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Site Clearing Completed Through ’Shear’ Effort

Fri April 13, 2007 - Southeast Edition
Gwenyth Laird Pernie

W. S. Agee Grading Contractors Inc. of McDonough, Ga., faced 80 acres (32 ha) of heavily timbered land in Covington that had to be cleared for a housing development.

According to Owner Danny Agee, the building site was susceptible to extensive runoff due to severe elevation changes of upward to 300 ft. (91 m); therefore, implementation of erosion control plans had to be in place before site development could begin.

“The first phase of the site preparation was cutting the timber and shipping it to Atlanta area mills,” Agee said. “The second phase, stumping and piling debris, followed closely behind. Equipment used included two Caterpillar D8 bulldozers, four Caterpillar 963C track loaders, and two Caterpillar 325 excavators — all owned by Agee and Conkle Tree Service [of Lovejoy, Ga.].”

Conkle Tree Service was brought in to grind the stumps and debris down to wooden chips after Agee had cleared and piled 40 percent of the project.

Conkle placed more than 15,000 linear ft. (4,600 m) of the wooden chips around the perimeter of the project, some in double rows, to prevent erosion problems. Further erosion control plans included the installation of retention ponds.

Conkle used the following equipment to harvest and recycle the timber; two Caterpillar 963C track loaders, two 320CL excavators with LaBounty MWS40 wood shears attached and one 1300 Morbark tub grinder. Conkle employed five workers at the job site daily.

“Our most challenging aspect of this project was staying on schedule through a wet and rainy Georgia winter, which leaves the timber damp and muddy,” Agee said.

According to Charles N. Conkle, vice president of Conkle Tree Service, Conkle overcome this issue with the help of the LaBounty MWS40 wood shears, which he said efficiently demolished and recycled the wood.

Conkle explained, “To accelerate the grinding process, the large stumps are split using LaBounty MWS40 shears, which are mounted on 320CL Caterpillar excavators. The shears also remove 90 percent of the dirt. Cutting the large treetops into small pieces and cutting the logs to 7- or 8-ft. (2.1 to 2.4 m) lengths also quickens the grinding process. After the wood has been split or cut into smaller pieces, it is ground through a hammer mill (located within the Morbark tub grinder). The ground wood can then be used for many purposes: to heat pulp and other lumber products at burner plants, in coloring and bagging facilities for the public to use, or in the case of this project, in erosion control.”

Conkle purchased its first LaBounty MWS40 wood shear to process wood waste for recycling in 1998. The attachment weighs approximately 3,000 lbs. (1,360 kg), has a jaw opening of 30 to 40 in. (76 to 102 cm), depending upon what excavator it is mounted to, a jaw depth of 29 in. (74 cm) and a reach of 4.5 ft. (1.4 m). The shear attaches to a 40,000- to 60,000-ton (36,000 to 54,000 t) excavator. Conkle now owns five LaBounty MWS40 wood shears and recycles wood left on site by timber harvesters.

“The use of LaBounty Shears has greatly increased the efficiency in which we clear land,” Conkle said. “Before the shears we ground approximately 2 acres of land a day. With the use of the shears, we now grind approximately 3 to 4 acres a day. This increase in productivity has lowered the cost per hour to run and maintain the equipment. In addition, the components of the shears are replaceable, which simplifies maintenance of the equipment.”

Conkle said it’s improved safety, since his employees no longer use chain saws.

“The main reason, however, we have continued to purchase LaBounty shears over other brands, is that they are very durable,” Conkle said. “We have gotten over 8,000 working hours off the LaBounty without equipment failure. With other brands, we only got 1,500 working hours before equipment failure.”

Site preparation began in December 2006. The clearing was completed in February 2007 and the grading is currently underway. Total cost for the clearing and chipping was approximately $300,000. CEG

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