My firewood processor build

muddstopper

muddstopper

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Didnt even open the door to the shop today. Wife had rock laying and painting on her honeydo list. Have to keep her happy. Go back to the doc tomorrow. Still have bending problems with my knee replacement. Xrays look good. Doc said I would be back to work by now. I didnt believe him when he said it and I dont look to go back to work this year. Will be cleaning up the shop tomorrow getting ready to fire up the track torch. I have about 16ft of plate to cut for beefing up the hbeam. Not sure what I will work on once thats done. I probably will drag out the log conveyor and get it mounted. Not sure what kind of modification I will have to do to the conveyor. It was originally electric powered. I will have to convert it to hyd, which I have the hyd motor for that already. Should just be a matter of replacing the elect motor with the hyd one, but not sure about the gear box ratios.
 
muddstopper

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Well, seen the Doc this morning. Have to go tomorrow to have a MUA. http://bonesmart.org/knee/mua-manipulation-under-anesthesia/ Looks like I will be down again for at least 3 weeks so project will again be put on hold. It only takes about 15 min for them to perform the procedure, but then it's therapy again everyday for 3 weeks. I should be able to get around at least as well as I am now, but taking time to go to therapy everyday sure puts a dent on working in the shop.
 
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Well, seen the Doc this morning. Have to go tomorrow to have a MUA. http://bonesmart.org/knee/mua-manipulation-under-anesthesia/ Looks like I will be down again for at least 3 weeks so project will again be put on hold. It only takes about 15 min for them to perform the procedure, but then it's therapy again everyday for 3 weeks. I should be able to get around at least as well as I am now, but taking time to go to therapy everyday sure puts a dent on working in the shop.
That sucks. Gotta do what you gotta do to get better. Hang in there
 
ChoppyChoppy

ChoppyChoppy

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I think you will likely be fine with the customers you will end up getting. Anyone who hires you to come split their wood will likely have a decent sized stove or furnace and the bigger splits won't be an issue. The people with smaller stoves usually burn a lot less wood and would likely just buy split wood and not hire a processor in.

I've never heard of a mobile processing business.
Ive only ever had 2 people ask out of thousands of customers I've sold wood to and one was a friend. I think for most people sourcing logs and hauling them to a deck would not be practicle. Or if they have the equipment to do that then processing it isn't much of an issue.
 
muddstopper

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Valley, I dont expect it to be a big business. I am mostly building this machine for my own use. My intentions of being a mobile processing business is to try and recoup some of the build expense, not get rich. Tractor Supply, Lowes, other stores sell a ton of wood splitters every year. So there are a lot of folks around here using firewood. I have seen the market for selling wood more or less explode. Seems that everybody that buys a splitter ends up in the firewood business. I also see a lot of used splitters for sell every year. I think a lot of people find out that selling firewood is a very time and labor consuming business. Which is why I dont want to get into the selling end of a firewood business. I dont want to source the wood to sell and I dont want to spend all my time processing, stacking, loading and hauling wood. There are several loggers I know that do sell log loads of wood for fire wood, I have bought several loads myself, for my own use, not for resell. I know others buy log loads too. Those folks that want to heat with wood, but are getting to old to process those logs, ( I just about fit that same group), thats who my target customer base would be. No I wont get rich, or even make a lot of money by limiting my customer base, but I dont intend to work my arse off every day trying to build/run a large firewood business. I spent the last 40 years trying to make a living, If I only want to make money, the job I have now pays me $28 hr, I would just keep the job I have.
 
cantoo

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Valleywood, there are quite a few ads on Kijiji for mobile processing. The guys who buy the smaller "processors" like the Wallenstein ones figure they can make a few bucks and put it towards the machine. I really doubt that there is much of a demand though. My nephew is building a processor and intends to do this, I explained that no one will be able to pay the rate that he is going to need to even break even let alone make money. A guy 20 miles from me bought a Bell's Machining Processor to do his own wood and wood that he sells at the end of his driveway. He also offers mobile processing but I have no idea of rates.
 
muddstopper

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I think it would be hard to sell your services to another firewood producer, especially if they get their wood from a tree service. Most processors are pretty limited to the size wood they can process and tree service wood is usually cut to lengths that can be thrown on a truck or trailer, which would also be hard for a processor to work with. Even firewood sellers that buy log lengths of wood, might not like the ideal of sharing their profits with someone else. Only real market I see would be individuals that like the ideal of buying logs for firewood, but hates the ideal of doing all that bucking and splitting. Someone like me!!. I think once a person gets established, they will find enough people willing to pay for a processor to come and split their wood. I talked to a guy that runs a tire store about it. He has had a large pile of logs laying on his lot for about two years now. When he first got the wood it was, oh me and my buddies plan on bucking and splitting the wood and each taking part of it for their own use. That was two years ago and the wood is still laying there. If my processor was built, I coould probably process that wood. Other places I see a pile of firewood logs thats been laying for a long while, they will split a little every now and then, but it takes them a couple of seasons before its all split. again, another possibility to sell a splitting service, if one was available. I think once folks know someone can come out to their homes and process their wood, business might pick up enough to pay for a processor, but I wouldnt want to borrow a lot of money and have to make payments until a business took off. I sure wouldnt want to depend on processing wood to make a living unless I was selling wood.
 
Guswhit

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It's amazing the people that have asked me the last couple of years to come over and split their wood for them. I have passed on all but 1 old guy that I have been doing for years. Most people can't comprehend that you need a certain amount of money to do a service like this. It seems they think your time/machine run for pennies/hour so I just don't go there.
 
muddstopper

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Been reading a few threads on splitting prices, It seems most folks will hire themselfs and their splitter out for around $50 hr. Some folks as low as $20 and some as high as $100 and some just aint going to do it at all. Most of those folks claim about a cord per hr, if true than thats about $50 a cord for splitting. And I assume the wood is already bucked, if not then they are getting $50prhr bucking and $50 prhr splitting. In converstaion with another member here on AS, he states he paid $70 hr for someone to bring their processor 2 hr drive to his site. the guy averaged about 3 or so cords hr, but that was with the customer supplying skid steers to keep the processor loaded. At any rate, that would be about $23 per cord to buck and split 3 cords of wood. That isnt paying anything to the customer for the use of his labor and personal equipment. Easy enough for me to see that I wouldnt tow my processor 2 hrs to process only 3 or 4 cords of wood. Member had 12 cord processed and if he wants to chime in, he can tell you what it cost him, but I think it was a reasonable price considering the drive time and amount of wood processed.

Now lets say you are in the firewood selling business and you have access to plenty of log length firewood. Just for example lets say you sell 12 cords a year average. Small time by many standards, but in line with what a lot of part time operators do. Guy comes and processes all your seasons worth of wood for $23x 12 cord=$276. Folks that amount of money wont even make a good down payment on a factory processor. Also it would take several years at that rate to even pay for owning a processor. Even if you averaged 1 cord splitting per hour for 12 hrs worth, if they figure their labor and machine rate at the Low end of $20 splitting for hire, it would cost them $240. Would you split all that wood yourself just to save $36. And if you figure your own splitting rates to be closer to the $50hr rate, it would be a lot cheaper for you to hire the wood split than do it yourself. Not to mention the time you loss that you could have been selling and delivering firewood. I think hiring someone with a processor to come out and split a selling season worth of firewood might make more sense that buying a processor and doing it yourself. Of course different size operations present different operating cost. But whether 12 cords or 100 cords a year, hiring someone to process your wood sure should be worth considering.

Lets take it one step farther. Last log truck load I bought cost me $400. I got about 8 cords so I paid $50 cord for unprocessed wood. ( to be fair, I think the logger has raised his prices to about $450 load now) I hire someone to process that wood at $70 hr and average $23cord processing fees, (numbers taken from about example). I would have $63 cord in my firewood, and I havent even had to touch it. I can sell that wood delivered for $200 cord, all I need is a truck, a little gas and my labor. Thats trippling my money with a little left over for operating cost. Being able to hire someone to process my product looks a little more profitable than scrounging wood and hauling it to my wood lot and then firing up the chainsaws to buck everything and then still having to split, load and deliver it before selling it.

Prices vary around the country, you might have to pay more than these numbers and you might be able to sell your processed wood at higher numbers also. The numbers I used are made up numbers just for these examples, but I think they do reflect a probable scenario that might fit certain areas around this country. I only posted this to support my position that processing for hire can be in demand if the situation is carefully considered and marketed properly. all you have to do is convince a firewood producer that he can make more money by hiring you to process his firewood rather than doing all the work himself.
 
muddstopper

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Had the MUA yesterday. I hate those nerve blockers. 6 am now and I still cant feel the floor under my foot. Not sure what the Doc did while I was under. Ankle blue and foot swelled. I might of done it myself trying to walk. Warning, dont try walking with a numb leg, you will bust your butt. PT yesterday, again today. and everyday for next three weeks. Therapist has already warned me that therapy is going to hurt. He suggested I take my pain meds before therapy. Think I will take him up on that. I hate those pain killers, makes me want to sleep all the time, among other things I wont mention.
 
KiwiBro

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Good thinking Mr Mudd.
Was doing such numbers a wee while ago here and it was better to hire a processor and operator in than have the $ tied up in such a processor. Which then begged the question - why do they bother hiring themselves out when they can make more $ buying logs and processing their own timber and selling the firewood. When asking that question directly of such a processing service, the answer was the last thing they want to be messing with is selling firewood nor did they have the room for the sorts of volumes needed to make it really pay.
Unfortunately the processor I was looking to hire in wasn't really a processor, rather just a very big, fast splitter. It still needed logs blocked and blocks feed to the splitter, but it would have kept me busy just clearing the 1m3 bags the outfeed conveyor would be filling, and keeping the operator fed with rounds to split.
It is something I will be trialing near the end of the Summer down here - will get a few days worth of rounds ready then get them in and see how the numbers compare in the real world.
 
ChoppyChoppy

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I wouldn't think of moving my equipment for less than $150/hr, starting from when I start tearing it all down/loading it up until it's back operating at the shop.

Log truck load from me is $1400. 9 cords. Same wood processed and delivered would be $2,475.

It'd take me easily 15-20 hrs to tear down my processor, haul it across town, set it up, haul a skid steer there and get 9 cords processed.... ie even if they got logs for free it'd cost more.

Better off to sell me the logs at $500, let me haul and process it and buy it back, for about $2k out of pocket.

As far as costs... well cost of living is much higher here and without some form of heat, your gonna be in a world of hurt come mid November when it's -25* or colder. Winter here is about 7 months.
 
cantoo

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That's the issue right there Valley. It would take 150 hour to make it worthwhile. At any less it just means it takes a little longer for you to go broke. You can work your azz off running the processor for 5 years and end up with a worn out machine and weekend money in your pocket.
 
ChoppyChoppy

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And the other thing is having iron not on the property is a whole 'nother ball of string as far as insurance. I know I wouldn't feel too comfortable hauling $100k+ of iron out to Billy Joe Bob's backyard to take care of a few cords of wood! He might be just fine, but something like a processor certainly attracts attention, not many people have seen them. Next thing you know it's stolen and then how are you putting food on the table?

The small $10-15k processors are slightly better than cutting with a saw and splitting by hand. Fine for a homejobber doing maybe 10-20 cords a year, but they would never hold up to commercial use... several hundred cords a year, year after year after year.
 
Guswhit

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As far as costs... well cost of living is much higher here and without some form of heat, your gonna be in a world of hurt come mid November when it's -25* or colder. Winter here is about 7 months.

Only 7 month's of winter?
I thought you guy's had 11 months of really good ice fishing and 1 month kind of marginal? LOL
 
ChoppyChoppy

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Only 7 month's of winter?
I thought you guy's had 11 months of really good ice fishing and 1 month kind of marginal? LOL

Haha. Roughly speaking Winter is mid October to April. Spring May to mid June. Summer mid June to mid August. Fall mid August to mid October.
 
sam-tip

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The guy I hired was setup in 5 minutes. Put the two jacks down and unhooked the truck. Didn't unhook the elevator. Then I started loading the logs I have been saving for two year. No log trucks around here. Just lots of tree service wood. Did 12 cord in 4 hours 15 min. Wanted $340 and gave him $400. Fed him lunch and then he was headed home. With the nice trimmed logs he was running I worked him hard. I assume not everyone has perfect logs to run and the hourly rate adds up. It was his third job of the week. Said he stays busy till mid January.
 
muddstopper

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Lot of good points brought up. Processing for hire on someone elses lots isnt just as simple as pulling up to the site and cranking up the machine. If the customer has support equipment to use, how do you feel about running someone elses equipment. Who's going to be responsible if it breaks down. If the customer is going to be running his own loaders, how good a operator is he, is he going to take care not to damage your processor, or worse, drop a log on you. Lots of things to consider when you pull up on a site. If there isnt any thing to load the logs with and you have to bring you own loader, thats twice as many trips going and coming.

My plans do call for a knuckle boom loader mounted on the processor, so assuming I can pull up beside the load of logs, I should be able to be a one man band, load and process, without needing any extra support equipment. I dont see setup time being a big deal, I might get fooled, but with a loader on the machine, you already have outriggers to stabilize the machine and shouldnt even have to unhook it from the truck. At any rate, I still think unless the work was very close, you wouldnt be able to make any serious money going 100 miles to process a single truck load of logs. Of course the more wood there is to process, the less the cost per cord would be simply because you could split the cost of travel with the number of cords processed. A $200 travel charge split with just 4 cords would be $50 before the first stick was split, but if you had 20 cords to process, the cost per cord would drop to just $10crd travel pay. While my plans are not to really go looking for hiring out my machine,, but probably wont turn down anything I feel reasonable if it falls in my lap, I think this discussion is certainly worth talking about. A lot of different perspectives and points of view and I wouldnt really know how it would work out until I actually try it.
 
ChoppyChoppy

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The guy I hired was setup in 5 minutes. Put the two jacks down and unhooked the truck. Didn't unhook the elevator. Then I started loading the logs I have been saving for two year. No log trucks around here. Just lots of tree service wood. Did 12 cord in 4 hours 15 min. Wanted $340 and gave him $400. Fed him lunch and then he was headed home. With the nice trimmed logs he was running I worked him hard. I assume not everyone has perfect logs to run and the hourly rate adds up. It was his third job of the week. Said he stays busy till mid January.

Need to get the processor fairly level, that might mean putting blocks under the tires and legs. Setup sawdust collector, etc. It's not a huge deal but still 20-30 mins.

Not to mention hauling it with the seperate conveyor (not the 15ft bolt on one) requires an oversize permit and in some states a pilot car. The conveyor tows like **** since it has no suspension... bounces around a ton and wags all over. 45mph max type thing.

Short logs are a PITA. 25-30ft logs is what I use (tree length cut in 1/2).

Best I've done is 45 mins to a cord. Not sure how he got it to 20 mins a cord, it's pretty much not possible. Cycle time is about 12-15 seconds (cut & split). So if he was able to feed, cut and split without once stopping (no fussing to feed a log, position a piece, resplit, etc) and work like a robot, it'd still be around 5hrs of processing.

None the less, there's no way I'd haul 50+k of equipment to a property for ~$80/hr. For ~5hrs I would have charged around $750.
 
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