Matakohe Kauri Mu­seum

The Shed - - News -

Not a restora­tion for the faint-hearted

An­other project that re­quires low level but con­stant at­ten­tion is the Cater­pil­lar Sixty built by the Cater­pil­lar Co. in the US and used for drag­ging out logs in the bush. First used in the 1930s, it re­placed the equiv­a­lent of 112 bul­locks (be­tween eight and 14 were used in a team), driv­ers, and jack­ers. She runs at 60hp (45kW) at 640rpm and weighs 9.3 tonnes.

Cost­ing £2K, it landed in Auckland circa 1929, im­ported by AS Pater­son & Co. Ltd. The petrol tank holds 44 gal­lons (167 litres) and uses 5½ gal­lons (21 litres) per hour. Mea­sur­ing nine feet high (3m) and 15 feet long (5m), the Cater­pil­lar car­ries a winch that can haul 25 tons (23 tonnes), and its winch drum holds 341m of wire.

Although there is an in­struc­tion panel on the ma­chine’s side, Gra­ham Mur­ray says that th­ese are more for the op­er­a­tor than the me­chanic, and he is guided by common sense and prior prac­ti­cal knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence. In­ter­est­ing to note is that one of the tracks has been in­stalled back to front be­cause of ex­ces­sive wear, a cost-cut­ting ex­er­cise ap­par­ently.

The Cat is started up quite of­ten and this is a job for the younger mem­bers of the team. With luck, it will take only eight turns of the crank, but it has been known to take 18–25. It’s a dan­ger­ous task as some­one must stand on the tracks to ro­tate the fly­wheel. Care has to be taken to check that her ra­di­a­tor is full and that the ex­haust man­i­fold re­pair is holding up. That old standby, ex­haust sealer, is ap­plied, as re­cast­ing the man­i­fold is sim­ply too ex­pen­sive. me­chanic for Lo­vatt Sawmills in Whangarei and was sent into the bush to fix the Cat. Bash­ing away at a rusted-up nut, a piece of metal sheared off and flew into his six-yearold daugh­ter’s leg. At 82 years old now, she still car­ries a piece of the ma­chine.

The work of the vol­un­teers is val­ued be­yond price by the mu­seum and en­sures that th­ese his­toric pieces of ma­chin­ery con­tinue to tell their part of North­land’s kauri story. The mu­seum is open seven days a week and is an en­tranc­ing step back into our past. Come and visit or in­ves­ti­gate in more depth by vis­it­ing kau­rimu­seum.com.

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