Over 10 years ago, Down to Earth interviewed Ray Bedggood about the Komatsu WB97R-2 backhoe he purchased brand new in March 2000. Incredibly, he still has the same machine, and it's still earning for him today.
At the time of the machine's purchase, Ray told D2E that his new Komatsu backhoe his fifth backhoe and first Komatsu was the best one he'd operated.
"This machine there's no comparison with my previous backhoes," he said.
"It's got more power, the hydraulics are better, the transmission is really impressive and it digs really well," he said.
"I've only been on it a week, but already I'm delighted with it."
10 years late, and Ray still describes his WB97R-2 as a "great machine".
"I have to say that I've never been that happy with the air conditioning on the machine, but apart from that I'm bloody wrapt," he said.
"I have worked my butt off on that machine. I could turn up to a job, and the other guys would reckon I could replace a grader, an excavator and a dozer with the one machine.
"It's worked very hard, there's been a fair bit of wear and tear, but that's only to be expected over 10 years and 15,000 hours.
"The motor has been absolutely brilliant. I change the oil and filters every 250 hours, and I've replaced a couple of water pumps and alternators, but aside from that I've never put a spanner to it," he said.
Ray's company, R and R Excavations, which he runs with his wife Robin, had been a permanent subcontractor with Akron Roads for 27 years until it went into receivership in February this year.
He's been a backhoe owner/operator for 40 years, and before that spent 15 years operating dozers, scrapers and other earthmoving equipment.
With the collapse of Akron, and the loss of super investments in the GFC over the past two years, Ray said he and his Komatsu backhoe would be working for a few more years yet.
"A new company, Lojac, which includes some ex-Akron people, has started up and a lot of former Akron subcontractors are now working for it but there's still a bit of money to make up.
"But this Komatsu backhoe doesn't owe me anything, so we'll just keep on working," he said.