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What do you recommend? ATV for pulling logs  RSS feed

 
Rob Irish
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Location: Estonia, Zone 5/6
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Hi everyone,

We're needing to get some logs from our forest with an ATV for building our log home. Our property is pretty flat.

What I don't know is what is the important factors to consider as far as how powerful it should be. What sort of engine struggles with this, and what does ok?

I've been told not to get anything less than 25kw, but this was from a friend who likes to ride fast and I don't know if he knows anything about what is needed for pulling logs.

I'd be looking to either buy or make a log hauler extension like this one from Iron Baltic. I also would like a trailer down the track for pulling big loads of smaller logs, but for now the most important thing is getting 1 big log at a time. By big, I mean 11m long x 12cm radius (36' x 5" radius).

Any pointers you could give would be really great.

Cheers,
Rob
 
Roy Hinkley
Posts: 268
Location: S. Ontario Canada
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Look for a towing capacity rating on the ATV's you're looking at. This tells you frame and gearbox strength and will be a better guide than pure power rating. The trailer of smaller logs (that you'll easily overload) will weigh more than a single log.
Just about anything will tow a log on wheels if you're willing to do it in 1st gear but it takes a long time to go any distance.
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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4wd and low range will pull way more than you can control safely. Tow rating is a good thing to look at. Physical size matters, too.

How far are you hauling these? A 2 wheel tractor will skid logs as well. A multipurpose machine with other uses on the farm.
 
Dan Boone
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Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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I feel like this would not be Permies.com if I didn't politely suggest that the best ATV for pulling logs is a good draft horse, a team of oxen, or maybe some mules.

But of course I know this is not actually a helpful suggestion in context. Draft animals take infrastructure and established systems, and while fossil fuel remains cheap, draft animals rarely make economic sense for us moderns unless we will be doing a task (like this logging) on an extended basis.

The thing about a good draft horse for logging, though, is that they can get logs out of the woods with much less impact than any mechanized draft. So even if they aren't an option for Rob, they might be an option for somebody else reading this who has a patch of particularly sensitive forest they are dealing with.
 
Mark Allen
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Location: North of Atlanta
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I found this device on YouTube:
It looks like you would be able to use an ATV with a smaller engine as you would not have to overcome the logs full surface resistance. Speculation on my part... Hope this helps.
 
Mark Allen
Posts: 17
Location: North of Atlanta
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In this video you can see the ATV is not able to move the log on the ground but is able to move the log quite easily once the lever is used to lift it off the ground.
I would dare say this video demonstrates less damage than even a draft horse.
 
Rob Irish
Posts: 225
Location: Estonia, Zone 5/6
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Thanks for all those pointers and videos.

Our property is only 12 hectares so it's not a huge distance. I don't mind going slow either. Our forest doesn't have any roads so lots of manoeuvring around trees at a slow pace anyways. I see ATV's around the €2000 range with a towing capacity of 250kg, then in the €4000 range they starting being around 350 - 450kg towing capacity. Does this towing capacity mean what it can tow at a certain speed? That timber trailer says it can handle 1000kg load but I haven't seen any ATV's for sale that can tow more than half of that.

Is the 4wd essential?

A tractor could be really useful but anything decent around here seems a bit out of our price range.

We did think about draft horses actually. At the moment it is just the two of us in our 2nd year of doing all this sort of thing. We've taken on goats, chickens, a dog and cat and the thought of another set of eyes waiting on me seems completely overwhelming. We decided to get a horse or 2 down the track, perhaps when we have some employees.. I mean kids.

I like the idea of making a log arch but I'm more of a woodworker than metal - has anybody made or seen one out of roundwood for the framing?

Thanks again,
Rob
 
Roy Hinkley
Posts: 268
Location: S. Ontario Canada
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If you're going to get an ATV for work around the farm you'll want a trailer anyway. Get a trailer with a low deck that you can slide one end of the log on. Also handy for moving things around is a hand truck.
I've moved many logs with one end strapped to my trailer and a hand truck strapped to the opposite end. Not fast but it works. Usually just the one end on the trailer is enough for most logs.
Note the block under the front of the log. The weight must bear directly over the axle center. You may need a bigger block there.
The benefit here is that you'll still have the trailer you'll need for years to come and the hand cart is going to serve you for years as well. When shopping for a hand truck, wider is going to be more stable, measure your doorways and get one that will fit through them all.
You'll need good quality wheels for this too on strong axle shafts.



 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Yes 4wd is essential for this task IMO. 2wd will spin and tear up the ground more, plus just not work unless the conditions are just right. 2wd will haul you around ok on gravel roads and dry ground, but won't do much work.
 
Roy Hinkley
Posts: 268
Location: S. Ontario Canada
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Is 4wd essential? No but it's better. I don't think you need it if your land is flat.

All I have is a 125cc ATV (with turf tires too) and I manage to move whatever I need to but if it's too wet, I'll wait so as not to chew up the ground. If I can't haul 3 logs at once I'll do one at a time.
I once had to move a large log and couldn't pull it up the hill with my ATV. I put some pulley blocks to a tree and dragged the log up the hill on log rollers, a few feet at a time till I got to level ground and then on the trailer.

One thing that's going to be very handy for you with all these logs is a step climber. Near the center of your log you'll roll it up on a small log or stick. Push down on one end and roll a bigger one in. Now down on the other end and get a bigger one in to replace the first. Once you get a couple big log shorts underneath you need some square cut wood to keep things from rolling around (or at least make a flat spot on your logs with an axe).
The next step in the pic would be to push down on one end, take out the square block and put a log in it's place. Then push down on the opposite end (or just lift, it's very easy). with a helper you can "step" a very heavy log up many feet like this.


 
Rob Irish
Posts: 225
Location: Estonia, Zone 5/6
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Thanks a lot R. Scott and Roy.

I love the simplicity of using a basic trailer and hand truck! I think that would work nicely and save us a fair bit of coin.

I contacted the people who sell these trailers and they told me not to get anything less than 500cc and definitely 4wd.

Although our property is flat, we're in a low, wet area so I think 4wd might be essential. Even after a really dry spell in the forest there are parts where the ground is still soggy. Literally no light is getting through the canopy to dry it up. Part of the challenge is just picking a route where we're not going to get bogged and do more damage than good.

I did get a fairly large log back to the house by doing something similar to your last sketch Roy. Great for small distances

Thanks again for those tips
 
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