Clever: Simon Dale sits in the SoloTrak post driver he designed and created.
Kiwi ingenuity is evident in inventor Simon Dale's unique SoloTrak post driver.
The former fencer has been working on his design for eight years and is finally ready for market. Instead of the standard tractor-based post driver he has created a mounted track-based unit operated from the back.
Dual controls enable one person to both drive and operate. His likely customer base are contractors and farms that employ fulltime fencers.
"It is much more capable on varied terrain and steep and wet than a traditional tractor," he said.
Based on a Morooka MST 300vd engine, Mr Dale has built the unit with a 300 kilogram pile driver. The rubber tracks are easy to manoeuvre, with the ability to turn 360 degrees in its own length. It can tilt 40 degrees one way and 20 degrees the other.
A front maintained blade provides maximum stability on difficult terrain. Another advantage of the unit is its simplicity, with a basic drivetrain engine and four hydraulic pumps making it easy to maintain.
It may seem surprising that a farm boy from Maungati who has never had engineering training has the genius for such an invention, but Mr Dale is humble.
"I am quite mathematical and always mucked around with machines. Like lots of farm kids I built things like trailers. I picked things up through years of experience."
Mr Dale spent 12 years running his own fencing business in Britain, which was where he started mulling over the original idea and saw the potential.
"I originally went down the tracked dumper route, due to a maximum ground-pressure stipulation on a job I was on, which I could not meet with a traditional tractor-mounted system even with duel wheels or flotation tyres. Upon looking at alternatives I felt that a tracked dumper-based system was the obvious way forward."
He has now handbuilt four units using the Mooroka as a base, and sourcing locally made parts or making them himself.
"Engineering in Timaru is strong. It's incredible."
He said though he will be initially continuing to build them himself, he hopes as they expand in the market an industry in Timaru will grow around them.
"It's a gamble, but I hope there will be steady growth into the market place and then they will self advertise."