Dangerous tree removal

Sulzu

New Member
Location
Maple Grove
I have a dangerous tree that I need to remove. The tree would be about 70 feet in height if it were straight, however the tree makes a sharp curve 15-20 feet above the ground and extends the rest of the distance at about a 70-80 degree angle.

Woodpeckers got to It a few years ago at the bend and the area they exposed started to rot. You can now see that the tree is hollow and rotted in the middle. In the last few weeks this tree went from looking healthy without any visible splits or rot to looking like it does now. My neighbors shed is very close nearby and kids are around and I don’t want to risk it falling and hurting someone or taking out the shed.

You can see daylight in all four cardinal directions at the bend. I’m worried about the tree barber chairing seeing as it is already massively split on the underside and top side to begin with. Can anybody willing people please review my plan and pictures and let me know any advice they have? If I’m being an idiot and should do something different, just let me know.

I’m no professional, however I’ve been using chainsaws for enough years to know that I should ask on this one. Unfortunately with the pandemic shutting down the family small business my wife runs for the last several months I’m in no position to hire out right now.

I’m leaning towards a stair-step backcut. Notch first. Cut in 1 1/2” to width of the bar for the hinge and then bore straight in. Backcut same height as notch, bore straight in for the hinge on each side. Stairs should overlap about and inch and a half each. Go about an inch and a half above the back-cut and do a width of the bar bore in for second step. Repeat this for a third step. Theory being that if it barber chairs it will kick back on the step.

Thanks
 

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Jonny

Well-Known Member
Location
Buffalo
I read your post and I know a lot of families are having some tough times financially, including my own, and I truly sympathize with you. My advice is call around for estimates anyways, they’re usually free, and I really doubt it’s gonna be a lot for a drop and leave. Get an insured professional to put it on the ground for you and you’ll save a little bundle cleaning it up yourself and have some peace of mind.
 

Reach

Well-Known Member
Location
Atglen, PA
That tree has a high probability of being a very unpredictable tree to someone without a lot of experience felling uniquely challenging trees. I would HIGHLY recommend spending a little money to have a skilled professional - not the cheap guy down the block - put it on the ground, and then you can take care of it from there. One question to consider - what will cost more, paying someone $200 to make one cut and drop it, or paying off the hospital when they put you back together?
 

colb

Well-Known Member
Location
Florida
Anything that is or will be suspended between two points is highly unpredictable. I really appreciate your obvious knowledge of cutting. However, there is too much exposure without a lift, some rope access, some rigging, and/or professional experience. About 3 of those 4 probably need to be present to expect success on that tree issue. Just shooting from the hip since the pics don't convey all the issues involved...
 

Phil

Well-Known Member
Location
Oak Lawn, IL
I have a dangerous tree that I need to remove. The tree would be about 70 feet in height if it were straight, however the tree makes a sharp curve 15-20 feet above the ground and extends the rest of the distance at about a 70-80 degree angle.

Woodpeckers got to It a few years ago at the bend and the area they exposed started to rot. You can now see that the tree is hollow and rotted in the middle. In the last few weeks this tree went from looking healthy without any visible splits or rot to looking like it does now. My neighbors shed is very close nearby and kids are around and I don’t want to risk it falling and hurting someone or taking out the shed.

You can see daylight in all four cardinal directions at the bend. I’m worried about the tree barber chairing seeing as it is already massively split on the underside and top side to begin with. Can anybody willing people please review my plan and pictures and let me know any advice they have? If I’m being an idiot and should do something different, just let me know.

I’m no professional, however I’ve been using chainsaws for enough years to know that I should ask on this one. Unfortunately with the pandemic shutting down the family small business my wife runs for the last several months I’m in no position to hire out right now.

I’m leaning towards a stair-step backcut. Notch first. Cut in 1 1/2” to width of the bar for the hinge and then bore straight in. Backcut same height as notch, bore straight in for the hinge on each side. Stairs should overlap about and inch and a half each. Go about an inch and a half above the back-cut and do a width of the bar bore in for second step. Repeat this for a third step. Theory being that if it barber chairs it will kick back on the step.

Thanks
looks like there is enough room to pull it sideways and just deal with a little collateral damage to the neighboring trees. Without actually seeing it in person, if I didn't want to climb anything and there are no other targets beside the pictured shed, I would consider notching it to the side and using a come-along to crank her over. Could also climb the trees its hung up in and free the top then just drop it the way its leaning or then do the side notch'pull like I pictured.

Also, I have no idea what you're talking about with a stairstep back cut. Sounds unnecessarily complicated. Maybe I'm just not picturing it the right way though.
 

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Chaplain242

Well-Known Member
looks like there is enough room to pull it sideways and just deal with a little collateral damage to the neighboring trees. Without actually seeing it in person, if I didn't want to climb anything and there are no other targets beside the pictured shed, I would consider notching it to the side and using a come-along to crank her over. Could also climb the trees its hung up in and free the top then just drop it the way its leaning or then do the side notch'pull like I pictured.

Also, I have no idea what you're talking about with a stairstep back cut. Sounds unnecessarily complicated. Maybe I'm just not picturing it the right way though.
add a second rig line to the trunk, so after you fall it sideways you can drag with a vehicle to slip crown out of any hangups...
 

Njdelaney

Well-Known Member
Location
Detroit
I'm not so sure freeing the top is a good idea. That could be a significant part of what's holding that tree up and you may kill yourself doing that. All those small branches touching other small branches can add up to a lot of support even if it doesn't appear that way. Just my .02
 

Phil

Well-Known Member
Location
Oak Lawn, IL
I would be comfortable doing it. Go slow take small pieces and stay above what you're cutting. As op states he is not a professional, I would agree that brushing out the top should probably be avoided.
 

LordFarkwad

Well-Known Member
Location
Chatham Co.
I'm not so sure freeing the top is a good idea. That could be a significant part of what's holding that tree up and you may kill yourself doing that. All those small branches touching other small branches can add up to a lot of support even if it doesn't appear that way. Just my .02
You are talking about climbing one of the trees near where the top is hung, and gradually releasing pressure, if there is any? I'm just trying to sync up with you on what could happen in this scenario if the top were freed up; I've never done one like this, myself.
 

Njdelaney

Well-Known Member
Location
Detroit
Yes, based on the picture that tree appears to be growing nearly sideways(OP says 70-80°) and from the description is already showing stress splits near the bend. Now being that the amount of stored energy(dynamic energy) in the tree is now distributed among even less holding wood than before the splits, and that the top looks to be in at least a few other trees it is a reasonable assumption that the tree is being supported partially by the hung-up top. If you climb one of the nearby trees and start freeing up the top, the tree could easily fail at the bend during this process as it becomes less supported and the weight transfers back to the bend. Even if you work from the top down while freeing it up, the tree could actually fail at the base instead of the bend if there is root compromise and in that scenario it pushes forward towards the climber and nearby trees in addition to down towards the ground. It could also go right or left at the same time. It isn't hard to imagine a climber getting snatched out of those nearby trees during this process. High level of unpredictability here as @colb and @Reach have already noted with suspension between multiple points.
 

Phil

Well-Known Member
Location
Oak Lawn, IL
If you climb one of the nearby trees and start freeing up the top, the tree could easily fail at the bend during this process as it becomes less supported and the weight transfers back to the bend. Even if you work from the top down while freeing it up, the tree could actually fail at the base instead of the bend if there is root compromise and in that scenario it pushes forward towards the climber and nearby trees in addition to down towards the ground. It could also go right or left at the same time. It isn't hard to imagine a climber getting snatched out of those nearby trees during this process. High level of unpredictability here as @colb and @Reach have already noted with suspension between multiple points.

Since freeing the top was my suggestion I'll weigh in on these concerns. I've removed trees like this multiple times with fairly accurate predictability.

In regards to the tree failing at the base...a pre climb inspection should give you plenty of information on whether this will be an issue. In the pics there is a good root flair, and while I don't know the species. I'm guessing an elm maybe, I would wager you couldn't pull that stem over with a truck if you wanted to.

In regards to the top moving sideways when the top is being released...its not likely. The tree failed straight and landed in the support trees straight. At least it looks like that from the pictures. This is not a big tree and as such, I think its reasonable to predict most if not all of the force on the canopy is primarily down, not lateral. There may be some branches that have a lateral load on them, but not enough to make the main stem move sideways at the failure point in the bend.

I think there are one of three scenarios that will play out if the top was release first.

1) The bend failure is still strong enough to support the remaining trunk once the brush is removed. It would hang out in the air just sort of flexing at the bend in a cantilever position.

2) The bend fatigues when the top is released and allows the upper part of the stem to flex to the ground. The result would be a lopsided "A" structure. I think this is the most likely outcome

3) Once the top is released, the upper end hits the ground and the bend failure breaks resulting in the upper portion of the stem crashing to the ground. The butt end of the broken piece could possible bounce a bit and strike the shed. If I felt like mitigating this potential I would put a rope on the broken end prior to climbing and just lock it off pulling away from the shed.

In every one of theses scenarios, If the climber remains above and not attached to the top of the damaged tree, they'd be fine. Could also lock off the the stem of the damaged tree with a lowering line prior to cutting on it so it doesn't free crash to the ground when released. Lots of options here. All this being said, If I actually saw the tree in person I might change what I would do.
 

Njdelaney

Well-Known Member
Location
Detroit
@Phil I tend to agree with you for the most part. My intention was to point out the fact that this isn't a project to be tackled by someone without lots of experience due to the unusual nature of this tree, and that selecting a best approach from a picture is nearly impossible. I see discouraging the OP from doing something potentially deadly as the top priority of this thread so that's where I'm coming from.
 

LordFarkwad

Well-Known Member
Location
Chatham Co.
Yes, based on the picture that tree appears to be growing nearly sideways(OP says 70-80°) and from the description is already showing stress splits near the bend. Now being that the amount of stored energy(dynamic energy) in the tree is now distributed among even less holding wood than before the splits, and that the top looks to be in at least a few other trees it is a reasonable assumption that the tree is being supported partially by the hung-up top. If you climb one of the nearby trees and start freeing up the top, the tree could easily fail at the bend during this process as it becomes less supported and the weight transfers back to the bend. Even if you work from the top down while freeing it up, the tree could actually fail at the base instead of the bend if there is root compromise and in that scenario it pushes forward towards the climber and nearby trees in addition to down towards the ground. It could also go right or left at the same time. It isn't hard to imagine a climber getting snatched out of those nearby trees during this process. High level of unpredictability here as @colb and @Reach have already noted with suspension between multiple points.
Thanks for the explanation. I guess it would be difficult to do anything meaningful from far enough above the snag to take yourself out of the danger zone?

Thanks again for the detailed explanation, man.

Edit: I didn't read @Phil and your further discussion prior to posting that. I understand now, I think. If further failure were to occur at the root/root-plate, the tree could push towards the climber in the trees supporting the snag as the base stays more or less in place, but rolls out of the ground - is that an accurate understanding of what you're describing with the tree lurching forward?
 
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Tony

Well-Known Member
Location
Lancaster, PA
All in all, to downsize that tree to a pile of sticks is fairly straightforward. IF, you have the tools, and experience to get above your work and/or restrict/make predictable any movement when cutting

You can armchair arborist this one all day, and for some, there is value in that. But it loses value with too many assumptions.

For the OP. I get it. Times are weird. My recommendation from a practical standpoint; Let it rest. No target, no hazard.

For the rest of you enjoy the discussion, but paralysis by analysis will get you into as much trouble as no plan at all.

Evaluate the hazards. If possible, eliminate hazards, substitute them, engineer them void, follow best practices, and employ proper PPE (In that order mind you!) as much as is reasonable. Then execute the plan.

Start and finish there if you continue the discussion

Tony
 

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