Cat trucks tackle tough desert conditions

Cat trucks tackle on Strzelecki Desert

On Farm
STRZELECKI DESERT: After two years working In Australia's roughest desert conditions, Cat trucks are redefining the meaning of versatility for Dunn's Earthmoving.

STRZELECKI DESERT: After two years working In Australia's roughest desert conditions, Cat trucks are redefining the meaning of versatility for Dunn's Earthmoving.

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After two years working In Australia's roughest desert conditions, Cat trucks are redefining the meaning of versatility for Dunn's Earthmoving.

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THE CT630LS model Cat trucks never see a sealed road and are often in a different applications day after day, from construction support, to heavy machinery float work, to livestock haulage.

The four Cat trucks work in the fleet of Dunn's Earthmoving, based deep in the Strzelecki Desert in South Australia, not far from Moomba.

Neil Dunn reckons the Cat trucks have been successful in his operation and have won driver acceptance.

“The boys really like them, good to drive and the big bunks mean that when they have to camp in the trucks it’s pretty good,” Neil said.

Operations manager Trent Ulmer said the trucks had stood the test of time on some of the roughest roads in Australia.

“The trucks are proving their durability and structural integrity,” Trent said.

The trucks were supplied by WesTrac.

The CT630LS trucks are 90 tonne rated with a luxury sleeper cab. Cross locks are fitted on the diffs to handle the work in sand.

The trucks are powered by the iconic Caterpillar C15 engine that is rated at 550hp and has 1850 foot pounds of torque to pull heavy loads through the rough conditions with ease.

An 18 speed Eaton overdrive transmission sending the power to the Meritor diffs and a PRIMAAX rear suspension complete the bush spec in the Dunn operation.

Employing a staff of more than 120 people when the oil industry is running in top gear, Neil Dunn is facing the recent turndown with optimism.

“Since oil prices went fro $110 to $26 a barrel, the mining industry shut the rigs down out here, shut up shop,” Neil said.

“But with oil prices back up to the $40s and $50s a barrel, they have cranked up again. We were pretty quiet for five or six months.

“Road maintenance kept us going, but we are back in the swing of things now with the rigs cranked up again.”

Trent Ulmer works from an office deep in a town-sized camp of transportable buildings at Padulla oil field. Surrounded by computers, whiteboards and maps he explained how the fly in fly out system works.

“The crews on the job sites work three weeks on, three weeks off. Admin, tradies and management work two on two off, it’s a system that works well,” he said.

Trent works back to back with his opposite number, operations manager Craig MacDonald, two weeks on and two weeks off.

Neil Dunn and his son, general manager William, work similarly so that there is a Dunn on site 24-seven.

Trent said the Cat Trucks were handling the work fantastically and holding out really well.

“They have been a great addition to our fleet,” he said.

The service backup from the Cavpower base in Moomba, 80km away, is a major consideration.

“Any problems we can just run them into Moomba and they have all the fault finding gear, not that we’ve used it much,” Neil said. “They’ve proved themselves so far and this country is pretty tough on machinery.”

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