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Old 10-19-2007, 06:46 PM   #106
galute
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Now that is a cool pic. Helps bring things into perspective.
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Old 10-20-2007, 05:49 AM   #107
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Keep it coming!

You can see some of the winter road in this pic (a different road, the one to Discovery Mine), and the road over the portage is quite clear. I'm going to hijack my own thread for a post soon and put up some pics of when we landed on the ice in a Hercules transport plane. Driving on the ice doesn't worry me, but that was a whole different ball game!

Proper post coming up over the weekend.....[/quote]


This a facinating thread, great pictures. You truly live in an amazing part of our country. This picture really does give me a better idea of the isolation and beauty of the North. Keep it coming please.
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Old 10-20-2007, 06:33 AM   #108
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Great thread, Squonker. A couple of questions. You`ve mentioned a few times of drivers falling asleep. Don`t you have regulated driving hours in that neck of the woods?

I`m guessing the Eaton Fuller roadranger is the transmission of choice over there. What`s that in the Star, a 13 speed? Is anyone using an automated shift?

PS: One more. Did I read an article written by you in a British trucking magazine a while ago?
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Old 10-20-2007, 09:39 AM   #109
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Quote:
You truly live in an amazing part of our country
You got that right, GS4ME, it is beautiful up here. But it's a strange beauty, so completely different to BC and Alberta's mountains, forests and lakes - yet beautiful all the same. There's a pull-out on the Mackenzie Highway between Enterprise and Fort Providence where I always stop. You can see over the tops of the trees for miles and miles. It's dead flat and it's all the same, but it's still gorgeous and it gets me every time. I just can't say why.



Quote:
Originally Posted by GSD4ME
Great thread, Squonker. A couple of questions. You`ve mentioned a few times of drivers falling asleep. Don`t you have regulated driving hours in that neck of the woods?

I`m guessing the Eaton Fuller roadranger is the transmission of choice over there. What`s that in the Star, a 13 speed? Is anyone using an automated shift?

PS: One more. Did I read an article written by you in a British trucking magazine a while ago?
Hi GSD4ME. Drivers hours...how do I answer that? I think I'll just say that yes, we do have regulated hours. The ice road is a private road, so that's a free for all. The problem is with the Ingraham Trail being the first and last 70 kms of the round trip. That is a public highway and the hours laws do apply there.

Tranny of choice is much like truck of choice - you just drive what you buy or what you're given to drive. The three trucks I drove all happened to have 18 speeds in them, but there are older rigs there with 5 and 4s in them, and I've seen 10 speeds, 13s, 15s, you name it. Purely from a personal point of view, the 18 speed is such an all rounder that you can't go wrong with it. People don't spec trucks especially for this job. Certainly there are a few things you'd like to have (air dryer, minimum 400hp, big arse sleeper), but there's all kinds up there and everyone manages. I drove a rig with a 13 and 4 once - that'd be interesting on the ice road! I've never seen or heard of an auto shift up there but I am always expecting to come across one. I bet it's only a matter of time (and there may well be a few already that I just haven't come across).

LOL about the British magazine. Yes, that was me - I sold a few to British mags (I do a bit of freelancing), and I did a big one for Trucking magazine because that's the one I first read about the job in, back in the '80s. I'm guessing that's the one you saw.

Thanks for your input. Stay tuned!
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Old 10-20-2007, 04:18 PM   #110
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Hijack on

I'm going to hijack my own thread here for one post to show you the pics from my Herc trip. An old room mate was co-pilot and I took the opportunity to go on a short hop one afternoon. I hate flying, actually, but figured that it would be very cool to do a trip in this beast. Best of all was that we got to land on the ice, and that blew my mind. We went from Yellowknife to High Lake, where there is a mining exploration camp, with a plane load of Jet A fuel in barrels. The whole trip only took about three hours I think. Not sure exactly where High Lake is, but it was far enough north that we could see the Arctic Ocean from in the plane. It may be in Nunavut, I think, because we flew over Lupin mine on the way there. Here goes...





The tundra from the air




The plane being unloaded, one barrel at a time.












The camp at High Lake




A couple of shots from the ar...


This one is of the runway. You'll have to excuse my inability to draw an arrow using MS Paint, but I hope you can still identify the strip.




And the runway from on the ground


That's it. Hijack over. Back to trucking now!
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Old 10-20-2007, 05:03 PM   #111
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squonker
[thread hijack about C-130 flight]
One of my clients was captain on that bird and all the Arychuks (owners of Air Tindi, shown in an earlier post) were as well. That Hurc is the only privately owned one in Canada ... or it was when I was up there.

I'll say it again, great thread.
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Old 10-21-2007, 05:17 AM   #112
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It`s interesting to hear how you started this job, 16 years after you heard about it. I have been toying with the idea of going to the US to drive trucks for some time and almost two years ago was offered a job there. Unfortunately I had a motorcycle accident before I could leave and was out of action for five months.

The job offer was unusual as I hadn`t driven a truck for 21 years and had only had a few refresher lessons since then. I was up front about this when I applied, but they still wanted me. Guess they were desperate for drivers.

I`m back in the game now and working part time for a large logistics company here in Oz, driving new Volvo`s and Freightliners (with Mercedes Benz engine). Both have automated `boxes and the Freightliners certainly are primitive when compared to the Euro stuff.
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Old 10-21-2007, 07:03 AM   #113
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Thumb Great Thread!

As a Minnesota trucker I am fastinated by this thread! I never look foward to winter trucking mostly because of unpredictable inexpirenced cage drivers. A lot of these winter tips apply to our Dec/Jan months.We drive/ride cars/p-u/ atv/mc on the frozen lakes and ice fish but large loads takes`some THICK F-ING ICE! Our DNR has a motto; Ice is never safe, I tend to agree! One of my favorite lake rides was one winter a buddy let me ride his 68 BSA scrambler across Long Lake with stock tires (No Studs) on hard pack (crunchy) snow on ice which made for what he claims was the fastest he ever saw that thing go.I was laughing in my helmet with that pig bouncing , snorting and making quick work of a long straightaway,Big Fun! THANK FOR THE GREAT THREAD!!!!!! BRING ON WINTER!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 10-21-2007, 05:17 PM   #114
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Unloading delays

Quote:
Originally Posted by CGH
One of my clients was captain on that bird and all the Arychuks (owners of Air Tindi, shown in an earlier post) were as well. That Hurc is the only privately owned one in Canada ... or it was when I was up there.

I'll say it again, great thread.
Thanks again for the kind comments, CGH. I can't remember the captain's name, but I do know it wasn't the same one as was painted on the side of the plane. It was the only time I ever met him, and I remember he took a nap on the way to High Lake!
I believe that one of the Arychuks recently got married. If I ask you what you did/do would you answer on a public forum? I wonder how many mutual friends me have up there.

Quote:
The job offer was unusual as I hadn`t driven a truck for 21 years and had only had a few refresher lessons since then. I was up front about this when I applied, but they still wanted me. Guess they were desperate for drivers.
Hi GSD4ME. I read all the time in Trucking magazine about the desperate shortage of drivers in the U.K. Operators having to buy top spec trucks and pay more than the going rate just to attract the right calibre drivers and then retain them. There's a big shortage in Canada too, apparantly, as Trucking always carries an ad every month from a company that will do all the legal stuff and paper work for British drivers that want to relocate to Canada. In your experience the U.S. is no different. What about Oz? Funny you should mention 'primitive' Freightliners...
...My first year on the ice I kept hearing a very British accent on the radio, and although I never spoke to him, I gathered that his name was Hayden. One afternoon I was leading a convoy north on Mackay Lake and I could hear him nearby, eventually figuring out that he was leading the convoy heading towards me in the hammer lane. The weather was getting bad and a white out was developing so it wasn't as easy as you'd think to get a fix on where he was. I called him over to another channel and we were comparing trucking in the UK to that in Canada. I asked him what he thought of N. American trucks and he said, "Do you want an honest answer, or one that takes into account that I know other people are listening?" I knew exactly what he meant. Those top spec European trucks are like luxury cars, and that's off the production line. Very different from anything you'll find in Canada. And the idea of having to crawl under your rig every day and manually adjust every brake on truck and trailer - that's from the 1950s! Even with automatic slack adjusters you're still legally required to do it - bizarre.
You should get a job driving a road train and start a thread about that!


Hey Rebelrider, thanks for your compliment too. Not sure why your quote is underlined. I would never have the balls to ride a bike on ice or snow, certainly not a big bike anyway. I have trouble keeping my KLR rubber side down any time I'm off the blacktop, so kudos to you! I guess to ride a moderately hard packed snowmobile trail on a 125 or something would be fun. I know I'm going to buy myself something small and pure dirt in the next year or two, perhaps a 230 or a 250. 4 stroke, of course. I'm tired of drooping this big beast and having to pick it up again.
As an aside, we had snow a month ago but it didn't hang around for more than a day. The past ten days were glorious weather, then Saturday was drizzle all day. Today we had flurries all day - I've been lucky to ride this long into October (don't think I ever have before) so my bike is going into hibernation next weekend. It sure looks good with my yellow ADV stickers on the swing arm, though! (Just applied today, courtesy of Gadget. Thanks Gadget).
Keep on trucking!




I was reading through my notes about that pooper scooper trip, and it brought back a whole lot more memories. It also explained why I have so many photos of the trip I did with that load of big tires, which was the trip prior to that one. Apparently I was seven hours at Diavik getting unloaded, and I wasn't a happy chappy! It says it was also so cold that all the ratchets on the trailer were coated with a thick layer of ice, and then not only were the straps themselves frozen stiff, but they had stuck fast to the tires.

The sign in this photo is for Dome Lake Camp, a maintenance camp, which means that this was taken on portage 10.



Reading through what happened next, I've decided it's much easier for me to just copy and paste the story, so here it is.

I made it back to Yellowknife for 11am the following morning, exhausted having driven all night. A few drivers were in the dispatch office grumbling about the waiting time between loads, and I think Brian actually felt bad. Why things weren’t organized I don’t know, but he told me to grab a few hours sleep and that I’d be leaving again in the afternoon, which suited me just fine. Things were then delayed a few hours due to bad weather down south in Edmonton. Our loads finally turned up in YKat 10pm, so Reg, Charlie, Chris, Jeff and myself went to strap and chain them down then hit the sack until our 6am t-time in the morning. We were all to carry underground mining equipment this time, which made for a fleet of impressive looking loads. They were a job to secure to the trailers, though, and it was after midnight that we were finally done. I was extremely tired by this point – I had had a twenty one hour day that day, preceeded by four and a half hours sleep. Then having secured this load I had three hours in bed, and set off for another twenty-ish hour day.

Three or four hours into our journey the next morning, two Diavik employees in a pick- up became a kind of unofficial escort for us. They told us that they were going to help us unload our equipment. The machines weren’t running and would be too cold to start once we reached the mine, so to that end part of each of our loads was a small generator, and these two guys told us that they were going to meet us at Lockhart to get these generators running, then meet us again at the north end of Mackay Lake to re-start them and use them to pre-warm the heavy equipment from that point on. That way, the big stuff would start at the mine and could be unloaded easily. We were flabbergasted – it was unheard of that Diavik would be that efficient, and I was very grateful that this would be a well organized, pre-planned unloading. South of Lockhart the two guys drove beside us each in turn, taking photos of our loads. It was a beautiful sunny day and the shots had the potential to be excellent. I asked them if I could have a business card so that I could get copies.

At Lockhart, while we drivers had a quick lunch our generators were started, and by the time we were done lunch they were warm and had been shut off again. Under way once more, our two companions soon became bored with having to follow us around at 30 km/h, and I can’t say that I blame them. As we approached Mackay Lake they went ahead and waited for us at portage 49 on the north end. I felt bad for them as it takes three hours to cross that lake, and they must have been beside themselves. When we arrived it was windy and cold, but they didn’t take long to start the generators again and plug the big equipment in to warm it up, and we were off on the last leg of the journey.

I should have known better, but at the same I was still rather taken aback when despite the fact that these two guys had been escorting us for the past twelve plus hours solely to enable our machines to be off loaded, things went to pot when we arrived at Diavik. It was 10.20pm when we got there, but I had to wait 3 hours before I was even taken to an unloading zone to get a small piece of machinery on the back of my trailer removed first. Now I was at last ready to have the large underground service vehicle, which was the main part of my load, removed. As I was being escorted back to the parking lot where the off-load ramp was, my escort told me that I could go to sleep! I suggested that I was going to get unloaded and then get the hell out of dodge, but she that no, the two guys who had been with us since south of Lockhart had become tried and gone to bed! I had to wonder, but was secretly appreciative of the fact that I could at least get undressed and into bed properly. For the first three hours I had merely lain on my bunk fully dressed.

I set my alarm and was up at 7am for breakfast. This time I was told I could use the ‘south camp’ which was just next door to the parking area. I ambled across and was struck by how much older and less permanent this camp was. It was all old Atco trailers, and apparently was the contractors camp. Diavik employees got the nice one! The food was still the same, though, and I did feel better having had a decent sleep. My friend Scott whom I had worked for briefly the previous summer was there coming off night shift and we had breakfast together. I had wondered whether to wake Reg and Charlie up for some grub, but knew that they had been to bed much later than I had, and thought they’d likely appreciate the sleep more than they would the food. When I had finished Reg was up and just starting to be unloaded anyway, and I knew I wouldn’t be long then.

A very unusual off-loading experience. Firstly, there was no mention of the two guys who traveled with us yesterday (who were the ones now off-loading our machines now?) having gone to sleep on us last night. Next, I had been trying to get a business card off one of them since the day before at Lockhart. He always said that he would give me one, but then never did. At Lockhart he told me to wait until later, so I asked again when we were stopped at the north end of Mackay Lake. There, he told me to wait until we were at the mine. The pervious night I hadn’t seen him, and this morning he was simply not giving me one, while saying that he would. One of them unloaded the equipment off the trucks that Reg and Charlie were driving – their loads were underground loading shovels. The chap who was driving them appeared to be having a little trouble, but eventually got them off. Then he asked me to back my trailer up to the off-loading ramp and climbed in the underground service truck that I was carrying. He climbed into the cab when I had taken the chains off, and for the next while we all stood around watching the most bizarre scene. He would sit there with the machine in neutral and rev it up, but it wouldn’t move, obviously, because he didn’t have it in gear. This must have happened ten times. Then he would find reverse, but presumably leave the parking brake on, because he’d rev it up and it still would’nt move. Once he either stalled it or switched it off. The only explanation I could think of, and I haven’t come up with one better since, is that he was drunk. It took him half an hour to unload the machine.

From Lockhart on the way home I called my boss Ron to ask him to call my dispatcher Brian. I was going to be home late enough that I knew Brian wouldn’t be in his office, but if he had a load ready and waiting for me, he could leave the paperwork and book me out for 6am. Otherwise I’d have to wait until 8am before he even got to his office, and then it would be mid morning before I was underway with another load. Ron didn’t sound hopeful, doubting that Brian would go for that, but told me to meet him at the NWTL yard at 8am. When I saw Ron there, he told me that Brian had told him that I was booked out for 8am, but when I went into the office it was the same old story – the load had been delayed.

And there you have it. A slight boo-boo. I uploaded the pics of my pooper scooper being unloaded but according to that, on this trip I had another underground mining vehicle. I'm going to post the ones of the pooper scooper anyway, and then I'll upload whatever I can find of the load I'm talking about in the story.

Pooper scooper first. Beginning,


Middle,


And end.


Alright, here are a couple of shots to keep you busy while I go look for the ones I should have posted...




Still here? Ok, here we go...it looked like this.


And this


And, after half an hour of the guy trying to get the thing to even move, like this when it was finally coming off the trailer.


I should point out that the mines are dry camps - strictly no alcohol so it's unlikely that buddy was drunk...but not impossible seeing that he'd driven up from YK in a pick-up and wouldn't have had to go through security.

Two more shots to finish off with today. One of Nuna's graders, here:

At the back end you can see a thin bar of steel that appears to stick out past the side of the machine. It's actually one arm of a giant 'V' that stretches out behind it, the legs on which are probably at least 6 feet long. This 'V' has one use and one use only. If the grader should break through the ice, it's hoped that the 'V' will catch on good ice past the break and prevent the machine from going right under. Yikes...

And me trying to be artistic again
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Old 10-21-2007, 08:03 PM   #115
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squonker,
I love this pic. That's the job I want. I want to build the ice roads. Very Cool!!!

How many hours of daylight do yall get per day that time of year?
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Old 10-22-2007, 02:55 AM   #116
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From what I hear there is a critical shortage of truck drivers world wide. Here in Oz it`s no different and drivers are leaving the industry as state Governments instruct police and transport officers to hound long distance drivers unmercifully. Rest areas are few and far between and oil companies are closing down their roadhouses.

One of the reasons I am looking at driving in the US is, from what I hear, the industry is set up for drivers to do lots of miles, there are decent driver facilities and trailers are loaded/unloaded for you. I am willing to be corrected on this.

I am doing local distribution work at the moment and dispatchers, who are mostly busted arse drivers, still feel the need to treat us like shit. The good thing is there is no pressure, the trucks are mostly new and trailers are usually loaded for us. The main requirement is that you can put a trailer where they weren`t meant to go. Some of the dockways were built when freight was delivered in body trucks or with semi`s that had 35 foot trailers. They are now 45 foot or longer.

Funny you should mention road trains. I moved to Oz from New Zealand in the early 70`s with the intention of driving them. I never made it, but got experience on a twin stick Mack semi tipper and a W model Kenworth hauling a low loader and dolly.
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Old 10-22-2007, 08:27 PM   #117
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It seems to me that trucking in Canada is going for a shit. I have a brother that owns his own truck and he has a run that involves taking an 8 hour break 2 hours from home each trip because he cant drive over a certain number of hours. Even maintenance and time spent on the truck goes against his total logged time. His speed is tracked diligently and he cant take any passengers, no exceptions. Thats a company policy but still, it seems to be getting tougher.
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Old 10-22-2007, 08:33 PM   #118
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Here be Diavik.

GSD4ME - sounds like it's pretty much the same situation where ever you go. I've only ever spent one day in the U.S., though, and that was nothing whatsoever to do with trucking, so I dunno wot the situation is there. Good luck if you're still going for it, anyway. Love that you referred to a 'tipper'. Next we'll be talking about lorries!

EDIT: Kootenaykid, your post appeared as I was writing mine. The situation is exactly the same in the UK. Extremely strict hours laws (although however frustrating they may be sometimes, they're not a bad idea at all), and even if you run out of hours and your boss brings another driver out to you to drive your truck home, while you're sitting in his car as he drives you back to the yard, you have to count that as working (but not driving) time. Legislation, dude. I wish I was 10 years older, 'cos I think I'd have made a fabulous hippy, and then I could've just ignored this stuff!

Well, today's post is a bit of a cheat. I have a few pics of Diavik that I want to get rid of because I don't know where else I can use them, so I'm unloading them on you now. I did remember a cool story to post in the next little while, though, so this is just a temporary blip in quality control. (Thing is, I can't remember what I remembered! Oh, I know - the Fort Liard trip. I'll leave this here to remind myself.)

BTW, at Christmas last year (no, that'd be last Christmas this year) a magazine sent me to Diavik for the day to play in a 400 ton truck and write about it. Would there be any interest in those pics if I were to dig them out?

Here is Diavik in all its (non existent) glory...First of all the sign post


And then the turning itself


And then the security sign


And then you're there. This is the security/dispatch shack (the middle of the three buildings). No expense spared, as you can see. The big tent-like structure is a storage area for this n' that, and the shack in the foreground - why, that's the finest washroom in the whole NWT. Put there especially for truck drivers, that was. Such generosity...




This is what you see as you drive down the 'exit ramp' onto Lac de gras as you leave. Beautiful when the sun is shining brightly.




I took this one when I was being escorted to some far off corner of the mine to unload my dynamite.






Those tires AGAIN?!!














That's it for today.
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Old 10-23-2007, 03:03 AM   #119
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Keep on posting as much as you can while the moderators are looking the other way. Here in Oz one of our moderators has been having a discussion with us about non bike related material and it usually gets taken down PDQ, although we are blessed with fairly easy going rules in our forum.

BTW, we don`t have lorries in this country. They are either rigids, tray tops, or body trucks.
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Old 10-23-2007, 08:17 PM   #120
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squonker
You got that right, GS4ME, it is beautiful up here. But it's a strange beauty, so completely different to BC and Alberta's mountains, forests and lakes - yet beautiful all the same. There's a pull-out on the Mackenzie Highway between Enterprise and Fort Providence where I always stop. You can see over the tops of the trees for miles and miles. It's dead flat and it's all the same, but it's still gorgeous and it gets me every time. I just can't say why.
Enjoyed your thread immensely - the paragraph above really caught my eye. I lived in arctic Alaska (Kotzebue) for a while and I fell in love with Alaska living in the arctic. 10 years later I left with great reluctance. I was just in Calgary this weekend and it felt a bit like home. Great story. Know exactly what you mean about that elemental landscape. I never got tired of looking at it - and its subtle mutations of light and shadow. The sunrise-sunset pictures bring home a lot of good memories. Gracias.
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