

            “We stay busy, but I can’t say that for a lot of people right now,” said Kyle.

            Each crew is equipped virtually identically. Each has a Tigercat 718 feller-buncher with the 5000 model saw head. Kyle’s crew has a Tigercat 620C grapple skidder, and his father’s crew has a Tigercat 630C grapple skidder. Each crew also has a Prentice 280 loader with a pull-through delimber, and they have another spare loader.

            Each crew has a Mack semi-tractor to spot trailers, and the crews split about 15 trailers. The crews also have platform scales in order to maximize the weight of each load.

            Both Tigercat feller-bunches were retrofitted with the Cleanfix fans.

            “We were having a lot of problems with them running hot,” Kyle explained, because the radiators would get clogged with falling pine needles and other debris and dust.

            Twice a day, the crews would shut down the machines in order to remove the radiator screens and clean them. In addition, about every two days they would have to take the added step of cleaning the radiators with compressed air. “That’s a lot of down time,” Kyle acknowledged.

            Tigercat recognized the challenges of operating equipment under those conditions in the Southeast and began installing reversible fans at the factory.

            Kyle checked with a local equipment dealer about retrofitting the machines with fans, but he was put off by the price.

            At about the same time, he became involved in a study of biomass chipping by the University of Georgia. Langdale rented a Conehead chipper on an interim basis, and Kyle used it in operations on Langdale property. The chipper required regular attention and service to keep chips and sawdust out of the radiator; the mechanic had to blow it out with compressed air two or three times daily. The experience taught Kyle a lesson. “If I get a chipper, it’s going for sure to have a reversing fan on it.”

            Conehead later offered to sell the chipper to Kyle. “I told Conehead…I wasn’t going to buy it unless it had a reversing fan.” The company had the unit retrofitted with a Cleanfix fan. “I noticed how well that fan worked,” said Kyle, who decided to buy the chipper.

            He also liked the fact that Cleanfix fans operated on compressed air, not hydraulics. “That’s a pretty good idea,” said Kyle.

            At that point they decided to add a Cleanfix fan to the feller-buncher on his father’s crew. He found a Cleanfix advertisement in a magazine and called the company for a price. “I almost fell out of my chair,” said Kyle. “I said, ‘Really? I want one.’ ”

            The Cleanfix fan made an immediate and significant improvement to the machine’s operations. Instead of cleaning out the screens daily and blowing out the radiator about every other day, “we went to not even touching it for two or three weeks at a time,” said Kyle. They added a second Cleanfix fan to the feller-buncher on Kyle’s crew several months ago.

            “The last time we cleaned out the radiator was about a month ago,” said Kyle. “We haven’t touched it since.” They are set to automatically cycle about every 10 minutes. About the only problem they ever have is maybe a pin hole in the air line,” said Kyle, which can be fixed in minutes.

            Now, with the Cleanfix fans, the radiators on the feller-bunchers are cleaned about once a month. The machines are equipped with the Cleanfix fans that pivot to change the pitch of the blades.

            The Cleanfix fan on the chipper was so effective it completely eliminated the need to clean out the radiator with compressed air. “We never cleaned it again with an air hose,” said Kyle.

            Theopolis still goes to work every day. He oversees the crews. “He still gets up every morning before daylight and doesn’t come home until 6 or 7 at night,” said Kyle.

            Each crew has four employees, and the company also has five truck drivers. One man runs the feller-buncher, one on the skidder, and one on the loader. The fourth man pulls the trailer away when it is loaded with wood, trims up the load with a pole saw, unhooks the trailer, and moves another empty trailer into position for the loader.

            “I’ve got the best group of employees I’ve ever had,” said Kyle. “They’re our best resource. I don’t what I’d do without them.”

            The company has plenty of steady work. “As long as our markets hold up,” Kyle added.

            In his free time Kyle likes to hunt deer and he enjoys fishing, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico along the Florida panhandle.

Cleanfix ® Reversible Fans Help Maximize Equipment

            In these tough economic times, it is more important than ever to squeeze every dollar from your investments. If new machines are not in your plans, you have to make your existing equipment last longer. You need to operate more efficiently — reduce fuel usage, lower repair costs and lower machine downtime.

            Cleanfix® Reversible Fans can help contractors to achieve these efficiencies. Clean radiators save fuel. Clogged heat exchangers cause engines to work harder to move cooling air, and that uses more fuel. Plugged charge air coolers can cause engine controllers to error code, resulting in further inefficiency.

            Cleanfix® Reversible Fans automatically purge debris from cooling system air paths to allow engines to run more efficiently.

            Cleanfix® Variable-Pitch Reversible Fans provide additional fuel savings when operating in lower ambient temperatures by adjusting blade pitch to move only the air that is required for proper cooling. Less horsepower (and less fuel) is required to move less air, and engine overcooling is eliminated. As machines warm up, Cleanfix® Reversible Fan blades increase their pitch automatically (and continuously) to compensate for rising temperatures.  Cleanfix® Variable-Pitch Reversible Fans provide the same cleaning performance as fixed-pitch Cleanfix® fans, and they require no interface with vehicle electronic systems for the Variable-Pitch function.

            Can you trust machine operators to wait for equipment to cool down, or will they run equipment until it overheats? Overheating damages engines, hydraulic and hydrostatic systems. Even minor failures can put your machine down at the worst times, and major component failures can cause major downtime and expense.

            Machines operating in high airborne debris (such as dust, leaves, needles, sawdust, pollen, and wood chips) can benefit from Cleanfix® Reversible Fans. The cost of even one machine failure can often be much higher than the cost to install a complete Cleanfix® Reversible Fan kit.

            Cleanfix® Reversible Fans are proven performers in a wide-range of high-production forestry applications, including feller-bunchers, slashers, chippers, grinders, mulching machines, log loaders and skidders from all the major brands.  They are also available from the factory as standard or optional equipment on many brands.

            Tier 4 compliant Cleanfix® Reversible Fans require little or no maintenance, and they are fully automatic. They can also be cycled with the push of a button in applications where automatic operation is not convenient. There is no need to slow or stop the engine to purge debris. Cleanfix® Reversible Fan blades rotate a full 180 degrees while the fan is spinning at full speed. The fan hub itself does not change rotational direction; for this reason a Cleanfix® Reversible Fan does not have to slow, stop, reverse rotation, and build speed. Rotating the fan blades provides another major benefit, enabling the Cleanfix® Reversible Fans to move as much air when they purge as they do when they cool.

            The main benefit of Cleanfix® Reversible Fans is that they eliminate the down time associated with cleaning out radiators and other coolers every few hours — or more often in many cases. Timber machines keep running, producing more, and earning more money for you.

            Cleanfix® Reversible Fans help a company to maximize its investment in equipment. They will help equipment last longer and be worth more when it is time to trade in or sell.

            Contact Novatrax International Inc. at (519) 349-2200 or e-mail for specific machine applications and kit pricing or to inquire about a dealer near you. Dealer inquiries are also welcome. Visit for more information.


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