Module 12: Small Scale Harvesting Equipment - What's Right For You?

Lesson Two - Modifications To Your ATV or Tractor

This lesson deals with modifying your ATV or tractor so it is better suited to woods work. ATVs and tractors are not designed specifically for harvesting wood. They can be damaged by rocks, stumps and other obstacles.

They can roll over if they get unbalanced or the driver is not cautious. Certain modifications can improve traction, protect your equipment and make it safer for you to operate.


1. ATV chains on the rear wheels (This can also cause the ATV to catch and flip over. Use caution.)

Improves traction and braking

2. Liquid in tires (Use windscreen washer fluid, and fill 2/3 through tire valve. ATV will handle differently.) Reduces rear and sideways rollovers
3. Weight on the front (Use a sandbag or toolbox)

Reduces rear rollovers

! These modifications are important for safe handling in the woods BUT they can invalidate the warranty for your ATV or parts of it. Check with your ATV dealer first.

ATV with modifications
2.1 ATV with modifications

Additional Protection

  1. Front bumper
  2. Protective pan under the engine
  3. Foot guards
  4. Recovery winch (electric or manual) if you get stuck
  5. Roll cage

! Keep your feet on the foot pegs and wear an approved ATV helmet.

A rotating hitch saved this driver from overturning too.
2.2 A rotating hitch saved this driver from overturning too.



! It is a good idea to use a rotating hitch to connect to the trailer or other attachment. The attachment can tip over, and not roll the ATV and you! with it.





Roll Over Protection Structure (ROPS) and Falling Object Protection Structure (FOPS)

Any equipment used in the woods should have a braking system, ROPS and FOPS.

Rollovers - sideways and backwards - are the main hazard when using your tractor for woods work. Tractors are not designed for uneven terrain plus the load can cause them to upset.

Tractors with a cab may have a frame that acts as the ROPS. Make sure it meets roll over standards (Canadian Standard Association Code for Rollover Protective Structures).

Upper protective structure over tractor without a cab
2.3 Upper protective structure over tractor without a cab

You can add more protection with a super structure that goes over the cab. Tractors without a cab should have a ROPS structure installed if there is not one already.

Modifications to the ROPS must be certified by a professional engineer have or written approval from the manufacturer.

FOPS are also a requirement for forestry equipment. The structure is to protect the driver if a tree falls on the tractor and it should be able to handle a 230 kg (500 lb) dropped from 5.2 m (17 ft).

It is also required to follow ROPS and FOPS standards if you are building your own equipment.

One advantage of a tractor over an ATV is that they can come with approved protective structures.

! Modification to your cab frame or ROPS can invalidate your warranty and the manufacturers liability for the protective structure. This includes any drilling or welding since it can weaken the structure. If you plan to drill the roof to attach angle irons or plywood, check first with the tractor dealer or manufacturer.

Other modifications:

1. Chains on tires (BUT can also cause rear roll overs on hills - take extra care) Increase traction
2. Weight in front Reduce risk of rear rollovers
3. Deflector bars or cables Protect exhaust pipe and front of cab

Additional protection

1. Heavy duty forestry tires (For forestry work should have 10 ply on whole tire, not just tread) Resist puncture
2. Oversize tires Increase clearance
3. Valve stem protection (A piece of pipe can be welded around the stem)  
4. Protective pan or skid plate under tractor  
5. Radiator grill  
6. Shield around Power Take Off (PTO)  
7. Vertical bar window screens for side and rear windows.  
8. Steel mesh screen for door and engine where visibility is not blocked.  

Further reading on ATVs.......

An excellent handbook on ATV use in the woods and modifications is Using an All-Terrain Vehicle To Produce Long-Length Logs.

Further reading on tractors........
For tractor use in the woods and modifications see Using a Farm Tractor To Produce Long-Length Logs.

For much more detail on tractor features, protection, safety, and attachments
see: Equipping the Farm Tractor for Forest Operations, FERIC Handbook #11.

For information on required equipment standards in Atlantic Canada, see The Forest Professional, Guidelines for the Stewards of tomorrow’s forests Appendix A.

See Appendix A.