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A KEANE EYE: The Sunset clause

In July 2008, Keane Eye covered (in part) Sunset Equipment’s plans to extend the wheelbase of the 11t capacity MST-2200VD model. The first of these variants has now been built by Norm Smith of engineering company Weldco in Kurwongbah, Queensland, and has been sent to Papua New Guinea (where else!).This is expected to become a significant activity, as Sunset Equipment recently reached agreement with Morooka to allow their transporters to be built in Australia. This not only reduces the impact on the cost of the machines of adverse exchange rate changes with the yen, but also means that variations to the standard model, including long wheelbase variants, can be built from the ground up rather than being built in Japan and exported; and then disassembled, modified and reassembled in Australia.The first machine built had a Hiab crane fitted behind the cab, and the additional chassis length allowed a usable body length to be fitted behind the crane.One of Sunset Machinery’s intentions when proposing the idea of lengthening the chassis of the MST-2200VD was to be able to carry a 20ft container. This would increase the utilisation of the Morookas by allowing modules to be carried to remote sites and left there while the transporter returned for additional modules, or for a single Morooka to perform multiple tasks by changing bodies (for example, flat bed, personnel transport, tipper, etc).Carrying a 20ft container would require the addition of an extra two bogies to the standard machine, whereas the first machine build had only a single bogie added. However, the engineering has already been undertaken, and the longer tracks have been purchased, so it is only a matter of time before the longer wheelbase machine is built. The potential of the local manufacturing operation goes far beyond simply extending the wheelbase of existing models to allow containers and demountable bodies to be carried. Where additional hydraulics is required for specialised applications, this can be designed into the machine from the start rather than retrofitted.As the machines are not being built on a production line, each machine can be tailored to suit the application, and special bodies can be built and fitted in the factory. This has already been exploited with a slewing dump body for a smaller machine now under construction. Other applications are being considered. Local manufacture could also mean that different cab options can be considered such as crew cabs or forward-mounted cabs to maximise body length or reduce head height.While it is probably fair to say that the Morooka has greater application in developing countries, with their shortage of infrastructure, there are many applications in Australia where a Morooka could be a viable option. Their stability, low ground pressure and high carrying capacity lend themselves to many applications, and reduce the ground preparation requirements for transport and support vehicles. This can be an important consideration in environmentally sensitive areas. Having a local manufacturing operation also gives local contractors the opportunity to order what they really want, rather than adapt a standard product to suit their needs.

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