Monday, 24 February 2014

Felco Secateurs Model 4 Standard - Review

As far as I'm concerned a good pair of secateurs is an essential item in any arborists tool box. I use mine at least a couple of times every week; on small reductions or thins, pruning young trees from the ground, formative pruning on newly planted trees even chopping stuff up smaller to bag up on 'through the house' jobs.

I've had these for about 10 months now and I'm pretty pleased with them, there a massive improvement on the pair of cheepo ones I had before.

The model 4 Felcos are a fairly no frills version but do everything you'd expect of them, they will cut up to 1" diameter branches (species depending) They cut clean with very little tearing of bark and splitting of the wood, this obviously increases with the larger branches/twigs. With smaller finger sized stuff cutting is pretty effortless and the curved blade and anvil prevent the piece from slipping, handy when your at full reach on the tips of a wet slippery Lime!

There is very little to go wrong with these secateurs, they've suffered a reasonable amount of abuse in the time I've been using them, been dropped plenty of times and have spent a lot of their life kicking around in the bottom of my climbing bag. They are showing very few signs of ware and the edge is just as keen as the day I brought them. At around the £30 mark they are a bit of an investment compared to a £5 blackspur pair, but assuming you don't loose them they should last 10 times as long. 

To be honest I don't use them quite as much as I should, often making do with my Silky for small diameter cuts that it really isn't suitable for. Having a pair of secateurs on you just gives you that increased level of accuracy and ability to leave some very tidy finishing cuts. 

I find the only down side to these is that they don't have any means of attaching a lanyard of any description which can be a bit of pain when in the tree. I've managed to solve this when I was given an old leather Felco holster that holds them nice and snug and has a fairly solid clip for attaching them to my harness with 

All in all pretty pleased with them and would recommend them to anyone looking to invest in a quality pair of secateurs. I would also recommend anyone starting out in Arb, looking to improve on their reductions to try taking a pair up and seeing if you find it any easier/notice a difference in quality. 

Monday, 17 February 2014

Lanyard setup/Work positioning strop

I've played around with various different lanyard setups over the years, I First started climbing with a big thick 19mm wire core thing with a massive triple action fixed krab on the end, it was about 4m long and adjusted with a prussic, pretty basic and very heavy. I then moved onto a thinner diameter wire core strop, about the same length only with an ISC rope grab and wire eyelets each end. I climbed with this for about 5 years and never really had and reason to complain, I still have it and will use it occasionally for chogging down big stems. 

I then moved on to trying out various rope strops, all of my own making, I went though a couple of different lengths and thickness of ropes/hitches before I came up with what I am currently using.

The rope is actually a 3m replacement rope for the Petzl Grillon, which I chose because I wanted an 11mm rope with a spliced/stitched eye either end and this was actually the most cost effective way (about £30ish) and came with the added bonus of the protective sheath. This is particularly good for keeping rope and hitch clean when working on conifers or dirty trees.  

I chose 3m as with my style of climbing I rarely need anything longer as I'm usually able to get most places in a tree with just my main anchor point and use the lanyard only to attain my final working position. This means I don't have to drag a long lanyard around the tree getting it tangled and caught up on everything, or have to daisy chain it or stuff it into a stuff sack. 

I use a hitch climber as the tending pulley because of the added versatility the additional attachment holes provide, allowing me to use it as a secondary DRT (double rope technique) anchor when needed. Or if I need a little extra length as a SRT (single rope technique) strop (assent/positioning only)

The stitched eyes have a protective plastic covering that holds the DMM ultra O karabina firmly in place making clipping in one handed very easy. (These are my crab of choice at the moment, full review to come)

Having a spliced eye either end negates the use of a stopper knot 

And enables me to clip both ends up out of the way, keeping everything nice and neat as well as not having to drag it along the floor when I walking around on the deck

The hitch cord is 8mm Sirius and works really nicely on a Distle with this rope, it rarely jams and grips every time. 

All in all I love my current set up and would replicate it in a heart beat should any element need replacing at any point. I much prefer the versatility and flexibility of a rope strop over the rigidity and additional safety of a wire core.

 I'm always interested in other climbers setups if anyone wants to share theirs?

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Husqvarna T540xp - Trouble already

So after getting this saw a few weeks ago I posted my first impressions. Which were initially quite positive, and for the first couple of weeks I had no reason to change this. But lately the saw has been playing up quite a bit; cutting out mid cut (whilst on full revs) not ticking over very well, having to cold start it every time and just generally being a pain. Not great really.

So I asked around and someone on Arbtalk pointed out it was probably just an issue with the auto tune (my thoughts anyway) and that I should take it back to the dealer and have them reset it, only a two minute job apparently. This is all well and good, but the dealer is an hour away and not something I should have to be doing after only a couple of weeks of light use.

What frustrates me with new technology like auto tune is the fact that it prevents the professional user from carrying out certain tasks. Meaning any engine issues are not a quick fix and require the saw being plugged into a laptop. A chainsaw into a laptop… what is the world coming too?!

How I wish I'd brought a dozen 200t's before they stopped making them.

More to come I'm sure...

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

ISC RP205 Rigging rope grab

Lately I've been playing around with a few ideas for a slightly easier method of pre tensioning the rigging line when using a fixed bollard or similar.

One of the key things I needed was an easily attachable mechanical rope grab that was compatible with 16mm lines.

After hunting around for a while I stumbled across this ISC rope grab.

Not necessarily what I initially had in mind but it is compatible with 14-16mm lines (and will actually fit our 19mm bull rope in as well, although not recommended)

This model comes with a push pin. Basically by pushing the small silver pin in the middle of the red ring you can see, the pin then slides out releasing the cam 

Not something that can be done one handed but is quick enough and hopefully will work pretty well for what i have in mind for it. 

I quite like the simplicity of this device, no springs or small parts to go wrong and the only 2 moving pieces are attached via small wires. It has a very solid feel to it and I have no doubt it would take a lot of abuse before showing any signs of ware. Now I just need a few more bits and I'll hopefully have something a bit more interesting to share...   

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Every day carry Items part 2

Just a quick follow up to a previous post where I mentioned that I carry one of these Petzl Bucket bags with me on every job
Here's a photo of the contents
So there is the Crampon bag and tool roll that I have mentioned previously as well as the following:
- Couple of pairs of gloves
- Set of ex military Gore tex over trousers, quite good for climbing 
- Pair of leather heavy duty gauntlets, for those spikey trees
- Dry bag with spare T shirt and socks, encase the water proofs fail!
- Another pair of water proof trousers, only these are salopette style ones, made from cheaper flexothene material, ideal for ground work on those proper wet days
- Hi vis
- First aid kit,
- Felling wedge, there is usually a high lift one in here as well
- Gore-Tex jacket (not shown)
I find these items cover me for most eventualities, the bag doesn't take up much space, I always know where everything is, its always kept together and I can always have it with me.
I still have to take another bag with my lunch and drinks in, but it means the bucket bag can stay at work/in the van and I only have to take my lunch bag in with me every night.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Different cuts #1 wide/open mouth

One of the things I always try to pass on to those starting out in this industry is that everything is down to control; from how you move in the tree to the different cuts that you make, so long as you are always in control nothing unexpected should happen.

This is especially true with the use of felling cuts for removing tops, branches and limbs. Obviously the lay of the piece to be removed has a large amount to do with where it will go, but a lot of control can be exerted over the piece but changing the angle of the face or mouth and the angle of the hinge.

One I like to use quite often is to have a very wide mouth/face cut, this means the piece of timber has to travel further before the two cuts meet (and assuming you've cut a sufficient hinge) the piece is released from the tree.

One of the main times I use this cut is when 'turning tops' This cut enables me to fold the top almost into the tree, with the hinge giving way at about 8 o'clock (when looking at the picture above) then with my hands on the butt of the top I can continue its current arc and flip it to land flat with the butt facing away from the tree. As below

This speeds things up on the ground as its facing the right way for dragging away from the tree, it also damages the ground less as it lands flat and the force is spread out along its length.
Ignoring the flipping for a moment this cut by itself also helps to minimise the shaking of the top you experience, especially on skinny trees when the hinge gives way. This is due to bending moments and the forces involved when a top starts to fall. I'll discuss this more in a later post. (or check out 'The art and science of practical rigging') for a more in depth look.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Stein RC-3001 - Notched in

I talked about the Stein RC-3001 a while back and mentioned how we had never notched it into the tree

Well the oak we did this week definitely called for it. It made a huge difference, we were dropping some huge loads on it and it never moved an inch. for the extra few minutes in set up time it was definitely worth it.