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Need advice on ATV (For pulling wood out of the forest)

 
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Hello all. I am tapping your collective brain here, for a tool it just came to me today that I am very much in need of.
I am the proud-yet-humble new owner of a twenty five acre forest, with plenty of dead fall. I just got a new Echo 301-C chainsaw after researching online, and it was everything people claimed (It starts easier than my '84 Firebird ever did).
So, I was thinking of using an ATV as a mini-tractor, a force-multiplier, because the thought of putting my back into it to pull these sawed logs and trees out of the forest, uphill and into the clearing where my truck will be, gives me the meat sweats.
I don't currently own a mule, and work too much to provide for its needs on this lot. The ATV does not need to be fancy or fast. It can be ugly, in fact I would prefer an ugly ATV, if possible. It needs to have a lot of torque. It needs to be reliable and ideally simple. I don't want to overload the vehicle (I'm hoping I can find one with a trailer hitch so that I can pull loads up, as opposed to just dragging logs by rope or chain). This isn't just for my firewood needs. I also want to gather stones for projects (there's a multitude), move cut vines to my burn pile, and etc.
Anybody here ever use an ATV in the place of a tractor? And if so what do ya recommend? Thank you so very much, in advance,
"My name is NOT Rupert. It is Joseph, or Joe!"  
 
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To be sure, I have never understood ATVs. I would go with a compact tractor with a front end loader.  
 
Joe Banks
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John F Dean wrote:To be sure, I have never understood ATVs. I would go with a compact tractor with a front end loader.  



It'd have to be pretty darn compact. On the property the only way I can store this vehicle is in half of a twenty-foot long sea can, just about as much room as a large bush hog can comfortably fit. The other half is full of building materials. Also, I got sticker shock when looking at tractors, and beyond that I am not very mechanically inclined. I would hate to buy something, break it, then have to hire out to get it fixed.
 
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What about an old ute or small truck.
\ It may be cheaper and less likely to be stolen.
 
Joe Banks
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John C Daley wrote:What about an old ute or small truck.
\ It may be cheaper and less likely to be stolen.


That's interesting, I had to look up the term "ute" and when I did, I found there's a "ute" dealer in my neck of the woods! https://jpnautoimport.com/mini-truck%EF%BC%86jdm (slow, Japanese mini-trucks that sell for between 3-4k). edit: I was wrong, or prices have risen incredibly in the few months since I was there. Now they're asking roughly twice the money for these darn things.
Not a bad idea, that... But I would need to learn how to drive a stick, and I still don't trust those little tires in this rolling forest. Anybody ever use one of those on rolling, forest terrain? I'm sure they'd be good on a farm. My mind went to ATV due to their tires. Where's the ute with ATV tires? That is something I could really get down with.
 
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Hi,  ATVs' have some disadvantages. One is pulling factor. Most people will be amazed how little they pull. If you are going into the woods with an atv then you need a path for it to run on.  If your going to make a path then why not try another idea. Why not hitch up a winch to the pickup and pull whole logs out. You could add a second cable to it and pull in the log, run the line out, and double pull the log in. you could reach i/4 to 1/2 mile with cable and remote control winch. Sometimes rental companies have winches. So you could rent it, try it out and see how it works for you before buying.
 
Joe Banks
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Arthur Angaran wrote:Hi,  ATVs' have some disadvantages. One is pulling factor. Most people will be amazed how little they pull. If you are going into the woods with an atv then you need a path for it to run on.  If your going to make a path then why not try another idea. Why not hitch up a winch to the pickup and pull whole logs out. You could add a second cable to it and pull in the log, run the line out, and double pull the log in. you could reach i/4 to 1/2 mile with cable and remote control winch. Sometimes rental companies have winches. So you could rent it, try it out and see how it works for you before buying.



This is something I hadn't considered, using a winch. I have a '77 4x4 GMC Jimmy, and the lot does have a path which leads down to the creek which my truck can drive on. I'll definitely consider a winch.
As for pulling factor, I'm getting information from the forestry forum which contradicts that: https://forestryforum.com/board/index.php?topic=58837.0

"Honda. i have a 1995 300 4x4 air cooled no oil coolers full time 4x4 .light enough you can lift one end.no belts to slip and change .no electric shift .bought it brand new have worked the guts out of it with little upkeep.it was my first skidder. there still around and you can get them for 1200-2000 bucks in good shape.bulletproof.it will tow a full size truck.mine pulls a 8ft field drag in the garden.with ice chains on the tires its pretty hard to stop it.simple and half the weight of the new 800s and will go through more.i have pulled random spruce  logs with a chain   flat on the ground out of a ceader swamp.for a work machine stay away from the new electric stuff you will skid alot of wood.just my 2 cents from hands on skidding with a honda."

There's also something called a "log arch" which people use to pull big logs with ATVs. Not something for me, since i'll just saw into smaller sections, but it is food for thought on what an ATV is capable of.
 
John C Daley
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I saw this ute a 95 Mitsubishi Minicab Dump.
Its 4wd and I think knobby tyres could be available for them.
If you dont take it on the road even more vigorous tyres may be available
They have good pulling power and can be loaded with weight to improve the pulling power.
In Australia we have lots of accidents with ATV's tipping over, killing riders etc
 
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FWIW, I've been using a Prairie 360 4X4 ATV for around 10 years now to gather wood from around my property & love it. I purchased it used and it came with a winch and a plow, so it doubles as a machine to clear the driveway in winter. I wouldn't advise using the ATV as a skidder. Instead, for gathing wood I picked up an ATV cart. It has wide wheels & is able to carry  2-3 hundred pounds of wood and will not damage the soil/root layers (as long as I'm careful to avoid muddy areas).  I'll cut the wood to length on-site and I've added a ball-hitch to the ATV so I can bring out the log-splttter if necessary. Split the wood on site, load into the wagon and drive up to my wood pile & unload/stack. About as efficient as I can get. Keep your eyes peeled for a good used machine (I would not buy new, if possible). You can always do what you need to and resell once you're done with it and hopefully recoup most of your investment. I like mine so much I plan on driving it into the ground.

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Hi Joe,

I will second what John said regarding a subcompact tractor.  They are really amazingly powerful machines in a pretty tiny package.  I used my JD subcompact tractor to pull out 20ish fallen trees from my woods following a bad storm.

I am sensitive to the sticker shock so if you decide to go with a 4 wheeler or UTV, maybe consider a log arch.  I looked very seriously at the ATV arch from Logrite.com.  I specifically looked at the ATV arch because it had options for both manual pulling (good for maneuvering into position) and a ball hitch pulling option.

In any case, when dragging out logs it is best to get the leading end off the ground so it doesn’t dig in, reduce your pulling power and generally make a mess.  I used my 3 point hitch to lift logs several inches off the ground, and a log arch will accomplish the same.

Let me know if this is useful or if you have any questions.

Eric
 
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An ATV hauling arch might be something to look at. It picks the nose of the log up and makes it easier to pull. I also have a Suzuki Carry mini truck. When I bought it they were in the 4500-5000 range less than a used ATV. Knobby ATV tires fit on stock rims, enclosed cab with heater is so nice on cold wet days. I've never used it to skid logs but I think it would work well.
 
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I have a Honda 450 with a winch, four wheel drive and big swamper tires. It is super helpful. I bought a dump cart for it to carry wood and dirt around. At 2500 bucks, used it was a great deal. Plus you can use it to get the mail, visit neighbors, pull kids on sleds, etc. As for skidding, look up a "go-devil" it's basically a forked branch that you can use as a skidding log arch. That's the best way I can describe it. There is also the thing from the link below, which I wish I had but it's expensive. They also make nosecones for logs but I would as soon just cut the log into a point on the front end. Now, you also need to check what you are supposed to tow with your quad. I know on my wife's it says not more than 300 pounds or something. The hitch is ingenuously attached directly to the rear differential... Don't want to drag a tree with that one! Honestly though, I usually buck the wood where it lies and load it in the cart. Skidding without a real arch dulls saw chain really fast because of all the mud and rocks that get smashed into the wood.

Skid Plate:

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Timber-Tuff-24-in-x-24-in-Log-Skidding-Plate-with-Double-4-ft-Pull-Chains-and-Arched-Plate-TMW-21/206454874
 
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If you are only using the logs for firewood... gonna have to buck them sometime. My neighbour fetches 10 cords a year with a crappy little trailer behind his atv... buck to length, load in trailer; take it back to the shed and split it as you unload. Easiest on the atv for sure...


I don't like ATVs much; I'd be more inclined to gradually cut roads in for the truck, and winch to the truck. Don't need much of a road for a 4x4 if you do all your wood in the dry season..

One less machine to maintain... but some ground may be too rough.
 
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Just to toss another option at you...  Older, beefy garden tractor with chains.  I mowed paths in my woods with my 1974 John Deere 110 and then pull a 3x5' trailer with car sized tires on it anywhere I want.  I buck in the woods and then haul out 1000 lbs at a time.  
 
Joe Banks
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The idea of cutting the wood on-site, then loading into a trailer is very good - I didn't consider how the ground would get into the log and ultimately muck up my chain.
I found an atv for $3,000 on craigslist, 2004 Bombardier: https://raleigh.craigslist.org/for/d/wake-forest-atv/7288146644.html
I definitely don't want a new one. I saw that new ones have bluetooth stereos and all kinds of crud I don't need for hauling wood and stones in the forest.
I think I just really like the idea of ATVs... But I would need to get a trailer for it, maybe a winch. And I don't want to die on one. The terrain is very rolling, and if I rolled there, it would be weeks before somebody found me.
Utes are nifty the more I think about them, and I can literally kick the tires two miles away, where the Korean has his import shop. If I remember right, most of these have a top speed of 55, and that's max rpm. I'd just need to learn stick on youtube :D.
The suggestion for a garden tractor led me again to craigslist, and this seems like some kind of great deal for somebody. A John Deere 4440 for $1500, "starts right up and runs good" and guy says he'll throw in the implements which go with it: https://raleigh.craigslist.org/grd/d/raleigh-john-deere-4440/7289768473.html
The suggestion to just cut paths into the forest which I can take the truck on when it's dry might be the simplest plan, I only worry about getting stuck and having no other machine to bail out Blue Thunder.
The neat thing about having a ute is it could just live on the lot. There would be no need to insure or register it if it never left the forest.
Thanks for all the responses, guys. I'm leaning toward a ute. It will have all the pulling power I need. It's 4wd. Small enough to drive on deer trails, practically. I can put beefy tires on it as was suggested. And last of all, they look cool; they're basically mini pickemup trucks.  
edit: and at the same time, these subcompact tractors have the pto, which means I could mulch, mow, scrape, and do all manner of things. The best mulchers according to my research aren't standalones; they hitch onto these tractors. I've got a burn pile of brush from the previous owner which is big enough that I could only safely burn it in sections.. And they're cheaper than utes! I guess this won't be an easy decision after all. I talked to my stepfather today and he also recommended a tractor.
 
John C Daley
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benefits of a ute
- They are cool
- You dont get wet with rain
- Roll protection
- Built in trailer
- Can fit a small crane
- Have a windscreen
- comfy seats
- Girl Magnet
- Plenty of storage spots for tools etc. Dont need to look for them.

PROBLEMS WITH TRACTORS
- Everybody has a different one
- popular on the stolen market
- unless it has 35hp not much good for attachments
- you get wet
- can roll over and flaten you
- need a trailer etc
 
Joe Banks
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John C Daley wrote:benefits of a ute
- They are cool
- You dont get wet with rain
- Roll protection
- Built in trailer
- Can fit a small crane
- Have a windscreen
- comfy seats
- Girl Magnet
- Plenty of storage spots for tools etc. Dont need to look for them.

PROBLEMS WITH TRACTORS
- Everybody has a different one
- popular on the stolen market
- unless it has 35hp not much good for attachments
- you get wet
- can roll over and flaten you
- need a trailer etc


Hah! Now I want a ute again. I can see it now...

I'm in the forest, in the ute, on the deer trail, keeping my eye out for does. Got my hand tools and chainsaw with me, a load of cut wood and a 6 pack. Girl walks by, from behind a fallen rotten tree. She sees the ute and her heart flutters. "Oh my! Is that a genuine Daihatsu?"
"Well it sure is! You seem to know your fine quality import automobiles mighty well. Can I give you a lift where you're going? It's looking like rain and I don't want you getting wet." Girl begins to walk up to the mighty, mighty Daihatsu, then turns in shock when a diesel engine fires off in a clearing, amongst the poplars.
"Hey there sweet thing, I got lots of ground clearance on this tractor. Just gettin ready to bush hog some bushes, then I might use implements to scrape this clearing into a parking lot. Step on up and feel the power!"
"Just ignore that guy on the Kubota, he doesn't have a windscreen or a protected cab or a radio or a sweet pickup bed like I have. You know, sometimes I put a cot back there to sleep under the stars. You know, it's a ute life..."  
Girl gets in ute. Kubota explodes.
The end!
 
Arthur Angaran
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Hi,  So I'm guessing that you would like the Ute for a number of reasons. If you put a winch on it you can pull all sorts of things. You can put it on the pickup as well to pull yourself out of the mud.

The question we all have to ask ourselves is what am I going to do with my property not this year but further down time. Suppose you buy a Ute but the longer term goal will need a tractor. Do you sacrifice the important for the urgent? What is it you really are doing? There are pluses and minuses for everything. Do the plusses for a machine outweigh the plusses of a different type of machine you need for the long term goal? Then buy the ute. If not then think twice and what will get you to your goal. Maybe you need both? Which machine will you need the most and use more often and which one will rust away faster for non use? Try to think out longer and see the big picture. I hate that now I have to buy more equipment because I jumped at the one thing I needed for the job, but forgot about the other jobs needing attention.
 
Eric Hanson
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Hi Joe,

I just wanted to add in one thought about subcompact & small compact tractors and implements.  At one time getting implements for these small tractors could be challenging and some implements were simply off the table.  But this is really no longer the case.

Subcompact tractors really exploded onto the tractor market around the year 2000, and when I brought my first tractor—a subcompact—in 2005, there were already a wide range of implements available.  And since then that range has only increased.  The small tractor market is the fastest growing segment of the tractor market owing to many people buying smaller plots of land.  As a result, an increasingly large amount of implements are available for even the smallest tractors.  It turns out that a lot of implements are targeted at the 15-18 PTO HP range—exactly what one finds in subcompact tractor.  When I sold my subcompact tractor, I sold it with 5 implements to my neighbor—a rough cutter, a finish mower, a grader blade, a box blade, and the normally hard to find flail mower.

It is possible to find PTO powered chippers for even a subcompact, but there are differing thoughts on their usefulness.  If your brush pile is made of mostly smaller diameter wood—3 inches or less—then a PTO chipper will do the job.  I have even seen one by Woodmaxx that chips up to 6 inches.  I used to rent a 6” chipper to chip mostly 6 inch wood, but I eventually found I could chip more faster for less money if I went with a 12 inch chipper.  I always rent my chippers, but some like to own them and this is a decision only you can make.

But chippers aside, there is a wide variety of small implements available for small tractors, even including grapples if you are inclined to go that route.  For manufacturers, I would start with LandPride (Kubota), Frontier (JD), and Everything Attachments.  This is certainly not a comprehensive list but it can get you in the right direction.  For logging implements, you might consider Wallenstein and BEFCO has some interesting, very high quality options.

I know I threw a lot at you, but if you have any questions, just ask.

Eric
 
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I've never used any of these vehicles for work but here's a fume free option.

Fully electric buggy and chainsaw and you don't have to carry the chainsaw batteries.
 
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Hi Joe! I’ll try to add to your confusion! 😁
First, I don’t know anything about utes, but if I were inclined to want one, I’d just buy an old Jeep cj3 or cj5. Pretty much the same size and footprint, and built far more rugged from what I’ve seen.
But what I stopped in to mention is my experience with an ATV. I have an older 450 Honda foreman. I like Honda over all others because of the transmission (real clutches and gears, not a belt). As was mentioned, stay away from electric anything if possible. I have used and, on occasion, abused this thing and it is as bulletproof as it gets. I have pulled vehicles, skidded logs, plowed snow, pulled a trailer with close to 3000 lbs of gravel, routinely pulled a trailer with over 2000lbs of manure, pulled tree roots out of the ground, and of course used it simply to get from a to b to save time, like running up to get the mail or to go grab a couple bales of hay. The ball hitch is on the rear axle. I’ve never damaged the rear axle and I’ve yanked on stuff HARD, including a short running start to dislodge frozen logs, etc. I’ve used it on rolling terrain and never had it flip, or even had more than one wheel come off the ground (you’ll get that with most anything on uneven terrain). The trick is to not operate sideways to the slope if it’s that steep. You can also lean uphill as needed for brief operations. I have a log arch I built, which is the ONLY way to go (other than a trailer, which I also have- 3’x 7’) if you’re going to move logs more than a few feet. I also made steel skis that attach under the tires of the arch, much like they do it with bush planes, for winter use on snow. I bought this Honda used 15 years ago for $3000, it sips gas, I change all the fluids annually ($100), and it doesn’t owe me a nickel!
Now, all of that said, don’t you really need a 40 hp 4x4 tractor with a backhoe? 😁
 
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My friend with a hilly, snowy woodlot has used an ATV, a 6-wheel open mini-truck from John Deere, a tracked vehicle, an electric golf cart, and a zero-turn mower.  The ATV got hard to start.  The 6-wheeler was very good for going straight while he walked alongside tossing things in the bed, but had too little ground clearance.  The tracked vehicle, a Paspartout, would go more places and haul more internally, but was hard to work with, and expensive to repair.  The golf cart did only very light work.  Now, he has settled on a zero-turn mower with oversize back tires.  He uses it to maintain forest trails, and to pull dead trees out, in between drying and falling from rot.  A cable gets the log to the trail, and then a low-bed trailer brings it in.  
 
Eric Hanson
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Julie,

I agree that the log arch is tops for moving logs.  I had to move mine on the cheap so I built a log trailer, mostly out of spare parts.  I took one 8’ 4x4 cut to 2’ sections and attached them into a little square with the top two sections running front-to-back.  I then attached 4 wheel barrel tires, screwed and glued everything together and right there I had a log trailer!

I used my loader and bucket to maneuver the end of the log on to the trailer, then maneuvered the tractor to the front of the log, attached the log to a box blade and lifted with the 3 point hitch.  The tractor then pulled the log out easily without gouging the ground.  This was important as my woods led directly to my backyard which I did not want to tear up.

If I can find a picture I will post one.  Anyways, this was my cheap alternative to a log arch.

Eric
 
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Mike Haasl wrote:Just to toss another option at you...  Older, beefy garden tractor with chains.  I mowed paths in my woods with my 1974 John Deere 110 and then pull a 3x5' trailer with car sized tires on it anywhere I want.  I buck in the woods and then haul out 1000 lbs at a time.  



+1

I took a $300 Sears Suburban, swapped the rear tires for chevron tread ATV tires, filled them with RV antifreeze, made 220 lbs of lead wheel weights and topped them off with a set of factory weights.  It will pull an incredible amout of weight for its size.  
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Robert Ray wrote:
An ATV hauling arch might be something to look at.


My BIL and I put this one together. The hoist is a two ton chainfall and I can carry quite a bit with my four wheeler (ATV).
20210331_105736.jpg
Log hauler
Log hauler
20210331_105746.jpg
Log hauler1
Log hauler1
 
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Since you included rocks, I thought of a sled. Sounds like you will be in and out of the woods regularly. But in terms of logs, depending on size/length, I always use a stout chain. It doesn't slip, goes on and comes off easily, and you can drive the ATV through the trees most times. Best if you section the logs so the ends don't get caught, and also helps if the end towards the ATV can be elevated somewhat so you don't get caught. You can move a lot of good size wood this way even though one-at-a-time. But it's fun, productive and a force multiplier. Denis
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