The 13-tonne Bomag BW213D roller is an efficient machine with a comfortably quiet cab.
Heading a few kilometres up the valley, Porter Equipment rep Chris Goodall couldn’t quite remember where he dropped the Bomag roller off a few weeks earlier…
We back-tracked a bit, only to find that if we’d driven on another few minutes the entranceway to the skid-site would have been plainly obvious. The narrow entrance off the main highway gave way to an even tighter roadway, which ran up the side of some of the steepest logging country I have seen in a long while.
Negotiating our way up the couple of kilometres of narrow, twisting gravel road, Goodall and I discussed the options for the driver of a runaway truck on this steep road, before settling on the idea that the driver would have to bury a rig into the side of a bank to avoid the ‘hundreds of feet’ fall to the bottom. It was also around this point that we discussed the necessity of keeping these roadways in top shape; obviously one of the reasons why Wilson Brothers Contracting has recently purchased a Bomag BW213D.
In days gone by I recall cutting in many kilometres of access roads, using nothing but an excavator. After the earthworks were completed, it would then morph into a grader, before a transformation into a roller to track-roll the gravel. These days’ things are a lot more scientific. I’m told that a specific standard needs to be followed when making forestry roads, no doubt partly due to the larger trucks and payloads that ply forestry blocks now. It’s plainly obvious to see that an incorrectly constructed road ultimately means slower truck trips, lost production due to increased maintenance requirements, and possibly even accidents if vehicles happen to get loose on a nasty piece of road.
Arriving near the summit, we met operator Aubrey Tumoana. He was in the process of finishing off the roading into a new area, where the skyline hauler will shortly be repositioned to. Tumoana is relishing life in the forest. He’s an engaging character; someone who is confident enough to freely share his views on things; the ideal candidate to share some thoughts on the BW213D roller too.
Occasionally when I ask operators about their machinery, they’ll tilt their head sideways and squint at me as if I’m trying to catch them out with some sort of trick question. No such instance of that this time: Tumoana spoke enthusiastically about the Bomag.
His response to my question about how he finds the machine? “Awesome”. Elaborating on that, the cab’s sound-deadening got the big thumbs-up from him, as it “just cuts the sound out”, even when the roller is operating at full power. Another thing he liked was the gear ratios, which gave a good range of speeds. With the selection available he is able to move around the site road network quickly when needed. This is quite important when trucks are waiting to get a damaged piece of road repaired, especially on one such as this with difficult access.
“The right speeds help when I have to get somewhere in a hurry – when logging trucks are waiting,” says Tumoana. Checking over the specs later, I see that the machine has a top speed of 14km/h, so is obviously no snail when it needs to be.
Climbing into the cab, the first thing I notice is that visibility is very good. With no pillars to create blind spots, the view to the rear is near ideal. Likewise out front, the screen wraps around to provide as much vision as possible without compromising roll-over safety. Overhead, the console has toggle switches for various functions, such as wipers and lights, as well as good sounds from a Blaupunkt AM/FM radio/CD player (made all the better to use, I’m guessing, with the low machine noise levels that Tumoana speaks of). A single stick controls movement of the machine and sits atop a mini panel that primarily controls drum functions. The panel also contains the nicely positioned emergency stop button.
UNDER THE HOOD
Access to the plant that powers the 13-tonne beast is straightforward, and the fibreglass bonnet easily swings up high out of the way. This model runs a four-cylinder, water-cooled Deutz engine, and outputs 119kW (160hp) @ 2200rpm. A retractable reel (similar to an inertia seat belt) is an ingenious way to easily close the bonnet after maintenance duties. All drum bearings are sealed too, so grease guns can be put away.
Although the machine is being used as a smooth drum roller, bolt-on pads are available so the machine can be put on to sheepsfoot duties – something Tumoana wished he had a few weeks back. I’m told that it takes a couple of hours to fit the pads, which seems like a small price to pay for the adaptability the machine is capable of.
Judging by the quality of the work that the Bomag is producing, it’s no wonder that Wilson Brothers are putting serious thought into a second unit.
Enthusiastic operator Aubrey Tumoana says that all the crew want to have a play with the machine. I’d conclude that if everyone wants to drive a machine, then the right machine has been purchased.