Special feature: Big machine move

By: The Ed, Photography by: Supplied

The Ed talks to Christchurch-based Global Tractors, who recently sent a mining excavator to China

The cab riser needed removing to meet height restrictions

There’s a steady stream of big used excavation machinery in and out of New Zealand, and small Canterbury-based company Global Tractors is frequently in the middle of it all.
Owned by Stewart and Marc McSkimming, the father/son duo have been tapped into the offshore markets for many years and are often the go-to guys when something big and awkward to move needs to be moved either in or out of the country.

The most recent export was a 90-tonne Hitachi ZX870-3, which was one of two owned by Waikaia Gold located in Southland. The machine had spent 23,560 hours loading a 270-tonne alluvial gold dredge, averaging some 130m3 per hour since delivered new in 2014.

After six years of mining, the machine finished its work in Southland and and a new home was found for it in Shandong China, the export being a bit of a turn of the tables to what we’ve become used to.

The one way trip was 560km

However, before the machine was able to make its way to the wharf for delivery to a far-off land, Global Tractors along with their mechanical arm, Global Mechanical, were contracted to get the machine from Waikaia to Lyttleton Port, a distance of some 570km.

Back at the Rolleston base for prepping before heading off to China

Stewart took two of his mechanics to site and prepared the machine for transport back to their Rolleston base. The process, which took place over three days, involved the removal of the boom, stick, and bucket along with narrowing-in of the track frames for transport. 

"What you can’t appreciate from the photos is that it was bitterly cold, something like minus eight degrees on the first day and bucketing down with rain," says Stewart.

"We just figured you can only get wet once, so boxed on through and, fortunately, the weather and temperature picked up after that."

The cab riser gets removed

An anomaly was the fact the machine had a one-metre high-riser box fitted to the cab for elevation. Being too high for transport, it had to be removed and the cab replaced for the machine to meet height requirements and for the machine to remain mobile.

"Removing the riser sounds quite straightforward: lift the cab, pull out the riser, and drop it back down," says Stewart.

"What people don’t realise is that when replacing the cab, you have to contend with lengthened pilot hoses, longer electrical wiring, and everything else that goes along with a raised cab; it’s quite a task."

The components were moved in a separate load

Once the 90-tonne machine was broken into components ready for shipping, it was transported in two loads from Waikaia to Global Tractors Rolleston yard near Christchurch.

"We chose B.R. Satherley Transport for the two large shifts, as they’re experienced and know the road in that area," says Stewart.

"Barry’s team are good at carting big gear and know what they’re doing on and off the wharf."

B.R. Satherley Transport was contracted for the shifts

Before heading to wharf though, there was the matter of getting everything cleaned and prepared for export.

"Once all back in Rolleston, the machine was cleaned and all the other parts packed and lashed onto a 40-foot flat rack," says Stewart.

Packing and lashing is where the Global Tractors experience of sending large machines overseas comes to the fore, and in this area, they had plenty of practice after shipping most of the larger gear from the Stockton Mine to offshore locations.

"Having done a number of these large machines before, we’ve got a good handle on how to secure everything, so it stays safe during transit," says Stewart. More than a matter of just throwing a few strops across and hoping for the best, Stewart says everything is secured with properly rated chains and fittings and set at the right angles for maximum torque before being inspected and approved by a marine surveyor.

The cab gets refitted minus the riser

"The thing is all the components need to be packed and lashed correctly the first time. We can’t be sitting on the wharf tightening chains cause the port workers or the ship captain will refuse to take it if anything looks unsafe," says Stewart.

So, as another large machine delivery gets underway to Shandong, Stewart, Marc, and the others at Global Tractors are readying themselves for another large machine shipment.

"I can’t tell you exactly what it is just yet, but it’ll be big, that’s for sure," says Stewart.

It seems the Global Tractors team have found something of a niche. We’ll keep an eye out for that next machine. Surely something of that size won’t be hard to miss.

For more information, visit globaltractors.co.nz.  

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