Cat Cave

5 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineMay 22, 2017

Ricky and Nicole Whiu in the CAT cave.

Collecting is something many of us have an interest in, and just like Ricky Whiu‘s wife Nicole, often our nearest and dearest don‘t understand it.

There‘s something about finding things later on in life that you associate with happy parts of your childhood, whether it be posters and pictures (Truckin‘ Life in the case of yours truly) or memorabilia, components and knick-knacks from a favourite brand. In the case of Ricky, it‘s yellow fever that has gripped him, collecting CAT memorabilia that goes back to when his father operated Caterpillar machinery.

Ricky spent 27 years in the commercial building industry based mainly out of Wellington, but moved to Christchurch seven years ago, which meant he had to pack up his large collection. The collection began when Ricky was 16 in the form of 1/25 scale model trucks, but grew considerably when he started visiting secondhand shops and bought toys he used to have as a child. When he entered the workforce and started travelling in the early 90s, the CAT part of the collection took off.

Ricky and Nicole decided one night after a couple of drinks that they needed a bar in the garage. When Ricky saw the CAT 209L drums at Goughs, the theme was sorted. Being a handyman certainly helps when doing something like this; for instance the downlights that hang over the bar are made by Ricky from piping and 1R-0751 fuel filters, with the wiring done by an electrician. Clever to say the least!

The bar has that industrial look to it with a CAT grille print, custom bumper, bolts, and chequer plating, which helps keep the drinks cold as an added bonus. While you‘re at the bar you can check out all the different CAT models and memorabilia behind the bar, including the centrepiece which is based on the rear of a truck, complete with exhaust stacks made from downpipe. The stacks incidentally store the beer coolers, which are easily accessible via the removable tops – how cool is that?

The idea for the drum chairs came from looking at ‘Man Cave ideas‘ on Pinterest. Ricky sourced the drums through a contact at Goughs, doing all the work on them, including the upholstery – with some guidance from his mother-in-law.

A 3208 CAT block Ricky purchased from
Trade Me for $150 that will become a mobile table

At the moment Ricky is working on a lounge table for the cave, made from a 3208 CAT block. He found the engine on Trade Me for sale in Gore and scored it for $150. The kicker was that Ricky had to pick up the engine, which weighed around a tonne, and get it home to Christchurch. The engine block had four seized pistons, which were removed, cleaned down, and together with the engine, painted with spray bombs. A trolley was made for the block to sit on and the pistons welded on so they could be used as supports for the glass top due shortly.

From the Gough drum seats to the large collection of diecast trucks and machinery, Ricky‘s CAT cave is a great place to chill out.

Ricky has around 350 pieces in his collection and regularly invites friends around to kick back and enjoy the CAT cave. You get the feeling Nicole thinks he‘s crazy, maybe he is… maybe we all are a little bit.

The centrepiece of the bar is based
on the rear of a truck cab.

A ripper tine cleverly reborn into a shelf.
Built by
Ricky, it attracts a lot of interest with visitors.