Wood-Mizer LT40 Super Hydraulic: First Impressions

It’s a beast, that’s my first impression!  Here comes the “why” from the engine to the board return; what contributes to making the LT40 Super Hydraulic the production machine that it is.  The point of comparison is a 2015 LT40 Hydraulic, without the “Super.”  Some of the improvements are due to technological improvements, others are “simply” upgrades to features that existed on the 2015 model.

Engine: LT40 Super Hydraulic

The engine is a Kohler G38 EFI Engine.  The 2015 model also had a Kohler, 35 hp and carbureted, versus the LT40 Super Hydraulic’s 38 hp and fuel injection.  I noticed a few differences immediately:

  • Of course I now have on tap about 10% more horse power
  • There is fuel injection wiring and gadgetry all over the engine
  • The red lamp on the front cover is new, and akin to the “check engine” light on your on-road vehicle’s dashboard; it flashes trouble codes which will be helpful

I’ve been uniformly impressed with Kohler’s small engines, and this one is no different in that regard.  The layout of the engine, alternator, oil filter, fuel supply, and exhaust are essentially identical to the 2015 model.  In operation I noticed some additional enhancements:

  • It starts easily, and there is no choke; I had trouble with the carbureted engine starting, and the choke was required for restart even when the engine was up to operating temperature
  • For whatever reason, it seems much quieter than the 35hp carbureted model
  • The engine is more responsive when the blade enters the front of the log, which is to say the engine does not lug noticeably at first, as was the case with the 2015 model

All-in-all, a solid upgrade due largely I think to the introduction of newer technology; fuel injection.

Hydraulics: LT40 Super Hydraulic

As the “LT40 Super Hydraulic” model name implies, the hydraulics should be “super,” and indeed they are.  While system peak pressures are unchanged at 2,200 psi, hydraulic fluid flow rates are doubled.  The doubling is accomplished by simply adding a duplicate hydraulic pump/motor combination and associated bits.  This was an improvement that was expected, and one of two improvements that I based my purchase decision on.  I’m satisfied with this improvement; it met my expectations.

Side Supports: LT40 Super Hydraulic

The log and subsequently the “cants” are clamped against the Side Supports.  There were two unexpected improvements:

  • stainless steel sheathing on the face of all four side supports,
  • and the inner Side Supports, one each at front and rear of the mill, are now hydraulic; formerly those had to be raised, adusted and lowered manually

I’ll take unexpected improvements any day.  The addition of hydraulics to the inner Side Supports will save time, especially when milling shorter logs that are not long enough to span one or both of the outer Side Supports.

Power Feed and Up/Down Motors: LT40 Super Hydraulic

The Feed and Up/Down motors are massive relative to those on the non-Super LT40; the Feed motor is now 3/4 hp (up from 1/2 hp) and the Up/Down motor is a full 1 hp (up from 3/4 hp).  The Feed motor is what powers the Saw Head fore and aft over the Bed Frame, and the Up/Down motor moves the Saw Head up and down naturally, relative to the Bed Frame.  Both are much, much faster.  This will enhance productivity by reducing the amount of time necessary to raise the Saw Head at the ends of cuts, and the time required to move the Saw Head to the front of the mill after cuts.  Also, with respect to the Feed motor the additional power was probably a requirement to execute the Board Return feature, which will be discussed later.  Fortunately Wood-Mizer incorporated a braking mechanism for stopping the Saw Head when returning it to the front of the mill.  These enhancements to the Feed and Up/Down motors are welcome though unanticipated improvements offered by the LT40 Super Hydraulic.

Debarker: LT40 Super Hydraulic

The Debarker mechanical arrangement has been totally redesigned.  The Debarker, which is basically a small circular saw, runs ahead of the bandsaw blade to remove the bark, and importantly, the sand, mud, gravel, etc., that might be hiding out in the bark.  This feature extends bandsaw blade life.  On the non-Super LT40 we experienced trouble with the pivot seizing up, and it was a major undertaking to resolve the situation.  The new arrangment it seems to me will do two things to improve the situation:

  • the motor/circular saw are closer to the pivot point, reducing the torque around the X and Y-axes on the pivot, the X-axis running fore/aft on the mill, and the Y-axis running side-to-side,
  • and the pivot is now under cover, which should minimize water intrusion

Solid redesign at first glance.  I’ve said this over and over again, but Wood-Mizer is good at continuously improving their designs, and the Debarker is yet another example in support of that fact.

Milling Computer: LT40 Super Hydraulic

The Accuset 2 is one of the expected and significant improvements in the LT40 Super Hydraulic.  The computer is programmable in 1/32th inch increments, which is half the 1/16th inch offered by Simple Setworks.  There are now five modes of operation, the first two of which, Manual and Auto Down, were available in the “Simple Setworks” milling computer on the non-Super LT40. In each mode except Reference, 16 settings, or programs if you will, can be stored and accessed through the panel buttons labeled 1, 2, 3 and 4.

  • In Manual mode the operator is simply moving the Saw Head up and down by means of a drum switch on the right side of the Accuset 2.
  • In Auto Down mode, depressing the drum switch lever lowers the Saw Head from its current position in defined increments as entered by the operator.  Again, both of these modes were available in the Simple Setworks computer.
  • Auto Up mode is basically the opposite of Auto Down; from where the blade is currently positioned the Saw Head will be moved up in defined increments by lifting the drum swith lever.  The huge benefit provided by both Auto Up and Auto Down is in the accuracy and repeatability (precision) of cuts, i.e. board thickness as desired is consistenly produced.
  • Pattern mode is new, and according to Wood-Mizer, “This mode references the bed surface, and allows you to program up to six different increments calculated up from the bed.  The sixth (top) increment repeats itself to the upper limit of saw head travel.  The bottom increment indicates the size of the remaining cant when the pattern is complete.”  This is where the power of the Accuset 2 lies I suspect, but I’ll also be the first to admit that it will take some time and practice to put it to its highest and best use.
  • Reference mode is also new, and “allows the operator to program up to four preset locations along the saw head travel.”  As with Pattern Mode, it will take some time and practice to put it to its highest and best use.

This post does regard “first impressions,” and a lot of exploration and experiment with the Accuset 2 is in my near future.  The improvement in productivity is here for the taking; I just need to figure out how to realize that promise.

Board Return: LT40 Super Hydraulic

Another in the “unexpected” category of improvements; clearly I had not read the fine print!  When activated, with the Board Return mechanism lowered as shown, the face of the Board Return slides along the top of the board being sawn.  After the Saw Head clears the far end of the log the Board Return mechanism drops into place.  The Saw Head is then raised slightly, and as it is returned to the front of the mill the Board Return will push the just-sawn board along to the front of the mill and up or over the Board Return Table, to be removed by the operator or other lumber handlers.  This will certainly be of great utility if I am on my own without the benefit of lumber handlers, but it will also improve board handling safety and speed when lumber handlers are present.

Summary and Video: LT40 Super Hydraulic

It’s a kick-ass machine, and I haven’t even begun to unwrap all of its potential.  I’ll have more to say and write on the subject as I put operating hours under my belt, but it is an understatement to say that I am super-excited about the possibilities.  Have a look at the machine in operation as a short test run was performed at Wood-Mizer’s HQ in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Thanks for reading and watching!  If you are interested in working with us, please visit our Contact Us page, call 269-222-0101 x700, or email me, john@primalwoods.com.

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