Custer School Road is loaded with trees. Last week I wrote about a Maple with a split three feet down the center. While I was doing the job the neighbor stopped by and said he had some trees he needed down.
I’m just going to write about one of them. You know you’re a professional tree service when the last “company” that came to look at the job said it was too dangerous to fall. It was dangerous, $300 worth of dangerous to get it on the ground but doable. And about an hour of prayer and planning.
There were several factors making this an extremely dangerous tree to fall. The truck was 20 feet around. The height of this bad boy was over 80’. Tallest Maple I have ever seen. The trunk separated at 25 feet into two main spurs going up. Each spur was 40 inches in diameter. Like last week’s little Maple the tree was split and rotting out where the two spurs started. One of the spurs had grown straight out parallel to the ground. I had hired Precision Crane to do another part of the job. Jeff looked at the Maple and thought that the spur running level to the ground was pushing 20,000 pounds. The weight put massive pressure on the trunk of the tree.
On one side of the base of the tree it was dead and starting to rot. The spur that went straight up had the potential of schwaking, my word, a barn. Although the barn was about to collapse, I didn’t find out until the job was over that the owner didn’t care if the tree hit it. Don’t think it would have changed the process, but would have taken some stress off.
Here’s the problem. Because the two trees were going to separate once lose, control was a major concern. I cut a path through blackberries and other shrubs on both sides of the trees for the escape. Practiced running through each path to see if I tripped on anything. I have a couple hundred feet of one inch pull rope. Use it to create lean on the bigger trees. For this application I wrapped it around the tree eight times at somewhere around 12 feet. Jeff with Precision Crane said he thought that he could lift them together with that many binds. I didn’t want them coming apart. I was concerned that if they did the back part, basically there’s two trees that have grown together right from the ground, had the potential to go hard and fast in any direction. That’s not a good feeling when you’re felling trees. With the one inch rope keeping the trees together I was planning on a forward moving fall to the ground for both pieces.
There were many factors that could cause a loss of control of this Maple. If I made the face cut too deep, because of the force being exerted from the 20,000 pound branch, the front tree could go before I even made the back cut, leaving the back piece lose and unpredictable.
I decided to make the face cut shallow. The rule is about a third of the truck for the face cut. I went in about a foot. Deep enough to give the tree room to turn over on the hinge wood.
The tree was way bigger than the bar of my Husky 385. I used my smaller Husky 359 and cut 24 inches from the face cut back through the tree. This would keep both trees with plenty of meat to hold them up and allow for the length of the bar on the 385 to be completely through the tree. Always fill gas and bar oil before starting the drop and get both saws idling. Also keep two or three wedges handy.
Here we go. The first cut from front to back went as planned. Grabbed the bigger Husky 385 and started through the back. Once in the tree with the chain I moved back a few feet and look to see if I am at an acceptable level above the level part of the face cut. On a tree this size you can be five to ten inches above but anything above is good. I was above so I got back into position and started eating through the tree. I take small bites then get the bar back to square to target. At about half way through the tree it made a load crack. The side I was on was rotted out a little bit and I thought there was a possibility that the pressure of the back tree would could cause the whole tree to snap hard toward the side I was on. I repositioned back as far as I could and continued cutting. No hesitation at this point. Full throttle and going for it. Bam, the trees are loose. As the front one started falling the rope grabbed and held the back and front together. Both came smashing to the ground slamming off a bunch of branches from an Alder in the kill zone. I let out a big yippie ki yay I yaa and felt the adrenaline pumping.
Some trees really get you thinking about mortality. You kiss your family and look at’em a little closer on those mornings. I love doing tree work. See you up the next tree!