The Forest Around Us



Bill Moore

and other fairy tales

....And what would you like for Christmas, Hooktender Harry? Oh, a nice bug multi-drummed – high-speed, heavy duty mobile yarder—that’s nice.
And you, Foreman Farnsworth, what would you like? Oh, a nice bug yellow Traktor D-13½! Well now that’s just peachy.
....And you Logger Louie, what about you? Ah, a real big purple and gold 19-wheeled dump truck!
....Gee, fellows, old Santa is sure gonna have a load this Christmas. Guess I’ll have to get a trailer on the trailer of the old reindeer sled cause you boys want big. And you know old Santa has always delivered what you want—or nearly.
....But wait a minute, hang on there baby. Just a multi-minute—you guys are gonna kill that old boy with your heavyweights.

....How come each year this iron stuff gets bigger and bigger? You think there’s an inexhaustible supply of iron in the old earth? Didn’t anyone ever hear of moderation? No, I guess not, for somewhere along the line that word has dropped its meaning when a lot of loggers start referring to machinery.
....Make it big—real big. Make it fast—real speed now, man. And make it flexible, easy to move, and simple to run—and put some guts in it—and a comfortable reclining chair for the operator. And how about an automatic thing-ma-jig that flashes “beware the monster” if anyone comes near. And, oh yes, paint the whole thing chartreuse with green polka dots.

Now I ask you!

....Well maybe the above is a wee bit exaggerated, but don’t laugh too much. Just go ask your friendly machinery representative and see if he doesn’t get some kooky requests like the above. Darn right he does and that is why, dear loggers, statistics proves that it takes a special branch of psychiatry to look after these poor machinery reps when they have listened to some logger’s request for a new fangled machine.
....Now about this bigness. Maybe I’m old fashioned and out of step. But, from where I sit I think this logging industry might be wasting one heck of a lot of dollars on ever loving bigness for bigness’ sake. I’ve seen nice new big logging trucks brought into a camp that right off destroyed the roads that were ever built for such big trucks. I’ve seen
British Columbia Lumberman,December, 1974

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lots of loads on big, big trucks that, because there wasn’t enough wood handy, could be carried by a small, small truck. Power steering is good —power this and power that is good. Lots of horsepower is good—but not in some of the misuses I’ve seen it applied to. This industry has gone power nuts—at a time when power saving is needed.
....Some guys will buy a thousand horse-power truck to come down a steep log-ging road with a zillion tons of wood on it. But, they’ll also buy a gravel truck to climb the same hill with an engine the size of an outboard motor. Doesn’t make sense.
....Big engines—they’re great. And the boys in Detroit will love you. But re-member, some poor camp mechanic is going to have to operate on that big complicated monster some day and remove its whatcha-ma-call-it to keep it alive. Maybe the patient will survive but the mechanic might go crazy trying to figure out the symptoms.
....How many times has this happened on your claim? Roads are built, with attending culverts and bridges to accommo-date log trucks with 12-foot bunks. Then all of a sudden someone gets the bright idea to put in 14 or 16-foot bunks and the load weights increase by tons. And the roads won’t stand up? Of course they won’t, because you can’t put a size 42 waisted man into a size 32 pair of pants unless you do a lot of fixing before-hand.
....And how many times have you seen this? A great big Yellow Traktor spreading a pile of gravel or rock in building new roads that when finished will contain twice the surface material needed to carry the loads? Big Traktors are fine—in their place—but too often they are put to use with their big blades in spreading road material too wide—whereas a small traktor could utilize all the material—not off to the side—but straight ahead where the best footage is obtained. I’ve seen 400 yards of rock per station used on a one-shot branch road where 200 yards would suffice and hold up the biggest of loads. All because a monster wide Traktor was misused to spread.
....The big machines are wonderful—in their place—but with the spiraling costs of metal today they are becoming harder and harder to justify in dollars. We need a return to simpler medium sized machines that do not need a Philadelphia lawyer to translate the operations manual when “fixin’ time” becomes necessary.
....The forest industry, because of its size, its isolation from the public and its need for rugged people to produce
wood, has been a wasteful industry. I do not neces-sarily think this is an all-bad criticism —as our North American industrial economy has been one of great waste in order to achieve that high standard of living we enjoy.
....We have wasted people in industry and on our highways in our haste to build this really fantastic society. The high powered and truly overpowered vehicles we have asked manufacturers to build have cost us dearly in needless human waste. There now seems a new sanity developing in this field since the oil shortages of last winter. Speeds are being reduced. Not because of human suffering, but because the big machines have wasted too much of this precious commodity for our economy. Strange sometimes, how we benefit when the almighty dollar hits us. There is also a definite turn to more moderate engines in vehicles because of the need to conserve fuel. Experts tell us the big-engined cars’ years are numbered.
....These broad facts could also apply to our forest industry and its problems of the present day. Costs are insanely high, shortages are everywhere, and so we can no longer afford the luxury of “build me a big one.” We must engineer our industry much more carefully if we are to stay in competitive business. Conserve the rock and gravel for logging roads, make darn sure you don’t waste material out on the sides. Let’s get away from some of the big mechanical freaks that may get high production while they run but cost so dearly in down time. Look to the simpler, maybe older methods, of ruggedness and easy to repair when you look at yarding and hauling methods. Who needs a 14-foot bunk on a truck when there’s only a couple of thousand board feet to haul at a landing.
....A war on waste—of humans, of mach-ines, of methods, of the environment is needed if we are to keep this nice country in gear.
....So Santa, that’s what we want for Christmas—specially for this forest around us—a sensible and realistic piece of machinery, not big for bigness sake. Moderation in our thinking and a new engineered approach to doing the job—right—without waste. And yes, keep it relatively simple.
....I think you could carry that load—old white whiskered gentleman!

........ Keep out of the bight,

British Columbia Lumberman, December, 1974