"One thing that is inevitable when you are grinding piles of wood and material brought in by someone [else] is you may hit something that isn't grindable," says Brandon. "Trying to continue grinding can tear the machine apart or drive the shock back into the engine and break a crankshaft or engine component that could be big dollars to repair."
To avoid catastrophic failure and the subsequent downtime, Morbark offers a break-away torque limiter that releases when it hits something too hard, instantly disengaging the engine and drivetrain from the mill. It also eliminates cold stalling by disengaging the clutch while allowing the engine to continue running.
Another feature that can reduce downtime is fluid, or hydraulic, clutches now found in many machines. "Fluid clutches make maintenance easier since there are no adjustments that need to be made," says Grover. "And contractors only need to change the oil and filter. They have been a good feature on our machines that make it easier to engage and disengage the clutch."
A la carte options
Contractors can further customize a grinder with options such as tracks, loaders and made-to-order cutting chambers with changeable screens, teeth, etc.
Tracks can increase maneuverability around certain jobsites, especially for horizontal grinders working in rough terrain, around mulch yards or landfills or in soft, muddy ground conditions.
"We can build tub grinders with tracks, but it's not a popular option because the machine itself is so tall and wide," says Brandon. "Tracks [on horizontal grinders] are a good option in areas where it's difficult to get support equipment in."
"We see more land clearing contractors with tub grinders and loaders," notes Rieckhoff. "If you size material appropriately, the tub grinder can handle all ranges of material from the stump or root ball to the canopy of the tree. These are a good option if you can build piles of debris. Then the grinder can load debris all day."
Cycle times can be virtually eliminated with the addition of a loader, which is a popular tub grinder option. "Several of our tub grinders are available with cab and knucklebooms or grapples, which also eliminate an extra piece of support equipment on the jobsite for loading," says Brandon.
The ability to change teeth and screens enables you to maximize grinder productivity and customize the end product. "By changing teeth and screens, you can make about any end product you want," says Grover.
Bandit offers eight different types of teeth for grinding everything from green waste and stumps to whole trees and even shingles. Screen sizes also vary from 3/4 to 7 in. in modified diamond and round patterns. Other manufacturers, such as Vermeer and Morbark, also offer a variety of teeth and screen sizes. "Whichever tooth and/or screen size you use, make sure they are in tune with each other," says Grover.
With all of the options available, it's advisable to work closely with the manufacturer to identify those that can make the grinder most productive for your given situation.
"There's a big learning curve and we want to make sure a contractor is looking at the right grinder," says Brandon. "The last thing we want to do is sell someone the wrong machine, then have problems down the road. We try hard to get everyone matched up with the right equipment."