When it comes to harvesting cane, there’s not many who do it better or quicker than the Young family.
Over five decades, the family have built and perfected the art of harvesting, which they have accomplished by using their own purpose-built cane harvesters and transporters.
As James Young recalls, the heavily modified Walkers/Mizzi dual row harvesting machines have been in use for as long as he can remember, being modiﬁed and rebuilt over the years.
“It was originally a Walkers/Mizzi, but it’s been pretty much completely modified and the frame's the only thing original,” James said.
“We replaced the cab, because the old one rusted out and all the workings up the middle have been modified. The way the rollers work and the choppers, the fans for cleaning it – that’s all custom built and modified.”
“It’s basically 40 years or more of fiddling with it.”
Cane harvesters built from scratch
The Youngs use two, two-row harvesters, one wheeled and the other on full tracks.
James’s father, Doug Young made many of the modifications on these machines himself, and even by today’s standards the self-propelled two-row machines have refined principals over the single-row and greater handling and clearing capacity.
“My dad’s done most of the organising on this one,” James said, showing the Walters Mizzi that runs on tracks.
“All the hydraulics and all that he's done as he’s pretty good with the robotic stuff. There's still a lot of standard parts on it, and it’s just been setting it all up and getting all the right bits.”
Both machines can cut two rows at one time and the one with tracks is more versatile over uneven ground.
Power comes from a modified 60 series Detroit 6 cylinder boosted to around 600hp, but with harvesters it’s not the power that’s important, it’s the cutting ability.
“It’s twice as wide to fit in two rows instead of one row, so it’s twice as quick,” said James.
“We usually cut 90 bins of green cane in two hours.”
“It depends a lot on how good the cane is and some varieties are harder to cut than others.”
“We can do up to 40 bins in an hour in really good going, but we probably average 25.”
Unique to Bundaberg
James told Bundaberg Now that while there were still a few similar machines in the United States, there were only a handful left in Australia and the modifications on theirs made it utterly unique.
“They’re trying to make some and my dad spent some time over in the States with CAMECO, who wanted to make them, and there’s also a similar one up north that cuts cane, but it’s not as modified as ours.”
“You can’t really buy a new one of these that’s as good as this one.”
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