Just after coming to France over 7 years ago when I installed my wood burning stove, I acquired a log splitter that I found on Le Bon Coin, the French free small ads web site. It was a low-level, horizontal type with a ram pressure of 5 tons and it gave me good service up until just before the end of last season when it began to leak oil.
I decided that given the relatively low price that I’d paid for it, it didn’t owe me anything and got rid of it for peanuts ‘for spares’ and was surprised by the interest that it generated when I put it up for sale. I finished off the season splitting the last few big logs that I had with a woodman’s axe, which was good fun (and good exercise) but not how I wanted to proceed for the long term.
I didn’t want to get another similar low-level, horizontal design machine despite there being quite a few bargains on offer. For starters, it gets your back having to keep stooping and bending, but they are also limited in ram pressure with 5 tons being about their limit. And I do get the occasional log of larger diameter that needs more than that, which is probably why my old machine eventually died a death.
I decided that what I wanted was a vertical machine with at least 7-8 tons pressure, and if possible a ‘high quality’ one ie probably not Chinese in origin. Since I returned from the UK I’ve been looking on Le Bon Coin and a couple of days ago I spotted the ideal candidate, the only problem being that it was miles away down near Bayonne in the Basque country close to the Spanish border.
It had been up for sale since the end of August so I took a flyer and made an offer that would make it worthwhile making the journey and was pleasantly surprised when the seller accepted it. And so it was, after dragging out both my trailers and giving them a long-overdue clean up, that yesterday morning I set off in the Kia with my small trailer heading south to Villefranque, a commune in the rolling countryside of the French Basque country with a beautiful view of the Pyrénées, taking incidentally, the same route that I had done with the C-Max when I’d headed off to San Sebastián for the Kia’s replacement engine that was now taking me back again.
The seller turned out to be a newly-retired ex-IT project manager from the aerospace industry living with his charming wife in a lovely mountain chalet-style house typical of the region. And as soon as I saw the machine I knew that I’d made the right choice. It was a very high quality German-manufactured Lumag with a 8 ton ram that had clearly received almost no use at all. Indeed, the seller told me that he’d only used it a couple of times and as they had central heating and enough wood to meet their needs, he had no further use for it.
We quickly did the deal and loaded the machine onto my small trailer. It was much heavier than I expected and took the two of us to get it on board and after doing so, I covered it with an old tarp that I’d taken with me as rain was forecast later and secured it standing vertically with ropes. Then, after a small beer as it had been warm work loading it up, I departed for home.
I took it easy on the journey back and by the time I got home again, it was already getting dark. So the machine stayed on my trailer overnight and this is how it looked this morning before I offloaded it.
Here it is standing on my trailer as we’d loaded it after I’d removed the tarp and the ropes.
When we’d loaded it in Villefranque, the seller and I had hauled it together up a pair of short wooden planks onto the trailer. I thought that I’d be able to drop it off without doing any harm just by myself but soon gave that idea up when I moved it and realised just how heavy it was. So I decided that I’d also make a ramp from a couple of boards which worked well until one of them, which had been out too long in the weather, snapped and lowered me and machine down to the ground.
But no harm was done and I was then able to wheel the machine across the grass to a space that I’d cleared for it in the corner of my wood store where my old splitter used to stand on its end.
I only had one large log to try it out on, which was the one that I’d been using as a chopping block for my woodman’s axe.
The machine just laughed at it and split it effortlessly into 4 segments, which boded very well as now I’ll have no problem splitting any of the logs that I’ll be buying in the future. So taking everything into account, I think that yet again, I’ve made a great Le Bon Coin purchase. Even with the cost of the fuel going there and back to Villefranque, I’ve got an almost new 8 ton 700€ German log splitter for about half-price, so I can’t complain. And as a bonus, the Kia ran faultlessly towing my small trailer for over 700 kms, so that’s also a relief that will give me confidence for its future 😉