Winkie Drill inventor passes on

Fred Wink (1914-2007)

In recent issues of Resource World, we have noted the passing of individuals who have made significant contributions to the mining industry. Sad to say, we have yet again to say goodbye. Born in 1914, Frederick Wink died October 26, 2007. During his long and adventurous career, Fred built several successful companies, met four prime ministers, four presidents and two sultans. He also acted as a diplomat for the Canadian government and was commissioned by the late President John Kennedy to oversee development programs in West Africa. Fred also set up a diamond drilling school in Brazil and was given an office in the presidential palace. Between 1961 and 1969, Fred traveled to 54 different countries. He also happened to drill off the largest manganese deposit in the world. Not bad for a guy who dropped out of school at 16 and started his career at 18¢ an hour.

Even with all those accomplishments, Fred is actually best remembered for inventing three types of drills commonly used in the mining industry, the most famous being the Winkie portable diamond drill, which is made by US-based Minex and sold through Parts Headquarters Inc. in Burlington, Ontario. Remarkable in its simplicity, the small, man-portable, gas powered coring drill has been used in remote locations around the world for over 40 years.

Fred also invented the Hydro-Wink diamond drill capable of drilling to a depth of 1,000 feet as well as the VibraCore drill. The VibraCore drill is powered by a small lawn-mower engine and has an off-balance ‘sonic-head’ that spins at 12,000 rpm, resulting in a fast vibration that drives the core barrel into the earth.

Since retiring, Fred and his wife, Kari, lived in the South Delta, British Columbia, community of Tsawwassen and, to my delight, was my neighbour. Always jovial and a great conversationalist, Fred loved life and the people in his life, especially children Debbie, Wendy, Rick and Randy. It’s going to be hard to replace a man like Fred Wink.

Courtesy Resource World Magazine