SAFETY TIP : 120tonne Excavators CANNOT jump.

Was that Friday? I remember sunrise, being roped into a mercy mission, the horrible thumps of road kill and at the end of 485 kilometres: a car that did everything but shake its harness to ask if there was some mistake.

Friday morning started out, as most mornings do, in the Land of Toothbrush 3, at 0440. Being Friday, it had the added bonus of being the day that we get to go HOME.

So I was packed and ready to roll from the front gates, rather than come back to camp and grab my stuff before heading out. This would prove to be an exceptional piece of foresight very shortly.

Sunrise over the Dump Trucks  Dawn and Venus over the Dump Trucks during pre-start checks.

Aircraft get pre-flight inspections, CAT Dump Trucks get pre-start checks.

You do have to know what you’re looking at in this photo; its not so much the quality of my photography but more that I was forced to use my phone camera rather than the little Sony. (Batteries still on charge).

About an hour after I took that photo, the phone rang and I was told I was needed back at the other site – but the catch was: there had been an incident and I had to bring a critical spare part with me. Oh yeah – and HURRY.

I was curious what the incident was…. Being the Safety Officer, I knew that there was going to be paperwork for me at the end of the drive.

 Kakadu highway

So we started driving – me, my trusty Landcruiser and a 100kg pin for an Excavator boom arm. I had to drive back west part of the Arnhem Highway, then head south easterly onto the Kakadu highway for 230 kms and turn north on the Stuart Highway for another 70. Sound like almost three sides of a triangle? You betcha.

No crocodiles in this one 

This is really where the wild things are. I saw crocodiles in lagoons – briefly! I saw wild horses. I saw a dead donkey. I took a photo of that but I’m not going to post it. Its bad enough I post dump truck crashes. I don’t need to traumatise people with dead donkeys.

 more highway

The spots on the images are my windscreen getting progressively more splattered.



And at one point I noticed it was getting grey and smoky…. and when I came round the bend :

Grass fire A grass fire….. 

When I got back to the Land of Shiny Rocks, I found out what the problem was.


Someone had tried to jump a 120 tonne Hitachi excavator off a 2m high “bench”. He had put the bucket down on the ground and tried to ooze the tracks off the edge.

Good Plan? FAIL.


This is what a Hitachi Excavator looks like, working on a bench.

Excavator on a bench 

See the edge he’s working on? Thats a Bench. To get down, you mush up some rock and make a nice little slope (no greater than 35deg according to the Hitachi Manual) and then put the bucket on the ground and roll down to meet it. 


Its actually quite something to watch, an excavator at work. Its such a mix of  enormous force and hydraulic precision.


Anyway, getting back to our friend who thought that excavators can fly.   There are pins that hold the top of the bucket to the boom, and the parts that let 7tonnes of bucket move with such precision .


 These are huge!

These are the pins – they’re about a metre long, 16cm in diameter. The one on top is my passenger. The one on the bottom is the one that sheared in half.

 Sheared boom pin 

I’ll let you think about what sort of force is required to fracture a piece of metal like that.


 Working on the excavator


By the end of the day, the boys were busy inserting the new pin and I was ready to go home.

sunset over the Great Northern Railway 

I left Sunset and the shiny rocks behind to come back north to Toothbrush one and The Stash. The drive home, another 150odd km, was in the dark – which I’m not keen on. Accompanied by the occasional thud as something goes under a wheel (I hate that noise) and a car who wanted to go *that* way to get home. Dont know why, but he decided we were going down Tiger Brennan freeway… so we did. 


And then I was home to muster The Stash.   For Whom I have plans…………

PLANS…. *muhahahahawahwahahah*

I’ll tell you later 🙂

* This post was supposed to have been posted last night but for some reason my computer didnt think was necessary…. but hey…


~ by SB&C on September 8, 2007.

One Response to “SAFETY TIP : 120tonne Excavators CANNOT jump.”

  1. Something has just occured to me.. and I find myself a bit sad and trying to work out whether I should delete the photo…

    The second photo from bottom – the one on the angle?

    The man you can see sitting on top of the bucket – you can only see his back, is Simon, who was killed about three weeks after this post, when the car he was driving rolled.

    If you read my post “Phone calls in the middle of the night, 1 October 2007, this deals with the news of his death.

    Simon was NOT wearing his seatbelt and I can only say that, please :

    Put your seatbelt on.

    The other person in the car, survived the accident, the vehicle rolled several times; he now has Survivor’s guilt and blames himself for not doing *something*.

    Your friends and children do not deserve to go through what Simon’s wife and little boys now have to endure.

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