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Old 03-11-2009, 05:58 PM   #691
wzd1a
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squonker
Yep, no doubt about it, everyone is feeling the pinch these days. Got any good pics from your shifts?

My ice roads:















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Old 03-11-2009, 06:30 PM   #692
inverted
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cool pics wzd....that's 90% of the stuff I drive on. Lynx have really been making a comeback up here, they look so soft and cuddly! prolly tear a man to shreds pretty quick tho....

amazing how nonchalant they can be, magnificent critters.
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Old 03-13-2009, 08:49 AM   #693
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Originally Posted by homeontherange
Geez Ben, what's with all the snow pics . I'll brighten up your day...here's a lake with out ice, you passed it going down the Cassier last summer...


I hate you. Go away and leave me alone!
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Old 03-13-2009, 09:05 AM   #694
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I didn't even make it home between trips 16 and 17, but they allowed me time for a shower before I head out again on #18. So nice!

Typically, a week ago we thought we'd be done by now and yet I'm running harder than ever. Perhaps I will get those twenty trips in after all. We do know for sure that the road will be closed by March 22nd.

My last trip was to BHP's Ekati mine which is everyone's favourite to go to because they treat us so well there. If I knew for sure that it was my last trip and I was sent there I'd stay for a week! I have a reefer hooked up right now but I don't even know yet where I'm taking it.

Carl was pretty cool about it when Andy jack knifed his truck, but he wasn't so understanding when Andy was busted for excessive speeding yesterday and given a 5 day suspension. So it's myself and Sheldon (in the old W900) left on the road for Carl right now. Many many trucks have gone due to it being near to the end. The road has hardly any traffic on it at all and it's hard to hitch a ride if you're traveling as an independent.

Drift10 - I found out that all those Macks that can't handle the cold do indeed have Mack engines. Those guys with the new twin turbo Cat engines are having no problems (other than complaining about them being chronically underpowered). On my way north two days ago I listened on the radio as another Westcan Mack died and they had to leave it parked on the ice, however this time it turned out that the driver hadn't checked the oil and had seized the engine.

We've been having a very cold spell lately, with ambient temps reaching minus 46c, and subtract a further 20c for the wind chill. Another problem with those Macks is that the fuel return line only returns to one tank, so the fuel in the other tank gels up and that shuts them down. It has been so cold that the trucks are stiff every morning and very reluctant to move - it feels like wheels are frozen up even if they're not. The trucks overheat for the first little while from having to work so hard to keep moving. It's hard to change gear as the truck comes to a stop shifting between low and first, then first and second. I'm nont even bothering to add anti-waxing agent to my fuel though - it is so cold that that too has geled up and won't pour!

Another Mack had a problem with the cold. One of DJ's - the driver had to take to the side of the road to avoid a tanker coming the other way and the right hand front wheel hit a big rock. It was so cold that the front axle snapped and if my camera battery charges in time I'll post a pic before I go.
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Old 03-13-2009, 09:26 AM   #695
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Photos

Someone had a good idea about how to keep the engine temp up while it's -66c outside:




Poor DJ. He's not having a good season.



I love this photo, might have to get it blown up. This load alone weighs 113,000 lbs.


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Old 03-13-2009, 09:28 AM   #696
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squonker
I didn't even make it home between trips 16 and 17, but they allowed me time for a shower before I head out again on #18. So nice!

Typically, a week ago we thought we'd be done by now and yet I'm running harder than ever. Perhaps I will get those twenty trips in after all. We do know for sure that the road will be closed by March 22nd.

My last trip was to BHP's Ekati mine which is everyone's favourite to go to because they treat us so well there. If I knew for sure that it was my last trip and I was sent there I'd stay for a week! I have a reefer hooked up right now but I don't even know yet where I'm taking it.

Carl was pretty cool about it when Andy jack knifed his truck, but he wasn't so understanding when Andy was busted for excessive speeding yesterday and given a 5 day suspension. So it's myself and Sheldon (in the old W900) left on the road for Carl right now. Many many trucks have gone due to it being near to the end. The road has hardly any traffic on it at all and it's hard to hitch a ride if you're traveling as an independent.

Drift10 - I found out that all those Macks that can't handle the cold do indeed have Mack engines. Those guys with the new twin turbo Cat engines are having no problems (other than complaining about them being chronically underpowered). On my way north two days ago I listened on the radio as another Westcan Mack died and they had to leave it parked on the ice, however this time it turned out that the driver hadn't checked the oil and had seized the engine.

We've been having a very cold spell lately, with ambient temps reaching minus 46c, and subtract a further 20c for the wind chill. Another problem with those Macks is that the fuel return line only returns to one tank, so the fuel in the other tank gels up and that shuts them down. It has been so cold that the trucks are stiff every morning and very reluctant to move - it feels like wheels are frozen up even if they're not. The trucks overheat for the first little while from having to work so hard to keep moving. It's hard to change gear as the truck comes to a stop shifting between low and first, then first and second. I'm nont even bothering to add anti-waxing agent to my fuel though - it is so cold that that too has geled up and won't pour!

Another Mack had a problem with the cold. One of DJ's - the driver had to take to the side of the road to avoid a tanker coming the other way and the right hand front wheel hit a big rock. It was so cold that the front axle snapped and if my camera battery charges in time I'll post a pic before I go.
Been running heavy stuff up in Alert before, hard to explain to folks how the cold affects the equipment so much when they haven't lived it.

Case loaders that would normally keep the cabs warm down here in the coldest temps, can't even keep the frost off the inside of the glass up there.

Forget about messing with your hydraulic disconnects unless you've warmed up the unit inside a hanger for 3 or 4 hours.

Snapping the cutting edges off the bucket blades just clipping a chunk of ice, because the bolts are too brittle to handle the shock force.

The list goes on.
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Old 03-13-2009, 09:40 AM   #697
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Another home run with that one, squonker.


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Old 03-14-2009, 07:43 PM   #698
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Thanks for the updates.

Locally Anderson Trucking laid off over 100 drivers last month. I was surprised that an OTR firm had to lay off drivers. Usually, their turnover is high enough that they could just not fill empty seats.

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Old 03-15-2009, 07:11 AM   #699
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It is a bit bizarre really. There is a National company in Canada who is still looking for quite a few drivers yet there are others who are letting some go. I guess it comes down to different customers and management styles. The oil patch is being hit especially hard. The company I work for has laid off quite a few drivers as break up has come early this year. I go back to work on the 27th but I have to call them first to see if I still have a job.

I also hear Ft McMurray isn't doing too well either.
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Old 03-15-2009, 08:47 AM   #700
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Barnyard and Mercenary - yep, it's strange alright, and I have a horrible feeling that we haven't seen the worst yet. I sincerely hope I'm wrong, though.

wzd1a - very nice photos indeed! Thanks for sharing them, and feel free to post up more if you'd like.

Well, I got back from trip #18 at midnight last night and slept in my truck in the yard for a few hours until it was warm enough that it was worth trying to start my car, and now I'm home potentially for the rest of the day - in which case I'll write up trip #3.

The shit hit the fan yesterday, I can tell you, and the RCMP are potentially going to be involved. It involves one of Carl's drivers, too.
The road is so quiet these days with only a few trucks on it (we're down to the last few days) and it's a pleasure to be out there again. For the most part I haven't enjoyed this season, but for the past week it has been the way it used to be. I'm making friends of the calibre that I used to up here, and the trips are (with the exception of today) coming thick and fast. I should shower and do laundry etc, but if I have time I'll do a proper update later.
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Old 03-15-2009, 11:49 AM   #701
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Looking forward to the next installment. Is break up coming that fast up there or do they just play it safe with the size of the loads that are allowed on the runs?
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Old 03-15-2009, 12:27 PM   #702
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Quote:
Originally Posted by agplant
Looking forward to the next installment. Is break up coming that fast up there or do they just play it safe with the size of the loads that are allowed on the runs?
The end is more to do with all the loads that needed to be having been sent up the road than anything else. The last load I took was number five thousand and something, and I know that there are less than 6000 to go in total this year. The ice does get beat to shit though, with all the trucks hammering up and down it all day and night. Mackay Lake in particular gets pretty rough. Some of those bigger potholes are rumoured to have missing trucks in them......
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Old 03-15-2009, 12:36 PM   #703
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Ben - While I hope for your wallet that you get more loads, I am patiently awaiting trip #3! and 4 and 5 and 6 and 7......

I have enjoyed this report far more than two season of the TV show! I've been subscribed since the beginning!

You have a writing style that is truly engaging! I went back and read your ride report too - great job!

Thanks so much for sharing this part of your life with us!
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Old 03-15-2009, 02:23 PM   #704
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We've got a whack of people in our bankruptcy practice who were counting on either oil patch work or construction work in Vancouver. Neither one is happening right now. The exploration work is on hold and the Olympic construction is winding up with tons of workers walking around competing for jobs that aren't there anymore. Lots of companies stopped buying stuff and are laying off proactively to keep their payroll costs down before they get into trouble.

If you've got work, do your damndest to make sure you aren't the one who gets the axe, there isn't a lot to fall back on now.
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Old 03-15-2009, 04:26 PM   #705
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Same thing happening here in Oz. These last few years there has been a mining boom and it`s been difficult to get truck drivers as everybody has been after the big money.
Recently, mines (amongst other companies) have been laying off heaps of people, so a lot of them will be looking at get their old jobs back driving trucks.
I`m reasonably lucky as though I am only casually employed, I have two jobs that I can go to, and one of them is in corrections. There will always be people that need locking up.

Keep up the good work Ben, I check this site at least twice a day; looking forward to when you get the time to write the whole season up.
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