The latest in cutting edge machinery is being used in the construction of a building that will eventually house some of the oldest machinery in Northland.

A Geax drill rig imported from Italy by GHK Piling is drilling holes for 32 piles as part of a new clubhouse and display shed for the Northland Vintage Machinery Club. Work began this week on the Maunu museum site and is the first job the drill rig and crew have worked on.

But the vintage machinery is also proving its worth and a well-used D2 Caterpillar owned by the club has been used for site preparation as well as flattening out soil drilled from the holes.

The current shed has more than 100 pieces of vintage machinery, some over a century old, packed in with some other pieces that cannot fit being held in storage off-site.

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Neville Edge on the controls of the bulldozer with fellow Northland Vintage Machinery Club members Dick Thorburn and Brian Wrack with the latest drill rig in the background drilling piles.
Neville Edge on the controls of the bulldozer with fellow Northland Vintage Machinery Club members Dick Thorburn and Brian Wrack with the latest drill rig in the background drilling piles.

Club chairman Dick Thorburn said the new building would provide more room to display the machinery ranging from horse-drawn gear to tractors to wood-cutting machines and bulldozers.

The club was started in 1991 with the aim of collecting, restoring and displaying vintage machinery to the public.

"At the moment the machines are squeezed into a little room and it's not that easy to get round them. We want to spread them out and allow people to move round easily and take photos," Thorburn said.

"We do it as a hobby but we are proud of displaying what we have."

The two-level building will see heavy bulldozers and tractors displayed on the ground floor and lighter rubber tyred tractors and other farming gear and machines finding a home on the top floor.

Thorburn said if all went to plan they would be moving the gear in before Christmas.

The project had been given a boost thanks to a grant from NZ Lotteries and donations from the public and club members. However, to complete the top floor more funds would be needed.

A Geax drill rig imported from Italy by GHK Piling is drilling holes for 32 piles as part of a new clubhouse and display shed for the Northland Vintage Machinery Club. Photo / Michael Cunningham
A Geax drill rig imported from Italy by GHK Piling is drilling holes for 32 piles as part of a new clubhouse and display shed for the Northland Vintage Machinery Club. Photo / Michael Cunningham

GHK Piling construction manager Dean Collinson said the base of the modern machine was a Hitachi excavator that had been modified with Geax drill attachment. Inside the comfort of the cab the operator had the latest in computer technology at their finger tips.

"A lot of it's computer operated. You can dial up the depth, there is auto levelling and lots of fancy equipment in there."

Collinson said this was one of only three Geax drill rigs in New Zealand, with the other two based in Auckland.

He said the 15m high rig, which could fold down to 9m, would enable the company to tackle bigger projects in the region because it had the capability to drill to a depth of 40m.

Northland Vintage Machinery Club member Neville Edge uses a D2 caterpillar to help with the earthworks for a new club shed. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Northland Vintage Machinery Club member Neville Edge uses a D2 caterpillar to help with the earthworks for a new club shed. Photo / Michael Cunningham