Cover story: Hyundai FX3230G-2 forestry excavator

By: Cameron Officer, Photography by: Cameron Officer and supplied

KSB Logging recently expanded its Hyundai excavator fleet to include a new purpose-built Hyundai FX3230G-2 forestry excavator

Waterworks is living up to its reputation today. It’s the colloquial name for Hineroa Forest, approximately 50km south of Gisborne on the East Coast.

The rain sweeps in across the ridgeline in great sheets. It seems benign initially, but it’s truly soaking rain. Hyundai FX3230G-2 operator Witahata Tupaea kindly proffers a heavy-duty rain jacket from the cab of his machine, asking if I want to wear it while taking photos. I decline with an optimistic "Nah, she’ll be right mate." I regret it within minutes.

Photographed on a much clearer day than when Deals On Wheels paid a visit to site, KSB Logging’s new Hyundai FX3230G-2 has been on the East Coast for two months

"There’s a reason this place is known as Waterworks — up in these hills is where the town supply for Gisborne is collected from," explains Kayle Beckett of KSB Logging Limited, who, with his seven-man crew, has been harvesting these steep ridges for the past two years.

"You can see why, as it’s always pretty wet up here. We get a lot of rain and a lot of mist. In winter it can snow and sleet up here, too. It makes for pretty challenging conditions for the guys and the machines. Quite often you’ll get back down to the highway and it’s a nice day, but up here there’s a bit of a microclimate."

I get a lift up to the skid with Kayleand some of his crew. The terrain is immediately precipitous, although the roads are in good nick despite the elements. Kayle confirms that they get pretty rough pretty quickly in winter, but with plenty of truck movements in and
out over the course of a typical day, that’s no surprise. And given the steep terrain, I’m also not surprised to learn Kayle is working with a tethered machine now that they are pushing further into the forest.

"We’ve possibly got another year or so here," he explains. "It can get pretty steep in places, so the tether is essential."

This Hyundai HX300L is running a Falcon Winch Assist system manufactured by Nelson region-based DC Equipment

Underneath the blue paint is a Hyundai HX300L running a Falcon Winch Assist system manufactured by Nelson region-based DC Equipment. It’s a good combination: the solidity and grunt of Hyundai’s popular 30-tonner paired with the Falcon Winch Assist, which is designed and built for Kiwi conditions and is the result of thousands of operational hours of testing on a variety of slopes and different soil conditions. Kayle gets further peace of mind from the fact that DC Equipment’s build uses the largest rope size of any winch assist machine currently on the market.

The Hyundai HX300L looks bedded in where it currently is, but Kayle says the Falcon system has minimal impact on the original specs of the base excavator.

It might be blue (a trademark colour DC Equipment applies to all tethered machines they build for clients up and down the country), but the Hyundai HX300L is just one of several heavy-duty Hyundai machines on-site at Waterworks.

Back at the skid, Kayle’s team is working alongside Ray Flavell, who has been a Porter Equipment customer for around 30 years and has owned plenty of Hyundai gear over that time. I last caught up with Ray’s crew further up the coast in the Huinui Forest near Tolaga Bay in 2019. The two stars of the show for Flavell Logging here at Waterworks weren’t around last time I saw anything liveried with the company name: a big Hyundai HX400L kitted out with a Woodsman Pro processing head, and a Madill 124 swing yarder, which was on the water on its way to New Zealand when we last featured the company.

The first of its kind to be delivered to a Kiwi operator when it arrived, the Madill 124 features an innovative touchscreen-based operating system.

KSB Logging is working alongside Flavell Logging at the Hineroa Forest site

Working alongside these machines is KSB Logging’s own recent arrival: the Hyundai FX3230G-2 forestry excavator. Purpose-built by Hyundai for the forestry industry, this is the first ‘series 2’ machine in the country and has been on-site for just a couple of months.

"Having come from working with Ray, I’ve been in and out of Hyundai gear for ages, so it was an easy decision to make to go with those machines," says Kayle. "The Porter Equipment guys are easy to deal with, and we know them all really well. And they are sharp with their finance rates, so that works for me. I don’t have time to go back and forth on it, and I know the gear does the job. So yeah, it made sense to invest in the Hyundais."

Exactly like the tethered machine, Hyundai builds out the Hyundai FX3230G-2 log loader from an HX300L base. This means it gets all the creature comforts in the cab of a conventional HX series machine (including more space, a seven-inch colour LCD display screen, self-diagnostics system, easily adjustable seat, console, and armrest settings, automatic high-capacity air conditioning system, and a USB-connectable stereo with hands-free phone functionality) but is also added to with extra guarding to suit the rigours of the industry.

Flavell Logging’s Madill 124 swing yarder hard at work behind the Hyundai FX3230G-2

Thoroughly fit-for-purpose, the Hyundai FX3230G-2 arrives with fuel and hydraulic oil inlets fully guarded for extra longevity, heavy-duty rear and boom guards, full protection rail, two-piece extra strength underbody protection and maintenance covers, as well as LED boom lights for better visibility (a must up here at Waterworks).

"The camera system is really good," says Kayle. "There’s always plenty of activity around the skid, so having eyes on every corner of the machine is a good thing. The way the Hyundais are improving from generation to generation of machines is obvious. They’ve stepped everything up in these new HX and FX models."

I’m happy to leave Kayle and his hard-working crew to their day. They’ve got plenty on and in the short space of time I’m at the skid — and with the gloom of the morning barely revealing the surrounding hills — the logging trucks are already beginning to roll in looking for their loads.

The sure-footed, reliable, and rugged Hyundai excavator equipment KSB Logging and Flavell Logging are using are impervious to the harsh conditions up here, unlike machinery writers who somehow forget to pack their wet weather gear.  

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