Skidding Extra-Heavy Logs

A sawmiller needs to move some multi-ton oak logs using a farm tractor, and gets advice on how to manage it. November 13, 2005

Does anyone have references, links, or advice on logging arches for skidding oak logs in the 3,000 to 5,000 lb range (up to 26 ft, 21" small end)? I am cutting some red oak on my farm so I can saw 24 ft wagon rails to fill an order.

My 60 hp 2 wheel drive tractor just can't do it safely. I've looked at the Bailey's arch and I don't see it handling the size logs I am felling. I would appreciate any recommendations or advice on how to skid logs in this size range safely, economically, and repeatedly.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor W:
Propane vendors have equipment that can handle stuff this big.

From contributor M:
Warren, do you have steep grades? Chains on your tractor will help up to a point. I've used them on my 57 hp 2 wd IH 3ph drawbar, and I chain one end up and go - if you have a grade problem, I don't think the arch will help.

A snatch block up another tree will help too. Run a cable through it, keep the tractor on good ground, cable to the log and pull that way. Add front weight if you have to to offset drawbar weight. For a few long logs, it seems like there's got to be a way other than buying new equipment.

From contributor D:

I think you might want to contract someone to skid for you. If you start pulling larger logs around steep hills or even on flat surfaces with a tractor you should be very careful. They have been known to flip over backwards and when you least expect it - be very careful.

From the original questioner:
I have the steel and I just need the stub axles. Michael, I'm having problems even on flat ground. Traction is not a problem. But even with 600 lbs of factory weights on the front, the front end is coming up as soon as I apply a little up lift on the log and let out the clutch. As a former EMT in a couple rural counties, I have no interest in pushing the envelope till I break myself or the tractor.

From contributor P:
Warren, another trick with chain pulling on a tractor is to change the underneath chain attach point to a anchor point in front of the rear axle. You can also pull a log with the tractor reversed; this is ok for shorter distances. Rotational physics can really fight you on the larger heavy logs.

From contributor B:
You might build yourself a custom dolley (known as a grasshopper) like is used on pipeline work. Actually I don't see why you could not build one roughly double the wheel spread and give it a hitch compatible with your prime mover be it a tractor drawbar, 4x4 P/U with a Reese hitch, or pintle hook. You could then move 36" diameter logs up to 20 ft long without dragging them on the ground.