Mall Gill, Farm Weekly 19 Jan 2022
ROCKS Gone has marked the new year with a new model Reefinator, the H9.
The Reefinator H9 is a heavy-duty adaption of the award-winning Western Australian-designed and built, tractor-towed Reefinator H4 hydraulic-tyne model, which has proved itself in agricultural usage across three States.
But the H9 is aimed at the road construction, civil and mining industries, rather than agriculture.
The first production Reefinator H9 arrived at Rocks Gone’s Baldwin Street, Kewdale, factory in time for new year and is the first of three being built to order for clients.
Another five are scheduled to be built for clients after April, at the end of what Rocks Gone managing director and former northern Wheatbelt farmer, Tim Pannell, calls the pre-sowing “busy season” for production and sales of H4 models.
Once these initial eight machines have been delivered and production settles into a routine, Rocks Gone expects to build either a H4 Reefinator every week or a Reefinator H9 every two weeks, Mr Pannell said.
Several years in development, the H9 retains some of the same design features as the latest Reefinator H4 hydraulic model, but has more steel in the drum skin and main frame for added weight and strength – it weighs almost 30 tonnes with the drum empty of water.
One major difference between the H9 and H4 models is the H9 has a scraper-hitch style coupler and one-piece articulated Y hitch that allows for very tight turns on roadways and in borrow or gravel pits.
The H9 is designed to operate for up to 7000 hours a year in harsh conditions with civil and mining contractors.
The grate is the hydraulically raised and lowered heavy-duty frame that mounts nine hard-faced patented-design tynes with replaceable points – arranged in the same two rows of four in front and five behind as with the H4.
Hydraulic rams that hold the tynes in position but allow a breakaway movement, also mount to the grate.
Hydraulic cylinders used in the H9 are manufactured in WA to very high specifications to meet the demanding role they play in crushing the rock.
As in the latest Reefinator H4 hydraulic models, hydraulic ram pressure can be set by the operator to allow breakaway action at the pre-set level.
With individual rams on individual tynes, one or more tynes can ride over extra-hard rock while the others continue ripping at the set depth.
Larger, high-flow hydraulic hoses, introduced as standard on rams on the latest model Reefinator H4, are carried over to the H9 and allow the rams to react more quickly when tyne breakaway is required.
The hydraulic rams reduce strain and shock loadings on the Reefinator itself and on the towing tractor, as well as eliminate the potential downtime associated with having to replace shear pins in difficult country.
H9 and H4 Reefinators now share what Rocks Gone refers to as 600 tynes, which still have the single-retaining-bolt, easy-to-change, hard-faced replaceable leading edge, that was part of the practical, farmer-servicing original design of the H4.
The 600 tynes are among the modifications made to the latest model Reefinator H4 as a direct result of development of the H9.
“It works out cheaper for us to carry one component across both models, rather than have to carry different components for each machine, so we’ve upgraded some of the components we use in the H4 to make them common with the H9,” Mr Pannell said.
An eagle-eyed inspection might pick up that ribbing on the H9 drum stands 100 millimetres proud, instead of 80mm as on the H4, making its action more aggressive in crushing laterite rock, sandstone or limestone sheet, broken by the tynes in front of it, into pebbles and soil.
Both H9 and H4 models include two rows of hinged drum cleaner flaps that dislodge smaller rocks that can jam between the ribs or any soil build up that might reduce performance, whether the Reefinator is moving forwards or backwards.
An eagle-eyed farmer already familiar with the Reefinator H4 model might also notice the H9 has a single-shot greasing system.
There are not many manual grease nipples on the H4 model, but the H9 has only one which feeds into the auto grease unit and from there to the moving wear points where the grease is required.
The H9 model also incorporates extra safety props that mechanically lock the machine in the fully raised position, regardless of whether there is hydraulic pressure or not, to enable servicing work to be carried out safely under the Reefinator at a remote site.
Mr Pannell said the H9 was designed to do the same job as the H4 with the same outcome, but for a different reason.
While the H4 in agriculture is used to break up unproductive rock sheeting and hard claypans to produce a level, friable soil bed that allows moisture and plant roots to penetrate, the H9’s job was to break up rocky patches and turn them into road base gravel, among many other applications.
“The way they build roads now, when the construction crew hits a rocky section, they dig the existing rock out and then they bring in crushed rock as gravel from somewhere else to form the road base,” Mr Pannell said.
“That’s double handling of rock to get a smooth road base and environmentally, it leaves borrow pits (where rock was quarried for gravel) all over the place.
“With the H9, road construction crews can turn the resident rock into the road base for that section and other sections of the road as they go.
“It quite literally has the potential to cut millions of dollars from the cost of building roads and the road construction companies are very interested.”
Mr Pannell said Rocks Gone had initially built a prototype Reefinator H9 which for the past nine months had been used in a number of different application for testing its suitability.
“The prototype is currently building a road somewhere out past Laverton and the company is very pleased with its performance,” he said.
Because Rocks Gone produces Reefinators year-round, rather than just for the tillage season, it still has some availability on the latest model Reefinator H4 for delivery before April.
More information: Contact Rocks Gone on 9288 2993 or go to rocksgone.com.au