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From an early age when I first saw a bulldozer working, I was so fascinated that I would ride my bicycle three or four miles, hoping it was still there and sit on a wall watching it with awe. The following 5 years were spent as an apprentice in the Royal Naval Dockyard Chatham, established in 1703-1984 - and now a National Maritime Museum, working on submarine diesel engines and auxiliaries, where mechanical engineering was beginning to fall behind the times. I was fortunate to follow my apprenticeship with a job as a draughtsman with a company involved in earthmoving equipment, and enjoyed copying a Caterpillar No. 12 motor grader. New machines from the U.S. were not available at that time due to government import restrictions prevailing at that time. Irrespective of the age of the machine, I was very impressed with the high standard of it's design, also an introduction to new tools such as torque wrenches with specific torques quoted for important items. Earthmoving equipment became my forte, followed with overseas trouble-shooting visits, related to equipment I had by then designed, and later years fleet management in the field. The equipment design, reliability and performance was, in my view, second to none. I eventually had a few of my own Caterpillar machines for rental, and in these later years still own three Caterpillar pipe layers.After attending a sale in the U.S. where prices were consistently good for the condition and type of machine, I introduced the first equipment sale in Abu Dhabi in 1977. After the 1977 sale in Abu Dhabi auctions virtually became the sole method of equipment disposal and used for the sale of a large equipment fleet from a joint venture, producing $22,000,000, which included spare parts, obsolete machinery, and because the sale was going so well, I told the auctioneer to sell the stores building, complete with shelving, leaving a clear empty site. Today, auction sales are the most common method of equipment fleet disposal in the industry, particularly with joint ventures where partners can bid for any equipment they require and the proceeds shared pro-rata to their joint venture percentage participation. In conclusion I would mention that Caterpillar prices achieved in auction sales are nearly international and published, in detail, showing machine description, serial number, bidders number and price paid, by "Green Guide Auction Reports".
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John A. Oliver is a leading expert on Heavy Construction Equipment with more than 50 Years experience, firstly with 5 years apprenticeship in the Admiralty Royal Dockyard, Chatham, Kent, U.K., covering Steam Turbines, Boilers, Submarine Diesel Engines and associated equipment. The next 10 years were on the design of Construction Equipment followed with 35 Years on equipment field management, covering The Middle East, W. Africa and N. Borneo.John is a Chartered Engineer and Fellow of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, U.K. He retired to the South of France in 2006.
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