Keeping vital wheels turning

by Andy Bryenton

When one thinks of vital front line services during the present emergency, it’s easy to recall the medical workers, retail staff and government officials who are working hard to preserve the supply chains that keep us fed and the health facilities that will stop Covid-19 in its tracks. This crisis also illustrates the importance of another vital trade — engineering.

Farming, especially, needs masters of the metalworking crafts to keep going and keep producing the supplies we all need to get through. It means that engineers such as Dargaville’s Farrand and Mason are still open to supporting anyone with machinery that needs fixing. 

“Yes, we’ve seen a lot of farmers, but also other customers, such as our local meat processing works, who need to keep working safely during the lockdown,” says Doug Mason, speaking from the antiviral perimeter at his Dargaville workshop’s front door. 

“Yes, we can repair or manufacture a lot of parts, if they are out of stock in New Zealand or need to be fixed fast. Some, we don’t have the specialist machinery to manufacture — it’s best of call and ask,” he says, rather than assuming that a breakage now means machinery lost for the whole season. 

Engineering is all about finding solutions, and ingenuity goes with the job as much as metal swarf and oil. Many parts can be fabricated from measurements of the broken piece, so owners are cautioned not to throw anything away.

Other engineers and welders are mobile, continuing to offer their services to far-flung farms as the change of seasons and fresh rainfall change up the chores needed to keep the land working. All are considered ‘vital services’, but once again, it’s worth noting that health measures are vital when dealing with visiting trades professionals. Clean the item that needs repair if it’s to be taken away, and maintain social distancing when work is being done on-site to avoid contact.