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Summer 2012

Turning urban timber into new treasures

A specialized skin pathologist in Idaho finds operating a Bobcat compact track loader at his sawmill to be a rewarding experience. Work once done with manual labor is simplified thanks to his Bobcat T650 and several attachments.

Dr. Ryan Cole

Dr. Ryan Cole

For 43-year-old Dr. Ryan Cole, woodworking has been a hobby since he was in the eighth grade. He grew his toolbox little by little, and today he has a very remarkable machine that enables him to run a small custom sawmill outside of Boise, Idaho. That machine is a Bobcat® T650 compact track loader.

Cole is a skin pathologist who trained at Mayo Clinic. He describes himself and his responsibilities as a cancer diagnostician. “I’m a cancer-answer man,” he says. “Day in and day out, I’m looking through a microscope. I probably look at about two million cells each day. So I see between 100 and 200 patients a day through the microscope. I’m the one who renders the diagnosis. I sub-specialize in skin cancer.”

After spending as many as 10 hours a day at work, Dr. Cole enjoys coming home to his 10-acre property and working in his sawmill. “I take local backyard trees, urban timber, and turn them back into something useful, instead of having them go to the landfill,” Cole says. “There’s a ton of beautiful wood here. Boise is known as the City of Trees. A lot of trees have been planted here in the past 100 years, so now there’s a lot of good hardwood, maple, walnut, oak, cherry and ash in people’s backyards.

“As the trees mature, people want them removed. I work with a couple of local tree trimmers, and they tell me when they’ve got a beautiful English walnut or a black walnut. They will cut it down and I will drive my Bobcat loader to pick it up. I’ll put it on my trailer or on my truck and bring it here to the sawmill. Then I’ll turn it into slabs. I create slab tabletops or furniture from the wood. You have to know how to mill them, to be able to read the log and make a custom cut right through it. I can make good gun stocks from the black walnut.” Cole even makes guitars from some of the wood, another hobby of his.

Dr. Ryan Cole in his T650 compact track loader

Dr. Ryan Cole in his T650 compact track loader

Cole purchased the M-Series Bobcat compact track loader from H & E Equipment in Boise. It was the first piece of equipment that he owned and operated at his sawmill. “Prior to the Bobcat loader, I used a lot of back muscle,” he says. “It was a couple of guys lifting logs, moving logs and dragging things with chains, winches and trucks. With the Bobcat loader, I can move a lot more wood to create more slabs.”

According to Cole the Bobcat loader doesn’t have a problem lifting logs onto the saw mill. “The Bobcat loader works like a charm,” he says. “It’s smooth, it’s strong and it’s heavy-duty. I like the joystick controls because they’re very intuitive.”

Lifting trees at his sawmill meant that Cole needed an attachment to handle the heavy objects. He chose a Bobcat industrial grapple, as well as a bucket for cleaning manure from his horse barn, a pallet fork for moving pallets of wood and a six-way dozer blade for leveling and grading projects.

Research leads to Bobcat

Prior to purchasing the Bobcat compact track loader, Cole did a considerable amount of research. “I am a thorough analyst, so I went on many manufacturers’ websites and looked at all of the features and weighed my options,” he says. “I looked at lifting capacity, the value and consistency, and I searched for the nearest dealer. The salesman at the Bobcat dealership was great, in terms of showing me the equipment, demoing it and making sure that I understood how the equipment worked.”

T650 compact track loader with industrial grapple

T650 compact track loader with industrial grapple

Rubber track undercarriage. A rubber track undercarriage was important to Cole, too. His Bobcat loader has the optional Roller Suspension system for improved ride and less bucket spillage. “Because I knew that I’d be moving some things over my yard, I wanted a loader with low pressure per square inch,” he says. “We have an in-ground sprinkler system, so I wanted to be able to distribute the machine’s weight and float on the surface.”

Visibility. The cab-forward design of Cole’s M-Series Bobcat loader is important for his type of work. “The visibility from inside the machine is very good,” he says, “and with what I’m doing, it’s very precise work. You don’t want to crush the logs and ruin the outside of the timbers. It’s nice to be able to see exactly what you’re doing.”

Cab comforts. “I really like the climate control in the Bobcat loader,” he says. “In Boise, we get really hot, dry summers with 90- or 100-degree days. And in the winter it’s cold and windy up here in the higher mountain valley. The heat and air conditioning come in handy. Plus, I had a radio installed for added comfort, making this a very nice machine.”

After a long day at work, a relaxing evening or weekend at his sawmill is just what Dr. Ryan Cole needs to recharge, and a Bobcat loader goes a long way in helping him turn once beautiful trees into something special for a homeowner.

Raising bees for honey

Dr. Ryan Cole has another hobby and another use for his Bobcat® compact track loader. Cole and his family have 100 bee colonies that he keeps at his family’s organic farm. He uses the Bobcat T650 with a pallet fork attachment to move the colonies. “Everybody wants local honey for local allergies. We’ll sell it at the co-op downtown,” he says.