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Tractor Talk Discussion Forum

Re: using a tractor to pull or haul logs safer

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Billy NY

01-13-2014 07:16:56

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Make it a 4th that "actually" tows logs with a similar size tractor ! LOL!
Neil has a valid concern, N's can and will do that under certain conditions, as will other tractors, under certain conditions. When we sold Ford tractors new, the R.O.P.S (roll over protection system) were just starting to be required. In conjunction with that you need a seat with a safety belt, to hold you in, for that to work as intended, the result is you won't be crushed by the tractor if it were to upset or roll over. A relative of mine and or someone with him proved that an N can and will flip backwards under the right conditions, it killed the person, it was only a few years ago, I believe they were tugging on a stuck dozer. I could not find the news story after doing a search. its a valid concern about what could happen.
However, given the M-F tractor has a loader, and depending on your methods, conditions and other factors, its not very likely you will flip a tractor over backwards.
I have to tow logs with an 850 ford with a loader, or I would have very little firewood. I've done it for several years now, on our land, which has many sidehills, slopes and similar terrain, with topsoils that can get slick when wet. I tow logs up hill to the area where I cut and split near my home.
This tractor is heavily ballasted, tires are loaded with CACL, I have an old aircraft tug counterweight, ford I believe, its a thick cast iron weight, on an 11 hole drawbar, the 3 pt lift arms hold the weight and those arms bear on a bar that span the lower arms of an old backhoe mount which is part of the loader frame, + I haul most of my heavy logging chain as well, its a heavy ballast all together. The front loader provides balance, I would NOT recommend taking it off. The bucket is front weight, you can cut up a log and fill the bucket for more weight, you can shift logs, you can clear brush and make paths, log headers, and places to turn around, in short its a necessity, and increases the safety margin. If your woods are too thick, you will have to make a path. Yes, you can bump into trees if you are not careful, doing that can knock limbs off from above, so if you have nothing overhead to protect you BEWARE. I'm in the woods often, thick brush, and similar, I find that when using a tractor for these tasks, the tractor would be worthless without the loader on for the above reasons.
When towings logs flat on the ground, there are times the log may want to deeply gouge the soil, create a lot of resistance which can make you lose traction, and if it does catch on something, if the front end is weighted down, ballasted with just the bucket or you have loaded it, you will lose traction and slip. I have double ring chains, but don't always use them or have them on for towing logs. You can cut a wedge out of the butt of the log, but often times, roll it over, or when you cut a tree down, once down you can use the tree to your advantage leaving a high spot down or skidding on a bend, sometimes it makes all the difference and you are not fighting that face of log, the butt etc gouging in. Frozen ground makes this task so much easier.
Log arch like was suggested will be much more efficient. However, a boom pole on the 3 pt hitch does work very well, you can transfer some weight to the rear end, but a tractor will get light in the front end. Boom poles are nice, but you need to hook off the pole as close to the tractor as feasible, and you are still above the center line of the rear axle, ideally you want to tow from a drawbar under that axle, but as mentioned above, a bare log can and will make a lot of resistance, and or gouge the ground, so getting the leading end of the log raised is ideal. I have seen skid plates for logs being towed flat on the ground, but have never used one.
This is dangerous and hard work for a tractor, a person has to take their time, and use safe methods, I would cease doing this myself if I thought it was that unsafe. My tractor will lose traction, if I try and drag too much at one time, soils get moisture and too much of a load to pull. I cut stumps flush, every tree I cut, I dig around the base, clear the dirt and then know I've left nothing dangerous I will forget about later.
Your conditions and methods will vary.

Do not pull from the loader bucket with the tractor in reverse, you won't get much traction, you can easily turn the tractor on its side doing this if the bucket is raised high enough, most likely a 3 pt boom pole would be much better if used properly, (a heavy duty one, not an inexpensive TSC or similar model). I've used one on a 2020 JD, no front end loader, at a certain point the front end gets light, if you were to catch on something, it could raise up or flip backwards, but not likely because one end is up. You observe and make adjustments, do not exceed the limitations once you know the tractor and how it reacts. Tow from the drawbar under the rear axle/housing, get too much resistance, you have to try something else. I've had lighter loads on that stop the tractor, just too much drag, one log too many, take one off, and back moving again, I will say dragging flat can be a pain at times, anytime you can get a log up just a little it helps immensely.
I can say with large pines, when you roll the log onto some of its branches you can use those as skids as long as they face the direction you are towing, opposite they will anchor into the soil and stop you. I leave branches on for this reason. Last year a huge pine went down in the back yard of my neighbor down the lane. I had the tractor on pavement, severed the tree from the stump, but was just too much to pull, so I cut it into 3 logs. I was going up hill the first attempt, tires still slipped, front end just not coming up, but if you rigged the tow line up higher, like the top link bracket, (NEVER DO THIS), going up hill, I'd believe it would not take much to go over, hard to say, but thats how it does happen. That pine was heavy, the bottom 2 logs were a hard pull, but I skidded them on the branches, kept my chain off the pavement and less drag.
Being new to this, and new to tractors, is a bad combination to start with, you should get a competent person to help you, won't take long to get used to doing this work, but you do need a feel for it, and that comes with experience. I know the limitations of my tractor and stop often to adjust things, let some of the load off, make more trips, always fighting hills or something, it is one of the harder tasks a person can do with a tractor.
Rigging is important, don't undersize chains, wire rope if you use that. I use old chain that I have acquired over the years, I don't worry about chains snapping as traction gives way first, by the same token I do not use damaged or questionable rigging. I have seen chains snap, but when using a crawler, lot more traction and torque involved, I've straightened hooks, but do recall a fool towing a roller out of the mud with a dozer and the chain snapped, a chunk hit my R.O.P.S. like a bullet, left a dent. If you undersize a chain and pull hard, it could happen, but likely not, lose traction and you have to get out of the seat and make a change on what you are towing, its the fool who keeps jerking the log with the tractor that will get whipped or have a piece of flying metal coming at them. This work is about the path of least resistance, your conditions will vary to find that path.
This post was edited by Billy NY at 07:55:34 01/13/14 2 times.

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01-13-2014 07:28:53

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 Re: using a tractor to pull or haul logs safer in reply to Billy NY, 01-13-2014 07:16:56  
NO! NO! NO! Not CaCl!!!!! Don't you read the internet?????? ( I read {on the internet} that everything on the internet's true) Have you checked your tires this morning? I GUARANTEE that your tires are flat and your rims are rust!

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Billy NY

01-13-2014 07:54:14

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 Re: using a tractor to pull or haul logs safer in reply to thurlow, 01-13-2014 07:28:53  
LOL !!!! I know, we are not supposed to use CACL, I know. Back to reality, I've had decent luck so far, yes there was a leak I was misled about, so ok, technically I damaged what was about a 5 year old rim, was new, tire guy screwed up, and for whatever reason, it got past me. So I fixed it myself, tire dismounted, welded up the rim, made a new hole put it all back together, been years since, and initially, it may have just been a tube replacement, wash the rim down, no big deal, you do have some time, its not like acid, mind you, still corrosive, but forgiving if you make timely repairs.

LOL ! maybe its those who advise that don't actually use CACL, LOL ! well I had best not stir the pot, it works fine, has its own rules, play by them and you will be fine. RV antifreeze, windshield washer fluid, sure it makes sense, and I would not hesitate to use it, but CACL is inexpensive, it works and does not freeze and is I believe still the heaviest ballast, we all have choices in life and have to live by what we do, so each to their own LOL !

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