TP 200 - A great choice for training and estate contract work
In 2020, we purchased a brand-new wood chipper to use for our frequent Lantra Awards Brushwood Chipper ITA and City & Guilds Unit 222 Level 2 Award in the Safe Use of a Manually Fed Wood-chipper IA courses. We chose a tractor-mounted machine from Wilson machinery, a TP 200 PTO. Here we outline the primary considerations in making that choice looking at the three mainstream options:
- Road Tow
- Tractor Mounted PTO
The most popular option is the road tow because it can be combined with a range of vehicles. This provides an all in one solution for brash volume reduction and transportation away from domestic and commercial tree work. Many machines are being made, so they tend to be competitively priced and available in a range of weights, configurations and chip capacities. Some models feature turntable infeed; this can help protect the operator when chipping in a roadside context.
Tracked machines offer apparent benefits in terms of site accessibility and manoeuvrability. It can bring welcome reduction in manual handling if the client can be persuaded to retain chipped material on site. This is often used as a weed suppression or soil-improving mulch. Downsides to tracked machines would be their increased mass and implications for transportation as a trailer is often utilised. Loading and unloading tracked chippers is a frequent cause of accidents. It’s well worth checking the maximum recommended gradients as they are usually a lot less than you would expect.
Tractor mounted machines or PTO chippers need a power source so a prerequisite would be on the available tractor. They are as manoeuvrable as the tractor they are coupled to. They’re relatively low cost and take up less space for storage. It’s less practical to coordinate a tractor-mounted machine for all but the most local site work, although faster tractor units and Unimogs can go some way to mitigating this drawback.
This article links to another blog on our long-serving Vermeer 252 stump grinder, purchased in 2000. We hoped the TP chipper was a robust build quality like the Vermeer and would offer a similar level of:
- Long lifespan
- Ready available parts
- High quality service from the respective dealers
- Suitability for training courses
We’ve mainly used Timberwolf chippers in our contracting business, from the early Entec 6 inch road tow (powered by a petrol Kohler 25hp) to the more powerful 35hp diesel Timberwolf variable tracked TW150. We went to the factory in Suffolk to see and bring away with us the Entec - older readers may remember its distinctive yellow GRP bonnet and woodpecker logo. This gave way to a brand and colour change to the more familiar orange and Timberwolf name.
We have used a more comprehensive range of machines for training, including Arbour Eater, Jenson, Forst, TP, and occasionally larger heizohack.
Over the past five years, we've had an arrangement with Alex Benson to use his Timberwolf 150 DBH road towed machine for courses. This worked well where clients couldn't bring their own or didn't have them, which is fairly typical for students on our flexible package courses where students are getting into the industry. This beneficial arrangement and we appreciate collaborating with Alex. We looked this year to get our machine and looked carefully at a range of brands and setups for various reasons.
Because of the type of work we do on the 250-acre estate where the training site is located, we chose a tractor-mounted option and went for a TP 200 PTO machine from Wilsons in Dalbeattie. The woodland ride network and work on the numerous mature tree screens mean this machine can be deployed exactly where the brush is located. For most of the year, or as it happened on the last course of the year, it’s not that far down the A21 to the Woodland Enterprise Centre site where all year round access via the forest road makes winter courses less problematic.
This choice fitted in neatly with our available tractors, (Valtra 6400 and N121) it only required a minimum of 40hp to 115hp was light at 700kg and could be front mounted. The compact dimensions also suited the tractors sizes. Finally it also gave us a more cost-effective solution than if we had had to purchase an engine as well.
After using the machine for the past six months, we were satisfied with both the chipping performance and suitability for training courses.
In use, the machine has a most powerful infeed due to the upper rollers serrated blades. They easily grab and rarely release any size material fed. The no-stress cuts in to minimise stress on the chipper and although it’s coupled to a powerful engine lifespan is likely to be enhanced due to this feature. Also, roller speed can be adjusted (hydraulic oil flow valve) depending on the proposed material and the desired chip size. Feed control is achieved via a stop bar linked to a hydraulic valve, with stop in-out positions and a mechanical interlock when stopped. The discharge funnel must be the best in the industry; it can be unlocked, rotated and locked without the usual drama associated with sticking or dangerously swinging funnels in transport.
Students can readily see and understand the chipping mechanism, as the flywheel cover hinges easily to reveal half the rotor and the blades. The top infeed roller folds up after removing the powerful spring and locks safely into this maintenance position, as does the flywheel for each of the three-blade change positions. The lower and side anvil are visible, unlike the Timberwolf or Entec machine. The hydraulic system comprises a tank, pump driven from the flywheel's front by 2V belts, infeed motors, control valves and distribution pipes. Again, this is all easy to inspect and helps get students to grips with the main practical elements of the training courses, namely:
Overall condition based on walk around inspection – focus on
- 3 point linkage
- PTO shaft, guarding and restrain chains
- Controls & safety features, location & condition
- Guards – location & condition
- PTO shaft
- System overview & component location
- Oil level & topping up specification
- Hose condition & leaks
- Motor & Valve condition
- Ram condition & end lubrication (if relevant)
We use the tractor power unit for the engine checks and cover:
- Engine oil – level & condition
- Coolant - level
- Air filter – inspection & cleaning
- Drive belts –condition & tension
- Electrical system – visual checks
- Exhaust – visual checks for leaks and gasket/stack damage
Fuel system – component location and visual checks for leaks
Thinking about the merits of the different options road to machine
- Engine air intake & chip screens
- Road legalities – tyres, lights, number plates & driver licencing