Land management can be equipment intensive so it is important to know a bit about your service provider’s repertoire as well as experience on various machines. Heavy equipment comes in many sizes and configurations so its seldom “apples and apples” when receiving competitive bids. On several occasions we have been outbid by contractors charging marginally less for equipment that is drastically less productive. For instance, a company offering their 200LC John Deere excavator at $150.00/hour is a much better deal than another offering their Cat 304 at $100.00/hour. Obviously customers cannot be expected to know makes and models, but it is wise to enquire about the horsepower, weight and track configurations of various machines. In this way, landowners can assess the capabilities and appropriateness of a provider’s gear. A machine that is too large or too small for a job and thus “out of scale” can be both costly and ineffective. It may in fact contribute to future problems on a particular site. Don’t be afraid to ask seemingly naïve questions. Demand good communication from a prospective provider before you hire them. In this way you can ensure that they are knowledgeable, responsible and qualified to do your job. Ask for references from recent clients, and a job-site portfolio. We also feel that it is important to know whether a provider owns, leases or both with regard to their machinery. It has been our experience that providers who own no equipment suggests a lack of commitment, while those who never lease often seem to force their machinery to perform out of scale. Finally, operator experience absolutely must be considered. It is good practice to ask about the experience and skill level of a provider’s operators. You don’t want somebody trained on your property. It is not uncommon to see inexperienced and/or unsafe operators working on sites that demand highly trained professionals, thus wasting time, money and creating future issues. It is our mission at V&V to tailor highly individual solutions for the individual needs of our clients. We bring the equipment that is appropriate for your project whether we own or lease it. Additionally our operators have at least 5,000 hours of “seat time”. Each has an individual erosion control certification, and safety certification. We have a full time mechanic with 25 years experience offering support to our crew in five states. You should expect solid and exacting professionalism from your provider. That means their machinery must be the correct choice for your project, while their operators must be skilled, dedicated and above all, safe.
Caterpillar 299D XHP
The Cat 299D XHP is the king of skid steer loaders. Equipped with a 112 hp engine, the most thoughfully designed hydraulic system of all skid steers, and full protective armor, the Cat is the only multi-purpose rubber track machine truly capable of handling the demands of forestry mulching. Over the years we have tested nearly every machine available and found that the new XHP has no equal. We can grade better, grapple heavier and mulch faster than our competitors with similar machines such as Bobcat, John Deere and Takauchi. The Cat features low ground pressure tracks and is an excellent choice for confined residential spaces and precise applications. For forestry mulching we offer different head configurations relative to our clients needs. Our standard set-up consists of a 299D XHP and Fecon BH74 head equipped with carbide hammers. These heavy-duty teeth allow us to mulch directly in the ground with minimal concern for rock or debris. Because we can quickly change attachments on the Cat 299 a variety of tasks, such as bucket work, augering and log loading, can be accomplished with a single machine and operator, minimizing the impact, costs and safety issues associated with having multiple machines on site. On projects involving pine beetle removal, timber slash cleanup and fuel load reductions we often recommend a 299 with a steel knife tipped head. These heads are sharpened daily and offer superior material reduction capacity and reduced mulch size. Because we prefer not to run our steel knives directly in the soil they make an excellent accompaniment to our standard Cat/ carbide set-up or Fecon FTX140 dedicated mulcher. We have found that by using complimentary tooth configurations on separate machines we can save landowners with moderate and large size jobs up to 20% of their total costs. In addition to our mulching heads we also offer a Davco high flow mowing deck capable of cutting material up to 5 inches. The powerful attachment is much like a bushhog on steroids and is an excellent choice for invasives removal, overgrown pasture and commercial property maintenance. Mounted on an Cat 299, this implement is often our first choice when returning to a project site that has been previously mulched but otherwise left unmaintained.
Fecon FTX 140FM
The Fecon FTX140 is our “bread and butter” in the mountains. This dedicated mulching unit is equipped with a 140hp John Deere engine, steel tracks and a hydraulic flow of nearly 70 gpm. Capable of handling timber up to 12 inches the Fecon can also handle extremely steep terrain. Over the course of an average work year we put more hours on this reliable machine than any other. We do not believe there is a mulching unit of comparable size as productive as the 140 anywhere on the planet. Our FTX 140s can be configured with either carbide or steel teeth depending on the task at hand. These machines are fully armored and equipped with heavy-duty winches capable of skidding timber or pulling machines out of difficult situations.
The Shinn system is a combination mulching head, auxiliary power unit and body armor package mounted on a large excavator. In essence the excavator simply functions as a carrier for the 425 hp engine and 140gpm hydraulic unit mounted on the rear. The head is equipped with hardened steel teeth with multiple cutting surfaces allowing worn knives to be rotated twice before replacement. Weighing in at over 50,000lbs the Shinn cutter is our choice for larger projects, right of way clearing and Government contracts. We believe the Shinn system/excavator combination is the most aggressive and efficient mulching machine available, period. We can reduce material of virtually unlimited size to a fine shred without the compromises in mobility or precision associated with tub grinders and large steel track machines. The Shinn system easily outperforms similar excavator/power pack combination at a lower cost to clients.
We buy, sell and lease equipment according to our needs. Our traditional equipment arsenal currently consists of:
- Hitachi EX120 excavator
- Hitachi EX160 excavator
- John Deere 200LC excavator
- Terex HR16 mini excavator (rubber tracks)
- John Deere 700LGP Bulldozer
- Peterbilt Tri-axle dump truck
- Kenworth T300 Rollback
- Massey Ferguson 1560 4wd tractor with loader and full implements
- Massey Ferguson 492 4wd tractor with loader and full implements