Yellowknife ice trucking

Discussion in 'Shiny Things' started by squonker, Sep 18, 2007.

  1. BlueLghtning

    BlueLghtning Riding is my passion

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    Yeah, every show of course focused around the possibility that a truck could go through the ice. I'm sure everyone knows the possibility is there, but they just took it to the extreme! LOL It was pretty cool to see the high tech equipment they use to measure the thickness of the ice.

    The other thing they focused on several times other then the wave you talked about earlier was how bad it was for trucks to sit and idle on the ice due to the engine vibrations making cracks. But then several times in the show, someone would wipe out (Charlie's Hill or other portages) and block the road in both directions and you would have multiple trucks that would get backed out onto the ice sitting there for hours running. It just seems that wasn't as big as a threat as they made it out to seem since 100+ trucks sitting on the ice didn't fall through after a couple hours, then that seems pretty good to me! LOL

    Keep the pictures and stories coming! It looks like you figured out how to do multiple pics in one post which is great!
    #61
  2. RockinXJ

    RockinXJ gettin the hang of it.

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    Your beating the wrong part. just tap on the shoe and not the drum.:lol3

    Breaks 'em loose every time.

    edit: I see somone already mentioned that. Should have read on.

    Great thread sqounker.
    #62
  3. RDJEff

    RDJEff Lost in Alaska

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    You should have seen what the Kamikaze Trail was like back in the mid 70s! I have a few pictures from back in my truck driver days that I should dig out!
    #63
  4. squonker

    squonker Eat my shorts

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    #64
  5. squonker

    squonker Eat my shorts

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    Hey Rockinxj and RDJEFF. Welcome aboard, and yep - dig out those pics, I'd love to see them!

    Today's pics are a hodge-podge (whatever that is!)

    A view from the cab
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    Although quite why I took a pic of what is basically a box of tissues, I don't know.

    Here's dynamite being unloaded at Diavik.
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    People say, "You hauled dynamite? Isn't that dangerous?" Why? What's it going to do - get hot and explode?

    Having unloaded a set of trains worth of prill at BHP.
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    I hate hauling that shit. They always stick that top layer of bags on (see pic of Western Star in earlier post) and you spend the whole trip worrying that they're going to fall off. It may take 45 mins to wind all these straps back up again, but at least you know you're going to go and have a good meal then either sleep or head home again afterwards.

    This is me trying to take an interesting shot. What makes it cool to me is that it is on the Lupin road, so this is very near the arctic circle.
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    I was thinking of something poetic to say about the arctic sun, but I won't embarrass myself.

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    No comment (for the same reason).

    This is the cab of the Western Star, probably of no interest to anyone whatsoever, but there you go.
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    And this is the Resources Wildlife and Economic Development (RWED) station that we pass by at the southern end of the road. These guys check that the private hunters are behaving themselves with regard to tag limits, proper disposal of carcasess etc.
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    #65
  6. galute

    galute are we there yet?

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    Awesome thread squonker. I love this stuff, keep it up.
    #66
  7. kootenay kid

    kootenay kid Lets Ride

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    Keep it up. I am liking this stuff. Do they allow you to take passengers? My Bro drives for Trimac and owns his own truck but strictly no passengers. It kills him he cant take his 2 grandsons.
    #67
  8. peter-denmark

    peter-denmark n00b

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    Wow could be a cool job to have for a season.

    Is it hard for foreigners to get a job/work permit?

    I have what I belive must be an equivalent to the Class 1 driving license (the "biggest" licens you can obtain in Europe, which we in Denmark call "CE")
    #68
  9. Klay

    Klay dreaming adventurer

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    Wow! What a thread. This is much better than the TV show.
    #69
  10. squonker

    squonker Eat my shorts

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    Shit. I had been typing for ten mins or so answering questions, then I don't know what I did but suddenly my browser shut itself down and I lost everything. And it wasn't just about the ice - I had revealed the secret to eternal life and the basics of alchemy too. Oh well, now you'll never know. :lol3

    Well, I also said 'hello' to Klay, galute, Peter-Denmark and 'nice to see you again' to kootenaykid. Kkid -I don't know about passengers, dude. I was always told no way jose, not under any circumstances. But there are circumstances - obviously cameramen and journalists have been passengers, and then the last season I drove my boss said he had his own insurance and that we could take a girlfriend (or someone else's girlriend :wink: ) along for a ride. That bit about some else's girfriend is a joke. Kind of - one of his guys was always painfully slow and we'd forever have to stop and wait for him to catch up, which or course pissed us off no end. In the end we all tried to lose him so that he'd have to run with someone else...but the point is that he did bring his girlfriend along on one trip. I suggested that the truck in front carry his girlfriend instead, then he'd be chasing us up and down the road and guaranteed to keep up!

    Peter-Denmark, you have to speak to Canada Immigration, not me. There are foreign guys on the road, but I don't know whether they live here or not. Sometimes in Canada it's hard to find anyone who was actually born here (ha! little in-joke there!) but I can't really talk 'cos I emigrated myself from The Mother Land. Can I be immigrant-ist if I'm one myself? Does that make me qualified to speak on the issue, or a huge-ass hypocrite? Sorry I can't help you. Edit: you know what, there is one thing I can suggest. PM on the way...

    Klay - better than the TV show? Wowzers, thanks dude! My DVD still hasn't turned up from the History Channel yet. I checked my mail yesterday (usually only do so once a week), but perhaps it'll be an excuse to take the KLR to the Post Office during the week. But...it is snowing right now and it's supposed to be -6c tonight so I might have to put the old girl away instead.

    galute - thanks for the kind words.

    And I have a question for you guys - what does it mean when someone says YMMV to you in a post? I have a horrible feeling it isn't nice. :huh

    Today's pics...let's see what I uploaded.
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    Hmmm...that looks like a truck. What's next?

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    Ok, the more observant among you will have noticed that in every shot of this Freightliner, the front bumper is definitely not as it should be. Is it possible that someone fell asleep on Mackay Lake and went into the snow bank? Sadly, yes, but that's a story for another day. What troubles me is that there appear to be no surviving shots of the rig before the unplanned side trip off the road!

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    That's us stuck up at Diavik again. Mine's the fourth nose from the camera. Ugliest truck on the road? Pretty close, I'd think!

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    Another 'heartbreaker' sign.

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    Ok, that's a blowout - cordoned off for good reason! Sometimes they just appear, and on a wide stretch of road like this you can just stay away from them. I wonder if they're really that dangerous - but not so much that I plan on testing one!

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    A lone caribou. This one had been slipping and sliding on the ice coming towards us before it went into the snow. I have a pic of a herd of 'em somewhere, and will post it later.

    And today's last entry:
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    An Atlas Copco underground loading shovel I took to Diavik. There's a name for these things, but I can't remember what it is. I called it a 'pooper-scooper'. I took a pic of the inside of the cab, too, and will dig that out one day.
    #70
  11. Klay

    Klay dreaming adventurer

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    Your Mileage May Vary. It has been generalized to mean your results, in whatever you're up to, may vary depending on circumstances.
    #71
  12. treysmagna

    treysmagna Bald is beautiful

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    This is awesome. Wonder what the DR would do up there? Would have to beat this Texas heat!:clap
    #72
  13. squonker

    squonker Eat my shorts

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    Thanks for the explanation, Klay - I feel better knowing I wasn't being insulted without even knowing it!

    Howdy treysmagma! The Texas heat - man I was reading kaneman's thread over the summer and some of the temps he posted - yikes. I've become accustomed to these cooler climes, I think. Anything over 25c and I'm out for the count! But I did get to go for a short ride today, between snowshowers...

    I was going to write more than I will, but I got to reading that 'Rude Fools' thread and became hooked. I have some pics, and will write more another day.

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    That cabin you can see on the left of the road is the RWED station that the sign a couple of posts back belongs to (does that make any sense?) The sign is on the right of the road there.

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    Pink snow? I only heard about the yellow stuff...
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    Now this looks like it might hurt...
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    These are my friends Reg and Charlie. Reg is going to sell me his truck for the '09 season, I hope. He wants to buy a real one (the one he's selling is a Sterling)!
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    #73
  14. Ducky 149

    Ducky 149 Been here awhile

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    Great job!!!!! I love the cold and snow. Sounds like the job for me. Keep up the thread please!!!
    #74
  15. squonker

    squonker Eat my shorts

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    Thanks Ducky! I'll keep the thread going until no-one is interested anymore or I run out of photos - which ever comes first!

    Alrighty, I said that I had taken a pic of the inside of the cab of that Pooper Scooper, and here it is.
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    I also remembered its real name - it's either a Scoop Trans or a Scoop Tram. I do think my name is better, though, and why Atlas Copco shouldn't pay me millions to come up with other brilliant names for their equipment is beyond me. If you're the GM of Atlas Copco, PM me. We'll talk.

    Here's the lower parking lot at Lockhart camp. No trains allowed in the upper lot as there often isn't much room there (but you can't see that until it's too late). If you're lucky you'll hear a friend of yours on the radio in the upper lot and you can ask him what the scoop is, but most times just make sure you have enough momentum to get up the hill, and then worry about how and where you're going to park!
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    The hill to the upper lot and the buildings is on the right, (just out of frame).

    The main camp at Lockhart. Kitchen/dining room, showers, washrooms, laundry, tv room and dispatch.
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    They also have a shop (or two) there as many Nuna employees are based there (Nuna Logistics build and maintain the road)....
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    They don't encourage it, but if you're in a real bind you can beg, borrow or steal a gallon of antifreeze or a drip mat if you have a problem of that sort. Only stuff that really prevents you from being stuck there indefinitely. You can buy fuel here, though, but as at the mines, it ain't cheap.
    One night I was hauling an overlength/overwidth something-or-other up to Snap Lake. It looked like an Atco trailer, but it had plumbing or electrical equipment or something in it. Could it have been a 'Utilidor'? That sounds like a cigar. Anyway, somewhere in it all this weight was concentrated in just the right place that the thing didn't want to stay on my trailer. I'd stop and tighten all the straps but it was slowly sliding off to the left. I stopped so many times that I ended up telling the convoy I was with just to go ahead, and joined the one after it. And then the one after that. It got to the stage where I was within an hour or so of Lockhart, but every bump I went over I thought I was going to lose the load. I started hitting snow ridges on the portages in such a way that the left hand side of the trailer would lift up, hoping that it would slide back on. Slowing down more and more, I eventually limped into the lower lot. It was dark and late by this time, and I went inside to eat and think about what I was going to do. The road into Snap Lake is stupidly hilly - to the point that it's borderline dangerous actually, but they refuse to sand it - so there was no way I was going to make it all the way in. The first two or three portages there, the only way to get over them is momentum. You're flying over these things, truck sliding one way, trailer sliding the other, praying to Dog you'll stay on the road, unable to back off the gas because of the next hill. (One day an outfit from down south was bringing a crane in on a low bed. It bottomed out on number 2 (portage #2), and the trailer promptly fell apart. The road was closed for hours.) Many people have stories to tell about the road into Snap Lake. There's a reason there's a dozer parked there permanently, always running, 30 mins drive from the mine site itself, all season long. Kinda fun if you're in the right mood, downright scary if you're in the wrong one.
    Anyway, I digress. So I'm at Lockhart drinking my medicinal tea ('cos that cures everything - even trucking problems!) - feeling like an asshat for having continued going when I was so close to losing my load, but knowing that I'd be an asshat when I actually did lose it on the road to come. Ignoring the 'Keep Out' signs I went into one of the shops and found a guy working on a grader. I asked him whether he'd grab the loader and push my Utilidor back on for me. Of course I had to get up the hill between the parking lots first, and that was a little scary to say the least. But I made it, undid my straps, and when he'd centred the thing for me I re-strapped the load, properly this time. Not sure where I was when I began typing this story, but that's the kind of thing that the guys in the shop at Lockhart do - save my bacon.

    This is a Hagland (or is it Haglund?) tracked people/equipment transporter. It sat on the side of the road all season, never moved.
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    And finally for today, a 'Hammer Lane' sign. On the longest lakes, particularly on the northern end of the road, they have these hammer lanes for empty trucks. Reduces the load on the loaded lane a little, and best of all gives you the chance to pick up a tooth or two and you think you're just flying home...at all of 60 km/h! There are sometimes some sharp-ish corners on these hammer lanes, though, and you can find yourself going through them sideways. It's good to have some fun, but if you're a little too tired...the snowbank has the scars to prove it!
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    I'll go look for the pics of other abnormal loads I mentioned earlier.
    #75
  16. BlueLghtning

    BlueLghtning Riding is my passion

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    Keep it coming! I'm enjoying all your stories and pictures!

    :lurk
    #76
  17. Bubblehead

    Bubblehead Been here awhile

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    great stuff, keep it coming!!! :lurk
    #77
  18. squonker

    squonker Eat my shorts

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    Thanks BlueLightning and Bubblehead - all feedback appreciated!

    So I did dig up those pics of the other wide and abnormal loads, but I also found some from inside Lockhart. They ain't much, but they're the bestest I can do in that department. Thought I'd post them while I was talking about Lockhart anyway.

    They begin here, in the foyer.
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    Coats and boots off, best smiles on. I've no idea what time of day this was, but it sure is quiet...

    This is the lounge, with the dining room at the back. Not very often anyone uses the lounge. A couple of guys having a conversation every now and then, occasionally a chap doing his paper work. The TV room is off to the left of the shot, but I've never been in there 'cos (a) I can make more money driving than I can watching TV, and (b) I don't smoke. Everyone else in there does. I used to smoke, though. Damn, I hate ex-smokers - we're so snobbish about it!
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    Dinner's on me!
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    The grub is free, and it is good even by camp standards. Cooks and helpers all friendly, and although technically the kitchen is closed between something like 2am and 5am, there's always a few plates of something left out on the warm plate, plus fruit and snacks. At the right time of day this place is packed, but I've never heard of anyone not being able to find a seat. Different people treat Lockhart differently - folks from out of town use it as home, because we can do laundry and shower there, as well as eat. But for folks like me, obviously I want to spend my rest time in Yellowknife, sleeping in my own bed (as opposed to the truck). For me, Lockhart is a free meal and a bit of a social gathering. We have to stop in heading north compulsorily, on the way back south they sometimes let you "turn and burn" (i.e. turn the corner and keep going), but the rules change from year to year. My first season you had to book a dispatch time to head south, and you had to go in a convoy. In '06 you just went whenever you felt like it (having let dispatch know you were leaving, of course), and it didn't matter whether you had anyone with you or not. Often times you'd call in and say "Number ---- leaving Lockhart heading south" and someone else would say, "Hey, can I tag along?"
    I remember in '05 when, towards the end of the season and with the ice beginning to get a little dodgy south of Lockhart during the sunshine, they closed the road between Lockhart and town between 7am and 7pm (or something like that). Everyone up at the mines at night would rush to get unloaded and back to Lockhart so that we could head back to town rather than being stuck there for 12 hours. Sometimes we'd get there with 30 mins to go, so we'd grab a handful of something to eat, and then set the alarm for 15 mins! Let me tell you, when you're that tired you can feel the difference those 15 mins make. Sometimes there'd be so many trucks leaving Lockhart heading south that they'd all end up in one massive convoy. Usually as leader you call "three trucks south on 28" or "4 trucks south on 19". As you hear all the other convoys behind you call in and figure out that there's basically no gap between your convoy and the one behind you, or you catch up with the convoy ahead, you just call for "a whole bunch". Then as you close the distance between yourself and home you become drunk on zero sleep and get silly. "At least a zillion trucks south on 10" etc.

    Here's the dispatch window at Lockhart. Check out the picture hanging above the window - I have a picture of that picture, and it's very cool. Must remember to dig that out, too.
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    That's one job you couldn't pay me enough to do. At times you'd be so busy you just wouldn't know whether you're coming or going.

    And some road shots to end this post.
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    I remember one day loading with prill in Yellowknife, and a very nice driver from another company giving me a hand with the 700+ straps (well, ok, maybe about 30) required to keep the load on the trailer over the wobbly bits. Can't remember this guy's name (let's call him Jon), but he was pissed because he'd been hired by this company as an equipment operator, but as soon as they found out he had his Class 1 they put him on the ice road. As he wasn't afraid to tell you, he "fucking hates trucks!" We may have ran together, but at any rate we were at BHP together and were deciding whether to stay there for the night, knowing that we'd be stuck at Lockhart until 7pm the next night, or push on through non stop. Then my buddy Pat turned up, and he persuaded us to head back to Lockhart for a quick brekky before going to town. (Pat's a maniac, but I can't say too much else 'cos I'm about to send him a link to this site!) Pat was hauling fuel so it only took 45 mins to unload, then we all went south. Jon was super tired and saying he wasn't sure whether he could make it to Lockhart. Being the helpful chap I am, I asked him whether he'd heard that Mackay Lake (Jon might 'fucking hate' trucks, but I 'fucking hate' Mackay lake - more about that later...) was having work done on it, and all the hammer lanes were closed. It would take us two extra hours to get back to Lockhart. I think Jon nearly parked his truck right there and then on the lake and quit, so eventually I gave in and told him I was only kidding. We kept him awake by talking to him on the radio (about bikes, actually, as I remember), and when he got to Lockhart he was out for the count. No way he was going anywhere, so Pat and I took off and became part of a convoy of over 3000 trucks heading south. (That's a slight exaggeration, there may have been a dozen of us). I don't think I saw Jon again. All I remember is "I fucking hate trucks!" Mackay Lake - ha, that could be an entire post in itself.
    #78
  19. squonker

    squonker Eat my shorts

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    Just a quick one tonight as I'm supposed to be studying for a final exam tomorrow...

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    I'd love to have a play in a tandem tridem like this rig. Too cool.


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    Here's those fuel tanks parked at Lockhart from a distance. I'm heading north into the parking lot. You can just make out where the southbound lane joins from the left.
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    A tandem/tandem
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    I know this winch truck isn't even carrying a load, but it looks like it could carry a heavy one, right?
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    I have some cool shots coming up in the next couple of days of trucks that ran off the road, and one of a tractor unit being craned out of the water. I didn't take any shots of when I fell asleep on Mackay Lake and ended up on the snow bank - I want to be able to deny it if I chose!
    #79
  20. GS4ME

    GS4ME Adventurer

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    :lurk Keep it coming!:lurk
    #80