Product feature: Hidromek for farm business

By: Steve Atkinson, Photography by: Phil Means

The uptake of Hidromek excavators in the regions around the central North Island continues, with a new HMK145LC H4 being delivered to a Horowhenua-Manawatū farming business

The Hidromek HMK145LC H4 has an operating weight of 16,600kg

Over the past 10 to 15 years, second-hand equipment dealers and contractors disposing surplus excavators have found ready buyers in the farming community. Often the machine has higher hours on the clock and in need of a birthday, both physical and cosmetic, but if it runs okay, then a farmer will have an ideal tool to keep drains, farm races, and a host of other jobs in order.

While an older machine is fine for smaller farms, things step up a notch when there’s more land to look after. In the case of Waitarere-based farm owners JD & GP Easton Ltd, they were in need of a strong, reliable machine to carry out work on a number of their family-run farms in the region and opted to purchase new.

Merv Bishop checks out the new machine

"We only work on our own farms and have a few machines," says co-owner Doug Easton. "The Hidromek replaced an older excavator that had high hours. Small cracks were starting to appear, and it was getting sloppy. Our operator Merv (Mervyn Bishop) was getting frustrated with it, so we started looking around for a replacement.

"Merv spoke to Richard Algar (DOW 305), who is very knowledgeable on excavators and thought we’d have a closer look at Hidromek, the brand he was using." Things progressed from there, with Doug and Merv having a closer inspection of the brand at the Central District Field Days, with Hidromek distributor Magnum Equipment’s territory manager Phil Means.

"I think Phil actually sold us our first excavator back in 2006, when he worked for a different supplier," says Doug. "We got talking to him and eventually settled on a slightly smaller excavator (HMK145LC H4) to make it a bit easier to transport between the farms.

The Isuzu engine outputs 98hp(73kW)@2000rpm

"The Hidromek looked quite solid, and it was good that they run an Isuzu engine and Kawasaki pumps. Being well-known brands, I guess parts will be easier to source if something goes wrong," he says.

The Hidromek HMK145LC H4 arrived in mid-December 2021, during a bout of heavy rain, which interrupted the run of fine weather. Since its delivery day, the 16.6-tonne Hidromek HMK145LC H4 has been used on drainage work, a house site, and a number of other smaller jobs.

50 hours behind the controls

The blade provides additional versatility

From here, Merv takes up the conversation and at the time we spoke to him, had completed around 50 hours behind the controls of the new excavator. "On the day the photos were taken, the machine had just been delivered, so I started out tidying up some piles of dried-out soil from drains," says Merv.

"Phil did tell me to drop the blade, but I wanted to find its (operating) boundaries and was happy to see that moving a full bucket at full reach did not throw the excavator around."

Merv is quick to point out that "there’s a limit" to what an excavator can do before it’s out of its safe operating zone and has subsequently moved heavier products such as aggregate with good results.

Testing the balance by moving spoil

"It’s one of the best-balanced excavators I’ve operated and having the blade there for additional stability is ideal. The thumb is removable if there ever is a concern about having too much weight on the arm, but I don’t think we’ll ever need to do that," he says.

Impressive features

Other features that have impressed Merv in the weeks since he took over the controls are the air-conditioning and on-board refuelling systems. "The aircon has been working really well during these hot days," says Merv. "It seems a lot better than some other machines I’ve used in the past.

"I’m also happy with the refuelling system. Being able to easily top the excavator up with the on-board electric pump is ideal and means there’s no contamination, which can happen with other methods."

Grunty work

There are three arm sizes available: 2300mm, 2600mm, and 2900mm

However, it’s the bigger jobs that will test the mettle of the European-made Hidromek excavator, and Merv has been eyeing a block where a stand of macrocarpas has been recently removed.

"So far, we’ve only done light work, and I want to give the machine a good run. I’m chomping at the bit to see what its capable of and some stumping will see how well the excavator really performs," says Merv.

Robur-supplied DynaTough tilt hitch and hydraulic thumb

Although, he hasn’t needed to use it much yet, the Robur Attachments-made DynaTough twin ram tilt-hitch and hydraulic thumb combination should come into their own on a demolition job that will soon be taking place.

The hydraulic thumb is removable

"I haven’t needed to use the tilt-hitch much yet but paired up with the hydraulic thumb, it will get a good workout when we soon demo a building," says Merv. While its early days, both Doug and Merv feel they’ve purchased a good solid unit that will serve the varied and busy workload.

"Everything is accessible for servicing, it’s a smooth ride, and after 10 hours behind the controls, I feel fresh as a daisy," says Merv. "I think the boss got good value for money."

Hidromek HMK145LC H4 specifications

Operating weight 16,600kg
Engine Isuzu AJ-4JJ1X
Power 98hp(73kW) @ 2000rpm (gross)
Max torque 385Nm@1600rpm
Main pump

Kawasaki double variable displacement axial piston pumps

Max flow 2 x 129L/min
Pilot pump 20L/min
Boom dimension 4600mm
Arm dimension

2300mm/2600mm/ 2900mm

Max dig reach (2600mm arm) 8510mm
Max dig depth 5660mm
Max dig height 9550mm
Max dump height 6960mm 

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