As much as I love getting into Southland my time on the ground there is always way too short and the latest trip was no exception. Despite Gore being the Country and Western capital of New Zealand, on the day of our visit, there was not one cowboy in sight as we negotiated mini-Auckland traffic flows through the vibrant southern town.
A short time later, we found ourselves at the site of Gore’s former municipal swimming pools. And when I say former, it’s meant in the widest possible sense. Before contractors Johnstone Construction turned up with their machinery to commence the demolition and new build process, I am told it had for many years served the community as a mechanical engineering workshop after the swimming complex was relocated to a new aquatic centre.
"Equipment like this just makes it easier and safe for everyone"
“You could say that we did have our work cut out for us on this project though,” says site engineer Shea Patten-Wise. “The old pool had been filled in with whatever they could find with the exception of what they left open to form the workshop pits,” he says.
The remains of the old pool complex presented a number of challenges when organising equipment for the job. First off, there was a significant amount of reinforced concrete to be removed and being an open span area, a number of steel beams had to be removed before the crew even got below ground level. Shea says among the research options the business considered prior to commencing work, was crushing of the large quantity of raw concrete back into a product that could be reused on-site. However, processing restrictions on what is a relatively compact land footprint negated the idea after serious consideration. It was then decided to purchase a new machine that could safely demolish a building and fit attachments to safely and efficiently load what would undoubtedly be odd-shaped pieces of material.
"The versatility of the combination is quite extraordinary"
Shea says their research led the business to buy a new Hitachi ZX135US-5B 13.5-tonne excavator, with Attach2-supplied Multi-Grab bucket and 90-degree left-right Tilt-Motor/ quick coupler set-up. “For us, having a machine such as this with the versatile attachments has meant we have been able to safely remove some of the more awkward items such as overhead steel beams and other those harder to pick-upand- move heavy pieces,” he says. As we stood and watched, operator Lee Whitaker steadily filled a truck and trailer unit with concrete debris that had been stockpiled over the previous few days, putting the Multi-Grab bucket to good use, shifting larger material off to one side for further processing by a separate machine as he works through the pile. Of particular note with this latest model of Multi-Grab bucket is the redesign of the hydraulic hose layout that reroutes the oil through a manifold block that is tucked up out of harm’s way, essentially eliminating hoses around the Tilt-Motor system and reducing the chance of snagging. Site foreman Tane Mason, is also an enthusiast of new equipment the business is using and he speaks with satisfaction about how the whole unit has been performing during the demolition process. “With the Tilt-Motor being able to move the Multi-Grab bucket up to 90 degrees either left or right, we were able to get right in on steel beams and pillars in at virtually any angle; it works on near 360 degrees,” he says. It was not too long before the truck and trailer was filled and quickly replaced with another equally-sized unit from a local contractor, seconded onto Johnstone Construction’s job site. In a week or two, any evidence of the site’s previous lives will have been quickly and efficiently erased and work will have commenced on the latest use for the land, which I am told will be a fuel station for a commercial bulk distributor, and one of many Johnston Construction undertakes each year around New Zealand. Rightly so, Tane has the final word on the job at hand. “Equipment like this just makes it easier and safe for everyone on the job whether it is purlins, steel portals, or concrete itself. The versatility of the combination is quite extraordinary.”