Best rope for bringing trees down

ctfjr

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I have several very large oaks that have died about 3 years ago. I want to use a rope tied off 50' or more in the air to keep pulling it in one direction (I have a drone to help do this). Using an appropriately sized pulley attached to the base of a suitable tree I can safely keep tension on it with the tractor as I cut it down. I may even want to first grab a few large branches and pull them down first. The pulley will allow me to pull far enough away in a safe direction.
In researching what kind of rope to get I'm not sure whether to get a stretchy line like nylon or something like Dacron that doesn't stretch. I have some concern about a rope that stretches and then breaks :(
Breaking strength?? I see 1/2" ropes rated at anywhere from 5000 to 7000 lbs. I'm thinking even at 500lbs pull on the tree at 50' at a 45deg angle even with friction losses there is going to be 10,000 ft-lbs of bending moment at the base - sure sounds like a lot of force.
Anyone have experience doing this without dropping the tree on their tractor?
 

Tughill Tom

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I use a 5/8" Bull line all nylon, run thru a snatch block which I attach to a bigger tree if I can with a strap/ sing. I've dropped trees and even an old 2 car garage with it.
I usually tie in on the tree with a climbing bowline which with tighten up inline with the pulling direction.
 

jimh406

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I guess I would use synthetic winch line. For some reason, winch extension lines seems cheaper than winch line. They have a connection for a clevis on both ends.

I’m not trying to be safety Sally, but I’ve also heard a few people say that if you need a rope, you aren’t taking down the tree right. So, unless you consider yourself an expert, consider watching a few youtube videos from arborists etc on how to cut down trees safely along with mistakes people make. I know there are a few videos that show the rope doing nothing as the tree goes the wrong way.
 
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je1279

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I'm pretty good at telling which way a tree will fall but they aren't always leaning in an ideal direction. Definitely check out some YouTube videos to see how many ways things can go poorly. I have a 50' rule. Above that, I leave it to the professionals.
 
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ctfjr

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Beware those dead widowmaker limbs!
Like this baby:
broken limb.jpg

This is what started me on the tree grooming. This 12" limb snapped a couple of days ago and is almost completely broken off. Its laying right in the crotch of that oak. Because it's in the area fenced in for the dogs it has to go. I like my dogs.
You can see my plan here. The snatch block is attached to that really large (dead) oak with a towing strap wrapped around it. The tractor will be about 50' away. No matter what happens that branch can't fall towards anything 'fragile'. It can't pull on the tractor when it falls either.
That dead oak is typical of the several that died. I will probably just pull down some of the branches before they fall down. The other dead oaks in the other part of the property I will drop. I'm not an arborist but I can tell which way they are leaning and I'm good with them falling in those directions. A rope encouraging them can't hurt.
 

je1279

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Sounds like a good plan to me.
 

North Idaho Wolfman

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I have a 250 foot long 3/8" steel rigging cable that I use, but I do have really big trees that I need to deal with.
 
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GreensvilleJay

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I only wrap a rope around a tree about 14-18' off the ground(depends on my throwing arm...), then tie off onto drawbar of tractor.Rope is 150'+- long ,tree maxxed out at 95'. Rope is 3/8 yellow (polysumtin). You do NOT need a lot of pull or tension, it's just a 'helping hand' to guide the tree down,away from important stuff.Sawyer makes the cuts, I supply the tractor-rope 'assistance'. never lost a tractor or hit anything in 5+ decades. done 100s of trees this way.
 

Henro

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I have a 250 foot long 3/8" steel rigging cable that I use, but I do have really big trees that I need to deal with.
For me, I would never use rope myself, as I have a bunch of 20' grade 70 5/16" chains. I do have a cable that came off a crane, 3/8 probably, but never used it, preferring the chains.

I try to use a couple chains to be sure. One chain is generally tied to a nearby tree at the base (pulled taunt with a chain block), as a safety to ensure the tree will not fall in a certain direction. The second chain is connected to my tractor, and generally I have a large wheel/tire that came off of something, and weighs about a hundred pounds or more, hanging from the center of the chain that is tied to the tractor. This weight is suspended in the air at about the mid point of the chain, and keeps tension on the chain in the direction I want the tree to fall. I am usually working by myself.

I agree with the post above where it was stated that trying to make a tree fall significantly different that it wants to naturally generally may turn out bad.

There are times when it just makes sense to hire someone. Recently I decided to take down a large white pine close to the house I am renovating next door. It was 36" in diameter at the base and 60 or more feet high, AND 20 feet from the house. Common sense told me to find someone to put it on the ground, and I would do the cleanup.

Cost me $400, but the guy was good. Climbed it, dropped it on the ground in pieces, and dropped the main bottom part of the trunk (25 or so feet of it) on the ground where I could deal with it. Probably the smartest money I spent in a long time...
 
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RCW

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Scary. Makes me think of hollow beech trees.

Rope, cable, or chain is your friend. Not anything with elasticity.

You just want to get it headed in the right direction. Give it "pull" when the tree starts to fall..

I like high up, but 10-15' is fine if your felling with the lean. Heck - a little push from the point of a peavey 8 feet up is enough....but for that widow-maker...

Especially with a dead tree, you need to be VERY careful with the tension applied and the back cut.

Too much tension could cause a barber chair, or with a dead tree, just breaking it off.

Too fast/careful a back-cut could make you lose the precious hinge. That hinge directs the fall. Without the hinge, it could roll off the stump.

I think your theory is fine, but you need to be VERY careful in it's execution because of the widow maker and the fact it's dead....

In my younger days, if the lean was favorable, I would just drop it toward the widow maker, but get to hell out of the way before that swung around at me and hopefully came down too...
 
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NCL4701

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To directly answer the question I use a 120’ 3/4” 15k lb work strength/30k break strength bull rope, 100’ 5/8” 9k/18k bull rope, and 90’ 1/2” 5k/10k for various tree stuff depending on the situation. Also use 3/8” grade 43 and grade 70 chain in 20’ and 25’ lengths for a variety of tree felling and general tree work stuff. Used to use a 50’ 1/4” chain some for skidding. It’s my father’s and he was under the impression it was a 70 but after pulling it in half twice with the new Kubota we pretty much know it has to be a 30 and quit using it for much of anything. Have heated with wood since a kid except for college and shortly after years, during which I worked for a tree service.

Personally I don’t like stretchy ropes or anything else stretchy for tree work. I would save the kinetic rope, tow straps, etc. for vehicle recovery.

So far as how to use them and why and when, not even starting on that. If you’re not comfortable doing whatever you’re doing, hire it out. With the tree service we cut a lot of trees that required climbing and a ground crew. We didn’t have a bucket truck and kind of specialized in things that had to come down in a bunch of little pieces but couldn’t be accessed with a bucket. We had some we did for pretty cheap that we just put on the ground and left cleanup to the customer. For a tree service most of the skill is in getting it down but most of the cost and labor is in the cleanup and haul off. I’m too old, busted, and out of shape to be climbing now. A man’s got to know his limits.

As an aside, my Dad is 84. Of course he originally taught me how to use a chainsaw, cut trees, etc. He is rehabbing from a list of issues right now and one of his doctors wrote on his discharge instructions recently to cease use of chainsaws. Dad asked him why and was told even though he’s been using one 70 years (first one he used was a two man Mercury) doctor told him no one should ever use a chainsaw unless they’ve had professional training. Told him since I worked for a tree service for a few years, if it would make his doctor happy, I’d give him some lessons and might even give him a course completion note for his doctor. Can’t quite quote him in a family friendly forum but he was much less amused than I was.
 
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old and tired

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I guess I'm the odd guy out... I prefer stretchy ropes, but never with a tractor or truck. Big a$$ Come-A-Long anchored to a tree out of danger in direct line that I want to drop the tree. Load (stretch) the rope, notch, make a small back cut, reload / stretch the rope again - finish off the cut and let the rope pull as it falls. Mine is 7/8", I forget the type and hype but it's put many a trees on the ground.

Personally, this would be a great time to buy a forestry winch!!!! Forget the rope!

My best story about felling trees (toot my own horn) neighbor had 4 pine trees he just wanted dropped. He had a garden fence (not much to speak of) and he said to not worry about the fence. I told him that I would aim for the gate and left the gate open. Not sure who was more impressed when I felled all 4 trees thought that gate and did not damaging the fence. When to church that Sunday...
 
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DustyRusty

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If you haven't the experience, then leave it to someone that does. It only takes a few seconds to get injured, but it can take months or even years to recover. If you make a fatal mistake, the funeral expense will be greater than the cost of the professional. You have to realize that there is a reason that workmen's compensation insurance policies are so expensive for some industries, and tree cutting is in the top 5 of that list for a reason. As we get older, we get wiser, and realize that some of the things that we did when young, we are not able to do now that we are older.
 
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GeoHorn

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The advice offered by Dusty and others to hire a professional is really GOOD ADVICE.
I thought I knew what I was doing pulling on an Elm tree with my Ford tractor. On the left was my house.... opposite the tractor was an expensive garden fence.... and 270 -degrees of open space was clearly where We wanted the tree to fall.... so that’s where we placed the tractor and put a strain on the cable to encourage the tree to fall in that wide 270-degree/ 3/4-arc area... there was simply NO WAY this could go wrong.

It went wrong. Despite encouraging cuts on that trunk... despite the tractor pulling hard in the direct the fall was desired..... that elm ...as it began to fall.... also began a twisting-movement and whipped-around and went straight for the garden Fence and wiped it out. 😀o_O:LOL::ROFLMAO:

Hire a professional.
 
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ctfjr

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I appreciate all the info and advice :)
I should have made myself a little clearer. That 'widow maker' branch is the only thing I'm pulling down right now. Its literally hanging by a thread and is clear and present danger to my dogs.

The dead oak I am fastening the snatch block to has a lot of big branches that are slowing coming down on their own during high winds or ice storms. I will probably use the tractor to snap some of them - again with the snatch block to the pull is pretty much straight down and the tractor will be very far away.

As far as the other dead oaks that I plan to drop in other area, they are far from anything and can fall safely. The worst that could happen is they would end up partially on the front lawn.

I am going to use 200' of synthetic winch rope rated at over 20,000 lbs and all the chain I have on the tractor side, about 50'.

Believe me, at 74 whatever parts still work I want to keep working. If anything doesn't look safe, I'm out.

Thanks again!
 
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random

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I have several very large oaks that have died about 3 years ago. I want to use a rope tied off 50' or more in the air to keep pulling it in one direction (I have a drone to help do this).
Just to be clear: you're planning to use the drone to tie the rope to the tree?
 

ctfjr

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Just to be clear: you're planning to use the drone to tie the rope to the tree?
Yes, not this branch only but the big oaks.

Because today is in the 60's and the snow is melting I went out there and used a 2oz sinker tied to 20lb line to get started. The branch is less than 20' above the ground so it was easy to get the sinker over it. Then I pulled a 1/4" line over the branch. Tomorrow I should get the snatch block and winch cable but until the ground dries out I'll have to wait.
 

Henro

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I may be missing something, but I seem to recall that you said these trees are in a location where they are not endangering anything, regardless of where they fall.

IF this IS the case, not sure why you need to use a rope/cable/chain at all...BUT tying off to a secure point can give you some security that if you evacuate the location the tree will not fall in the direction opposite the tie point. PROBABLY...