Huntingdale Mobile Cranes fleet auctioned off

By Brent Stacey15 September 2010

Auctioneer from Dominion in front of a 20 tonne capacity Franna pick and carry crane

Auctioneer from Dominion in front of a 20 tonne capacity Franna pick and carry crane

Soon after Huntingdale Mobile Cranes in Australia ceased trading, its entire fleet and ancillary items were auctioned off on 5 August on behalf of the receivers.

A typical Melbourne winter's day of buffeting cold winds and sporadic rain greeted a large crowd of people from across the country at the largest crane-related auction held in Australia in recent memory. The August 5th auction was conducted onsite at the former home of Huntingdale Mobile Cranes in Clayton by the Dominion Group, acting on behalf of Deloitte, appointed as the receivers and managers for Huntingdale Mobile Cranes Pty Ltd.

The cranes and other vehicles that made up Huntingdale's fleet were presented in immaculate condition, testament to the effort the company's previous management team and former staff members put into maintaining such a diverse fleet of machinery.

The Dominion Group assembled a large array of cranes, trucks, rigging equipment and other auxiliary items into more than 700 auction lots. Included in the line up were forty mobile cranes, thirty commercial vehicles, 150 workshop items, several buildings and more than 450 pieces of rigging hardware. In addition to offering onsite bidding, there was an opportunity for both telephone and online bidding made available for potential purchasers unable to attend on the day.


The large fleet of pick and carry cranes, totalling 17 units over a range of sizes and ages were the first of the lots to fall under the auctioneer's hammer. That large pick and carry fleet, composed exclusively of the Franna brand gives a good indication on the success of that particular machine in the Australian and New Zealand markets.

For readers unfamiliar with the Franna crane, or this uniquely Australian pick and carry concept in action, some explanation may assist. This type of pick and carry crane evolved from custom built units based on agricultural tractors. The concept proved popular and manufacturers, for example, BHB and Fowler made commercially available units. A company was established locally to manufacture an improved version, called a Franna, which offered improved road handling and travelling characteristics.

Modern pick and carry cranes operate exclusively on rubber tyres and are without outriggers. They have an articulation of 40 degrees either side of centre and late model machines are now at 20 or 25 tonnes capacity. The cranes can road travel at 80 km/h. For many IC readers, the 20 tonne capacity Panda crane that was on the XCMG display at this year's Bauma exhibition in Germany may be the only example of this crane type in the iron that they have seen. Franna was acquired by Terex in 1999 and is by far the most successful manufacturer of this type of machine, with sales of more than 3,000 units.

In the bidding

Enthusiastic bidding was encountered for the Franna cranes, ranging from a MAC 25 through to an AT 12, especially for the later model machines. The highest price paid was AUD$ 350,000 (US$ 310,000) for a 2007 MAC 25 showing 4,208 hours. The AT 20 machines combined for an average price of AUD$ 300,000 (US$ 266,000). Three of them each reached a high of AUD$ 325,000 (US$ 288,000) and the low price was AUD$ 225,000 (US$ 200,000) for a 2002 model. Buyers were from all around Australia.

A number of slewing cranes also featured in the auction line up, comprising a range of all terrains, truck cranes, rough terrains and small crawlers. Four Manitou telehandlers were also on offer. The cranes were sold where they had been carefully grouped by type.

All terrain cranes was the next group of machines to be sold. The largest member of the fleet, a 300 tonne capacity 2001 Liebherr LTM 1300/1, showing 9,040 hours and complete with full luffing fly, superlift and 49 m fixed fly jib was passed in at AUD$ 1.6 million (US$ 1.4 million).

An immaculately presented 2008 Liebherr LTM 1200-5.1, showing only 1,994 upper hours, complete with a Drake tri-axle dolly for trailing boom travel to comply with local regulations, 36 m of variable folding fly jib, a 5.5 m HL fly jib, four hook blocks and custom bog mats, was purchased by Dandenong-based Membrey's Cranes for a reported AUD$ 1.7 million (US$ 1.5 million) by negotiation, shortly after being passed in at a price of $1.7 m for the crane alone. Craig Membrey has an extremely high level of presentation standard and will have the crane immediately in work once it is dressed in his colours.

A fully specified 90 tonne capacity 2006 Liebherr LTM 1090-4.1 all terrain showing 3,837 hours was passed in while the auction was running for AUD$ 700,000 (US$621,000), yet was also sold by negotiation shortly after to an undisclosed buyer. Unfortunately for several potential buyers, including some overseas interests, a 1989 Liebherr LTM 1120N was a late arrival to the auction after making the trip back from where it had been working in South Australia.

Under the hammer

The range of traditional truck cranes from 20 to 50 tonnes capacity provided some value buying with only a couple of units being passed in. The four 50 tonne capacity Tadano TG-500 machines ranged from AUD$ 180,000 to 210,000 (US$ 160,000 to 186,000). A 1998 Tadano TL-250M-5 showing 144,000 kilometres reached AUD$ 130,000 (US$ 115,000) and a 1990 TL-200M-3 showing 195,000 km reached AUD$ 95,000 (US$ 84,000). Dominion's John Wood stated that more than 90% of all lots available on the day were sold under the hammer at the auction, with some unit sales still being negotiated.

The rough terrain cranes all sold, over a range of AUD$ 190,000 for a 1997 Tadano TR-500M showing 59,000 km, down to AUD$90,000 for a 1991 Tadano TR-250M-5 showing 8,552 hours. Of the range of Tadano cranes sold, two of the 50 tonne capacity truck mounted went to Western Australia and two are believed to have been bought for export.

The large array of rigging equipment spread across all styles, from soft slings to 32 mm chain slings. There was also a huge range of shackles, crane hooks, spreader bars and work boxes. John Wood again reported a pleasing result for the auctioneers with an almost total clearance of the ancillary equipment and prices at 30% higher than the Dominion valuations.

The auction brought many of the major players of the local industry together on a day where more than a few of those people might be wondering how a well run company could be finished trading so quickly. There appeared to be little time given by the receivers to find buyers for the business, as either a going concern or in larger fleet numbers. The auctioneers did a good job promoting such a large scale auction on short notice.

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