Cover story: Earthquake post rammers

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Designed and engineered in Australia, the Earthquake range of post rammers offers quality, durability and nationwide repair

Designed and engineered in Australia, the Earthquake Post Rammer range offers quality, durability and nationwide sales and service.

The tough clay soils of the Darling Downs have long presented a formidable challenge for farmers, trying to install long-lasting fences that are steadfastly secured in the ground.

It’s an environment that has suited Mick Dowel, selling earthmoving and farming attachments and equipment throughout the region for over a decade.

It was in the early years that Dowel was contacted by long-time customer and fencing contractor Luke Sheuerle, of Darling Downs Ag Repairs, to build him a post driving machine that would suit a skid steer loader.

What was devised was a hydraulic powercell wrapped in a silencing housing that included a multi-fit frame to suit Sheuerle’s John Deere skid steer loader. The Hydraulic Post Rammer was born.

Dowel admits the first attempt was good but, after a few months, he received another call from Sheuerle stating: "Build me a bigger one, twice as powerful!", so he did. What was produced was the PR70S post rammer, which is now Earthquake’s biggest seller.

A new EQ Tilt Attach system allows for post ramming on hillsides and other uneven ground

In 2016, Dowel was contacted by Robert Houston from Shepparton in Victoria. Houston wanted a post rammer that would suit his eight-tonne excavator. The criteria: "That it needs to pick up the post and then ram it into the ground," Houston requested.

Six weeks later, Dowel had developed the PR70S Mega Punch post rammer and, since then, has gone on to produce just about any custom requirement a customer needs.

The PR70S weighs in at only 515kg (with skid steer, tractor frame or telehandler frame) and, requiring a hydraulic oil flow of 50–90 litres per minute, the post rammer has an impact rate of between 400–800 blows per minute.

Dowel adds that this model is about a third of the size of the biggest post rammer unit that he has built to date, which was built to install beaver dams around Moranbah – punching telegraph pole-sized logs into the ground in waterways to help prevent silt from washing out to sea.

But, he adds, the company is also building post rammers for 2.5-tonne excavators to put in star pickets.

What is common to all of them are South Korean-made power cells, which Dowel says are produced to the highest standards and are available at any size, to suit any application.

"The lightweight and powerful units provided are balance tuned for driving posts into the hardest of soil types," he says.

When an owner requests their unit come complete with grapples to help pick up the logs, he uses Swedish Intermercato grapples, praising the manufacturer’s high quality and Hardox engineering.

But that’s where the overseas involvement ends, with all of the other work done in Australia, including all the engineering, framing and hitches, hydraulic controls and electricals as required.

Excavator-mounted post rammers are customisable for 2.5 -to 45-tonne excavators

The framing is designed to allow the post rammer to be mounted as close to the carrier mount plate as possible – bringing the centre of gravity closer to the carrier and minimising overbalance on sloping ground.

The frame’s position on the post rammer is also built as low as possible, to allow for the smaller skid steer loaders to reach up to 3.2m in height, and the slide frames are designed to be retrofitted with an auger drive when needed.

Dowel says his biggest buyers are farmers and rural fencing contractors – but with the two groups having different needs, the post rammers can be built with different specifications.

The most popular type of post rammer is the company’s S Series, which he says is the preferred option for contractors as it is able to install everything from Maxy pickets, drill casings and rail iron to 325mm round hardwood.

The R series, meanwhile, is designed with a budget in mind, but still packs a powerful punch – coming in a range of powercell sizes to suit each application. "The S stands for silenced and the R stands for rural," explains Dowel.

"Now, when you are hitting steel into the ground the S makes exactly the same sound the R makes, but what happens with the S series is it has a shock absorbing system, so there is less maintenance on the machine."

This, he says, means the S-series units can work longer and more often – better suited to a contractor performing that work on a daily basis.

The PR140S range has been developed for tractors up to 250hp

S-series units can also be supplied with an adjustable grapple to help lift posts into position, and with fixtures including the post rammer’s Megapunch capability, designed specifically for excavators and telehandlers.

There is also the AgPro series, which come with an S-series rammer, log grapple and an auger drive to make post hole digging a one-person operation.

"[This] means we can drill the holes and pick up the posts and set the posts," says Dowel.

"So, there is a plethora of things that we can do with the one device and all of them are retro-fittable, so if somebody buys a base unit they can keep adding to it as well."

The units also come with two different post cups – the part that strikes the post – with Dowel saying that the cups used are the only ones on the market that offer a two-piece design. He says that using a post cup with a diameter larger than 20 per cent of the post creates fatigue issues within the power cell, the cup itself and the overall life expectancy of the post rammer.

S-series units can be supplied with an adjustable grapple

Producing cups of 80mm, 100mm, 150mm, 184mm, 225mm, 300mm and 325mm in diameter, Dowel says the company produces them as a two-piece system, keeping the cup separate from its stem, which makes them cheaper and simpler to replace.

"We have got a new quick release system as well... the R series has been proven, now we're just working on it for the S series," he explains.

"So, the cup change over time will be like 20 or 30 seconds rather than several minutes.

"We're hoping the first batch, next year, will have the new system as well and then we will be offering the retrofit free of charge for all the people that own them."

This change follows the launch of the EQ Tilt Attach system, developed for those needing to install fencing on hillsides, gullies, embankments and drains – and designed to suit skid steer loaders, tractors and telehandlers.

Its rotary motion allows the operator to tilt the post rammer from six degrees one way and 12 degrees the other – enabling it to navigate most slopes while working.

The tilt attach system is available across the range, regardless of the customisations made, Dowel adds – all designed and assembled at the company base in Boondall and able to be serviced by a nation-wide network of resellers, suppliers and contractors.

These optional extras, as well as the Earthquake post rammer’s use of hydraulics, adds new efficiencies to the unit, says Dowel.

"Compared to the old counterweight style [of post rammer] that just lifts up a weight and drops it again, we expect to be probably 20 times more efficient depending on the soil sites," he says.

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