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Track Harvester & Feller Buncher Guide

CFI looks at the latest offerings in the track harvester and feller buncher category, paying particular attention to tail swing.

February 20, 2013  By Canadian Forest Industries

Cat-full-tail-swingFull tail swing
The Cat 541 Series 2 and the Cat 552 Series 2 are full tail swing track machines designed for high production clear cut and for clear or select cut in rough terrain. The 552 is a levelling machine that provides more comfort on steep terrain. The Series 2 machines are powered by the 226 kW (303 hp) C9 engine with ACERT Technology. Cat track harvester/feller bunchers have the best-in-class combination of lift capacity, swing torque and tractive effort-to-weight ratios. With a full 889 mm (35 in.) ground clearance between the tracks from front to back, the Series 2 machines are less likely to get hung up on stumps or rocks. Tractive effort for the 541 Series 2 is 336 kN (75,500 lb.-ft.), and for the 552 Series 2 it is 462.6 kN (104,000 lb.-ft.). Boom reach is 8.6 m (28 ft. 1 in.) for both models configured as standard feller bunchers, and 9.9 m (32 ft. 6 in.) configured as long reach feller bunchers. As harvesters, the standard reach is 10.7 m (35 ft.) and the short reach is 8.8 m (29 ft.).

Cat-limited-tailLimited tail swing
The new Cat B Series limited tail swing track machines feature a new, upsized undercarriage, more horsepower and a new hydraulic design for improved multifunctioning performance. The Cat 522B is a levelling machine for select or clear-cut logging in rough, steep terrain. The Cat 521B is a non-levelling model best for plantation thinning, swamp logging, medium-production clear cut, and high-production biomass applications. The B Series machines are equipped with the Cat C9 ACERT engine delivering 303 hp (226 kW) of gross power, 20 hp more than the previous models. Swing capacity of 61,000 lb.-ft. (82.7 kNm) gives the operator the ability to swing big loads up slopes. Standard tractive effort for the 521B and 522B is 336 kN (75,000 lb.-ft.) and with a high drawbar option for the 522B is 378 kN (85,000 lb.-ft.). Boom reach for both models configured as feller bunchers is 8.1 m (26 ft. 6 in.), and as harvesters the reach is 9.9 m (32 ft. 6 in.).

Zero tail swing
The Cat 501HD track harvester is easy to manoeuvre in select cut operations and well balanced for stability in final felling applications. The harvester is powered by the 122 kW (163 hp) Cat C6.6 engine with ACERT Technology and can be equipped with either fixed or dangle heads. Tractive effort is 193 kN (43,400 lb.-ft.). Boom reach with fixed linkage is 6.04 m (19.8 ft.); reach with a telescopic boom is 7.93 m (26 ft.).

The Eltec line of feller bunchers and harvesters comes in three basic models – zero, short or full tail swing. All have 324 hp courtesy a Volvo V-ACT Tier 3 diesel, and harvester options come with an extra fuel tank, 10.15 m (33.4 ft.) boom and dedicated hydraulics.


Eltec 270Zero tail swing
The zero tail swing Eltec 220 model weighs between 27,200 and 29,900 kg (60,000 and 65,700 lb.)
depending on undercarriage choice (the manufacturer offers reguar-duty, heavy-duty and extreme-duty forestry undercarriages). Tractive effort ranges from 85,000 to 100,000 lb. The fuel tank holds 1,062 l.

Limited tail swing
The short tail swing Eltec 270 model, its specs are almost identical to the 220, including the 8.6-metre (28.2-foot) buncher boom. It boasts a 1,635-litre fuel tank.

Full tail swing
The full tail swing Eltec 310 offers a 10 m (33.1 ft.) buncher boom for reduced movements and site travel, and 100,000 lb. tractive effort. It has a 1,514 l fuel tank.

John Deere
Deere 753JLimited tail swing
John Deere’s 700-Series Tracked Harvesters and Feller Bunchers provide power and production for maximum efficiency in tough terrain. Equipped with the large-displacement 9.0-Liter John Deere PowerTech Plus engine with up to 241 horsepower and 256 kN (57,600 lbf.) tractive effort, the series offers the strength needed to get the job done quickly and efficiently.

The recent addition of the beefier U7 undercarriage option gives the 700-Series a larger component for increased life as well as better stability to handle large timber or rugged terrain. The limited tail-swing design allows the boom to rotate freely within a small radius in high dense forests. The 759J Feller Buncher and 759JH Harvester also feature John Deere’s Shift-Tilt leveling system that offers sufficient tilt of the upper structure to allow loggers to remain level on slopes.

The 700-Series Feller Bunchers include a lift capacity of 4,720 kg (10,400 lbs.) and maximum boom reach of 8.4 m (27 ft. 6 in.), while the 700 Harvesters provide a maximum lift capacity of 3,980 kg (8,780 lb.) with a maximum boom reach of 8.5 m (27 ft. 10 in.).

Deere 903KFull tail swing
Operator comfort is at the center for John Deere’s 900-Series Tracked Harvesters and Feller Bunchers with the recent addition of the Rapid Cycle System (RCS). The RCS improves machine productivity and operating speeds by enabling an operator to use a single joystick to control the boom and arm, keeping the head level while cutting through the trees. Even experienced operators find that RCS improves productivity while reducing fatigue.

All 900-Series machines feature the 9.0 Liter John Deere PowerTech Plus engine with either 300 horsepower or 330 horsepower available to ensure adequate power for superior swing torque and boom performance.  . The entire 900-Series include a full tail-swing design, while the 909K and 959K also offer a best in class leveling upper structure system.

The 903K, 909K and 953K Feller Bunchers and 909KH Harvester deliver 331 kN (74,300 lbf.) of tractive effort, while the 959K provides 384 kN (86,300 lbf.) and the 903KH delivers 248 kN (55,700 lbf.).

The 903K and 909K offer a boom lift capacity of 6,210 kg (13,700 lbs.) and a maximum reach of 6.71 m (22 ft.), while the 953K and 959K increase the boom capacity to 8,160 kg (18,000 lbs.) with a maximum reach of 6.71 m (22 ft.). The harvesters offer a maximum lift capacity of 6,350 kg (14,000 lbs.) with a maximum boom reach of 8.84 m (29 ft.).

Komatsu XT430LKomatsu XT series zero tail swing track feller bunchers and harvesters include the XT430-2, and the levelling models XT430L-2, XT445L-2 and XT450L-2. The Komatsu XT series replaces the previously well-known Valmet brand FX/FXL series.

The XT series undercarriage features include:

  • roller guards extended to the front and back with improved track shoe support plate clearance to reduce track chain side loading on uneven ground
  • track frame cut-outs to reduce debris packing and
  • improve roller maintenance
  • track drive sprockets with mud/snow relief to reduce packing
  • long track sliders with greater larger surface area for extended slider life
  • two additional bottom track rollers (XT430L only) for better weight distribution and improved roller and track link life

The XT family swing system drives run in a sealed grease bath for improved pinion lubrication with hardened gears for longer life. Dowels and a pilot hole align swing gears and provide easy service adjustment if needed. Easy-to-access grease fittings provide easy maintenance for extended bearing life. Engine oil changes are easy with an easy-to-access engine oil filter location.

Komatsu’s XT series feller bunchers come in four purpose-built XT series machines with base weights from
27-37 t; have 246 kW (300 peak hp) Cummins Tier 3 engines; and offer up to nine hydraulic configurations, two boom, and four arm options.

Designed for severe applications in big timber and steeper slopes, the XT450L has a larger levelling system with bigger components. Booms and arm designs are reinforced for use with today’s heavier saw heads with full lateral tilt.


Tigercat 822CTigercat has an extensive feller buncher offering for every conceivable application. The Tigercat C-series feller bunchers are well known for extremely long service life, highest machine availability rates, thoughtful component arrangement and service access, the clearest operator sightlines and high capacity variable flow cooling.

An important advantage common and unique to Tigercat feller bunchers is ER boom technology. ER provides markedly increased production especially in high cycle applications compared with conventional boom systems.

ER allows the operator to extend and retract the boom on a horizontal plane using a single joystick. In doing so, ER transfers energy back and forth between the main and the stick boom functions, reducing the total energy required and freeing this energy up for other machine functions or fuel savings.

The C-series operator’s cab is spacious and refined with a floor-to-ceiling front window that provides a clear view of the tracks and excellent right-side visibility. The pumps and valves are housed separately from the engine and easily accessed. Swing-out doors provide quick access to daily service points.

Zero tail swing
The 822C/L830C series machines are Tigercat’s high production, zero tail feller bunchers – well suited to thinning and final felling. The closed loop track drive X-model provides even higher performance in steep terrain with quicker track speeds when climbing, improved turning performance, better multi-functioning and more hydraulic efficiency. The L830C and LX830C share the same R7150-2 undercarriage and levelling components as the super duty L870C.

Tigercat 845CLimited tail swing
The all-around 845C is well suited to most applications and excels in high cycle applications. The 845C is extremely fuel efficient and offers excellent service access, especially for a limited tail swing machine.

Full tail swing
For tougher terrain and larger timber, the FH400-based 870C/l870C series provides the extra track power, stability, boom reach and lift required to maintain the highest levels of production. The Tigercat 870C feller buncher is a high production machine suited to steep, rocky, soft or otherwise challenging terrain. Field proven at both temperature extremes, the 870C provides around the clock performance in the most hostile clear fell applications in the world. The twin swing drive system provides powerful swing torque combined with low pinion loads for extended system life.

TimberPro TL735BTimberPro’s TL700 series of zero swing track feller bunchers and harvesters are built with either levelling or non-levelling functions. The patented levelling system gives 28 degrees and seven degrees of levelling to the front and back and 24 degrees to both sides. This levelling system is unique in that it gives maximum degrees of levelling, leaves good access to the rotary manifold. The standard engine in these machines is a 300 hp Cummins with gullwing access to all the major service points for both the engine and hydraulics. The standard boom reach is 23.5 ft. from centre of rotation to end of boom with good extended lift power. The weight of a standard TL735 is less than 60,000 lb. not including attachment, making for a very quick and manoeuvrable machine.

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