There’s log splitters, and then there’s log splitters, as the Celt discovered at the recent Cavan Farm Machinery Show.
Arranged around Ultan Carroll Engineering’s display at the top ring of Cavan Equestrian Centre were about a dozen devices.
“These splitters would be seen as big splitters - that’s 16 tonne of force, and that would be more than sufficient for 90% of people’s work,” James Carroll explains as he walks the Celt over to his pride and joy, which dominates a whole corner of their display. “This one’s 120 tonne of force. It’s absolutely massive.”
It certainly is.
A person in the timber trade commissioned Ultan Carroll Engineering to build the splitter with the simple request: “I want a big ram that crushes timber.”
The customer won’t be disappointed.
“The machinery that’s on the market is designed to deal with logs that’s around 12 inches - maybe 20 inches at most. But then for the big awkward trees that’s out there, there’s no machines to deal with them unless you cut them up with a chainsaw and then split them.”
James made the splitter at night time “on and off over nine months”. Having invested so much of himself in the project, James was eager for the device to be as good as possible, and came up with the idea of making it remote control.
“When it’s a one-off and it’s your own baby, you may as well do it right,” James says. “As it progressed and got better and more complex, we thought: wouldn’t it be a great idea that you wouldn’t have to get out of your machine to work it?
“It all operates by remote control so the guy who owns it doesn’t have to get out of his Bobcat. He drives over, pushes his log onto that,” James says pointing to a sturdy platform. “Pushes a button like you’d turn on your telly. It lifts the platform up, puts the log in position. Then you push another button which pushes your hydraulic cylinder through.”
James acknowledges that the custom made splitter is “very, very expensive”, estimating the cost at around €14-15,000 as compared to the typical €950 splitter.
He says it’s only suitable for “anyone who’s into forestry in a big-big way”. Yet he points out that it could be rented out when required and ultimately it will pay for itself.
He observes that there isn’t a huge market in Ireland for such heavy duty splitters, and comments: “Thankfully we don’t have to rely on selling it to recuperate the price of it.”
“These sell all the time,” he says of the conventional splitters which can be built in their Bailieborough factory in a single day. “There isn’t anyone in the Irish market making that machine for the one person in Ireland who wants it.”
So what’s it like in action?
“We haven’t tried it out yet,” James admits, but adds with confidence: “I know it’s got so much brute force – 120 tonnes is hard stopped in any application, without worrying will the splitting chisel stand up to that type of force. So it would have to be a horrible, horrible piece of timber that wouldn’t go through it.”
Keep an eye on Ultan Carroll Engineering’s Facebook page for a video of the splitter in action.