Review: Morooka MST-3000VD site dumper
Ron Horner gets his hands on a Morooka 3000VD all-terrain crawler carrier and says the site dumper is invaluable in muddy and boggy areas.
I’ve said it before and I can safely say it again: "Sometimes curiosity doesn’t necessary kill the cat … but it definitely lets the cat out of the bag."
This was the case recently when I was able to access the remediation of a fairly toxic abandoned mine site in the picturesque tourist town of Urunga on the NSW Mid North Coast.
This particular mine site has caused untold grief for the environment and pristine waterways of the area for over 40 years since the mine owners decided it was no longer profitable to treat the resourced antimony.
The site was used for processing stibnite (antimony ore) which released vast amounts of antimony, arsenic and mercury in its treatment as well as cyanide and phenolic acids.
It just happened that the treatment plant was located on the edge of a pristine wetland of a waterway which flowed directly into the Pacific Ocean. The leaching effect of the heavy metals and metals slowly but surely embedded its toxic nature into the surrounding environment.
Forty years later the effect was deemed far too great to allow it to lie in its current state and the NSW Government engaged the Soil Conservation Service to conduct a full mine remediation of the affected area and bring the pristine waterways back to an environmental standard more acceptable to the 21st Century.
This was no mean feat and required a project manager who could well and truly look outside the proverbial box to ensure the works conformed to stringent EPA and NSW Government legislation, came in under budget (or close to), and adhered to strict OH&S protocols.
He also needed to understand that there would have to be many time-outs called as conditions, weather and methodologies required modification during the remediation of the site.
This job was handed to Soil Conservation Service project manager Clayton Colmer and site superintendent Jason ‘Bashy’ Bashforth, who have given us the green light to document and photograph the many phases of the project over a 12-month period.
On a project as this, and understanding the difficulties ahead, the boys understood that they would be requiring specific all-terrain equipment to attack the extremely unsavoury conditions.
This included a fleet of Morooka 3000VD rubber-tracked, all-terrain crawler carriers set up as site dumpers.
Made in Japan (with some Cat influence, I’d say), they proved to be unstoppable and invaluable in the atrocious, wet and muddy conditions encountered during the remediation process.
In the cab
The Morooka cabin is well and truly up my alley … based on that of a Cat excavator, it provides an excellent array of simple and easy-to-read and understand gauges, a simple tipping lever, counter-rotation hydrostatic drive levers, E-stops, aircon, big side mirrors, HEPA filter pressurised cabin, radio, etc.
It’s a well-designed and operator friendly office with great all-round vision (for a tipper).
The rubber tracks on the Morooka carrier are the result of over 50 years of joint development from Bridgestone and Morooka. They combine the characteristics of a tyred vehicle — creating speed, smooth ride, low ground pressure and high performance — and the excellent traction of a steel-tracked vehicle.
This, coupled with the unique double rocker bottom track rollers and drive sprocket configuration, means that these little fellas can go almost anywhere in any conditions.
To get this earthmover on the move is so simple. The hydrostatic transmission allows for economical use of the 242kW CAT C9 engine’s full power via the two-lever forward, reverse and counter rotation hand controls located to the centre front of the operator.
This system eliminates the need for a clutch and gear controls, making the Morooka extremely manoeuvrable.
The track configuration of the machine is designed to lay the track out in front of the machine and minimise bogging when fully laden as it is driven from the top drive sprocket.
The Morooka 3000 VD comes in at about 17 tonnes and is able to carry an extraordinary 15 tonnes in weight.
It also has a low ground pressure of 45.1kPa when fully laden. This is partly due to the design of the 900mm-wide rubber track shoes sitting on the 5m x 2.5m long frame, and to its well-balanced design.
Speed across the ground is an impressive 12km/h, while ground clearance is 450mm.
For tipping, Morooka has engineered a twin hydraulic ram to dispose of mud with ease. The squarish shape and close-to-ground design of the machine guarantees safe tipping angles can be achieved in most cases.
On the job
This demonstration unit really proved unstoppable, hauling toxic mud from the tailings area of the abandoned mine site into a sealed mono-cell purposely built to house the 30,000 tonnes of excavated material being dredged/dug and sucked out of the contaminated area.
Access to the loadout area changed accordingly as the project moved forward — on some days the operators were on firm terra firma, and on others we were using purpose-built ‘log mats’ to gain access to those white-knuckle spots where you knew that if you were not square and central to the mats and the excavator operator just happened to load you off centre … well, let’s just say the next step is OMG!
Interestingly enough, the Morookas had many different machines load them up during the different phases of the remediation.
Front-end loaders were in use in the first instance when the material was close to the bank of the tailings dam; conventional excavators then came into play when things became a touch more difficult to access; and then a 40-tonne floating excavator was on hand to load out when things became extremely hairy towards the centre of the wet tailings and timber mats were the only access.
Not a spot for the faint hearted.
By the way, a warning based on hard experience: Don’t attempt to reverse up over excessively steep inclines in soft materials as you will find your nose touching the windscreen as the front bellies out big-time when the weight is transferred from rear to front.
The bottom line
After inspecting and using the Morooka 3000VD rubber-tracked, all-terrain crawler carriers I have come to the conclusion that they are an invaluable vehicle capable of accessing not only mud and boggy areas but also suited to sand and desert areas.
A slewing version of the carrier was part of the fleet, and this had particular appeal to me. Used where the dump points are so bad that turning or reversing becomes a major drama, this machine can drive directly to your dump point, slew just as you would with an excavator, and dump your load.
This is definitely better than anything I have operated before.
These machines are perfectly suited for use in a wide range of applications and are particularly suited to environmentally sensitive areas. They will accommodate a variety of attachments such as water tanks, digger derricks, drill rigs, cement mixers, welders, lubrication rigs, fire-fighting equipment, specialty dump bodies, scissor lifts, seismic testing equipment, exploration tools, air compressors and personnel bodies.
With all this under their belt why wouldn’t I give them a ‘double thumbs-up’?
Keep up to date on the industry by signing up to Trade Earthmover's free weekly newsletter. Be the first to know about new machines for sale.