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A friend of mine has a friend of his that is always borrowing his tractor. Long story short, the friend was trying to dislodge a pretty large gum that was over his fence and caught in another tree.

He's not sure exactly what happened, but somehow the tree came back over onto him and the tractor. Hit him in the head so hard before the ROPS caught it that it bent the seat frame down. Hit the rops so hard that it bent it and broke one of the mounting bolts.

He was knocked out and off the tractor. Lost a lot of blood before his wife happened to find him. I think his blood pressure was something like 60/40 when the paramedics arrived. spent a few days in the hospital with a bad concussion and hematomas in his neck. This was a few weeks ago and he still has no memory of the incident.

He's a lucky guy and even luckier that he is pretty short. If he were taller he would have been a lot more involved in the impact before the ROPS saved him.

Got to have a lot of respect when working around trees like that. They can be very unpredictable.

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Good reminder...thanks for posting this story.
I almost lost a close freind 1.5 years ago due to a tree accident, it gave me much more respect for them.
 

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No Joke

They call hung trees "Widow makers" for a reason. I absolutely hate dealing with them unless I have enough cable to be far, far away. I would guess the but end dug in and the tree flipped but that's just a WAG based on seeing it in other circumstances.

The other thing that gets too many people is pushing on a tree with a loader and having the top break out and come crashing down on the machine. That's especially dangerous with dead trees but a limb can come off any tree. 500 lbs or more falling from 50 feet up has an incredible amount of energy, more than enough to destroy an ordinary ROPS on a CUT.

The friend was lucky to be alive. Sounds like the tractor may have major issues. If the ROPS was bent up that bad, a lot of force went down onto the rear end. That will need to be checked very carefully for hairline cracks or other damage before a new ROPS is installed.

Treefarmer
 

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I've had some experience with hung trees. Especially when cleaning-up storm damage due to a hurricane in the mid-80's and more recently Tropical Storm Sandy.

There's so much weight up high that it's impossible to anticipate which way the tree will fall once it's free. It's usually nearly impossible to get a lead high enough on the tree. You need to pull it with enough leverage to move where you want it to go. Can't do that very well with the lead low on the tree.

I have had luck cutting across the stump at an extreme downward angle which allows the tree to drop and ultimately free itself. Each situation is different. If in doubt carefully assess the situation and make sure you have assistance just in case something goes wrong.

Right now I have a huge blow-over that I haven't figured out. It's not going anywhere soon. Too large and heavy to pull using the tractor. Extreme angle which makes cutting it in place very difficult. I may just try dropping the surrounding trees first. We'll see. It's on the back burner for now.

Go slow. Be safe.
 

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Good advice

I've had some experience with hung trees. Especially when cleaning-up storm damage due to a hurricane in the mid-80's and more recently Tropical Storm Sandy.

There's so much weight up high that it's impossible to anticipate which way the tree will fall once it's free. It's usually nearly impossible to get a lead high enough on the tree. You need to pull it with enough leverage to move where you want it to go. Can't do that very well with the lead low on the tree.

I have had luck cutting across the stump at an extreme downward angle which allows the tree to drop and ultimately free itself. Each situation is different. If in doubt carefully assess the situation and make sure you have assistance just in case something goes wrong.

Right now I have a huge blow-over that I haven't figured out. It's not going anywhere soon. Too large and heavy to pull using the tractor. Extreme angle which makes cutting it in place very difficult. I may just try dropping the surrounding trees first. We'll see. It's on the back burner for now.

Go slow. Be safe.
Good advice for sure. One helpful thing is to use a pole saw to take off as much weight as you can from a safe distance. Sometimes that can be quite a bit, sometimes none depending on how the tree is hung. Cutting at an angle is helpful as to some extent you can influence which way the tree bole moves if it slides. Wedges are helpful with that as well. If you have enough tractor, or winch you can cut a tree with a hinge and use a cable to start the bend. Unfortunately, there isn't a way to really deal with a downed/hung tree completely safely short of having a crane pick it up. I've looked at a tree for a very, very long time before starting a cut and while I thought I knew what was going to happen I also had escape routes planned and cleared. Unless I absolutely have to deal with one right now, I'll leave it for some time to see if it will come down on it's own. The other issue is when a tree hangs, it usually breaks some limbs so you have that danger as well. I want those to come down before I'm under them.

I still hate dealing with hung trees. Sometimes there's no choice but I'll go stupid slow if necessary and bring as much equipment as I can to make it safer.

Treefarmer
 

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What a great reminder that the ROPS is just not for rollovers. We also forget that we do not need to be on hilly terrain for them to protect us. Loader work on flat ground can quickly get out of control also. Tractor use is very serious business and needs our attention at all times. Thank you for the post and I am really glad your friend is on the road to recovery.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
They call hung trees "Widow makers" for a reason. I absolutely hate dealing with them unless I have enough cable to be far, far away. I would guess the but end dug in and the tree flipped but that's just a WAG based on seeing it in other circumstances.

The other thing that gets too many people is pushing on a tree with a loader and having the top break out and come crashing down on the machine. That's especially dangerous with dead trees but a limb can come off any tree. 500 lbs or more falling from 50 feet up has an incredible amount of energy, more than enough to destroy an ordinary ROPS on a CUT.

The friend was lucky to be alive. Sounds like the tractor may have major issues. If the ROPS was bent up that bad, a lot of force went down onto the rear end. That will need to be checked very carefully for hairline cracks or other damage before a new ROPS is installed.

Treefarmer
The tractor has a fluid leak coming from somewhere around the rear end now. Didn't think about checking the frame and such for damage, good idea.

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This is an interesting case where the ROPS provided some protection in an unanticipated way. I always get an anxious feeling when I see pictures or read threads where the tractor is being used with the ROPS down. All safety features exist because at least one gruesome accident occurred at some point. There's nothing worse than re-learning the need for a safety feature the hard way.
 

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Thanks for the post and glad to hear your friend is on the mend.

Hung trees are no fun. Over the years have cut trees and have had my share of hung trees. When I was cutting didn't have the use of a tractor. Truck would be setting far enough away and never had enough chains to really help me .:banghead: So I was always trying to find ways or to keep them from being hung.
Widow makers are always the scariest for me. Would always look above and around the area to see what branches that could or may fall where I was at or near to me. Same as Treefarmer was saying look at a tree see what way you want it to fall but make sure you have a escape route incase it falls the wrong way.

Yes ROPS probably saved your friends life.
 

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Roll cage

This is an interesting case where the ROPS provided some protection in an unanticipated way. I always get an anxious feeling when I see pictures or read threads where the tractor is being used with the ROPS down. All safety features exist because at least one gruesome accident occurred at some point. There's nothing worse than re-learning the need for a safety feature the hard way.
There's a reason that pretty much everything used in forestry has a roll cage and a solid top. Even then, it's not always enough. There is just so much weight in trees that it's tough to give an operator enough protection. In addition, the equipment is frequently operating on less than optimum ground. It's either very steep, very muddy or they are running over logs and stumps. Most of the timber harvester operators figure it's not IF they are going to flip the harvester, it's WHEN! They pretty much know that when it happens, that seat belt needs to be on.

Treefarmer
 

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We have several widow makers along our west line. We have just gotten used to looking at them. They will come completely down when they are good and ready. It's not worth the risk IMHO.

Glad your friend is getting better, thanks for the post
 

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About 5 years ago a friend had a lot of trees go "almost" down in a wind storm. He rented a large excavator for a week at a cost of $5000 to knock them all down. Money well spent compared to hiring it done. The $5000 included the fuel he used and the one window he broke and had to pay for :laugh:
 

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This thread is a great reminder for all :thumbup1gif:


We have several widow makers along our west line. We have just gotten used to looking at them. They will come completely down when they are good and ready. It's not worth the risk IMHO.

Glad your friend is getting better, thanks for the post
I try not to leave hanging trees up for too long. I am often in my woods and we have neighbor kids that sometimes play in their woods too. I would always look at my hangers and find a time when I can carefully take it down. Hangers can come down unexpectedly, not necessarily on windy days, and I wouldn't want them to hurt myself or my neighbors.

It really depends on the actual situation. Same thoughts go to dead trees in my woods too.
Just wanted to add my 2 cents.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Just went over and looked at it and we removed the rops. The oil leak is coming from inside one of the bolt holes on the bottom bracket where it mounts to the rear axle housing. Doesn't make any sense to me unless the bolt moved enough to crack the housing internally. I don't get it...

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Ouch

Just went over and looked at it and we removed the rops. The oil leak is coming from inside one of the bolt holes on the bottom bracket where it mounts to the rear axle housing. Doesn't make any sense to me unless the bolt moved enough to crack the housing internally. I don't get it...

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Unfortunately, I wouldn't rule out some serious damage. I guess it's a crapshoot, reinsert the bolt and hope for the best or do a partial teardown and really inspect things. I'm guessing some of the real mechanics on here can give you some advice but it would probably worry me.

Treefarmer
 

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This is an interesting case where the ROPS provided some protection in an unanticipated way. I always get an anxious feeling when I see pictures or read threads where the tractor is being used with the ROPS down. All safety features exist because at least one gruesome accident occurred at some point. There's nothing worse than re-learning the need for a safety feature the hard way.
You have to manage your risk. Having all the safety equipment in the world can still result in you being dead if you make a mistake or try to do something you shouldn't.

Sounds like something unanticipated happened in this accident. I have had small hung trees try and jump back at me but never a big one. Like a previous poster said, I go very slow with big trees, it's about respect. You just do not know what the darn thing is going to do. You have to remember situations like that are a physics problem, there is a lot of stored energy in a tree that has not completed its fall. Figuring out how to release it a controlled manner is the challenge. Sad story but a good lesson to share.
 

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One of my most important rules of cutting wood is to never do it alone. Not only is it safer, but extra hands make lighter work.

As far as widow makers, I have found that the easiest way to deal with them is to carefully cut down the tree they are hung up on. If the area around the base of the hung tree is clear and it has a good lean to it, sometimes I try to re-cut the trunk. Whenever reasonable, I also use an axe to clear a hang up rather than a chainsaw; its lighter (and cheaper) if I have to make a break for it, and it is harder to get pinched in a cut.
I've heard/seen too many people get into trouble trying to pull down hung trees with chains and machinery.
 

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Deal with a lot of widow makers here. Take my time and figure out the best way to get them down. Usually get far enough away to pull the base out so they fall. Of coarse never work alone! Lucky enough around here that we never work alone and have enough equipment to deal with them.
Had a buddy get save by Rops when he was trying to push over a dead tree and the top broke off and come down on him,which is another danger to look out for.

Be carful out there.
 

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Broken top

Deal with a lot of widow makers here. Take my time and figure out the best way to get them down. Usually get far enough away to pull the base out so they fall. Of coarse never work alone! Lucky enough around here that we never work alone and have enough equipment to deal with them.
Had a buddy get save by Rops when he was trying to push over a dead tree and the top broke off and come down on him,which is another danger to look out for.

Be careful out there.
Tops breaking is always a concern of mine when dealing with any dead tree. Even a limb can be a huge danger if a tree is rocking at all. I've seen loggers put a skidder blade over them when cutting just hoping it would deflect any thing falling. I guess the safest bet with dead trees is to use a lift or bucket truck and cut from the top down but most of us don't have that option.

I'd really like to have a winch for the back of the tractor. Not only would it be a stronger and more controlled pull, it would also have enough cable to get even further away. I've seen limbs thrown a long way out of the tops of trees so distance is a good thing.

Treefarmer
 
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