In a recent summer day when a 52-ton (47 t) Samsung 450 hydraulic track excavator made its way through Sealy, Texas, on a trailer, the residents noticed.
The machine was delivered from Memphis, Tenn., to purchaser Allen Brock, and came on an older-style Kenworth with an eight-axle load. The tractor had four sets of wheels, the trailer had three, and a stinger on the back had another set of wheels that helped even out the tonnage, allowing it to be shipped in one load rather than two.
“I had to get in the truck and ride along with him because there are two ways to get to where I live,” Brock said. “I was thinking that maybe we could get him in one direction, but then I saw the length of the trailer and the load, and there was absolutely no way that he would be able to get down this road and make the 90-degree turns with his trailer. So I had to get in the truck with him and take him down through downtown Sealy.
He continued, “I don’t know if I would have done it, but he was able to negotiate the small lanes and traffic lights and the turns, and it went through there fine. A lot of people were looking, though. When something like that comes through Sealy, Texas, it might as well be the President of the United States. They don’t ever see anything like that come through Sealy.”
The delivery was handled by DIGit Dirt Worx Inc., located outside of Memphis and run by father and son team, Phil and Don Garriside.
“They are very professional shippers,” Brock said. “Phil was great.”
Decades of searching led Brock to the machine he purchased.
“It was probably 25 to 30 years’ worth of looking at pieces of equipment, sizing up the size and the price and what you get,” he said. “It’s been a God’s plenty of searching photos and internet sites like machinerytrader.com, Rock and Dirt… if it’s out there, I’ve looked at it.”
Brock’s interest in machinery and heavy equipment started at a young age. He was six months old when he moved with his parents to Cat Spring, Texas, which presented a lot of new opportunities for him.
“Everything that you don’t get to do as a city kid, you get to do on the ranch, like drive a truck, mow grass, and shred property, and I started doing that,” he said. “When my dad mowed the grass, he hooked a little bumper seat up to the lawn mower where I sat on the back and rode while he mowed the grass, so I learned at a very early age how to steer a riding lawn mower. That was probably when I was about two, and then I started mowing grass myself. Then he put me on the big farm tractor, and put a bumper seat on the farm tractor — which by the way was as dangerous as you can get. How many times I could have died was unreal. But at the age of probably four, I was able to shred property with a big farm tractor, and I hooked up all the implements to the surprise of my dad. We would be shredding property in the evening when he got home, so I took the tractor and disconnected the disc and hooked up the shredder ready for property shredding, and he just couldn’t believe that I was able to do that at such a young age. I was driving a pickup when I was five years old.”
There were a lot of improvements that needed to be done on the ranch, and companies would be hired out to do them, bringing their bulldozers, front end loaders, grader blades, and whatever was needed to complete the job.
“I always asked if I could ride along and watch how they loaded trucks and dug ponds and such,” Brock said. “I’d always be out there looking around the machine and getting on it. Even though they tried to hide the key, I always found it. They’d have to dig a three-foot hole and bury the key before I couldn’t find it. When they left, I’d get on the machine and fiddle around a little bit, probably when I was 12 years old. So I always enjoyed heavy equipment from a young age. I don’t even know why, but the bigger, the better. Dad brought me pictures of a machine home and it would be a very large excavator shovel, and it just amazed me — the size of the machine and the person standing beside the tracks running this thing. I’ve always had a liking for it.”
Besides his training at home, Brock is also thankful for the education he got in high school from auto mechanics teacher, Robert Zubicek, and FFA teachers, Jay Hancock and Tommy Eckelberg, who taught small engine repair, large engine, welding, and cutting.
During summer breaks, he worked for his uncle mining calcium sulfate, and continued there after he graduated, running reclaimers, milling machines, front end loaders, excavators, maintainers, and drag lines. In addition, he got his Class A CDL license to drive 18-wheelers.
Brock’s family was part owner in a company called Houston Mooring which involved mooring ships to their prospective docks when they came in from the Gulf of Mexico into Houston. He helped out with that company from the time he was 13. He spent a lot of time watching the harbor tugs work ships into the slips and docks, and he also became interested in that, and decided to pursue a career there.
Currently, he works as a licensed harbor tug captain at the Port of Houston, docking and mooring huge ships from all over the world. He stays there for four days, which is 96 straight hours. When he is relieved by another captain, he goes home for four days.
“I usually spend my first two days at the ranch where the machine is, getting it to where I feel comfortable with it being on a job and getting it up to date and working,” he said. “I don’t ever want to get it on the job and have to replace a hose if I already knew it needed replacing, I’ll go ahead and get that done now.”
Brock said that his dad wants him to quit tearing up his yard.
“It looks like a bomb hit it,” he said. “Every time I move the machine I have to go get the farm tractor and start smoothing over where I went, because it’s really a compactor. It’s rated at a 52-ton machine.”
When Brock first started looking at making a purchase, he learned that the bigger the number on the machine, the smaller the price was.
“I’m not sure why,” he said. “I never really wanted to go small, because if I had something big to do, then I’d wind up having to put this one down and go get something big just to be able to do the job. So if I got something big, I’d be able to do small jobs with it, and the big jobs, and being that the price was as low as it was on the 450 vs. the 200, well it speaks for itself. You get a bigger machine — a machine that can do more than a 200 ever thought about doing in less time and it costs less. The only drawback to that is the shipping price goes way up.”
Brock did a search and a Samsung 450 came up.
“I immediately called,” Brock said. “It was a broker who had it for sale, and his name was Justin Gatewood. He owns Gatewood Equipment out of Memphis, and he’s a very nice fellow. He worked with me from start to end, and even after I bought the thing I had some questions, and he was able to get me to the right information. He brought out everything that needed to be done on the machine. He was a liaison between the owner of the machine and myself for what I would like to have done before I bought it. The machine was located in Memphis, and I live in Cat Spring, Texas, and I think that the number that was given to me when they delivered the machine was 667 miles from start to finish.”
Brock noted that the company and the man he bought the excavator from do business together, and he was able to get a shipping price that matched what he could afford to get the machine plus shipping.
“Shipping normally would kill the deal on something like that,” he said. “You can get it for a great price, but then you gotta ship the thing, and that’s when that price just goes to the pot.”
So far, Brock has been cleaning the machine and preparing it for work, although he’s gotten a few phone calls about potential jobs.
“It’s a 1994 machine, so it’s had 20 years or more of…I wouldn’t say neglect, it’s just somebody not wanting to clean it,” he said. “If it’s there to work, it’s there to work, not to be a pretty thing, so I’ve been cleaning it, changing the filters, the fluids…probably gonna give it another paint color. Just trying to make sure that everything that’s supposed to work will work, and not fail on the job. It’s a 20-year-old machine. It’s not going to do like a brand new machine will, but it’s good enough to do a big job. The previous owner said that he wouldn’t put it on an eight hour a day job for six months –— it probably wouldn’t react good to that.”
In the future, Brock hopes to be able to expand his fleet to be able to work fulltime.
“The more exposure I get with this, I’ll be able to get those jobs where my plans will come together with other future machines that I’m looking at getting,” he said.
Currently on his wish list is a T9-670 New Holland tractor that is capable of pulling three 18-yard Rohm scrapers or one K-Tech 56-yard scraper.
“I would really like to have a bunch of Liebherr equipment, probably something like a 954 up to a 984 excavator, a large bull dozer, probably a Liebherr or a Caterpillar front end loader, with maybe an eight yard sized bucket on it, and maybe a small fleet of dump trucks, and maybe an 18- wheeler,” he said. “But I will also have to have some sort of an off-road dump truck, and that would be able to get me started where if anybody called me for any type of work, I’d be able to offer something to them. I’m also looking at putting in larger excavators, like the size of a 1900 Hitachi, and a Hitachi 2500 style or larger in case a very large job comes up.”
The drawback for Brock is that his timeline is a long one.
“I know it’s not a real money maker for anybody that I know of unless they’ve already been established for a decade or so and they have a fleet of tractors,” he said. “So I’m just a single owner and I don’t have a bunch of money to go ahead and get all this stuff that I need. It sure would be nice to have some donations. But I am looking at doing something with Victor Butler at Liebherr of America right here in Houston. He has a lot of information about working with heavy mining equipment. I’m also looking for a T9-670 New Holland, and I’m working with Lary Rosenbaum at Washington County Tractor in Sealy. He’s keeping me up to date with people who want to lease those tractors or buy them, and then he kind of throws my name out there.”
Anyone with information about programs to help Brock get his business started, or anyone who would be interested in helping him fund his endeavor is asked to call him at 281/798-1037 or email [email protected].
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