• Callum Jackson

Machinery breakdowns, Snow and Covid

Last week was our first proper week back on the saws for 2021. Over Christmas we took 3 weeks to spend time the families and get all the kit serviced and back in order. What should have been a big, but straight forward, week back turned out to be one of the most testing I've had.

Our first day we had to take down two leaning trees that were starting to look like they would become problems. One on the side of a small river, and the other next to a road. Before we even got the saws out the van I snapped the key inside my padlock to the tools. Whilst trying to fish out the snapped part I then managed to cut my finger with my penknife. Thankfully a local locksmith was able to come out the same day and rescue my tools! In the afternoon the plan was to take down the road side tree big rigging down some large sections and then chipping the crown back into the woodland behind it. Unfortunately the chipper wouldn't run properly and it sounded like it was being starved of fuel. It was cold weather but it didn't seem cold enough to be doing this. We eventually gave up on the chipper, dismantled the tree and left it in the woods to go back and chip another day when the chipper was running. Back to the yard we drained out fuel, changed the fuel filter and tested the machine. It seemed all good so we packed up ready for tomorrow.

Day 2- a large lleylandii hedgerow reduction and some removals, we were estimating to produce around 36 cubic metres of wood chip over two days. My chipper ran for about an hour and then started playing up again. Same symptom- it would run at idle but under load it started bogging down. We nursed the machine through the day as we had no other choice but it was brutally slow and cost us time.

Day 3- SNOW. My truck was loaded up with woodchip (due to be dropped off for biomass) and it had my chipper on the back of the truck and I couldn't even get out of the yard due to thick snow. A neighbour came and rescued me with a tractor but I was already running behind. Once back at the lleylandii reduction job Roddy Clarke Tree Services kindly brought their chipper to help out so that I could get mine into the dealer to get fixed. This time we were cutting and chipping at a decent pace. That was until my MEWP threw a wobbly and the control stopped working. The rest of the team kept working by climbing through the hedgerow while I tried to fix the issue which turned out to be snow/water had managed to get inside the controller. I managed to sort the issue by putting the controller in front of a heater for several hours but the day was knackered.

Day 4- Now running a day behind we needed to get caught up. The local Forst Dealer (ILH) fixed my chipper and it was now running the way it should be. The MEWP controller had spent an evening on my house radiator to dry out and finally we were running properly. Lleylandii job finished and we managed to go back and chip the roadside tree from day 1.

So all in all, a snapped key, cut finger, breakdown of chipper, breakdown of my MEWP and a stuck truck. Surely it can only get better next week! Most importantly though we did get all the jobs finished. The customers were all very understanding and once completed everything looked great. Roll on the thaw of this snow.

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