Harken Industrial moves heavy loads of wood from challenging terrains

Market:Back Wood case study tile image 250 px



Brevard, North Carolina, United States


Furniture maker, Aaron Bailey


An age-old question: If a tree falls, and there is no one around to hear it, does it make a noise?

Recently, I learned the answer is more than a simple, ‘yes’.  If you were to get to know Brevard, North Carolina-based furniture maker, Aaron Bailey, you would begin to understand that certain trees command attention when their time comes to an end.

Recently, Aaron was contacted about removing an exemplary black walnut tree from very challenging terrain. The tree was located one-third of a mile from road access, with a vertical gain in elevation of nearly 183 m (600′) through a storm-damaged valley, covered with flowing springs and downed trees.

Aaron, a rigger and certified rope-access technician, took the challenge head-on, knowing the right rigging tools would do the job. Heavy machinery was not an option because of the water flow and environmental damage it would cause. A team of horses was considered, but safety in such steep terrain was a concern.

I joined Aaron on the adventure. The goal was to have two men, using rope-rigging techniques, move multiple sections of .91 m (36″)-diameter logs to road access, where they could be reached with a crane truck and hauled to the mill. Each log averaged 3 m (10′) in length, for an estimated weight of 1134-1361 kg (2500-3000 lb) each.



Our method was to use the Harken PowerSeat as a fixed-point hauling system and adding mechanical advantage to the system with a variety of Harken pulleys. We used a Black Magic® 125 mm Air® block, with 1609 industrial Snatch blocks, and a 1540 Midrange block as the basis for our mechanical advantage system.

We tested a Sampson True Blue all-polyester 12-strand, single-braid rope. We anticipated some slippage on the winch drum with this type of rope, but were pleasantly surprised to find the winch had plenty of purchase once the rope compressed under tension.

We performed a series of ‘leap frogging’ maneuvers from tree-to-tree, anchor-to-anchor, changing the mechanical advantage along the way. We mainly used 2:1, 3:1, and 4:1 MA (mechanical advantage) systems with the PowerSeat on the haul line. The systems worked repeatedly and as desired, with a functional smoothness that had us eyeing the crags for other large valuable timber.

Image ©Sean Cogan 

Author: Sean Cogan

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