Test Drives

Vermeer CTX 160 Mini Skid Steer Loader

When we here at The Australian Arbor Age heard about the new Vermeer CTX160 Mini Skid Steer Loader, we knew it was going to be worth taking a good look at.

Arborists around Australia will probably be more familiar with Vermeer’s range of wood chippers and stump grinders.

Still, the reality is that the Vermeer range is hugely diverse across numerous industries, including Directional Drills, Boring Systems, Mixing Systems, Track Trenchers, Terrain Leveller Surface Miners and of course Mini Loaders.


The Vermeer CTX160 Mini Skid Steer Loader is designed to tackle such jobs as moving heavy material, working ground-engaging attachments and efficiently manoeuvring in congested operating conditions, including passing through a standard gate. The CTX160 is sized for challenging, landscaping, hardscaping, rental, utility and general construction work. So, with that in mind, I figured the perfect man to help us put the CTX160 to the task was landscaper Kelly Burton from KBL.

Kelly’s initial feedback was his enthusiasm to see the impressive high-lifting 225.4cm, remarkable operating capacity 725.7kg and substantial auxiliary hydraulic flow – all of which being delivered in a machine width of 106.7cm. Kelly shared: “Having a vertical lift path design is perfect for heavy lifting of materials up into trucks and other similar areas. This machine is packing some real power with both its hydraulic flow and being driven by a 40HP (29.8kW) turbocharged Kohler KDI diesel engine. By removing the diesel particulate filter (DPF), the engine is less complex, which in turn reduces cost.” The Chariot-style operator’s platform offers both comfort and visibility, and the inclusion of an operator presence system means the loaders’ ground drive is disengaged when the operator steps off the platform and the padding around the knees in the area is excellent. Straddling the work platform are dual fuel tanks which will deliver an 8 hour day without requiring a refuel.

One of the first areas I was interested in finding out about from Kelly was the controls of the machine and the ease of the operation, to which Kelly answered: “It’s a good system to operate, the single pilot-operated joystick was smooth and intuitive. You can flick the switch between high and low flow with the dual auxiliary system for ground-engaging attachments and optimal control when the low flow is required. Changing attachments is very easy and fast with the universal mounting plate. For our test site, we had the log grapple attached, which worked perfectly to allow us to lift some impressive girthy sections. There was one log I thought may have been above the machine’s capabilities but, once I got the balance right, everyone on site was thoroughly impressed with the CTX160’s lifting capabilities.”

Kelly continued: “I think mini skid steers are at their absolute best when they can tick as many boxes as possible like power, lifting capacity, versatility and control. From what I’ve seen today, the CTX160 definitely ticks all the boxes. Our site was muddy for the test, and the 22.8cm wide tracks even with a significant load provided excellent control. Another thing all owners and operators are looking for is a company that stands behind their product. I was happy to see that Vermeer provides a standard warranty on the loader arms.”

So onsite we had plenty of good-sized material for Kelly to rip into. From a mixture of smaller and mid-sized cuts to grab, along with some beautiful mid-sized hardwood sections and one or two large palm sections. Across the range, the balance of the machine looked great – partly to do with the well-designed machine and the counterweights that neatly fit on the rear panels of the skid steer when you step through, when stepping up onto the work platform.

You don’t have to look very hard at all to see the build quality that has gone into the CTX160. The steel frame and boom are visibly sturdy and the welds are nice and thick. You only need to jump onto the Vermeer website to see their full range of large/heavy-duty machinery to understand their pedigree.

Watching the CTX160 navigate the site, it is obvious its ground speed and zero-turn capabilities make this a very nimble machine for even the tightest worksite while, when having the room to move, it can cover the ground exceptionally well also.

In wrapping up this review on the Vermeer CTX160 it strikes me as an extremely versatile machine that would fit perfectly into numerous industries. From carrying substantial sized logs across properties to load into the Vermeer chipper, to moving massive sandstone rocks and alike across landscaping jobs, to fitting one of the impressive numbers of attachments for groundwork, the CTX160 will impress. You will struggle to find more power and capabilities squeezed into a smaller machine.

For more information call 1300 VERMEER or visit www.vermeer.com.au

August 12, 2020 / by / in ,
Ruthmann Bluelift SA22

Why reach for the trees when you can go straight through them?

If you speak with any contractor or business owner in the Arbor sector about what their key points of focus are in their day-to-day operations, you will nearly always get back a fairly similar answer. “Efficiency, safety, and ability to access hard-to-reach areas with speed and minimal risk,” or something along those lines will generally be your answer.

If those four areas pretty much tie in with what you were thinking, then you are going to love this review, as I have pretty much just described the key features of the Ahern RUTHMANN BLUELIFT SA22.

Those of you not familiar with the name Ahern Australia, you may be more familiar with the brand Snorkel. Ahern Australia not only offer the full range of Snorkel products, but are also the exclusive Australian distributor for Ruthmann Bluelift spiderlift products.

Some of the features you are going to love about this spider lift are the ultra-narrow dimensions and powerful rough terrain capabilities, which made the timing of this review perfect as I had a job booked in a tricky location in Bayview on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. If you don’t know Bayview, it starts on the waterway of Pittwater then, very steeply, runs up into the mountains where some of Sydney’s premium homes reside, before turning into the national park. The area is renowned for large natural rock outcrops positioned around the properties and winding roads that twist their way up into this steep and hard-to-access area.

We had several issues to take into account on this job. Firstly a single, narrow access point into the yard that not many machines with the reach of the BLUELIFT would have been able to access. Second, there were several large trees with substantial branches that were located directly above a glass panel fence as well as phone and power lines. Access was going to be tricky at best and with a stunning lawn and garden on-site, not ripping up the lawn was also a factor.

The RUTHMANN BLUELIFT SA22 was basically made for this exact type of location as it’s perfect for areas that cannot be reached with a standard vehicle towing a trailer-mounted boom lift.

As the spider lift came up the steep driveway, its rubber tracks and powerful drive system had no problem at tackling the incline. Thanks to its proportional individual track heights to level the machine when tracking across inclines, it was through the narrow gate and being set up within minutes on the grass front yard area, where most of the day’s work was going to be located.

This machine has a sturdy, yet lightweight bucket, which is easily removed when accessing tight gates. It has wheels on the bottom, so it’s even easier to be moved on hard surfaces.

The stabiliser legs were deployed, and auto levelled once we placed some ply under the feet to protect the soft and still slightly muddy grass. The stabilisers on this machine have three different positions for narrower set-ups, when you don’t have room, and a smaller footprint to set up. Obviously, if you are on a narrow set-up, you will have more reach restrictions.

Thanks to the auto level switch, it was a quick set up and we were ripping into work in no time.

The three-section boom design delivers up to 22m of working height, the lower boom comes up and gives 9m of over reach and up to a 10.9m horizontal outreach, three features that we were going to really make the most of on this particular job.

Having to reach over both insulated power and phone wires as well as a glass fence, the ability to work to the limit of these features saved us a huge amount of man hours as well as the cost of a disconnect and reconnect of services.

Even at full reach, the SA22 operated smoothly with two guys in the basket, and the extra weight didn’t seem to have any negative impact on the operation of the lift at all. The basket has the ability to rotate up to 340 degrees and also houses a 230-Volt power outlet as standard, which makes it perfect for the operator to plug in power tools or other equipment as required.

We did have to get the machine into a few slightly tricky positions which again didn’t pose any real problems over the day. Part of the ability to get the SA22 into some trickier situations comes down to the fact that the machine overall weight is just 2990kg, which delivers very low ground pressure when in drive mode using the rubber tracks, and also lower pressure when using the stabiliser legs. These stabiliser legs operate with a simple one-touch operation, making them fast and very easy to set up. A self-stabilising system locks the spider lift into place for safe work at height, and hydraulically operated articulating outriggers can be set at individual heights.

This machine also has a home pack-up feature. As long as there are no obstructions like a tree or building in the way, holding one switch will pack away the boom to its resting position without having to move several controls and line it up manually.

These machines are designed and built in Italy and suitable for a wide range of applications. The range of BLUELIFT spider lifts share many of the same design features, including advanced technology, lightweight designs and high performance. The vertical and horizontal reach of these lifts maximises production, both indoor and outdoor. Ergonomic designs allow operators to quickly move the lift into position, even in tight spaces. Proportional electro-hydraulic controls deliver precise manoeuvring to allow for easy work of accessing high places.

All in all, the RUTHMANN BLUELIFT SA22 made life very easy for us in a location otherwise very tricky. From the way it snuck in through the narrow gate, to the ability to level while tracking across the uneven ground to get into its first position, this spider lift overcame several unique challenges before we even took advantage of its excellent height and reach capabilities.

Ahern Australia will be displaying Bluelift Models at the Arboriculture Australia National Conference, May 16-19, at the RACV Royal Pines Resort, Gold Coast and the HIRE20 Exhibition, May 27-28, at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

Alternatively, check out the product videos available at www.ahernaustralia.com.au/bluelift, or for more information call the Ahern Australia team on 1300 900 700.

April 19, 2020 / by / in ,
Cat® 302 CR Mini Excavator

US-headquartered manufacturer Caterpillar is one of the major and most instantly recognisable players in the global heavy equipment industry, with its flagship Cat brand presiding over an extensive product portfolio and long boasting a reputation for bringing to market products designed to get the job done.

Among the recent additions to this portfolio, Cat has introduced a line of five mini excavators, with the range of 1-to-2 tonne class machines sporting a variety of features focused on performance, versatility, safety and comfort, all packed into a compact size.

The 302 CR mini excavator, weighing in at a minimum operating weight of 1945kg/2045kg (canopy/cab), is the largest of these five new models, with Cameron Balzat, Caterpillar Asia Pacific Marketing Manager, explaining that it incorporates a number of noteworthy technologies for a machine of its size.

“Across the full range of mini excavators we have introduced new technology,”

Cameron explained. “What’s unique about the 302 CR is the air conditioning – it’s got an air conditioned, sealed and pressurised cab, which you don’t usually see in machines of this size. Typically, you don’t see air conditioning in an excavator until you get above 3 tonne in size.

“This gives you the ability to obviously keep yourself cool while you’re working, but you still have the engine power that you need to dig and do everything else you need to do in one of these machines.”

The size of the 302 CR’s cab is certainly a standout feature at first sight, which is further highlighted by its overall compact form factor – and, when it comes to first impressions, all indications are that the 302 CR is a machine that goes above and beyond in allowing operators to go about their work in comfort.

A compact machine with a large cab The 302 CR’s sealed and pressurised cab provides operators ample room, so much so that it is more akin to a cab designed for a larger 30 tonne model – and, putting the 302 CR through its paces, operations are noticeably quiet. Adjustable wrist rests add to the comfort factor, along with a suspension seat option, while the air conditioning is, simply put, fantastic.

Like the four other models in the new mini range, the 302 CR features a stick steer option allowing operators to switch from traditional lever and pedal travel controls to joystick operation via the push of a button. Cat states that automatic two-speed travel complements this functionality, speeding up machine positioning and control – and, across a range of applications, I was impressed by the 302 CR’s ease of operation, with it delivering a seamless experience.

Cat states that it has designed the controls to be intuitive, with a pattern changer, allowing operators to select their preferred system between excavator and backhoe pattern, while an LCD monitor provides easy-to-read machine information, complemented by a jog dial designed for easy navigation and interaction with the monitor.

When it comes to visibility, the 302 CR sports large glass areas on the sides and rear of the cab, along with a skylight, helping operators to keep an eye on what is happening in their vicinity, while the front window is designed to slide upward and store overhead. Having the option to slide the front window up with a small machine of this sort, which may often be operating in tight spaces and in close proximity to other workers, is a valuable feature, making it very easy to communicate with other workers.

Another noteworthy feature of the 302 CR is its push-to-start option, which sees a Bluetooth-enabled key signal its proximity to the machine, allowing it to start at the push of a button (with the additional option of a key combined with an operator pass code). Meanwhile, Bluetooth pairing with my smartphone was a simple process, with the smartphone connecting immediately and allowing for music control.

Impressive Reach And Power

The 302 CR is powered by a three-cylinder diesel Cat C1.1 engine with 14.3kW net power, which meets Tier 4 Final/Stage V emissions regulations – with Cat stating the engine sports a power-dense design, delivering consistent performance across a wide speed range – and I was very impressed by both the reach of the machine and how much power it had at full reach.

Operators can adjust the flow of the hydraulics, according to the task they are undertaking, providing enhanced control. Cat advises that its new line of mini excavators use a load-sensing hydraulic system with an electronically controlled variable displacement piston pump capable of oil flows to 66 L/min, with flow rates, coupled with high main-relief pressures, providing the hydraulic capacity to generate high digging and lifting forces, along with managing power attachments.

The standard auxiliary hydraulic system provides one way, two way and continuous flow, with Cat advising that its new line can be fitted with a Cat-manufactured manual coupler, along with Cat-manufactured buckets, including general duty digging, wide mud and tilting ditch cleaning. Meanwhile, other available Cat attachments include augers, hammers and compaction wheels.

Engine idle control and automatic shutdown systems provide for enhanced fuel efficiency, with the 302 CR sporting a compact radius design and retractable undercarriage (expanding from 1090mm to 1400mm), allowing operators to work in tight areas, while its dig-to-blade and dozer float features are designed to allow for easy clean up.

Easy Maintenance And Built-In Safety Features

When it comes to maintenance, the 302 CR is designed to provide for quick and easy inspection, with routine maintenance check points accessible at ground level through the side doors, allowing operators easy access. As far as more advanced maintenance is concerned, a tilt-up cab allows operators to reach additional service areas, delivering access to major hydraulic components, via what Cat describes as a simple process that can be completed in under five minutes.

Meanwhile, when it comes to safety, Cat has built in a number of features, including courtesy work lights and a fluorescent retractable seat belt, while boom lights help to illuminate work areas. Cat’s new line of mini excavators also feature tie-down points on the track frames, designed to facilitate securing of the machine for transportation.

February 13, 2020 / by / in ,
Bandit Model 18XP Drum Chipper

This month we are test driving the Bandit Model 18XP 6-cylinder turbo diesel drum chipper. This is the largest chipper Bandit has to offer that’s less than 4.5 tonne.

This means the majority of chip trucks can tow this beast without requiring air lines for braking. Taking that into consideration, this Bandit is quite a large and powerful chipper for its class.

The build quality of the Bandit Model 18XP is typical of the high quality we have come to expect from Bandit, with quality hydraulic components including powerful feed roller drive motors that are 32cc each.

The oversized rollers are upward of 25 inches wide. These rollers are positioned right up against the chipping drum which reduces any chance of material being stuck between rollers and drum. Basically, if you can jam logs or brush in this Bandit’s throat, it’s going to become mulch – it’s that simple!

Bandit is squeezing a monster 173hp Caterpillar into this beast, boasting just shy of 1000Nm of torque. It’s a six-cylinder turbo diesel that loves to chug the logs down its throat. For its size it was a fire breathing timber eater!

The boys that had a go on it today said they were impressed at its barrel munching ability for its size, which I am certain is due to the extra torque of the 173hp Caterpillar engine.

We positioned the Bandit 18XP onto a very small truck to show this model isn’t over the top size-wise. It filled the 8-cube bin extremely fast.

Jamie (our fearless photographer) was very gutsy with the positioning of some of his expensive camera equipment to get some super footage for the magazine. I was sure we were going to lose a camera today.

On today’s job we used an old tractor to drag the branches to the chipper, due to the fact we couldn’t risk sinking the chipper into an absorption trench for the septic system. The plan worked well and, while the old tractor did its job, the crew and the old John Deere could keep the Bandit working. This is a very efficient chipper for its size. Every time I dragged a limb around to the machine, it was waiting in idle to be fired up for its next feed.

One of the new features I noticed on this model 18XP was the override system for the bump bar. It reminds me of another brand we used to say “I wish Bandit could do that”. Well, now they have done it properly. You can stand by the controls and punch a hydraulic leaver to override the safety bump bar and it makes for very easy operating. Such a simple but very effective upgrade makes this machine so much nicer to use.

Overall I’d highly recommend anyone after an 18 inch chipper to test drive this model before making any decisions. The crew were all fans of it and it’s right up there, in my opinion, to be a beast on any standard tree contracting team.

For more information call 1800 681 733 or visit www.banditchippers.com.au

January 18, 2020 / by / in , ,

Today we are looking at the ECHO Telescopic Power Pruner.

For arborists, landscapers and avid home gardeners the safest place to trim and cut back trees is the ground, so it makes sense that one of the essential tools to enable this is an excellent pole saw or telescopic power pruner. Over my time as an Arborist, my experience is that if anywhere is going to break on this type of tool, it’s 99 per cent of the time the telescopic extension. So a quality pole saw that is going to last always needs to have a proper solid construction in this area which is precisely what we found with the ECHO PPT-236ES.

After doing some research, I found the PPT-236ES to be the first and lightest weight of the three models available.

After opening the brand-new box and putting the saw together, filling with fuel and oil, we were away and pruning some branches, that sat about five meters off the ground, in no time at all. One thing I noticed, when extending the telescopic section, is the very sturdy shaft on the ECHO pole pruner. I was also talking to a work colleague who owns one, and when asking his opinion, he said it’s a little heavier than previous pruners he has owned, but well worth the extra weight because it is almost unbreakable!

After cutting trees for a while, I’m sure you have all seen a mishap or two with a pole saw. One common thing I’ve seen is the shaft on other brands are generally easy to bend or damage if you’re not careful. From my experience, a replacement shaft, depending on the brand, can cost a third of the cost of a new saw. So, it goes without saying that any machine that is built well in this area is a bonus.

From the first time I started the saw, it fired up with ease and worked without any flaws when it came time to get cutting.

Comfort and ergonomics are an essential part of any powered tool, especially ones with sharp blades. From the comfort comes control, and from control comes safety. The PPT-236ES felt good in the hands, and the placement of the trigger and grips felt great. It has plenty of reach and comes with a shoulder strap – making it easier to use and carry over more extended time frames.

Over the day the saw cut well with no issues. The shoulder strap was a welcomed addition, as previously mentioned.

This model does have a little more weight than others I’ve used but will last longer on-site due to this addition build quality.

It has two more powerful models if that’s what’s required, but as a pole pruner, the power in this model is sufficient for pruning jobs.

It’s a Japanese built motor and comes with a two-year professional warranty, which is outstanding.

Overall I think the ECHO pole pruner is a great option to go for if you are looking for value for your dollar or your heavy-handed employees like to break your tools regularly, due to lack of experience or pure enthusiasm. Either way, it’s the strongest shaft I’ve seen on a pole saw by far, definitely something to consider.

The ECHO Telescopic Power Pruner is distributed by Briggs & Stratton.

For information call 1800 356 632.

December 1, 2019 / by / in , ,
Bandit 2550 Stump Grinders

This month we put Bandit’s Model 2550 Compact Diesel Stump Grinders through their paces.

This grinder is the Bandit Model 2550 stump grinder. Bandit Tree Equipment stocks these machines in two separate models; one as a rubber-tracked undercarriage and the other as a 4WD wheeled unit – giving you a choice to pick the perfect model, based on the ground conditions you will be operating in most of the time.

The rubber-tracked version comes standard with wireless remote-control and has a second tethered remote that can be plugged into the machine. The tethered remote is a great back-up should there be any issues with the other remote.

The 4WD version comes stock with no remote; the good old-fashioned, reliable levers do a more than adequate job, and are impossible to lose. The 4WD model also comes with a great sized blade for pushing grindings in the hole where the stump once stood. This is the way Bandit

Tree Equipment supplies these machines, but you can custom-order a remote/blade, or set it up however you like it.

The grinders come with a fuel-efficient and powerful 44hp turbocharged Kubota diesel engine. The outside wheels on the 4WD version are easy to remove when you need to go through narrow access, bringing the machine width down to 89cm wide, the same width as the tracked machine.

The cutter head has a large swing arc of around 130cm leading to less manoeuvring while grinding. One cool thing about this grinder is the lack of belts. No need to worry about that belt cover in the way on one side of the cutter head. It’s also better for maintenance as this machine is fully hydraulic – which means less replacement of belts, pulleys and bearings.

The 2550 runs two hydraulic pumps. The main pump drives the oversized Parker hydrostatic motor on the cutter head. The secondary pump powers all other hydraulic functions like cutter head swing and the drive wheels or tracks.

The cutting head is a good size of about 54cm in diameter and sports 18 Greenteeth. This grinder has a big oil cooler and fan, to keep hydraulic temperatures down. Everything is easy to get to.

Jake from Bandit Tree Equipment also showed me how to adjust track tension on the tracked version and it’s very easy, as simple as tightening one nut on each side of the machine.

The stump we put these grinders on today was a decent size Radiata stump, which can be hard to grind, due to their fibrous nature, and this one had plenty of grinding to be done beneath the soil.

I was extremely impressed with the Bandit’s performance. It hammered this stump out quickly and efficiently. All the grindings seemed to stay in a tidy pile under the machine, not shooting out everywhere and making a mess.

If you are grinding a lot of stumps and in the market for a mid-sized grinder, then this machine is a great choice. Make sure you check it out for yourself before making any decisions.

Personally, I preferred the track grinder with the remote control, but it will cost more than the 4WD to own. Bandit say they have great deals on these machines till the end of the year, so you might want to check that out.

These two grinders were fast and efficient, and also they are “Bandits”, which means you get the excellent Bandit Tree Equipment back-up support that comes with it, which is a big plus.

For more information call Bandit on 1800 681 733

For more information visit www.banditchippers.com.au

November 24, 2019 / by / in , ,
Solidur Professional Workwear Range

During February, March, and April, I have been testing personal protective equipment from the Solidur professional workwear range for arborists: the Infinity chainsaw pants, the COB fleece shirt and the H20 water-resistant jacket.

Infinity Chainsaw Pants

The Infinity Chainsaw Pants are available in two colours, orange or red. I have been testing the orange pants over the last few months to see how they hold up in the Australian tree industry.

When first trying on the Infinity pants, I immediately noticed how light and comfortable they were. The lining is super soft and doesn’t cause abrasion against your legs. The vents at the rear of the legs are certainly the largest vents I’ve seen on any chainsaw pants on the market. They definitely help to keep you cool on warm days.

Made from 4-way stretch nylon, they stretch where it counts. Also, to help with flexibility, it has “hyper stretch zones” which is a really clever way of creating stretch where it is needed, without making the pants baggy in any areas.

The hyper stretch zones are essentially pleated “Armortex Kevlar” which allows the material to stretch out then spring back into its pleated shape.

Teflon around the bottom half of the legs is incredibly strong and hard-wearing, meaning when you’re kicking through branches, you are highly unlikely to tear your pants. With all these stretchy materials, the pants have a really nice slim fit, meaning they don’t easily snag on branches.

Other cool features of the pants include a combi-tool holder for those who work on the ground or in forestry, where it is definitely handy to have a combi-tool on your person.

Removable gaiters are built into the pants with lace hooks to prevent them from sliding up, which is especially handy for climbers.

It also helps prevent any nasty creepy crawlies such as spiders and ticks from getting up your legs. Webbing loops for carabiners and other accessories are also on the pants and pockets galore with good quality zips unlike other brands where a zip may not make it past two weeks.

In the third month that I had been trialling these pants I had not had a single major issue with them. I have found them very comfortable, well ventilated, hard wearing and super lightweight.

I usually have three pairs of pants that I wear on a regular basis depending on what I am doing. Over the last three months I haven’t worn anything but the Solidur Infinity pants and I don’t plan to stray from them anytime soon. These pants have continually impressed me, especially when compared against other pants in the same price point. These are definitely my top recommendation to anyone working in the industry.

COB Fleece Shirt

The COB Fleece Shirt is a top design for the colder months. Available in three colours, yellow (which is essentially lime), red or orange. Again, I opted for the orange option. I haven’t managed to get as much wear out of the shirt whilst climbing, but I have worn it a lot for felling and general ground work.

The material is a really soft polyester and is super comfy to wear. When I initially looked at the product, I had some concerns that it may be quite scratchy on the skin but that is definitely not the case. Even when it gets warm or sweaty is still remains a very soft, comfortable material on the skin.

Other cool features of the COB fleece include the thumb loops and vented armpits. The thumb loops are great for if you are wearing a jacket over the top so the sleeves don’t get bunched up in the jacket sleeves. They are also really nice to wear on especially cold mornings. I often catch myself putting my thumbs through the loops just to try keep my hands and forearms a bit warmer.

The vented armpits are also great as they allow fresh airflow to get into your armpits and prevent you from getting too sweaty.

Overall, I really like the COB fleece shirt, it’s comfortable, cosy and looks great. What more do I need to say about a thermal shirt?

H20 Water Resistant Jacket

The H20 Jacket is Solidur’s high-end waterproof jacket designed for workers. Unfortunately, SA has had its driest start to the year on record, so we haven’t had much chance to really give it a good trial but the rain that we have had has been a pretty good test for the H20 jacket.

The jacket is constructed for workers, especially the hood which is designed to fit over helmets. The hood also has a lip ridge to prevent water from spilling back into the wearer’s face. When the hood is not needed it can be conveniently rolled up and tucked away. The sleeve cuffs are able to be tightened to prevent the sleeves from sliding up your arms.

When we trialled this jacket model in the rain, it was coming down very hard. The jacket stayed nice and cool. In torrential downpour the jackets kept each of us very dry, even the climber getting smashed with the worst of the wind and rain. The fit of the jacket is great too as it isn’t at all baggy, which prevents excessive water catchment and avoids snagging and catching on branches.

The H20 jacket is incredibly effective against wind and rain, looks fantastic, fits well and is very competitively priced against other brands.

For more information visit https://treecaremach.com.au

July 24, 2019 / by / in ,
Husqvarna 550 XP® Mark II

The latest Husqvarna benchmark 50cc chainsaw release is ‘not just a pretty face’.

The brand-new 550 XP® Mark II is market leading design and top tier technology, thoughtfully bundled into a well-balanced and compact, user-centric package.

In a special year for Husqvarna – celebrating 60 years of chainsaw design and manufacture (1959-2019), professional tree climbers, ground workers, and hand-fallers should get excited for more great modern chainsaw engineering and smart and clever design. Seriously.

For those users who are familiar with the original 550 XP® you will see a technical and design transformation with new advances cleverly integrated into the Mark II build: increased power output; higher chain speed; significant improvement with airflow, higher capacity design air filtration and better cooling capacity including a new improved rigid heat shield allowing a cooler carby area and easier restarts; AutoTuneTM II (ten times quicker fuel and air mix adjustment than AutoTuneTM I); enhanced durability through lower temperatures; and improved fuel efficiency – 14 per cent longer run time, so more work out of every tank of fuel.

Dependable, innovative features and proven platform tech have been retained in the Mark II unit including: Low Vib®, Air Injection®, X-Torq® engine technology (lower fuel consumption and reduced exhaust emissions) magnesium crankcase, captive bar nuts, adjustable oil pump, 500 series ergonomics, aggressive, slimline design with tough external cosmetics, snap-lock cylinder cover, flip-up reservoir caps with visible fuel level, easy access quick chain adjuster screw and of the course the return to start control switch.

For the tech heads, there’s, even more, to like about this saw: the main bearings have been updated along with the crank and cylinder including a new crankshaft, new piston, cylinder base gasket redesign (to reduce heat transfer), and new carby ceramic sleeves embedded in the crankcase.

As you may have already guessed, I really enjoy reading and digesting the stats and specs on any new saw and am always impressed with the ‘brain in the bucket’, but ultimately, it’s the cutting capacity that really gets my attention in the field. This saw proudly boasts best-in-class cutting capacity. Matched up with the all-new optimised Husqvarna X-FORCETM guide bar (say 16” or 18”), X-CUTTM SP33G pixel pre-stretched chain and used in combo with Husqvarna’s Bio-Advanced chain oil (a vege-based chain oil formulation) – this 50cc beefcake is a torquey powerhouse!

Working with this new saw predominantly on the ground for regular rigging and medium size tree removal operations, it feels compact, lightweight and powerful, with the power to weight ratio being absolutely spot on for both me and my favorite contract climber – Joe Loorham from Tree Pioneers. It really is a grab-and-go chainsaw; super reliable for prepping material for the chipper, trimming and cross-cutting for firewood rounds and a myriad of tree felling duties on the job site – perfect to keep the groundies (like me) working hard!

Climbing contractors like Joe (pictured working in Emerald, Victoria) also love it for blocking down or some of the larger scaffold removals on a big prune as it’s super responsive on the trigger with 30 per cent faster acceleration than the original 550XP®. It really is a treat to work with; surprisingly quick and I do mean surprisingly – perhaps give the old 550 to the apprentice and keep this one for yourself.

This new Pro saw is a top tier unit born out of the new chainsaw generation platform, i.e. the same family heritage as the recently released 572 XP®.

It isn’t the big, bold and brutal beauty that is the 572 XP® but it is inherently based around the same ‘ground-up rebuild’ philosophy, with many of the latest technological advancements recalibrated for the 50cc market.

Optimised for an all-around professional experience, this dynamic upgrade has me enjoying the groundwork more than ever. That’s no mean feat for a tree career spanning nearly thirty years.

Smart and simple for a small job, or work hard out in the field all day. Let’s hope the saw lives up to your expectations once you’ve settled it into your fleet. It’s certainly exceeding mine thus far.

This new saw is not a shelfie; it wants to work. It’s built to deliver a quality experience in a demanding professional environment and is fated to become a fleet favourite for tree workers worldwide.

If you like to work, and I mean really like to work, then get your hands on the new chainsaw generation 550 XP® Mark II. It is as they say – cutting excellence reinvented!

For more information visit http://www.husqvarna.com

May 22, 2019 / by / in
Monitor PB2714 Spider Lift

If you are looking for a Spider Lift with a very stable and solid bucket that can reach a max working height of 27m/100ft with a two-person capacity, the team at Monitor have created an impressive machine with the PB2714 Spider Lift.

The PB2714 Spider Lift hosts a pile of great features that add safety and stability when working at heights which takes a lot of the movement out of the bucket when working, and in-turn relieves the stress out of your calves and ankles, when trying to hold yourself still in inferior machines that wobble and move at full height.

To start with, you can order the Spider PB2714 – which is the big brother of the Spider 2210 – in either the Diesel engine only set up (a powerful Kubota engine) or Diesel/Lithium battery hybrid version, which comes with so much added potential to this already impressive set up. The optional onboard Lithium battery pack provides almost silent, emission-free use. Majority of machines sold to date in Australia have this feature and can be a real game changer when positioning the machine in and around buildings where noise is to be kept to a minimum. Regardless of which way you decide to go, both options come with impressive features. There’s too many to mention right here, but some of the more significant ones that impressed me during our testing were as follows.

Test #1 Working Height And Reach

Being able to reach 27m is impressive enough but the 15m horizontal working outreach allows for an enormous amount of flexibility in where you can safely set up the machine. Also, the 10m of up and overreach again adds flexibility to this versatile outfit. You are providing added safety and usability in areas that previously were not achievable.

Test #2 Access

Even though the reach of this machine is extremely impressive, its accessibility and maneuverability are both equally impressive features. The tracks on the Spider PB2714 tuck into and get just about anywhere with its min-width of 890mm. It can also be folded down to a max height of 1.99m, giving excellent access to backyards through side gates and alike. This type of access is very impressive for a spider lift of this height.

Test #3 Controls, Functions And Set Up

The radio control unit is very ergonomic and simple to use. All functions are fully proportional, and several aerial functions can be performed simultaneously. The functions speeds are nice and fast if desired, making for quick set up times and productive work times.

The variable position outrigger system is brilliant. Even with all outriggers in the narrow position, Spider PB2714 will provide full working height with full SWL and 360 degrees of slew! If you are setting up in tight areas, or in and around obstacles, this feature will be a game changer. This is an awesome machine for working in confined spaces where access to taller heights is required. The high-speed Auto level along with the long outrigger travel allows for fast and versatile setup options.

For numerous reasons, this machine has impressed us all on the day of our test drive. Its smooth and proportional controls make for improved handling. The ability to operate several functions simultaneously along with its reach and ability to access tight areas in and around obstacles makes this spider lift a game changer!

Call 1800 025 024

For more info visit http://www.monitor.net.au

May 9, 2019 / by / in
Morbark 1415 Wood Chipper

In this edition of The Australian Arbor Age I was asked to test a model in the Morbark wood chipper range.

The Morbark wood chipper model we tested on the day was the 1415. The reason why it’s called 1415 is fairly simple and cuts out the confusion: the feed table throat opening is 14 by 15 inches. All the Morbark models will be named like this from now on.

This model is also available in a rubber tracked option.

The machine is typically well made as you would expect from a Morbark. It has 6-inch chassis rails that run right under the feed table and is powered by a 114hp CAT Diesel engine. The chipper weighs about 2.5 to 3 tonne, which is relatively light considering it’s so well made.

This particular model has a winch that packs a punch for a smaller machine. The representative was saying that this machine has a patented chambered air impeller system that not only increases the force and speed that it throws wood chip, but also – this is the bit I like – reduces blowback of dust and material back out the infeed hopper. Everyone has been behind a chipper on a hot day chipping something dead. It’s not pleasant to operate in a dust cloud, having all the dust sticking to you. Another feature I’m beginning to like is the addition of ChipSafe®. A couple of the crew members were sceptical bagging it out the first time we used one with ChipSafe®, but after a day using it, they changed their way of thinking. Your chipper functions like normal if there is nothing to set the sensors off, but I can personally see the value in wearing ChipSafe® as it’s very easy and quick to reset the sensor and start the rollers again.

The feed rollers on this chipper have got really good grip on anything you feed them, due to the design of the serrated teeth and knife bar combination as well. This model also comes with a hydraulic chute for left and right.

On the day we used the 1415 wood chipper, we were cleaning up storm-damaged trees and feeding this machine

with a loader. Both the crew and myself were extremely impressed at how well this chipper performed on the day. The chip hits the head board hard from these machines. The 1415 easily kept up with what we were throwing at it and didn’t have issues taking any kind of capacity logs.

One improvement I’d love to see is a ‘wind the chute up-and-down option’ from Morbark, as you can currently change the position of the chute but you need spanners.

In the past I used to prefer other brands of wood chippers but now I have to say that, after the last two machines I have tested from Morbark, if I had to buy a new machine tomorrow, this would definitely be one of the machines in the mix.

For more information visit www.globalmachinerysales.com.au or call 1300 072 926

April 24, 2019 / by / in