Back at School and getting D’s…

Late last year we had the pleasure of helping out Collingwood College’s parents and staff in building a new playground for the junior school.   Having made a stellar impression, they asked us back this week to help out with some more jobs around the school, including:

  • Excavating a courtyard to make way for a new paved / gravel walkway and garden beds
  • Moving and packing gravel in preparation for a concrete slab
  • Demolishing a brick wall to open up a little more space in the outer car-park

The College is a massive complex with fantastic facilities and established gardens, walkways and playgrounds.  Unfortunately this makes access and moving material around a little tricky.  Fortunately however, with the recent addition of the Baby Carrot (Kubota U17-3), we were able to squeeze through the walkways and corridors and get stuck into the job.

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The brick wall proved to be a respectable challenge, double skinned, core filled and heavily re-enforced (not exactly sure what it was designed to stop!), Baby Carrot took some time knock it over and clear away the rubble.  Nonetheless, in just over 8 hours, we had finished all three jobs, cleaned-up and were rolling out the gate.

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There are a few more walls, and a brick ‘facilities hut’ that we are booked in to demolish during school holidays – apparently flying bricks and kids don’t mix well.  As the walls and hut adjoin the outer car-park, we’ll have room to roll in the Mighty Carrot (Kubota U55-4) fitted with the Hammer and Hydraulic Grapple… should be a fun day at the office!

The Baby Carrot!

After the success of adding the ‘Mighty Carrot’ (Kubota U55-4) to the fleet, we thought it best to press on and make sure we have the full range of machines available. As such, it is with great pleasure that we introduce… quiet drum roll in the background… anticipation building… bladders straining due to the sheer excitement… the ‘Baby Carrot’ (Kubota U17-3)!

Kubota U17-3Added to the AMJ Fleet last week, this little bundle of joy weighs in at just over 1.73T when fueled up and wearing its buckets.  Whilst it is by far the smallest member of the fleet, it more than makes up for its lack of mass through a myriad of clever and innovative features, including:

  • Variable Width Tracks – That’s right, the tracks are hydraulically adjustable to enable it to squeeze through tight spots, and then broaden its stance to maximise its reach and stability.
  • Variable Width Blade – It would be a little pointless to have fancy tracks, squeeze through a tight spot and get the blade stuck.  The Engineers at Kubota were on a roll when they designed this little gem, and have fitted it with an adjustable blade to match. Arigatou gozaimasu boys! (Japanese for thank you very much… or bless you… wasn’t really clear on google…)
  • Removable Canopy – Undo 4 bolts, and 1 power connector and the Canopy can be temporarily removed, reducing the Baby Carrot’s height down from 2.3 meters (incidentally only a little over my height) to 1.5 meters.  Allowing us to squeeze under most carports, doorways, garages, pergolas etc.
  • Rated lifting points – Sometimes the only way in to a job is an via aerial approach.  As such the little U17-3 is fitted with lifting points to enable it to be dropped from a plane and parachute in to where it’s needed most… or alternatively (far less exciting) it can be lifted by a crane.

We’ve been hard at work getting plates, hitches, pins and brackets fabricated to make sure the little tacker can utilise as many of our attachments as possible, including Buckets, Ripper Tyne, Driver and Augers.  For a full list of its features, dimensions and attachments, please check out our Equipment page.

The ‘Baby Carrot’ is the perfect option for all small or tight access jobs such as:

  • Clearing and Landscaping backyards
  • Excavating sites for sheds
  • Digging trenches along buildings or fences
  • Drilling post holes for retaining walls or extensions
  • Digging small backyard pools

And almost any other job you can think of.  So next time you’re reaching for the shovel, remember the ‘Baby Carrot’ and give us a bell.  If access is extremely tight and we have to parachute in, we’ll do it at cost (fuel, hours, transport and a 6 pack of Men’s Bonds undies – with little excavators on them).

Clean up on aisle 3… someone dropped 30T of rubbish!

We love taking on new clients and new challenges, and this week we were fortunate enough to get to do both.  Our new clients are preparing to sell their semi-rural property, and contacted us to see if we could help clean up prior to planned inspections.

As is often the case on rural properties, rubbish from various repairs, projects, maintenance and general use quickly mounts up.  In this case, it had been a while between clean-ups, so the pile had grown to approximately 40 cubic metres and consisted of everything from old flooring through to gas cylinders and scrap metal.

Tipping fees for mixed loads such as this can be exorbitant, and it well and truly pays to do your homework to figure out the best way to get rid of it.  Skip or Bin hire is a popular choice, and can be a great option if you have hazardous materials such as asbestos, old paint or other chemicals  (reducing the number of times hazardous waste is handled is generally safer and cheaper).  However, for green waste, clean fill or mixed loads such as this, it is far cheaper to have your rugged, handsome and witty Earthworks contractor remove it for you… In this instance, using skips would have been roughly 70% more expensive.

So with our homework done (cheapest tip and location sorted) we deployed the Mighty Carrot (Kubota U55-4) fitted with the HDR40 Hydraulic Rake Grapple.   To say we were a little excited to put the Carrot and grapple through their paces is an understatement, and I’m very glad to report that they didn’t disappoint.

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Using the Carrot’s brute strength, we were able to flatten, crush, demolish, smash and obliterate the majority of items in the pile, significantly reducing the number of tip runs, and time required to complete the job.  Probably the only thing that proved a little challenging was picking up some of the cables and hoses that were in the pile – it’s a little like trying to eat spaghetti without being able to twirl your fork to pick it up!

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In the end, we managed to squash the 40 metres down to 30 and cleared the pile in just 3 loads.  For the final clean, we swapped the HDR40 grapple for the Carrot’s EI Engineering 1500mm mud bucket.  With a little raking and scraping, the end result was very clean and tidy, and you’d never have known there was 40 metres of rubbish there just hours before.

If you have a pile of rubbish, green waste, clean-fill or rubble that you want removed, please don’t hesitate to Contact Us.  We would love the opportunity to help you get rid of it as quickly and cost effectively as possible.  Don’t worry if access is tight, we have numerous machines of different sizes and capabilities, so give us a call, or check out our Equipment page for a list of our machines and their respective dimensions.

The Mighty Carrot!

Traditionally we’ve been an all CAT company, but with Kubotas latest offering, we couldn’t help but go Orange when it came time to purchase a new 5.5T Excavator.

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And here it is – the much-anticipated, fully featured, brand spanking new 5.5T Kubota U55-4.  Affectionately known henceforth as the ‘Carrot’!  This animal has all the latest and greatest bells and whistles that make it feel at home in the tightest of jobs right through to large commercial excavations.  With class leading breakout force, it punches well above its weight (similar to other brand’s 8T models) yet enjoys the smaller form factor and zero turn features of the 5T class.

No new toy is complete without a heap of accessories, and for the cleverly named ‘Carrot’ (yes I named it), we’ve gone all out:

  • First and foremost is the Toku 5M Hydraulic Hammer.  From the chisel up, the Toku hammers are designed to provide maximum power transfer, and when coupled with their ‘optimal piston design’ and ‘nitrogen charged recoil chamber’, they deliver world leading break force and reliability.
  • Second comes one of our all time favourites.  The Embrey HDR40 Hydraulic Grapple.  Having used its smaller brother extensively on our CAT 2.4T excavator, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to fit the Carrot up with a bigger, meaner and more powerful version.  We’re yet to put it to the test, so if you have something you want demolished, crushed, ripped apart or just generally destroyed, please call IMMEDIATELY.  As you may have guessed, we’re very keen to see what it can do!
  • Last but not least is a full complement of EI Engineering buckets.  We dug deep (pun fully intended) and picked up 350mm & 450mm GP buckets with optional Tiger Teeth.  The Tiger Teeth are specifically designed to rip into and break up ‘fracturable’ rock.  We also picked up a 1500mm mud bucket and Ripper Tyne to make sure we have all the options covered.

It’s important to have the right tool for the job, and keeping your tools happy is critical – so we made sure the Carrot had a few luxury items to keep the boys nice and comfy (hopefully you can see what I did there 🙂 – sorry boys!).  The cab is fitted with Air Conditioning, Heating, Bluetooth Stereo, Vanity Mirror (I know right?!?! quick make-up check before stepping out of the cab??) and all the windows are tinted to ensure no one gets fried during the hotter months.

For the full details on the Carrots dimensions and accessories, check out our Equipment page. If you’ve got a job that you think could use the Carrot, don’t hesitate to call!

McClaren Over Tyre Tracks (OTTs)

‘Formidable’, ‘Impressive’ and ‘Struth’ are the words that come to mind when describing the latest addition to the AMJ Earthworks collection of attachments and accessories.

With the onset of Autumn and the inevitable mud that follows, we lashed out and picked up a set of McClaren Over Tyre Tracks (OTTs).

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The McClaren OTTs bolt on over the existing Skid Steer tyres, instantly transforming it from an already capable workhorse into an unstoppable juggernaut.  This beast will now work in rain, hail, mud, snow, ice and sand.  Unfortunately getting the boys to work in those conditions is a little harder.  Might have to make up a few flasks with warm milk and a couple of teaspoons of concrete!

Whilst the main benefit of the Tracks is the ability to work in any condition, they also have some other great advantages, including:

  • Increase in flotation (approx 5x increase), enabling the machine to sit up on top of the surface as opposed to breaking through and making a mess
  • Increases the overall weight of the machine (additional 250kg) enabling the skid steer to lift more without tipping forward
  • Lowers the machine’s centre of gravity, enabling it to remain stable and work safely on steeper inclines and angles
  • Rubber pads that won’t damage concrete, bitumen or other paved surfaces

Each link of the tracks weighs in at just over 5kg, and with 23 links on each side, the tracks take a little time and effort to get on and off.  As such we plan to leave them on from late Autumn through to mid Spring.  Naturally though if you have a job outside of those times that you think the tracks would be good for (working on grass, turf or other sensitive areas), let us know and we will come prepared!

Collingwood College Playground

One of our more fun jobs in late 2014 was for our friends at Collingwood College.

The college caters for students from Prep through to Year 12, and they were part way through constructing a massive adventure playground for the younger kids.  The playground, constructed largely from natural materials, follows the school boundary and has large stretches of raised platforms, ramps, bridges and walkways.

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With work nearing completion, the college asked us to come in on a Saturday and help out at one of their regular ‘working bees’.  The job entailed levelling the areas in and around the playground to enable the installation of ‘soft-fall’ materials (bark, sand, rubber etc).  That way if any of the kids do take a tumble, it should be relatively painless!

Despite the large area, access to and from the playground was restricted at just over 1400mm.  Luckily, it was sufficient for us to very carefully (and slowly) sneak our CAT 302.4 Excavator in to do the heavy lifting and digging.   Unfortunately the terrain we were working in (we literally had an excavator in a sand pit!) meant that we had to barrow out most of the spoils.  That said, there was a great crew of parents on hand to help out, and boy they were keen!  Other than a few ‘mandatory’ coffee breaks, they kept up a constant stream of barrows.

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We also had some specialist help and supervision throughout the day, which made it great fun, and at times very entertaining!  Nothing quite like being told that you’re doing it wrong, and you need to dig the other way!! 🙂

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To help move the dirt (approximately half had to be removed, and the rest spread at the back of the oval) we also rolled in the CAT 226B2.  In total, we moved over 30 cubic metres of dirt, and managed to completely level the playground.

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It was a fun and productive day, and it was fantastic to see such a strong and active community at the school.  Can’t wait to see how the playground turns out!

The Great Wall of Croydon

Well it was a frantic few months in the lead up to Xmas and we’re slowly getting back on top of the photos and posts to share some of our latest and greatest jobs.

This job aka “The Great Wall of Croydon” was for one of our regular clients, and as always we were keen to get involved and help out on their latest project.

The initial brief entailed:

  • Removal of an old railway sleeper retaining wall (approximately 20m long)
  • Excavation and removal of approximately 30 tonne of soil and clay (new retaining wall planned to be built 2M back into bank)
  • Drilling of 16 post holes (between 1.5 and 2M deep by 250mm wide)

We rolled in the CAT 226B2 Skid Steer, 302.4 Excavator and our 10T Tipper.

Access was extremely tight at first, with work starting directly under a double car port.  However, after a little over 30 minutes, the excavator fitted with the Heavy Duty Rock grapple had made light work of removing a good portion of the existing railway sleepers, making itself a platform to work from, and giving it a little more room to swing in.

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Once the existing wall and soil was removed, our clients saw an opportunity to use some large rocks as part of the retaining wall.   Once the rocks were selected (from the local Transrock yard), the boys nipped down, picked them up and once again using the Heavy Duty Rock grapple had them in place and ready for backfiling in very short order.  The finished product looks great, and should provide a maintenance free retaining wall for life!

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In fact, our clients were so happy with the rocks (and impressed with our ability to place them so perfectly) that they asked us to build the kids a sand pit.  So once again, off to the rock yard, an hour or so with the excavator and heavy-duty rock grapple, a quick run to the garden supplies for sand and voila! instant sand pit with inbuilt planters for shade trees.  The kids took to it immediately!

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3 short of 100!

Our latest clients are in the early stages of extending their home.  As with most extensions, there was a need to level the site, lay new plumbing and drill holes for the stumps.  BVJ Plumbing had been sub-contracted to handle the work, and bought us in to help out with some of the excavations and drilling the stump holes… all 97 of them!  Bit of a pity really, 3 more and we could have notched up a first 100 hole job.  Ah well – next time!

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Even the best laid plans rarely survive the first day of work, and this job was no exception.  A combination of prevailing weather, soil conditions and some new landscaping ideas kept the boys on their toes, but to their credit, they put their booms down and buckets up (trade speak for heads down, bums up) and made it work.

Spoil management is always a challenge on smaller jobs like this.  Accurate calculation of the volumes and a good plan of what you will do with it is key.  For this job the client decided to stock pile some for top-dressing and landscaping at a later time.  It’s a great idea, as it removes the cost of transporting and dumping it.  Just make sure you pile it somewhere out of the way as double handling can quickly add hours if not days to a job.

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Our recently acquired Digga 350mm Heavy Duty Rock Auger was christened and worked hard on this job.  As the plans called for 300mm holes between 800 and 1400mm deep, and it enabled us to leave perfect, clean holes  – all of which passed inspection first time.

The auger worked so well in fact that we were able to wrap up the job quicker than expected.  It’s always nice to hand a client an invoice that is significantly lower than the quote!

Special thanks to BVJ Plumbing for asking us to assist.  We’ve known and used BVJ plumbing several times over the past few years, and have no hesitation in recommending them.  So if you’re in need of a good, honest plumber, let us know and we’ll put you in touch with BVJ.

Heavy Duty Rock Auger

Another day, another toy! And yes we love our toys!!

We took time out today for a quick trip down to one of our favourite local manufactures – Digga, to pick up a new Driver hitch and 350mm Heavy Duty Rock Auger.

The new hitch will enable us to use our existing Digga 5T Driver and Augers on the excavator giving us un-paralleled reach and flexibility.  Perfect for those awkward and tough to get into jobs.

The 350mm Rock Auger is an absolute beast and will make short work of earth, shale, asphalt, clay, permafrost (very common in Australia :)), fracturable rock and just about anything else you can put in front of it (preferably not water and gas mains!).

Digga Rock Auger

At 350mm with Digga’s ‘TRU-CUT’ design, it’s perfect for drilling post and stump holes for new builds or extensions.  Coupled with its heavy duty construction and ‘twin tungsten’ tipped teeth, it enables us to drill clean, precise holes in almost any condition.

These new toys augment our existing Driver attachment for the Skid Steer and the 200 and 400mm Heavy Duty Rock Augers.  For more details, check out our Equipment page.

Mud wrestling with Chris’ Excavations!

Huntingtower School in Mount Waverley is expanding and they have just started excavating footings for their new facilities and classrooms.  Chris’ Excavations was called in to dig the foundations and, considering current conditions, leaving the dirt on-site was not an option. So Chris asked us to help out (thanks Chris!!).  We rolled in the mighty CAT 226B2 to move the dirt around on site, and the 10T tipper to give it a ‘dink’ to the tip.

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Conditions were not ideal, but the boys got stuck into it. With some early starts and long days, they knocked it over in short order.  The combination of mud and clay made it a little slippery at times, and watching the boys slip’n’slide between and in the machines was very entertaining – some of the pirouettes, poses and almost full splits were priceless… Should have really called this job ‘Mud Ballet presented by Chris and AMJ Earthworks’, but I don’t think the boys would have been to keen on that… although I’m pretty sure they’d be keen to wear ‘high vis’ tutus 🙂

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Seriously though, it’s in these sorts of conditions that having good quality, reliable equipment and skilled operators becomes critical.  Digging strip footings to spec in wet soil and clay, whilst ensuring they don’t collapse takes skill and experience – both of which Chris has plenty of.  Having watched Chris work, if you’re in need of a of 3.5T excavator and highly skilled operator, we strongly recommend Chris’ Excavations.  If you’d like Chris to help out on a job, give us a bell and we can put you in touch.