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Old 03-09-2011, 10:53 AM   #1456
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I remember that photo of your truck. Just went to P.65 to check it out again and I see that all the pics I posted while I was using Photobucket are now gone. Too bad, but I switched to Smugmug a few months ago and that'll be rather more permanent, I would hope.

Ventures, hey? I've had a few offers to drive trucks that are on with them. I should try hauling fuel one year, I think. All my friends that switched to fuel from freight say they'll never go back.
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Old 03-09-2011, 11:02 AM   #1457
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Personally I don't agree with one carrier doing the bulk of the work but thats another topic for discussion . One friend of mine put it this way :
1 Fuel is a priority item. Without it nothing happens up there .
2 Fuel is reatively easy to load and unload... Providing your air actuated internal valves open at -40 -50- 60 ....
3 Fuel pays a better rate .
4 And if the worst was to happen loaded or empty you wil float . Where steel . prill , cement etc is noy as buoyant .
5 Unfortunatly if you have a &^%$ up you have pretty nasty clean up bill if you have a spill .
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Old 03-09-2011, 10:44 PM   #1458
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Hmmm. My reasons for trying fuel would be:

1. No strapping and chaining loads
2. No backhauls
3. No having to dolly on and off to different trailers all the time.
4. More $$...
...but fuel haulers generally get fewer trips in too, so the money thing probably evens out in the end.
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Old 03-09-2011, 11:20 PM   #1459
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2011 Trip #2





Feb 15th 2011

So, back in Yellowknife I'm given a set of Super-Bs and told to load them with cement for Diavik. This is a good gig because generally once you have a set of trains on the cement run you just stay hooked up to them, and at this stage Diavik weren't loading backhauls onto trains.

I ended up loading behind my friend Charles. I use the phrase 'my friend' sarcastically - this is Charles the moron from the previous trip. He is all excited because he wants to run together again, and he tells me that once is finished tying his load down he'll call dispatch while I'm strapping mine and let them know that we want to run together!

NOOOOO!!!!

He tells me that wants to leave at around 03:00 again and that is actually roughly when I had been planning on leaving, but all of a sudden now I develop truck problems and tell him that I'll get them fixed then arrange my own t-time with dispatch .

Guess what happens next. Over the radio Charles then calls dispatch and asks for a 03:00 t-time - then he tells them that I want to run with him and can they book us out together? Jesus Christ....

I didn't want to look like a prick over the radio so I let him do his thing for now. They give him a t-time of 03:20 but they don't mention me, and this is because they will never give a truck a t-time until it is loaded and tied down, which I am not yet. They're waiting for me to call in and say that I'm ready to go, and I can use that to my advantage.



Jay was in the yard tying down his load so I went over to say hi and helped him attach his wide load signs. We run well together so I asked him what time he was leaving, and he tells me that it depends rather on his permits (wide load permits). If he can leave 02:00 and 05:00 he will (and I'll go with him), but it might be that his permits require him to wait until daylight in which case I'll head out before him.

When I am all tied down I drop my trailer (which is a bitch because it is cold and my landing gear is frozen very stiff) and head to dispatch. I tell them that I know Charles asked if we could run together, but that I would rather run with anyone but Charles if at all possible. Wendy says that she wouldn't wish it upon her worst enemy to run with Charles and she knows me because worked for Nuna last year and I felt bad for her being Scottish and all . (Wendy is good shit. Kevin was in dispatch again too and the two of them had things well under control). While I'm there Jay calls and ends up with a t-time at midnight but that's only a few hours away and I have to sleep, so I book one for 03:00, twenty mins before Charles.




Feb 16th 2011

It was cold, -40c that morning but I was in a much better frame of mind than I had been on my first trip. I was running with two guys from RTL and as we passed the sugar shack I saw Jay parked up there. He was having truck problems, ended tagging along behind us and traveling with us to Lockhart. At Lockhart I had lunch with Jay, Mike and Art...remember Art?! Word was that the D.O.T. had been setting up a check station on the Ingraham Trail that morning.

A little bit of info here as to why the job is becoming less and less fun. The head Highway Patrol guy in the NWT until recently, Jim, was a pretty cool guy. He'd ticket you if he had to, but he preferred to show you what you'd done wrong, teach you the correct way to do whatever it was in the future, and give you a warning rather than a fine. But the NWT changed their mandate and didn't want people being given warnings and an education any more, they just wanted their Highways Officers to write the driver a ticket and jump back in their own vehicles. To his enormous credit, Jim thought that this was a huge steaming pile of cow dung and resigned. But I knew that any D.O.T. check from now on was likely to result in a fine because if they want to find something wrong, they will, and Jim was no longer around. To give you an idea as to how bad it was, last year when they set up the check at the same place they purposely didn't tell Jim they were doing it, presumably so that they could raise more revenue. I was extremely keen to avoid the Ingraham Trail during business hours for the next few days.

Ok, where were we? Oh yes. It took 8 hours to get from Lockhart to Diavik, and that is at least one hour longer than it should have done. Art had a problem with his trailer brakes and they would stick on whenever he touched them. Some guys just seem to attract that kind of problem.

The ice on Mackay Lake was absolutely brutal. The cracks were so big that a 4WD pickup became stuck in one while we were close enough to hear it on the radio! Not fun. Very hard on both truck and driver, but at least it's hard to fall asleep! The ice there often becomes rough later in the season, but I'd never seen it that bad before and certainly never so early on. This year there had been a cold winter and the ice was brittle - I gather that was the problem. It was only to become worse.



You know what, it's late....how about I finish up this trip tomorrow? Thanks.
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Old 03-09-2011, 11:36 PM   #1460
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Old 03-10-2011, 09:59 AM   #1461
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Flood Crew from Squonker on Vimeo.

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Old 03-10-2011, 05:12 PM   #1462
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Hats off to the boys on the flood crew, these guys really earn their paycheques . Looks like they were hamming it up for your video clip .
I often thought that the 1 ton drill truck would make a nice ice fishing rig . Drill a bunch of holes, park over them and pile in the compartment in the back for a couple of drinks and have a good time ice fishing .
Squonker have you or any of your co-drivers ever do any ice fishing on any of the lakes at the end of the season ?
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Old 03-10-2011, 06:34 PM   #1463
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I've been ice fishing plenty of times - I lived in the NWT for 7 or 8 years.



And yes you're right - that 1 ton would be a sweet rig for fishin'!
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Old 03-10-2011, 11:31 PM   #1464
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2011 Trip #2 contd.



Got into Diavik at 19:45 to find a lot of new faces. I'd been looking forward to seeing Lori and Dawn at dispatch, but I didn't know anyone there other than Bob the marshal. It wasn't a quick unload and the undeniable hatred in people's voices when they were speaking about Diavik this year confirmed that they were back to their old ways. If you tried to do a job less efficiently, you couldn't. The place is a disaster, but I will give the new dispatcher some points - he was trying, he didn't get flustered when everyone wanted something at the same time, and he was a nice enough guy.


Feb 17th 2011
Once again, when you were being marshaled back to dispatch having been unloaded, you were asked whether you were going to head right out or stay and sleep for a while. People only need to make the mistake of saying, "I'll stay and sleep" once - and I'd done it in 2009. Again they were taking you to an unused area of the mine with no facilities whatsoever and leaving you there. No food, no water, no washroom. And what is worse, people had stories about having woken up there, called for a marshal to come and escort them back to dispatch so that they could leave, and having to wait a couple of hours for someone to come and get them. Fuck that - I don't care how tired I was, I was heading back to P.49 at the minimum.

So I left the mine at 02:50 (means it took approx. 7 hrs to unload a load of cement) and went to P.49, which made it a 24 hr day, dead on. Not sure how long I stayed there for or who I was running with, but I made it back to Lockhart for 09:10, and breakfast. Saw Drew there, as well as Boss' other driver, whom I hadn't met before. He had been kept waiting 18.5 hours at Diavik for a backhaul. I get angry just thinking about that. What were they thinking - that they might never see another truck?



It was a bright sunny morning at Lockhart, but cold. There was a Tli-Cho driver there who had been told to swap his trailer for a reefer at one of the mines, and he didn't think that there was enough room between his tractor and the trailer, and he was looking to swap. I'm not quite sure why, because if he'd made it that far there obviously was enough room. Anyway, I (reluctantly, admittedly) told him that if wanted to swap with me he could, but that I already knew how frozen my landing gear was and he would be the one to wind it down. He made it about three turns and gave up on that idea also!

In the end, there were six or seven of us who helped him free his 5th wheel slider (which was frozen) so that he could continue with the trailer he had. It was pretty funny with all of us crowding around, some with propane torches, some with alcohol, some with snipe bars being used as pry bars, all trying to get the pins that lock his 5th wheel in place to budge. We all posed for a picture at one point, but I can't remember who it was that took it. Then the seven of us made a run for it southbound, and this time they had opened the 'alternative route' , which is was compulsory for empty trucks to take.

I had never been on the alternative route before. The first time I ever saw it used was in 2007 (when I didn't drive), because that year was so crazily busy, the weather having forced us to shut everything down early in '06. We were only the second or third group to travel this new road, which leaves the main one just north of Gordon Lake and rejoins the Ingraham Trail 20 km outside Yellowknife. It was quite rough and there lots of complaints from the highway drivers. It reminded me closely of the Colomac road. I rather enjoyed it . I have photos and video from the alternate route somewhere...will get to them in due course.



I arrived back in town at 18:25 and back in the yard met my buddy Charlie in person for the first time this year. He wasn't happy, having just got an infraction for speeding. He says that he was running at 25 km/h by his GPS, and with his cruise control set when Security told him he was doing 29. That's an automatic suspension this year. He said, "Are you sure 'cos I'm running by GPS here" and Security said , "Yes, I'm sure." So Charlie said he'd back it down, and what he actually did was turn off the cruise control, drop three or four km/h and then hit 'resume' on his cruise to go back to the speed he was at a few seconds before. Security said, "That's better - you're dead on now" and Charlie old him that he was doing exactly the same speed. Security told him he was going to get a ticket anyway, so Charlie wasn't very impressed. Only the day before he'd been fined by the D.O.T. for a logbook infraction, so he was just about ready to pack it in and go home. I know the feeling when everything seems to be working against you and Security - who are there primarily to help us - end up making things worse. Can't say I blame Charlie for the way he was feeling.



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Old 03-11-2011, 03:30 AM   #1465
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Pissed

A guy can't help but wonder how Diavik can keep its doors open when they run such an @$$ backwards operation when it comes to recieving product during the winter road season . Waiting 7 or so hours to get off loaded or 18.5 hours for a back haul its amazing no one hasn't blown that dump up . Where just another hour up the road BHP from all that I have heard runs a top notch operation . Looks like a guy isn't missing much up there this season with the rough ice , Diaviks antics , and Security and the DOT's making life difficult . Its discouraging and frustrating to say the least when you are doing the best you can to get your loads up there and everything it seems to be working against you and or treating a guy like dirt .
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Old 03-11-2011, 06:57 AM   #1466
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Yep, it sure ain't what it used to be, that job. The biggest changes are all as a result of the TV show. Diavik always managed to make you feel like a diamond thief whenever you helped them out by bringing them a load even before the show, but Security used to give us the benefit of the doubt if they could. The D.O.T. never bothered us. I remember when orientation was 30 mins long - some years since the show it has been 6 hours!

Too bad you never got to go to BHP - no one ever left that place disappointed. They actually respect us up there, and no doubt you heard about the food....
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Old 03-14-2011, 11:47 PM   #1467
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Oh, I just remembered a story from trip #2, just found the little note I made about it.

So I'm at Nuna dispatch about to leave Yellowknife. One of the people in the group is a woman called Diane. I don't know her but she seemed very nice. When we were given the all clear to go and headed out to our trucks (always kind of reminds me of a Le Mans-type start!) she asked if I had any CDs she could borrow. Without thinking about it, I grabbed the small CD case that I'd found in Boss' shop and gave it to her.

We weren't very far down the road when it occurred to me that they weren't actually my CDs to lend her, and what's more when was I going to get them back? I might never see her again! This fear was compounded when about 20 kms out of town her truck broke down! I think that she had been in third place and I must have been in second because whoever was leading and I carried on while the guy behind her stopped to help. Or something like that anyway - she had to stop, and someone else was there to help her.

It didn't take them long to fix whatever the problem was and they were soon under way again. They ended up pulling into the Meadows not long after we'd left and they were probably even close enough to rejoin our group but they announced that they were going to park there and take another look at the problem, try to get a proper handle on it before they hit the ice.

When I was at Diavik waiting to be unloaded I heard her voice on the radio and called her, explaining that they weren't my CDs and could I take them back?! She was fine with it, was just grateful to have had something (else?) to listen to on the way up, and she left them at dispatch at the mine for me to pick up when I had been unloaded and went in to collect my paperwork.

While I was at dispatch preparing to leave I heard that Diane had been rear-ended by another truck while she was at the rack (that's where the tankers unload - the fuel rack) and, it being so cold, part of her rear bumper had just snapped right off! Unfortunately it had taken her rear lights with it, so she was unable to drive that truck home. I don't know what happened, but she sure wasn't having a good trip!

A few days later I passed her on the Ingraham Trail heading south as I was making my way back up north. I wished her a better trip than the previous one and she said she'd leave something for me at Nuna dispatch for having lent her those CDs. I told her not to bother, but sure enough she left me a pair of warm mitts with a couple of chocolates inside them! That's a nice touch - I already mentioned that it's the people who make this job memorable, didn't I?

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Old 03-15-2011, 03:06 AM   #1468
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Originally Posted by squonker View Post
but sure enough she left me a pair of warm mitts with a couple of chocolates inside them!

Looks like you`ve won a heart you sweet talker you.
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Old 03-15-2011, 04:54 PM   #1469
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You should see what she wrote about my accent in the note she let me with the mitts!
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Old 03-15-2011, 05:08 PM   #1470
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You should see what she wrote in the note she left me with the mitts!

Was it "come and get me big boy, but warm those hands up first?

A slight change in a quote can change the whole meaning.
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