Why You Must Remove Tree Stumps
November 8, 2015
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I have a background in electro/mechanical engineering in manufacturing production in a few industries and so have an understanding of necessary training to achieve skilled proficiency.

You don’t need a high skill level to operate a tree stump grinder. What is surprising, is that some clever guy out there hasn’t created an automated stump grinder that could recognise its approach to a stump, the stump’s size, an appropriate depth of grind, completion of grind, and move onto the next stump. Additional features could be night vision grinding, and built in detection of buried services complete with fail safe circuitry so it can skip a stump with buried services too close.  Cars can now park and drive themselves, so I’m sure these objectives are not a technological hurdle, but only a matter of time before somebody creates an automated stump grinder.


Why am I suggesting Blitz-A-Stump specialist tree stump grinding can be replaced with a robot!—the reality of operating a stump grinder is somewhat more complex when attempting to access stumps in a back garden, on slopes, near obstacles, on rough terrain, or where ramps are required (as on steps),  a risk assessment needs to be made as to its feasibility, and whether or not these issues can be done in a safe manner.  Further, off site  maintenance precautions are also required, complemented by operational health and safety preparations well before stump grinding can begin.  For example:

  1.  Ensure maintenance is carried out in accordance with the manufacturers handbook.This should include a maintenance schedule with the following tasks:
  • Clean cool air engine intake for cleanliness
  • Check cool air ducting to engine cylinders for cleanliness
  • Check engine oil level – top up as necessary
  • Check engine fuel level and recommended fuel filter change
  • Check hydraulic oil level, & recommended oil filter change
  • Check hydraulic reservoir filler filter for cleanliness
  • Check engine oil level and for recommended oil/oil filter change.
  • Check filtered air intake for cleanliness
  • Check drive belt enclosures for cleanliness and  belt tensions adjustments (adjust as required)
  • Check cutter teeth for sharpness (sharpen/replace as required)
  • Check battery electrolyte levels (top up as required
  • Clean/repack wheel bearings as required.
  • Grease all mechanical joints, bearings, drive mechanisms, in accordance with owners manual
  • Before working on the cutting mechanism, make sure the engine-stopping device is applied.
  • Ignition key must be removed.
  • Cutter mechanism is secured.
  • Cutter must be checked each day for damage and wear and replaced as necessary.  Replacement cutter teeth must be installed in the rec commended manner to maintain cutter wheel balance.

The above tasks are just the preliminaries which should be accomplished well before arrival on site

  1. On site arrival,  the following steps are minimal to comply with Health & Safety legislation:
  • Ensure any belts, shafts and fan blades are guarded on both the machine and power source.
  • Ensure the debris curtains around the cutting head are present, intact and adequate.
  • Ensure there is a clearly marked and working engine-stopping device readily accessible to the operator from the normal working position.
  • Ensure a suitable fire extinguisher is readily accessible.
  • Approved eye, ear, hand, feet protection
  • High visibility outer, and non snag clothing
  • Nearby first aid kit
  • Hand cleaning materials
  • Manufacturers user manual
  • Ensure all guards and safety devices provided by the manufacturer are in place
  • Ensure all debris curtains and screening are present, intact, and operationally adequate
  • Ensure all prohibited access and hazard warning indicators are in place in accordance with Health & Safety requirements. (work must stop if indicated work area is breached)
  • Work on or near public roadsides must be I.A.W. Road & Street Works Act
  • Work on as level an area as possible.
  • Always work away from the direction of people, traffic, and property
  • Always use supplementary screening
  • Ensure cutting wheel rotates without fouling
  • Disengage the drive to the cutting mechanism and wait for the mechanism to stop rotating before re-positioning on site.
  • Stop the engine and remove the start/stop key before undertaking any maintenance on or around the stump grinder.
  • Check work area for buried services
  • Check stumps for ingrown fencing, fence posts, barbed wire, stones, etc. and immediate surrounding  area for same, which may cause machine damage or become a potential missile
  • Manually grub around stumps to reveal buttress roots, and potential damaging/flying objects
  • Always operate the machine with a clear view of the cutting operation
  • Never manually work around, or approach a spinning cutter wheel
  • Always clear arisings as necessary to assure safe efficient operation of the stump grinder
  • Be sure any excavations do not create tipping or tripping hazards
  • A strict level of timely machine maintenance is necessary I.A.W. the manufacturers user manual of your specific machine. Ensure you are on the update circulation list from the manufacturer

Sorry to bore you with lists of detail. I only wanted to emphasis how foolish it would be to automate a stump grinder. Additional requirements to perform these operations safely, makes automation impractical. Remember, these are only minimal requirements of a general nature. There are further requirements which are unique to the design of certain stump grinders and specific to other environmental factors.

All of the above doesn’t answer the question “why do I do it?”

I guess I have a masochistic streak within myself and love punishment 🙂 — I’m joking !

Yes, in truth, I am a sad person having received formal training, and having come from an electro-mechanical background—both within trade schooling, the military, and industry–I am able to apply those skills to this “bit of kit”.  I get enjoyment with creating, and applying new gadgets, and accessories directly to my stump grinder, or indirectly to maintenance, and work performance operations connected to the act of stump grinding. Further, I get self-satisfaction to find easier and more efficient ways to achieve my operational activities. It doesn’t end there either. I also get great enjoyment in visiting some fantastic gardens—including those on the  Queens Sandringham Estate!  I also enjoy the travel to new places throughout the Anglia region where I live, and get to meet many interesting people.

So,–that’s why I do it!

I’m now seventy  two years old,  and I shall carry on as long as my health and mind are capable. Besides which,— old stump grinders never die, we just fade away 🙂

Thanks for your interest.

Best regards,

Mike Lish


Mike Lish
Mike Lish
An electro-mechanical technician and specialist in tree stump grinding over the last 18 years.

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