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Hultdins Grapple SuperSaw Grows on Long''s

Georgia logging family known for swamp logging finds Hultdins equipment is effective.

By Alan Froome
Date Posted: 11/1/2002

GIRARD, Georgia — The Long family of loggers and innovation go hand in hand. When it comes to logging in wetlands and swamps, the Longs have carved out a niche for themselves that few can match or even want to try.

Long’s Logging Inc. is located in Girard, Georgia which is 36 miles south of Augusta. The tiny (population 162) rural community is situated close to the Savannah River, which forms the eastern state border with South Carolina. The surrounding forested area is populated with a variety of hardwoods and some southern pine, often standing in low-lying swampy terrain.

When Jimmy Long decided to go into logging in a big way, he analyzed the competition in his part of Georgia. He figured there were plenty of ‘hill loggers’ but very few who were prepared to tackle the swampy forest areas.

That’s when the innovation began. Jimmy found ways to adapt machines and devise new methods to successfully bring the hardwood and pine logs out of the swampy wetlands and deliver them to the sawmills and pulp mills in the region. The company’s focus is on hardwoods but pine is in demand when he can get it.

It was not an easy transition, however, and there was a considerable learning curve before Jimmy’s methods started to show results. Logging in swampy terrain and making a profit is a continuing challenge. No two swamps are the same, so each one is a fresh challenge.

The Long family, which has lived in the region for several generations, originally were farmers. Jimmy began dealing in used equipment, buying it and repairing or rebuilding it for resale. He also did some occasional logging.

With a daughter and three sons to support, Jimmy decided in the early 1990s that concentrating on logging could offer a better future for his family. Today his three sons — Chris, Jimmy Jr. and Daryl — work with him in the business.

The Longs operate three logging crews, each with three men. The crews are supervised by one of Jimmy’s sons. Chris runs a crew specializing in hilly terrain while Daryl and Jimmy Jr. each run a crew working in the swampy areas.

Jimmy, 60, mostly looks after the management side of the business. Frequently working six days a week, Jimmy does not have much spare time for hobbies or leisure activities. The family is active in a local church but little else. If he has a hobby, he said, it is driving around, "looking for wood."

In all, Long’s Logging has about 28 employees, including seven truck drivers. The company contracts with several wood products companies, including some of the largest, like International Paper Company and Abitibi, supplying them with saw logs and pulpwood. Most of the pulpwood goes to the International Paper mill in Augusta, and Abitibi takes a lot of the pine.

Long’s Logging also buys its own stumpage at times, which probably accounts for a good part of its success. The company merchandises its logs and pulpwood.

In the beginning the Longs operated several used logging machines and gained a lot of practical experience the hard way — maintaining, rebuilding and at times improving the older equipment. Now they feel their time is better spent cutting trees, not rebuilding older machines. The company progressed to new machines, which usually are bought with a plan as to when they will be replaced in order to keep technology up to date and take advantage of improvements in equipment.

The Longs are always looking for better ways to do things. A few years ago they took a look at the Hultdins grapple saws at the Forest Products Machinery and Equipment Exposition in Atlanta, also known as the Atlanta Expo. Jimmy and his sons could see the possibility of using the grapple-saw combination on a range of different machines. It could eliminate the need for a man working on the ground with a chain saw, which, when delimbing and loading logs, can be dangerous. The whole job could be done from the safety of a loader cab.

Hultdins offers a wide range of grapples and grapple saws for knuckle-boom log loaders, shovel loggers, chippers, and other log handling equipment.

Most of the equipment used by Long’s Logging is supplied by Pioneer Machinery out of its branch in Statesboro, Ga. with some machines coming from a John Deere distributor. Jimmy has enjoyed dealing with Pioneer Machinery and has been satisfied with the support and service from its sales representatives, other staff, and management.

Pioneer Machinery specializes in off-highway construction and timber harvesting equipment. It was founded in 1967 in Columbia, S. C. to supply and service logging machinery. The company expanded and today has 25 branches in six states from Virginia to Florida. Pioneer Machinery was purchased by Caterpillar two years ago but maintains the same close relationship with its original customers.

Tom Crabtree has worked for Pioneer Machinery in Statesboro for eight years and is branch manager. The Statesboro dealership is the closest to Long’s Logging home base, about a 40 minute drive. In all, Pioneer Machinery has seven locations throughout Georgia.

Tom has a very high regard for Long’s Logging. "One really smart outfit," he said. He described the way that a Long’s Logging crew typically works in swampy areas. The first cuts are made by a Timbco 415 feller-buncher; the machine runs on tracks and is mounted with a 20-inch Quadco rotary saw head. Then a tracked excavator moves some of the newly felled trees to create a road for the skidders on the soft, wet ground.

The excavator is fitted with a Hultdins TL 430 grapple and Hultdins 550S model SuperSaw. The Hultdins equipment is used to trim and delimb the trees as necessary and to place the logs side by side to create the road. Timberjack skidders mounted with floatation or dual tires pull additional logs along the road and out of the swamp to a dry landing for sorting. At the landing, logs are segregated according to as many as nine sorts, depending on customer requirements and the destination mill. When the job is finished, the skidders retrieve the logs that were placed down to create the road.

The Longs bought their first Hultdins grapple saw to use on a loader to delimb logs, but they found that it had many other applications. For example, now they are used to cut big limbs for pulpwood, which increases overall fiber recovery. The company has continued to add Hultdins grapple-saws to its operations and now has a total of seven. It is equipped with six Hultdins TL 430 ( 43-inch capacity ) grapples with 550S SuperSaw and one TL 480 ( 48-inch capacity) grapple with 550S SuperSaw. These use a .404-inch pitch, 8-H chain. They perform almost all the trimming and delimbing work for the three logging crews.

The Hultdins TL series grapple saws feature cushioned hydraulic cylinders, tapered sleeve pins to eliminate joint movement, 1,000-hour greasing intervals, automatic saw chain tensioning and automatic saw bar return. It is designed to allow quick replacement of the bar and chain.

Besides the 43-inch and 48-inch grapples used by Long’s Logging, the Hultdins range has been extended to include a 52-inch model (TL 520) that may be equipped with a 650S grapple saw. The largest version has a 58-inch capacity (TL 580) with optional 750S grapple
saw; these larger saw units use a larger ¾-inch pitch 11-H chain for heavier loader applications.

Long’s Logging has a variety of machines at the disposal of its crews. The crew that usually works in dry, hilly terrain normally uses a Blount Hydro-Ax 511 EXP feller-buncher with Waratah rotary saw, two Timberjack 450 skidders and a Prentice loader. (The company has
four Prentice loaders, models 384, 310, 410 and 325.)

The two swamp crews typically each use a Timbco 415 feller-buncher with Quadco rotary saw, two Timberjack 460 skidders, and a track excavator, either a Caterpillar 320 with a Hultdins TL 430 grapple-saw or a Hitachi machine. The Hitachi was modified for added strength and to mount the Hultdins equipment. The Cat 320, a bucket-type excavator, also was converted by the Longs for use in shovel logging. In addition, each swamp crew uses one of the Prentice loaders.

At times the Longs will use a Timberjack 635 shovel logger with a Hultdins TL 480 (48-inch opening ) grapple, primarily for big hardwood trees, and a Timbco 820 clambunk skidder when longer hauls to the landing are required.

The Longs maintain all the machines and equipment in their own shop on a scheduled basis. Maintenance work usually is performed on Saturday so the machines are available come Monday morning.

Long’s Logging also has a fleet of seven trucks to transport most logs to its mills, six Internationals and one Mack. Most hauls are within a 100-mile radius.

Jimmy also singled out Canal Wood, one of his customers, and two of its buyers, Reggie Henden and Craig Clayton, for their support and cooperation.

The large tracts of swamp land in the region have been logged, and there are fewer logging contractors who specialize in this kind of work. The Longs are finding their company is in increasing demand for contracts to cut smaller stands of timber in wet terrain.

Long’s Logging has made a name for itself, logging successfully in difficult swampy terrain where other contractors are reluctant to go.


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