One man and his machines

By: Ron Horner

Presented by
  • Earthmovers & Exacavators

An earthmoving machinery enthusiast, South-East Queensland’s Trevor Baker has a love for older machinery and getting it up and running good as new, writes Ron Horner

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Trevor Baker contemplating the next move

Trevor Baker is a local Aratula bloke who has a few machines, reads and loves Earthmovers and Excavators magazine, follows the deals in Trade Earthmovers and is the sort of bloke who just loves getting down and dirty when not in the operators seat.

Baker is definitely not the conforming prima donna operator we are so blessed with in our industry today. Some could say he lives in a time warp. He is old school, loves to buy cheap, loves to repair and get dirty, loves the challenges associated with older machinery and just loves working them as a multi machine owner/operator.

Baker completed his diesel fitter apprenticeship more years ago than one would like to remember. He has lived in the Scenic Rim region of Qld for most of his life, done the real hard yards as a kid on a dairy farm, apprenticed locally in the rural community, worked FIFO in the mines and came back home to crank up a part-time business in the earthmoving game.

Being local and having full knowledge of and contacts in the area, it didn’t take long for the major farming conglomerates to get hold of him and the rest is history.

Doing the tough times as a kid, Baker had to just do without more times than not and to get ahead had to be innovative, creative, practical in his application to chores and become more than just the "go to The Man" – he had to become The Man.

Trevor-Baker
Hyundai with 18m Long Reach Boom and Dipper

Buy used, buy cheap

Money has never been too easy to accumulate in this rural environment, as is with most rural areas. Baker knew from his early childhood all of the issues faced in the region and by setting up his business became totally dependent upon the local clients’ needs.

Overwhelming costs create cash flow issues in all farming areas, such as fluctuating market prices, floods, drought and transport costs. To provide this service and one suited to his very lean budget, Baker had no option other than to source very well used, extremely inexpensive items of equipment (which in his opinion were salvageable), so he could provide a service at a very attractive price to his rural community clients.

Utilising his skills learned from the diesel fitting and machining trade, Baker went to the wrecking yards in search of some inexpensive equipment which he could modify to suits his requirements. A lot of his fleet now is made up of mostly reincarnated earthmoving equipment sourced from Tilly’s in Toowoomba.

Included in his fleet is a Cat D250 articulated dump truck, a skid steer loader, Hitachi 13t excavator, a couple of rollers, 140G Cat grader, D5B Cat dozer, water truck, low loader and Australia’s first ever homemade Hyundai/Sumitomo/Hitachi long reach excavator.

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Hyundai 210 excavator with Sumitomo long reach and Hitachi add-on counterweight

Innovation in excavation

We investigated this machine and did a story on it some time ago and it’s a credit to the ingenuity of "The Man" to have the insight, ability and foresight to build something like this. Money is always tight in the bush and with Baker it’s no different. There is no big cash left over at the end of the year to go buy new or really good used equipment but as Baker’s as handy at just about everything most of us are not, he loves the challenge and buys a lot of his gear deemed as being "left in the long yard" or for you city types, "retired for scrap".

The local "Op Shop for Diggers", Tilly’s in Toowoomba is where Baker plies his skills and finds some equipment he deems suitable for refurbishment to be taken back to his Aratula workshop.

Having sourced a very well used Hyundai excavator from Tilly’s wrecking yard and securing it at the right price, Trevor promptly went about finding a long reach arm and boom suitable for a machine of this size.

Luckily, there just happened to be one in Tilly’s yard, good as new and suited to a Sumitomo excavator of a similar size. After reboring, machining and repinning the boom to suit the Hyundai frame, he had himself a neat long reach excavator (but not without a few design problems).

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Trevor Baker at the end a big day

He really needed to move more material in less time and hence a bigger bucket was required. This seemed an easy task until the length of the arm and size of the bucket were deemed incompatible and the decision to add more counterweight was the answer.

The current counterweight was already filled with concrete so, not to be beaten, Baker bought another counterweight from Tilly’s and promptly adapted the newly acquired Hitachi counterweight to the existing one on the Hyundai.

Australia’s one and only Hyundai/Sumitomo/Hitachi Longreach excavator was born.

Baker is the sort of bloke you would like to be in the trenches with; knowledgeable, practical, considerate and tough as they come, knows machinery and how to rebuild and operate it, but better than that, he is a bloody good bloke!

The old saying about "Cat … built to be rebuilt" can be extended when Trevor is around to "Any machine built can be rebuilt" – you’ve just got to call Trevor Baker.

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