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So. Logger Uses boom Delimber In Final Cuts

Benny Martin Logging adds second Denharco stroke boom delimber to process trees from final felling.

By Diane Calabrese
Date Posted: 4/1/2003

BIENVILLE, Louisiana ó There is "no one on the ground anymore," said Benny C. Martin, owner of Benny C. Martin Logging. His employees now work "in complete climate control" environments, and Benny laughed at the irony. Yet Benny said it was a serious matter that pushed him toward complete mechanization: ever-escalating workersí compensation insurance premiums.

"Iíve been logging for a living for 33 years," said Benny. "As mechanization came to be, I went with the flow."

Benny works exclusively as a contract cutter for Weyerhaeuser. There are several things that people must realize when they ask his opinion about equipment and machinery, he said. "I donít time anything," he explained. "Weíre looking for maximum production and durability."

Moreover, Benny lives by the principle, "If itís not broken, donít fix it." For that reason, Caterpillar equipment predominates in his business. He went with Caterpillar early on, and it has been a strong performer for him. There are two major players on Bennyís roster of equipment that are not Caterpillar machines. They are stroke boom delimbers made by Denharco in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec.

Benny bought a Denharco 3500 boom delimber in 1997 and a Denharco 4400 boom delimber at the end of 2002. The Denharco 3500 is mounted on a Cat 322 carrier and now serves as a backup machine. The 4400 is mounted on a Cat 322-C carrier.

Benny decided to buy the first Denharco machine after watching another one in operation that was owned by a friend. What got his attention then has been confirmed by firsthand experience. He was impressed by the construction of the Denharco machine and the combination of power and boom speed ó 13 feet per second, which is 8 feet per second faster than the 3500, Benny noted.

The decision to buy a second Denharco was easy, said Benny. The performance and durability of the Denharco 3500 sold him on the machine and the company.

"We put approximately 15,000 hours on the 3500 Denharco," he said. "Thatís a lot of hours on a machine. It speaks well of Denharco." He would recommend Denharco stroke boom delimbers to anyone, he added.

Benny recalled some extremely productive periods with the new Denharco 4400 stroke boom delimber. "We have had weeks in excess of 150 loads," he said. Those peaks were achieved by working 14-hour days, six days a week.

"The larger winch drive in the 4400 makes a big difference to his operation, said Benny. It also illustrates something he likes about Denharco, the emphasis on continuous improvement. The Denharco 4400 also has modular components. On older models, for example, it was necessary to do welding to put on replacement arms while on the 4400 model every thing is pinned on. In addition, the new SoftClamp delimbing arms on the Denharco 4400 improve the grip on stems. Components of the hydraulic system on the Denharco 4400 are located in the boom base itself, providing easier access. The 4400 has a stronger (12-inch by 12-inch) one piece sliding boom as compared to a 12-inch by 8-inch boom on the original models.

Denharco offers many options on its 4000 series stroke boom delimbers, including a choice of one-piece or telescopic configuration and a floating trough, which gives the boom potential to handle a 32-inch butt. Top saws and butt saws with automatic chain tensioners are also available as well as different measuring devices. The Denharco 4400 that Benny owns has a one-piece boom and a stationary underpin (transport post). Benny likes the stationary underpin for the stability it gives when the machine is transported to sites.

Benny has been performing final cuts since 1994. He and his 10 employees have been working for about the past two years mainly in pine stands that are about 35 years old. Ninety-five percent of the trees harvested by his company are between 15-18 inches DBH (diameter at breast height). Bennyís crew uses a Cat 533 feller-buncher, three Cat 525-B skidders, three truck-mounted Barko loaders and one Cat dozer. Benny owns four Peterbilt 379 model trucks and he leases a truck.

Weyerhaeuser prescribes which trees to cut and where to take them. "The supervisor tells me what kind of volumes Weyerhaeuser wants," explained Benny. He and the supervisor look over tracts together before signing a contract. Benny C. Martin Logging is based in Bienville, which is in the northwest corner of Louisiana. Weyerhaeuser has a number of mills and plants in the region, and Bennyís company delivers to plywood, OSB, paper and sawmill facilities.

Different types of mills require logs of different lengths, and the versatile Log Optimizer computer system onboard the Denharco delimber makes processing fast and easy. "Itís smarter than all of us," said Benny. For example, if the operator picks up a stem that is larger than 21 inches, it is immediately assessed as destined for a plywood length and automatically cut to the appropriate length. Saw logs, which must have a minimum butt of 12 inches, are cut to different lengths. The Log Optimizer system allows the operator to override.

Benny C. Martin Logging occasionally works in hardwood. When it does, the Denharco 3500 still sees service, put to work because of the slower going in those stands. Bennyís father was a logger with a road and bridge crew, and Benny grew up with a good feeling about wood products. He took a break from logging for about seven years early in his career, and for part of the time he worked as a demonstrator and franchise liaison for Durham Mfg. in the Louisiana division that made hog tractors and knuckle boom loaders. He traveled a lot in that and subsequent jobs, eventually moving to Georgia.

Looking for a way to return home, Benny decided to return to logging. He was born in Friendship ó population about 100 ó about 10 miles southeast of Bienville. From about 1986 to 1991, Benny had a slow-pitch softball team that traveled throughout the U. S. to compete. The team won two state championships, and it held the top ranking in the country for a time. Benny pitched and played first base.

Committed to his profession, Benny emphasizes two things that concern him greatly. "People must realize the importance of timber," he said. "And the timber business has to realize the importance of loggers."

Benny and his wife, Pam, spend as much time as possible with their three sons, Brad, Blaine and Bannon, who are active in sports, often attending the games in which their sons play. The family also enjoys traveling.


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