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Better safe than sorry.

Preventive deployment of an Unimog U 430 in Munich.

Paths along waterways are popular among walkers. The Munich Water Resources Management Office deploys a Unimog to help prevent accidents caused by falling trees.

Today's job is to cut down the 60 year-old poplar tree on the Würm canal north of Munich. The colleagues from the Rivers Agencymarked out a number of unsound trees last Summer – particularly ones posing a hazard to the public due to the tilt of their trunks. "We have to strip and cut down about 40 of them a year," explains Michael Oswald as he prepares his chain saw and puts on his helmet. In the meantime, team leader Konrad Woisetschläger guides his colleague Klaus Mayer as he reverses the U 430 so the implement carrier is positioned with its rear end at right angles to the canal bank. Woisetschläger had first tapped on the trunk – the dull sound made by the poplar in response is a typical sign of bad health.

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The slope support provides the necessary stability.

After selecting a tree on the opposite bank to wind the cable around, Oswald unreels the specialist forestry cable from the winch drum. The Schlang & Reichart single-drum winch is located on the right, concealed in an enclosed box under the platform. The platform frame on the U 430, incorporating mounts for the tilt cylinder and winch assembly, is reinforced and has fold-down side boards. Despite the divided machinery box, the dimensions of 2.0 x 2.05 x 0.5 metres mean there is still plenty of space on the platform for ladders and power saws. Klaus extends the massive 2-metre, 8-tonne capacity hydraulic carrier from its berth beneath the rear axle. "The carrier support provides the Unimog with the stability needed for winching." Before the first saw cut is made, the hefty 11 mm cable must be anchored tight on the tree trunk, as high up as possible. Once the cable is firmly attached, with no sag, colleague Michael Mayer reaches determinedly for the "fuelled-up" Stihl 660 saw and first cuts a thick wedge out of the trunk, so as to force the tree to fall in the desired direction with as much precision as possible. Michael is not entirely happy, snaps his visor down again, and the chain saw blade cuts into the long-fibred soft wood. Chippings fly through the air. There is a smell of two-stroke oil. "But it's organic and low-smoking, like everything we use. The Unimog is also eco-friendly when it comes to fuel and lubricant." On the fall side, the colleague makes one last correction, and lets the saw rev a few times briefly before setting about horizontal cutting. Finally, the team leader then cuts three wedges into the trunk on the opposite side.

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Unimog in forestry

Also suitable for the city centre.

Then it's Klaus's turn. He directs the winch hydraulics using the wireless remote control unit, meaning he stays away from the danger zone. The trunk groans and creaks, then snaps and falls over the water as expected. Then the 90-metre cable is hydraulically retracted. A brake ensures that the cable is reeled up tight, so it can be easily unreeled the next time it is needed. The winch is built into a special three-sided tilting platform. The platform's frame fits exactly on the fixing points provided on the Unimog. Provided the winch is not operated under tension, the platform can be used without restriction.

As the winch is located at the rear, the front of the Unimog remains free for frequently mounted machinery such as mulchers or mowers. Such machinery is regularly used by the Rivers Agency for cutting, trimming and working on the slopes along waterways. "Working in hydrostatic mode with the new U 430 is quite uncomplicated. The joystick on the passenger side makes cutting and mowing easier than with the predecessor machine." The Unimog demonstrates its versatility because the landscape maintenance crew also operate it as a tractor unit pulling a low-loader on which they transport their excavator to jobs – making it an ideal combination of working machine and towing unit. Alongside this flexibility, another key factor in the decision to purchase the Unimog was its environmental zone conformity. Because the U 430 in the Euro VI configuration is also usable in the centre of Munich.

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