Pickup Logging

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The Pickup Loggers in Southwest Oregon have a different way of logging. Instead of using expensive to buy and operate heavy equipment, they use the same equipment they commute with, their pickups. Here is how Mike, the owner of Pickup Logging tells the story.

Sometimes if you have a small job it can be cost prohibitive to truck in logging equipment. If there is a small amount of bug kill or a small thinning project, there is often times not enough volume to cover the cost, let alone make a profit. In these cases, timber often goes to waste. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Most loggers don’t realize how much a full size four wheel drive pickup truck can pull. In cases where we only have a load of logs or even several loads, a pickup makes a fine make-do log skidder. They can’t pull as much as traditional logging equipment, but they are low cost to transport, operate and repair. Plus they are comfortable to sit in, quiet, and have comforts like air conditioning and heating.

As long as your roads and skid trails are already in place, a pickup, some cables, blocks and chokers may be all you need for log skidding. With self loading log trucks available, this may be all the equipment you need for some jobs.

On flat land or even on a slight uphill grade, I can usually skid a little over 200 board feet per turn with softwood logs. That is long logs with westside scale (diameter measured only at the small end). On downgrades I can pull more. Pickup logging is also convenient when cutting the tops into firewood, since it is convenient to throw the pieces in the bed while choking the logs. The weight in the back also helps for getting better traction.

We have used Ford F Series trucks, both F-150s and F-250’s for skidding and they have both held up well. But we don’t drive them like we are in the 4×4 pulls. If something hangs up, instead of stepping on the gas and spinning the tires hard, we stop and fix the problem, then try pulling again. If it is just too heavy, it’s time to get creative with things like a block and double line. This takes some patience but it keeps the trucks from breaking. I would rather get out and re-choke a log than replace a u joint, rear end, or transmission.

The 1976 F-150 in the pictures has an automatic transmission which is good for skidding. This is nice because I can regulate the power. If a log isn’t coming, I can push the power to a certain point and then back off instead of breaking something.

Keeping the transfer case in low range is a must for the extra torque. In cases where a log is too heavy to pull, sometimes we will hitch two trucks together and pull. In this case we have to be careful on tight corners since the truck in the rear can be pulled sideways and over the edge or into trees.

It’s slower going skidding with a pickup, but with lower operating costs we don’t need to produce as much volume. And as far as low impact logging goes, it’s hard to get more low impact than this.

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