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40-year old Zimmatic still going strong

This forty-year old Zimmatic pivot still does its work in the wheat field. It is still as strong and good-looking as the day it was installed, but over the years the sun has faded the signboard. 40 years in the Free State sun takes its toll.

This post is also available in: Afrikaans

More than value for money – that is what a Zimmatic pivot offers the farmer; not only because of its efficiency, but also because of its durability. In October 1978, Guillaume de Swardt, maize and wheat farmer from Taaiboschpoort close to Petrusville in South Africa, bought the second Zimmatic sold in South Africa.

Nowadays, Guillaume concentrates more on his Merino sheep and Afrikaner cattle, but his pivot is still working diligently every day. After 40 years, the Zimmatic pivot is still as dependable and strong as the day it was installed on the farm.

The younger pivots may well call him Grandpa. “The pivot can, and must last another forty years, as nothing is broken,” says Fanie Botha, Guillaume’s son in law, who is now in charge of the irrigation.
Guillaume remembers that he bought the pivot for a mere R50 000, with the assurance that it should last 15 years. The pivot far exceeded their expectations, because it was never out of action for 40 years. At the time, Lindsay, the manufacturers of Zimmatic pivots, was not even in the country yet. In the 1950’s, Paul Zimmerer established Lindsay Manufacturing, and during the 1960’s they started to brand their pivots as Zimmatic. George Gremmels installed the pivot. His son, Thomas Gremmels,
from Pinetree Irrigation, is still involved with Zimmatic, being the Zimmatic dealer in Estcourt.

Guillaume reflects: “I remember the installation took a week. At the time a US employee of Lindsay Manufacturing corporation even came to have a look at the pivot.”

The pivot has 7 spans (the original ones) and conscientiously irrigates 51 hectares. Due to Grandpa’s quality and efficiency, Guillaume acquired a threespan Zimmatic in 1983 and a six-span in 1984/85. They all are still working perfectly today. More recently, Fanie bought two more two-span pivots. Asked why he chose Zimmatic 40 years ago, he replies: “I simply liked the Zimmatic pivot more. It looked better. At the time, we had no electricity, so they mounted a generator onto the
pump engine to propel the pivot.”

He also remembers how he looked from the house at night to see how the pivot was progressing. “I waited for the light to come on, for the light only came on while the last tower was moving. Today it is different – you see lights everywhere.”

A photograph taken 40 years ago when Guillaume de Swardt’s first
Zimmatic pivot was installed. Guillaume is on the extreme right and he thinks the man second from left was a farmer who came from Lichtenburg to see the pivot.

The changes to this pivot over the past 40 years:
• The pivot was adapted to the present technological world with a GSM system (FieldNet) so that you can control it with your mobile phone.
• A new control panel was installed.
• The Firestone tyres lasted 21 years before they had to be replaced.
• Only one pipe was replaced.
• The centre drive motors were replaced, but they lasted more than 10 years.
• Some of the original gearboxes are still working on the pivot.
• The driveshafts were replaced.
• Sprinklers were replaced as they were superseded with better ones.
• The rims were replaced.

Guillaume and Fanie also have other pivots, but they still prefer Zimmatic.

Guillaume de Swardt and his son in law, Fanie Botha, with the Zimmatic pivot that Guillaume bought 40 years ago. Just look at that wheat!

Benefits of the Zimmatic they point out:
• Zimmatic offers some features as standard that other pivot manufacturers provide at an extra cost – such as the big wheels (14,9 x 24”) that do not get stuck easily.
• The spans of all Zimmatics are of standard lengths and shape. When a part has to be replaced, it  can simply be ordered from the factory. It will fit every time.
• The electric wiring runs neatly along the side of the main supply pipe; not inside with the water.

Fanie says Zimmatic parts are easily and promptly available from the Lindsay dealer, Irritech in Kimberley. They are also very satisfied with the service.

“I have never experienced a problem for which I had to call them out and no Zimmatic capsized. Speaking about wind – every Zimmatic tower has a cross strut, stabilising the whole pivot to prevent it from being blown over. Guillaume recalls that the pivot froze all over one winter.

“Then we realised that it had no low temperature shutdown. They immediately installed the shutdown and that was the end of the problem,” he said.

Contact Frederik Nel on +27(0)72-517-7581 or +27(0)21-002-1013 or e-mail for a Zimmatic pivot that lasts and lasts and lasts. Also visit their website at

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