Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › Sustainable Living and Land use › Sustainable Forestry › Setting up a Portable Skidder Bridge with Horses
- February 4, 2016 at 8:16 pm #87543
Here is a link to today’s project. I borrowed a portable skidder bridge from a friend to cross this stream and shorten our skid by 2/3rds, while maintaining a continuous decline to the landing. It is made of 6×6 and 6×8 hemlock, bolted together to form 3 rafts 4’x20′. The finished deck is 12′ which is easily wide enough for the team and cart, sled, or wagon, depending on weather conditions as spring progresses. It took some engineering to get the rafts onto the stone boat ( rock bar and blocks), but once in place they moved easily, and were able to be pulled across the stream with the stone boat preventing the front edge from plowing.
CarlFebruary 5, 2016 at 8:52 am #87547Brad JohnsonParticipant
Neat video Carl. I have often thought of trying to use skid mats, but don’t know anyone who has them. This makes me think about making a couple of my own…
-BradFebruary 5, 2016 at 9:53 am #87549
Brad, I think we could get away with making them a bit lighter. These worked okay, but that are heavy as hell, and if the situation was t as perfect, setting them in place could be problematic. I’m sure your tractor would be a huge asset in such a task. Just so you know, Ben made a set a few years ago. I think he’s using them this winter so I asked another friend.
CarlFebruary 5, 2016 at 10:03 am #87550
Here is the link to VT Dept of Forests and Parks diagrams , material, and specifications.February 5, 2016 at 10:14 am #87551JaredWoodcockParticipant
It seems like all of the jobs that have been offered to me are in very hard to reach areas and I have been debating on asking the land owners if the would pay for the cost of a bridge, or make something similar to what you are using.
Carl could you outline some changes that you would make? If you were starting from scratch what would be the most versatile? I am new to heavy work with horses and I feel like I am tending to over build….February 5, 2016 at 3:33 pm #87557
Jared, first of all, let me just encourage you to have frank discussions of cost and value with the landowners who want you to work for them. There is a tendency to discount infrastructure development in woodlands because with heavy all-terrain equipment there is very little investment required. When economic incentive is driving the approach to forestry, then only those aspects of forestry, conservation, or infrastructure development that don’t impact the financial return are considered…. which often is very little. In other words, the less time the operator takes, the more money they can pay for the timber extracted.
If we look at timber harvesting as a silvicultural tool, and that our primary objective is to improve residual value per acre, then logging operations can, and in my mind should, be investments in practices that increase future value, or reduce cost. Access infrastructure includes assets that will remain with the land into perpetuity, and will reduce the cost of all future timber harvesting operations, thereby increasing the net value of the timber accessed by those improvements. Landowners should be encouraged to pay for the building and installation of trails, roads, landings, culverts, and bridges. Not only will these investments increase their long term gains, but they will increase other values of multiple uses like water quality, recreation, and personal reward from having year-round effective access. By bearing those costs, they reduce the financial burden on the operator, and can have higher expectations for high quality workmanship.
Anyway, there are instances like this where LO are not interested in having a permanent bridge…. well actually no permanent roadways with the need for a bridge. This stream is bordered by two hay fields, and they actually have a pretty good ford if they don’t want to drive around by existing roads. We are pulling logs to a site for a portable mill, otherwise we would likely just land the logs in the field near the woodlot.
I like the bridge at 20′ long. I think that I would probably only use 6×6, and not use the 6×8. the 6×8’s are made to create exposed ridges so that tire chains don’t chew up the entire surface… makes them last longer. I might even use some 1″ spacers to let water drain off the surfaces to let the timber dry out better. it might last longer, and make each section lighter. I think I would make three 3′ wide rafts as 12′ is just overkill for a horse operation, and the 3’ers would be a little easier to handle if you don’t have machinery. Entering and exiting the bridge would be improved if the ends were tapered into ramps.
I don’t know, but I suspect one could also mix 4×4 with 6×6 to also reduce weight and still be able to handle horses with logs. I don’t think they cost that much to make. The question is what do you do with them when you’re not using them so that they don’t just rot away…. I don’t know. I haven’t had such a need for them until now so I just haven’t looked into it much. I may make up a small set this summer from my own sawmill and experiment.
CarlFebruary 5, 2016 at 9:34 pm #87559JaredWoodcockParticipant
Thanks for the opinion. I learned a lot from conversations at the field days and it is because of the positive feedback that I bought this team and went for it. I am 5 generations in my town and I have worked in many different trades for a while. Based on the info that I have gotten from this community I am just starting my horselogging by working on an hourly rate. I am starting slow but it is pretty easy to make an extra $400 a week beyond my farm work. It sounds like most of our farm customers that want me to work in their woods share similar ideals which makes it easy to explain the cost benefit as you stated in the beginning. I have a few friends with sawmills and if it came down to it I could make a bridge like you describe pretty easily.
Thanks AgainFebruary 21, 2016 at 10:03 pm #87797vtloggerParticipant
that was pretty cool!
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