Big donations make for big learning opportunities

January 4, 2007 - 4:00pm

It’s one thing to donate tools to a trades program at Malaspina University-College but it is quite another to donate an excavator weighing several tonnes.

Something like a Catapillar 330 Excavator with extensive fire damage must be creatively hauled out of the bush and onto a flatbed truck before arriving to the grateful instructors at Malaspina’s Heavy Duty/Commercial Transport Mechanics program.

Earlier last year the students and instructors faced such a challenge. Just moving the Cat, which was donated to Malaspina by Finning Canada’s Nanaimo branch in 2006, taught students how to move a dead machine from the forest to the shop, said instructor Joe Skipsey.

"This is what mechanics do; it’s not just nuts and bolts, it’s about using your smarts," said Skipsey. "It’s about getting the machine out to where you can work on it."

The excavator is just one of many donations recently given to the program. Over the past year there’s been a nearly new diesel generator set donated by TeleGlobe Communications Corp in Youbou, a Catapillar 235 Excavator by Hayes Forest Services Ltd. in Duncan, a truck from the Nanaimo Daily News and a 1994 Volvo truck from Berk's Intertruck. They’ve also had donations from Terasen Gas, Harmac Pulp Operations and John Deere.

"Those aren’t small donations being dropped off," said Paul Mottershead, instructor and coordinator for the Heavy Duty Mechanics program.

Mottershead said not only is the equipment donated, but companies like Hayes Forest Services Ltd. and Windley Contracting often donate a truck and driver to help bring the equipment to campus.

Mottershead said the truck and piloting time alone could cost as much as $1,500 for an excavator, money the program simply doesn’t have. So, without their donations the equipment would never make it to the campus.

"We rely heavily on the industry to help us teach," said instructor Jac van Doorn.

While the department is very grateful for the donations they’ve had to date, there is one thing missing that they need: heavy duty vehicles with electronic engines.

"We’re trying to find newer more innovative engines for our students to work on," said Mottershead. "Sometimes our students are working with 42-year-old machines. While the engines are still useful training tools we could also use something newer -- from the late 80s or 90s."

They’re also looking for a hydraulic system to replace the burnt out one in the Catapillar 330 Excavator.

If you have a machine, engine or other services you’d like to donate to the Heavy Duty/Commercial Transport Mechanics program, call Paul Mottershead at 740-6123 or email him at

Tags: In the Community

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