If you’re thinking of hanging the old axe up and purchasing a new hydraulic wood splitter, one question you’ll be asking is what tonnage machine is right for you. Most folks believe they require more tonnage than they actually need.
Consider this interesting fact; most hire companies around the country only stock machines up to 25 tonnes, mainly because that size machine is suitable for all non-commercial applications.
Given this information, I went in search of a 25 Ton wood splitter of sturdy construction at an affordable price.
My search ended in Launceston, at the local chainsaw distributor with a wide range of wood splitters in store.
Their Black Diamond 25 Ton wood splitter is a mid-range splitter that’s more than capable of delivering high productivity even when splitting white gum and other knotty timber.
But what set this particular model out from the crowd was the engine modification that they do, replacing the not so reliable Chinese engine the machines ships with to a 6.5HP Honda GX200 engine, which significantly improves the efficiency and reliability of the machine.
Price-wise, the RRP is $1950, which is mid-range for a machine of this size and good-valve for money given the engine upgrade.
This 25 Ton wood splitter is very versatile, with both vertical and horizontal operation available. The wedge has a sharp axe-like edge that widens considerably at the rear, which helps split open the most challenging blocks and prevents the head from jamming in the block.
There is a tray or log cradle that slides into slots on the left-hand side of the machine with a 20kg capacity for waiting sitting blocks. This feature is handy when you have two people working together, as one can stack blocks onto the tray while the other operates the splitter.
There are two guides on either side of the wedge’s slide that also act as a stop for the split blocks when the wedge is on the return stroke. If a wedge becomes jammed in a tight piece of wood, these stops hold the wood while the wedge retracts out of the timber.
The front trailer jockey wheel has a brake that is operated by foot, and the wheel will rotate 90 degrees to stow out of the way for towing.
There is a stand at the rear of the wood splitter chassis that folds down to prevent the machine from rear-ending when the heavy wooden blocks are placed on machine for splitting.
Simply by pulling a pin at the front of the chassis, the ram can be lifted into the vertical position, which is handy for splitting large, heavy blocks.
While it does have a 50mm tow ball hitch, and has a maximum towing speed of 72km/h, it’s not recommended for road use but ideal to be towed around paddocks at a more sedate pace.
The hydraulic tank also forms the main axle for the road wheels.
How it works?
Typically I use the vertical option for the larger blocks that are over 20kg in weight. Incidentally, for the motorheads, I cut the bigger logs with a Sthil 046 Magnum with a 50cm Rollomatic bar running Sthil Rapid Super (RS) 3/8″ chain.
However, in the vertical position, I did find that the standard footplate was very narrow, and big blocks were hard to hold in place. To overcome this problem, I manufactured a more extensive base plate from treated timber, and this has made it far easier to place big blocks on and move them into position.
I usually wheel the heavier blocks with a trolley and place them onto the base plate, and they can be slid easily up into position without much effort. Once I’ve split the larger blocks into smaller pieces, I return the machine to the horizontal position.
The horizontal position affords a better ergonomic working stance, and the throughput of wood is very efficient.
One thing you will notice is the two-triangle head on this splitting wedge, some people refer to this a “pre-cut” head. This really helps to keep the blocks from “jumping” out if the wedge’s blade hits a knot.
When splitting extremely knotty pieces, you notice the wedge moving in at its normal steady pace through the block when it suddenly begins to whine and almost stops as the full 25-tonne ram pressure takes up the strain against the knots. Suddenly, the knot gives way with a loud “popping” sound, and the block splits in two.
Talking to other firewood gathers and wood splitter users, I discovered that with other brands of wood splitters, their ability to push through the knotty spots didn’t always go smoothly. In fact, one farmer said he’d seen a gnarled piece of timber jump out of a smaller splitter from another brand when the wedge hit the knot. He was more than impressed with how the 25 Ton Black Diamond wedge pushed through the knotty pieces.
When you’re next in the market for a wood splitter, it’s probably worthwhile considering a “pre-cut” style wedge not only for improved cutting efficiency but improved safety as well.
During the course of this review, I split 12 tonnes of firewood, consisting of Peppermint, Stringy and White Gum, and the little Honda GX200 only used 9.5 litres of fuel, which is three tank fills.
If there is one criticism I have, it’s with the hydraulic lines, especially the hoses on the left-hand side next to the engine. It came from the shop with no protection and immediately began rubbing on the fuel tank during operation.
Consequently, I put some spiral wrap around the hose to protect it while conducting the review. However, I’m in the process of removing the straight fitting in the control valve and replacing it with a 90-degree elbow which will re-route the hydraulic hose away from the engine.
The top takeaways from our review of the 25 Ton Black Diamond wood splitter;
The reliability and efficiency of the Honda GX200 engine
The power and action of the splitting wedge to split tough knotty timber
The flexibility to operate in horizontal and vertical positions
Wedge Height: 203 mm
Engine Make: 6.5HP Honda GX200
Maximum Splitting Force: 25 Ton
Pump GPM: 14 gpm, 2-stage
Hydraulic Cylinder: 4-1/8″ x 24-1/2 inches
Hydraulic Capacity: 24 Litres
Maximum Pressure: 3,500 PSI
Maximum Log Length: 610 mm (24-inches)
Maximum Towing Speed: 72 kph
Tire Size: 4-4/5″ x 8 inches
Cycle Time: 14 seconds
Hitch: 50mm ball hitch
Splitting Direction: Both vertical and horizontal directions
Log Cradle: 20kg removable