OH&S Products

?Old school? digger proves it?s got what it takes for modern quarry

French Island Earthworks is responsible for managing the island’s quarry and supporting its road maintenance requirements through the supply of gravel.

“We deal with a mixture of volcanic rock and basalt, which are all incredibly dense,” said owner Doug Churcher. “We use the old Hitachi to dig up the hard rock and sort out the larger materials, which end up in the jaw crusher.”

Churcher said the quarry sold only a limited amount of rock, adding, “Most of the material we supply is utilised in road maintenance, as virtually all the roads on the island are gravel.”

Due to the island’s limited accessibility, all equipment and resources are transported by barge. As a result, the export of materials off the island is not viable.

Aside from the quarry, the business is involved in excavator and dozer work for fire prevention, rebuilding containment lines, construction of dams, private driveways and culvert installation, plus a bit of forestry work for the national park.


The Hitachi UH07 features a four-stick lever system that controls the slew, boom, dipper arm and bucket crowd. The operator uses only two sticks at a time, with foot controls. The shovel maintains its original condition, incorporating the original Isuzu engine, drive motors and tracks.


“It’s clocked well over 20,000 hours and continues to be a reliable all-round machine,” Churcher said. “Although its digging functions are primitive compared to modern excavators, it does the job. It also has the luxury inclusion of a small Hitachi heater!”

The shovel is by no means easy to operate, and it requires a high level of skill to co-ordinate the “old school” controls. This has led Churcher to delegate the task to senior operators.

“I have tried [using] some of the younger operators,” he said. “They have difficulty managing the complex four-stick lever systems and foot controls.

“Like the Hitachi shovel, the older guys [operators] are consistent and reliable. Maybe a little slower, but they get the job done. I am actually the old guy that gets to operate the machine!”

Churcher added the Hitachi UH07 was a “very important part of our equation here on French Island. It’s definitely a handy piece of equipment to have in a small quarry”.

Source: Hitachi Construction Machinery Australia

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