Product profile: Morooka MST-1500VDR

By: Ron Horner

If you’re looking for a 360-degree slewing/tipping, all-terrain, rubber-tracked excavator, then the Morooka MST-1500VDR is well worth a look.

Now if you’ve never seen one of these all-terrain, rubber tracked powerhouse dirt, and mud movers in operation, take my word for it, you have something to catch up on.

Having personally worked with these units on some of the most trying, difficult, and even toxic Australian sites one could imagine, it beggars belief that Morooka could bring out something better than when I worked with them, but they have.

Ron Horner takes the Morooka MST-1500VDR for a spin

Morooka have just brought out a 360-degree slewing/tipping, all-terrain, rubber tracked vehicle as an addition to the non-slewing version, and if I haven’t told you already, I am very impressed. Weighing in at around 11,800kg for the empty machine and a carrying capacity of 7000kg, the ability of the MST-1500VDR (‘R’ = reversible or 360 degrees slew capability) to spin and tip on the run means there are a myriad of projects that this type of machine is capable of working productively and profitably.

In the cab

The cab offers great all-round visibility

The cabin is well and truly up my alley. Based on a Caterpillar excavator, it provides an excellent array of simple and easy-to-read/understand gauges, simple tipping lever, counter rotation hydrostatic drive levers, E-stops, air conditioning, big side mirrors, radio, etc., making it a well-designed and operator-friendly office with great all-round vision (for a tipper).

You could well be forgiven if you think you are in the cab of a Cat excavator; so similar is the experience. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not detracting from the cabin layout; quite the opposite, as I think it’s a great concept and the operators of these units are really being spoiled.

There is one-handed operation at any time, unless you are counter-rotating your direction of course, and for all of the ‘newbies and wannabes’, your free right hand can check your Facebook account or post selfies while on the go. Aaahhh Morooka, you’ve thought of everything.

Rubber tracks

The tracks are designed to follow the ground contour

The rubber tracks on the Morooka carrier are the result of more than 50 years of joint development from Bridgestone and Morooka and combine the characteristics of a tyre-equipped vehicle, creating speed, a smooth ride, low ground pressure, high performance, and the excellent traction of a steel tracked vehicle. This, coupled with the unique double rocker bottom track rollers and drive sprocket configuration, proved that these boisterous fellas can go almost anywhere in any conditions.

Morooka make 11 different models, which run an array of engines, including Kubota, Mitusbishi, and Caterpillar, however, on this particular MST1500VDR model, it runs a Cummins engine.

To get this on the move is so simple: the hydrostatic transmission allows for economical use of the big Tier 4, 6.9-litre Cummins diesel engine’s full power by the engagement of the two-lever forward, reverse and counter rotation hand control levers located centre front of the operator. This system eliminates the need for a clutch and gear controls, making the Morooka extremely manoeuvrable.

On the job

When fully loaded, the MST-1500VDR exerts a ground pressure of 33kPA, which is about half that of a human foot

The track configuration of the machine is designed to lay the track out in front of the machine and minimise bogging when fully laden, as it’s driven from the top drive sprocket.

When this is designed into the elliptical track design, this machine can climb over the swampy, boggy materials and not drive itself into the ground and become another buried statistic.

The Morooka MST-1500VDR is able to carry a truly decent amount of weight, but what is more extraordinary is the low ground pressure exerted. When empty, the MST-1500VDR exerts what I understand to be a mere 2.6psi (18kPa) and, when fully laden, an incredibly low 4.8psi (33kPa).
This is partly due to the design of the 900mm-wide rubber track shoes sitting on the 5m x 2.5m-long frame and well balanced design to carry this weight.

WARNING: Don’t attempt to reverse up over excessively steep inclines in soft materials, as you will find your nose touching the windscreen as the front will belly out big time when the weight is transferred from rear to front.

Speed across the ground is an impressive 11km/h, 450mm ground clearance and for tipping, Morooka have engineered a twin hydraulic ram to dispose of that mud with ease. The square-ish shape and close to ground design guarantees safe tipping angles can be achieved in most cases.


The MST-1500VDR is powered by a 225hp Cummins engine although other variations are available

After inspecting the rubber tracked all-terrain carriers, I have come to the conclusion that they are an invaluable vehicle capable of accessing not only muddy and boggy areas but also suited to sandy and desert areas that require specially designed vehicles such as this.

Useful for where the dump points are so bad that turning or reversing becomes a major drama, the Morooka MST-1500VDR can drive directly to your dump point, slew just as you would with an excavator, and dump the load. I’ve operated a different brand before doing this, but Morooka is definitely better than anything I’ve used in the past.

These machines are perfectly suited for use in a wide range of applications and are particularly suited to environmentally sensitive areas. They will accommodate a variety of attachments such as water tanks, digger derricks, drill rigs, cement mixers, welders, lubrication rigs, fire-fighting equipment, specialty dump bodies, scissor lifts, seismic testing equipment, exploration tools, air compressors, and personnel carriers.

If you are a lateral thinker and look outside the square, just finding the right machine for your application is one hell of a task these days. These Morookas are different, but you can take my word for it, they are an excellent machine capable of working in any conditions.

With all this under their belt why wouldn’t I give it a double thumbs-up? Morooka, you done good!

Morookas are distributed in New Zealand by Auckland-based Magnum Equipment.

For more information, call 09 838 0068 or visit

Keep up to date in the industry by signing up to Deals on Wheels' free newsletter or liking us on Facebook