IH Dan

Pushing over Trees VS Digging out Stumps!

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I have a 125E 1980 International Harvester with the regular bucket, not the 4 in 1 bucket.  I have trees and stumps to remove from a friends 5 acre property to improve his shooting range, while I have a 1 acre parcel of my own to clear once we close on the property.  I'm new with the machine.  When moving it for the first time to the friends who I'm going to improve his shooting range, I popped out two stumps, which seemed to go well, but I don't know hard it is on the machine.  Knowing that there are future trees to take down.  What is the best procedure to put the least wear and tear on "the beast"?  Other than knowing that, if there are stumps/trees needing removal.  What is the best procedures for both?  Picture of the beast is below.

Thank you in advance,

Dan

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Of course it depends on the size of the trees!  Pushing them over gives you a lot more leverage and is easier on the machine generally.  You do have to be careful about knocking the top or tree limbs out on yourself.  Don'r ram them.  Push with the bucket up to apply leverage.  You can use the hydraulic down force from the loader to elevated the front of the machine and put great pressure on the tree.  If they are bigger trees do some digging first.  Be careful not to get high centered on the root ball as the tree falls over.

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I've taken trees out with my TD-14 and it works well. Lot of stress on the machine. I've gone to an excavator for that work now. Works real good. So now you will just have to expand your herd and get an excavator.

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I've certainly done my share of stumps on my loader so here's my 2 cents:

No doubt whatsoever removing stumps, especially for big trees, is way easier on the machine and operator by pushing the whole tree over at once and using its own weight for the stump uprooting process. On big oaks, digging out a root ball from a tree that's already been cut down can be a very time consuming and laborious process. It can also be hard on the whole machine, especially as it strains to pry and push the stump out. I'm sure more than one operator has trashed his loader's finals doing this very job. 

HOWEVER - obviously pushing the tree over comes with potential risks that absolutely should not be underestimated. I see you have a proper ROPS and that's good. I pushed my share of trees over with a "convertible" (as shown in my avatar). Every time I did it, I did it with great caution and fear. Some trees I passed on because they were just too dangerous. I would cut them down first and then dig the stump out the hard way (or simply leave it if it wasn't really in the way).  Fortunately it worked out for me, but looking back on it I would never do that again. Too many variables and potentially lethal unknowns (including a hollow eaten out trunk, dead branches (i.e. widomakers) with leaves that look alive etc). 

And actually, even with a ROPS without screens, you're still in potential danger from falling debris. A branch or tree top could come off, fall onto the loader and explode in front of you sending wood shrapnel into the operator compartment. I've actually had spring loaded stuff on the ground jump out from the jaws of my 4-1 and come right at my face at high speed...and even with a ROPS with no metal mesh screens it would NOT have protected me. 

Another thing to watch out for if you're pushing over really big trees -  as the tree starts to go and the root ball starts to unearth, get away from the stump as fast as possible. There was a time I didn’t back off as fast as I should and as the root ball upturned, it raised the whole front of my loader up with it so that my loader was "pulling a wheelie" after the tree went over. It didn't go far enough to flip the loader over, but it was an unnecessary risk to keep pushing on the tree when I should have pulled away from it sooner. 

But, not saying you shouldn't do it. Every tree is different. It can be done safely with proper techniques. I would get some removable screens and put those on. And just use common sense, good luck.

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Oh by the way, I'd be real careful downing trees with an excavator too, especially without a ROPS. I used to have a picture from a local newspaper I can't find right now of the cab of an excavator that was utterly crushed by a big oak that fell on it, killing the operator inside. The operator had dug around the root ball to weaken the tree and then was repositioning the excavator to continue digging on it at another angle. He was looking backward and not watching the tree as he moved the excavator. Apparently at that very moment, the wind picked up and forced the tree over right onto his cab - that was it for him. And he was an experienced operator that had been running machines like that for years. It only takes one mistake with these machines and it's easy to get comfortable and complacent with them over time.

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LOOK UP!  stay away from dead trees, and dead branches. 

I don't have a crawler loader. I use a four wheel drive backhoe/loader, and a bulldozer.

In trees up to 24" DBH I use the backhoe. I pound on the trunk a bit until I can set a tooth into the trunk of the tree, maybe 12' above the ground. I have extend a hoe, so I extend. This lifts roots under the tractor. Usually I repeat a few times, lifting the roots out of the ground. 

Smaller trees, I use bulldozer with blade square, and tipped down on stump edge. I pass very shallow, tearing a few roots, deepen slightly for next pass, repeat. I work around the stump until enough roots have been torn. Don't do this with trees big enough to fall on you. Bigger trees get cut first with chainsaw. 

One old guy explained to me that a non tilt crawler only lacks a rock to back onto to start.

The trunk of a tree is a valuable tool. Trees small enough to not crush you,can provide a great lever to pry them out of the earth.

Willie

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Be real careful pushing trees with a loader. Trees kind of have a mind of their own and if you have the loader raised high and big tree goes off to the side  a branch or crotch can catch on the bucket and flip you right on your side. I have seen a little 340 crawler on its side and a front wheel assist loader tractor with the wheels on one side about a foot off the ground before the operator got backed away.

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I've got a dozer, track loader and excavator, depending on what size tree you're taking out each one has its spot.  The track loader is best at trees that are thick because I can use the teeth to guide them where I to and push them out where I want them.  I can fit it in a smaller area then the others.  I always take the tree out whole, I hate digging stumps out because you have no leverage to help you .

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2 biggest variables are tree and soil types; soil type is way to much to get into but with trees I have found the ones with a single tap root to be the most difficult. most of what I have done is with a 20c, bigger trees require digging all the way around the base as close as you can get, the bigger the tree the deeper you have to dig, at times with the dozer I've had to build a ramp to get higher on the tree for leverage, it's also best to compact the ramp a bit before trying. Once you approach the tree don't have your blade all the way up, do that once you hit the tree, this plants the track. Now for the really big ones, to date mine was a cotton wood that measured 27ft in dia, once I'm against the tree and planted the track will use the decelerator to get it rocking, be very mindful of dead limbs, and you need to get in rhythm with the upper part of the tree. You'll have better leverage with the loader, you don't have the cleats of a dozer but you'll still need to plant them. Stumps suck except if they have been cut for a very long time.    

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Everyone, this is a wealth of information.  I'm hearing that there are several factors that determine one's success w/removing a tree/stump i.e.  the soil type, circumference of the tree, if the tree or stump is dead/etc.  Some of you would prefer to use an excavator, while others would prefer to use a loader.  Most of you agree that it's best to keep the tree whole if you can, which may mean reaching high on larger circumference trees and cutting them as high as one can reach - all to remove the danger of the tree either lifting the equipment and putting the operator at risk, or the larger tree coming back at the operator and endangering their lives.  I am also hearing that most feel that unless a stump is rotten, that it puts a great deal of strain on the equipment, where keeping the tree as whole as possible - while keeping all safety factors in check, gives the operator leverage in getting the tree to even consider falling.

Again, please correct me where I'm wrong, but what I think I'm hearing is to take trees as whole as possible, which may mean partially cutting it as I mentioned above.  That smaller trees can be more easily removed by ensuring the equipment is well grounded, perhaps by elevating the front tracks, the higher one reaches with the equipment and making contact w/the tree could help immensely.  To consider rocking the tree w/the decelerator while keeping an eye on the top of the tree and going w/that rocking motion.  To consider applying some downward pressure on the tree to get the root ball to surface.  For larger trees I'm hearing that those w/a single root going down are the most difficult, while others w/surface roots can be managed.  To ensure the tree is shortened by cutting as high as one can reach, such that it does't come back at the operator.  On larger trees to consider destroying the integrity of the root ball by cutting through a few top layer roots before attempting to push on it.  I'm also hearing from you all that taking down any tree no matter who you are.  Even if you have been doing this your whole life, that taking down any tree, is risky business, and has been known to make one's partner a widow.  That one needs to slow down and use all safety precautions.  Perhaps ensuring you have a safety hat/glasses, seat belt and a secure safety cage around you.  If you don't feel like you understand what your doing, to stop and let a more experienced person handle the the job.

Okay team, what have I missed?

 

Dan

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When you pushing trees that may have you concerned about limbs breaking and ending up in your lap, the key here is to not let it snap back that's when 95% of the tops breaking occurs, either stay in the push till it's well over or use the brake to slowly back away. Not sure you understand how to plant the track, I usually come into the tree with my blade maybe a foot or 2 down from the full up position and once I hit the tree and start the push I'll pull the blade up, this puts down pressure on the whole track allowing full traction, something you'll be short of anyways with the loader pads.   

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I have used cables and chains to get a safe distance away from trees I don't like the look of ,

especially trees with big ol widowmaker limbs and any sign of rot and decay showing ,

Go easy and get to know your machine before tackling anything sketchy

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Before I owned a backhoe, I took down trees with a Power Wagon equipped with two winches. My rear winch is capable of breaking 1/2" cable just above engine idle. 

My technique is climb a ladder to hang a big snatch block. Pass winch cable through it. One end of cable gets anchored to a very big tree with a nylon strap 6" wide. The other end at the winch with the truck anchored to another tree. The actual pull doesn't take long at all. Nonetheless, it gets me clean land with no stump. 

A small crawler is a great way to clear land. You haven't said where you are. If the ground freezes, consider winter dozing. Trees are brittle frozen, and you can snap the small ones flush with the ground. For 1" saplings, and blackberry brush, it's like shaving. 

Do watch for dead trees, or branches. I thought I could push over a 16" dead pine. It was broken off at maybe 40 feet tall. As I pushed, the top ten feet a foot in diameter landed on my air cleaner. My aging heart beat very hard for a few minutes.

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11 hours ago, pede said:

When you pushing trees that may have you concerned about limbs breaking and ending up in your lap, the key here is to not let it snap back that's when 95% of the tops breaking occurs, either stay in the push till it's well over or use the brake to slowly back away. Not sure you understand how to plant the track, I usually come into the tree with my blade maybe a foot or 2 down from the full up position and once I hit the tree and start the push I'll pull the blade up, this puts down pressure on the whole track allowing full traction, something you'll be short of anyways with the loader pads.   

...possibly the best advice  on this post...not in any way detracting from the other posts though.......just recall pushing huge Macrocarpa trees  with old 30 ton Cat excavator......had myself sat up on that mound as 'pede'  describes......but the old cat was a bit light on KGs   ....and as the tree was rocking back...then forward   again....down came the two top leaders...missed me by a hairs breath........scared  the ''livin' excrement '' out of me.... Had ROPS  cab ...but...  Good lesson....when you survive !!!!!

Hullo Mr  Drott  150.......haven't seen you on here for a long while :):)    How are you doing  ??!!

Mike

..Uhhmm.......well...the photo below neatly sums up my computer skills...sorry.....an errant push of the click thing on the entirely  wrong picture......

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uhhmm.....re the above picture........which in no way relates to the subject matter....sigh......In fact it is reflection on my ability with a computer...or ....lack of it.......once it used to be difficult for me , anyway, to post picture on this site.......now...as you can all see.....any moron can do it....

Sorry about that Dan........

 

Mike

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On 1/3/2018 at 5:20 PM, Drott-150 said:

Oh by the way, I'd be real careful downing trees with an excavator too, especially without a ROPS. I used to have a picture from a local newspaper I can't find right now of the cab of an excavator that was utterly crushed by a big oak that fell on it, killing the operator inside. The operator had dug around the root ball to weaken the tree and then was repositioning the excavator to continue digging on it at another angle. He was looking backward and not watching the tree as he moved the excavator. Apparently at that very moment, the wind picked up and forced the tree over right onto his cab - that was it for him. And he was an experienced operator that had been running machines like that for years. It only takes one mistake with these machines and it's easy to get comfortable and complacent with them over time.

I lost a friend to exactly this scenario about 15 years ago.  He was a very seasoned operator who had done this for 30 years and that excavator had a ROPS.  A falling tree has tremendous inertia and can easily crush a well built ROPS..

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All have given you alot of advice, and I can't stress enough as they have, be careful, I spent and entire summer doing just what you are, smaller cotton woods went pretty easy, larger ones, say 3 foot dia needed the root balls dig out.  For those, my process was to dig the backside of the root balls from which I wanted the tree to fall.  Before digging, I would use the bucket of my backhoe to get me as high as possible and wrap a chain around the trunk of the tree, have lots of cable much longer than the trees are high, hook to the td8, then dig the roots to free them, then pull it over worked very well and not much stress on the equipment. Takes a bit longer this way, but gets the job done, most of the big trees left a crater from the root ball big enough for me to park the cat in. One other piece of advice, once down, you need to use you bucket/blade to break as much of the root ball apart and free it of dirt, if not, that tree will be too heavy for you to even move, cple trees we had to use the td8 and backhoe to move

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Hello Mr Newman sir! Long time no see um!  Glad to see you are doing well, although possibly "board" with the forum based on the picture you posted. You used to post the best pics of all kinds of cool stuff going on down there in lush, green Kiwiland. I posted a bunch of stuff too, although it was purged from this site some time ago. Kind of a hassle to repost, but in the spirit of things, maybe put a few of the old ones up since we're talking about tree downing, stumps n' such. 

First, I found the tragic pics of the excavator accident I was talking about...

5a501f352351c_Tree20on20Vehicle20063.jpg.b351c8b49730710266314bc642eddc75.jpg5a501f342b871_Tree20on20Vehicle20062.jpg.fdc1d0d9f3ed4a69702ce049ca4d414d.jpg5a501f330b54a_Tree20on20Vehicle20037.jpg.7a6b624939966a832b8a71418a9146ee.jpg Fatal....

 

And a few others of my own misadventures...

STILL0006.jpg.d4f803cf2d4a61f8705e407e5b14223d.jpgSTILL0004.jpg.f79185d491574af4a229e7784dfc1238.jpg I don't really recommend this... ;-)STILL0002.jpg.3dc44ad7e7638333daa382cdd6293eaa.jpg

And a few more...

STILL0019.JPG.ed86931d0a71ed85bd41c1751d094020.JPGShaking the dirt off the stump by dropping it with the 4-1.

burn.jpg.7e5f9680440125996048d924b463a546.jpg Burns much better that way...

climb3.jpg.3f6f85a0bb7569e8a2af1005000524bf.jpg Grading slopes on the side of driveway...

dump1.jpg.804a3c421621070f8f5997bb61d3b83a.jpg Dumping fill dirt into a pile. 4-1 is very useful...

 

 Digging a pit and hitting some hard clay...

backout.jpg.39b9c12ba565df327033a2ede436cb2f.jpg

stump.JPG.c5808cb80d2390da4d7e4f433b9be0e9.JPG Stump management...another awesome use for the 4-1.

STILL0023.JPG.0b41bbb47e6095ad6a5eb3432d03f4e0.JPG Clearing brush again with the 4-1 as a big grabber...

drotts.thumb.JPG.34f93d67e98d9c8d1d0aaf0dea5e9536.JPG Company brochure with the DROTT MOUTH BUCKETS!

 

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Here's another one. I couldn't take the risk of downing this tree by pushing it over, which truly was a giant (although it doesn't really look like it in these images - trust me it was BIG). It was just too big and dangerous, plus it was very close to a house. So I actually climbed way up close to the top, attached a steel cable. Climbed down about 20 feet, sawed a weakening cut into it about a 1/3rd down from the top. Then shimmied down, jumped on my loader (which was connected to the steel cable and placed safely away from the tree) and ripped the top off. After that I climbed back up, reset the cable close to the top of what was left, and then made another weakening cut about 12-15 feet from the bottom. I was really worried about cutting too far into the tree while I was hanging off of it, so I didn't dare cut too deep. I didn't want the upper part of the tree coming off while I was still swinging around up there. So that's why you see the tree resist considerably as I pull it down and then it splits down to the stump area before finally breaking off and coming down. But no matter, once down to that level, it was easily and safely manageable from there with the saw alone. I have a video of the tree coming down, if I get a chance to figure out the editing software, I'll try to post it later. 

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With a tree pusher like on our FA 10 you can do this.  If the tree is stubborn take a bit of weight with the tree pusher on the tree.  Then cut it about half way through on the dozer side somewhat higher than your blade at full lift..  Then when you push you are working towards the front half of the root ball rather than against it and the tree should split.  Then working from the opposite side you have the same advantage on the half of the stump that is left.

Not too many trees on this ranch that I can't shift with just the pusher though.  Then there was an ironbark (eucalypt) about 4 feet in diameter and about 70 feet high - but  that is a story for another time.

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33 minutes ago, Drott-150 said:

Here's another one. I couldn't take the risk of downing this tree by pushing it over, which truly was a giant (although it doesn't really look like it in these images - trust me it was BIG). It was just too big and dangerous, plus it was very close to a house. So I actually climbed way up close to the top, attached a steel cable. Climbed down about 20 feet, sawed a weakening cut into it about a 1/3rd down from the top. Then shimmied down, jumped on my loader (which was connected to the steel cable and placed safely away from the tree) and ripped the top off. After that I climbed back up, reset the cable close to the top of what was left, and then made another weakening cut about 12-15 feet from the bottom. I was really worried about cutting too far into the tree while I was hanging off of it, so I didn't dare cut too deep. I didn't want the upper part of the tree coming off while I was still swinging around up there. So that's why you see the tree resist considerably as I pull it down and then it splits down to the stump area before finally breaking off and coming down. But no matter, once down to that level, it was easily and safely manageable from there with the saw alone. I have a video of the tree coming down, if I get a chance to figure out the editing software, I'll try to post it later. 

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Can't wait to see the video :D There's free editing software for Windows (Windows Movie Maker) which is pretty simple to use, in case you're using something else that's confusing.

 

I can't imagine ever pushing over any sizeable trees with vintage gear, I'd be too worried about consequences! I like the idea of using a winch to pull the buggers down more, but then again that's a lot of cable to be managing.

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4 hours ago, RustyNumbat said:

I like the idea of using a winch to pull the buggers down more, but then again that's a lot of cable to be managing.

Then there is getting it up high enough.

Back in the days we got to do this in explosives school.  Effective but one might say non-directional in where the result landed.  Maybe IHRunner can chime in on this

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Drott150, was he trying to pull that tree towards him? was the base cut??

    I've had several, shall we call them incidents over the last 45years, but only 2 stand out in my mind; one was pushing a brush pile together and a tree slipped over the top of my blade and as it rocketed towards me clearing everything sticking out of the hood along the way it stopped close enough I could touch it, I then had to clear my pants. The other was a rather large locust tree that had been cut for me just to push over, it snapped off and fell back towards me luckily missed a direct hit by main trunk, again looking for toilet paper. Don't have the time right now but will discuss dynamite later.   

 

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Pede - I don't know exactly what happened to the man in the excavator. I wasn't there and didn't know him. However, I do know another local excavator that knew him and he relayed the story to me. He was not pulling on the tree. He normally would dig around the stump root ball to weaken the tree, which often would require repositioning the machine to dig at various angles, especially for a big one with a strong root structure (as with the last tree he worked on). From what I heard, he took his eye off the tree just for a moment, as he looked rearward and was backing the excavator up in preparation for putting it into another position. Just at that moment, either the tree simply fell on its own, or a wind kicked up strong enough to send the tree his way.  You can see the result in the picture. And like I said, he was no neophyte, from what I heard he was a capable operator with over 20 years of experience. A real tragedy and a real wake up call, especially now that excavators are often the tool of choice for downing trees (whereas track loaders used to be the select tool for that job).

Another thing I was told, and I don't own nor have I ever run an excavator, was that the boom on hoes like that don't really have much "push power" and they have relatively little power in swing or rotation. So even if he had seen the tree starting to fall on him and attempted to react in some way, it's not clear the boom would have been strong enough to push the tree away or sweep it to the side as it fell. Apparently the hoe is designed  to generate its full power in the retraction digging mode, which makes sense, I suppose. And the swing or rotation power is pretty limited due to the physics of the relatively small hydraulic motor driving the turntable the cab sits on. Anyway, impressive as they are, please be aware the excavator is no panacea of safety when it comes to downing big trees.

I have a video of the tree above coming down, but unfortunately this message forum wont let me post it. All its branches and its top 1/3rd have already been removed. There is a steel cable connected to the underside of the loader leading to the top. The boom and bucket are up to help protect me in the event the cable snaps and whips back on me (which it never did). If you look closely at the picture posted earlier of this tree, you can see an obscure image of me "hugging" the tree climbing up it with a safety line draped down below.

 

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