Friday, June 24, 2016

Skidding Logs With an ATV Log Arch - First Impressions of a Norwood SkidMate MK2

In the spring Grandpa and I hiked far into his bush and then cut across the property line to our property to examine a rather large tree that had come down.  It was definitely one of the larger ones we had ever taken into our heads to skid out to the sawmill.  Grandpa wasn't exactly sure how we would get it, but he figured if he cut it up into eight foot lengths, I could likely get most or all of the lumber I would need to the woodshed from that single tree.

I headed home and decided that a log arch was finally in the cards to help improve my ability to move trees around our property.

At first I stopped at the local metal fabricator and explained what I had in mind, hoping to give them the opportunity to craft something if they were interested.  They weren't, and told me that if there was an "off the shelf" option, I should take that.

I investigated a number of possible options online before settling on the Norwood SkidLite.  I called the Canadian distributor and was told that they had one left in stock and it would ship out the next day.

A week later I followed up with them as I was in town anyway, and thought perhaps it was waiting at the depot.  Instead, I learned that they were incorrect, and that it was a model being discontinued, and that they would still make one up for me shortly and send it out.

A few days later I called back, but they hadn't begun making it yet.  I suggested that maybe if they had a SkidMate in stock, I would be willing to upgrade to get it sooner.  This seemed to meet with some acceptance, although it still took another week or two of calls before it finally shipped.  This was a bit of a sour experience initially.

As an aside, the SkidLite is a slightly different setup for skidding logs, involving a smaller wheel base and not really an arch, more of a post with a winch mounted on the top that lifts logs off the ground where you lock them in place.

The SkidMate, on the other hand, is a true arch with beefier construction that can handle heavier, wider, longer logs.  It has a neat setup whereby the forward motion of the ATV is what causes the shackled end of the log to ride up the arch until it is lifted off of the ground.

Finally, one Friday morning, a Canpar van pulled up the driveway, which was interesting in itself, as no other courier is willing to drive as far up the road as we are located.  I helped him unload the two boxes that made up the arch, and braved the blackflies to begin assembling it.

Kenny helped out while Mama volunteered to take the occasional picture.

Kenny was a super eager helper!
It came with a 2" hitch, I've been okay with how it fits on my 1 7/8" ball.

Thankfully, no butt shot here!
You can see the roller and hook here that travel up this bar as you pull forward.
I managed to put it together in about an hour or so, with almost no missteps.  I did put the bolts on the wheels on in such a manner that the nuts are on the outside of the arch.  In hindsight I would probably have done it the other way around, as it would narrow the outside of the arch by an inch on each side, something that could actually be useful on narrow paths in the bush.  So far I haven't been compelled to switch them around, but I may consider it if required.

Nuts!  On the outside!
Grandpa popped by and saw that I had it ready to go.  I cut my teeth on a few very small logs that I had cut down near the driveway.
Seems to make Grandpa grin.
Then I moved on to some large ones that I had abandoned in the ravine in the fall when the ATV could no longer climb the slope while dragging them.
Coming back from the ravine with a long one!
After that, I was enthused enough to head deep into Grandpa's bush and begin bringing out the monster tree there.
Even willing to try two at once!
It went very smoothly.  Having two people is a bit of a help as backing up with the arch, it sometimes is easier to just manually lift and place it in position instead of fritzing around with back and forth manoeuvres.
Picture perfect!
By early afternoon I had my whole backlog of logs removed from the bush!  Amazing!
This is pretty big by my standards.
So far, I have to give the arch two fairly enthused thumbs up.  Hopefully it will be robust enough to continue to provide assistance in the future, and hopefully it was just a fluke that it took me so long to finally have it arrive.

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