MAY 2004


    My proofreader Mark was giving me the gears about no excitement in my last CAT TRAIN NEWSLETTER. But we have a problem, we are only working on the TD-18 named DUALLY in the shop. So it is hard to get a little excitement, other then burning the shop done or blowing the engine up with connecting rods flying across the shop. I think Mark is a custom to all the excitement that he encounters when visiting his wife in Panama with the fighter jets tailing the passenger jet and the strip searches at the airport. Nobody strip searches in the great white north, one would catch a cold being naked out in these temperatures. Been there, done it! In 1997 when I sunk my ski-doo in a creek, I was naked at -27C and talk about shrinkage, I changed gender. That was cold but I had to get my clothes off before they froze and I would be stiff as a popsicle. It is one of the facts of life in the great white north. The best part when I drove home in the truck "naked" that I didnít meet any of the ladies who I have had a fancy for. I would have a hard time explaining this to them but then again they might think Iím some kind of tough guy.

    But all kidding aside I would like to tell you about the TD-18x2 that I brought home from Ilford, Mb as part of the Kip Thompson Collection. My buddy Barry and I decide to head to Ilford, Mb at -45C to get a grader he bought from Kip Thompson. This is nothing out of the usual for us, we do everything at cold temperatures and as Captain Crunch says in the cover of "darkness". Everything is going good even with my 922 loader leaking oil from the steering cylinder which is no big problem, you would leak too at these temperature too. So we get so extra oil at Walmart in Thompson, Mb on Barryís visa and off we go to Ilford, Mb on the winter road. We are very positive that we will have the semis loaded and out of Ilford, Mb at 8:00 PM and home in Lynn Lake, Mb by 2:00 AM for a little cuddling on the couch, Wrong the nightmare now begins.

    We arrive in Ilford, Mb with very high hopes and with in 15 minutes of our arrival our balloon is popped big time, like someone shot it with a big gun. Oh well the loader is now broken with a really big oil leak, the D5M cat is not plugged in. The other truck that is coming for the TD-18x2, is stuck on the winter road to Ilford, Mb blocking all traffic. Nothing I could do but get focussed, leave the other trucker stuck that way he is not complaining about not getting loaded while the loader is broken. Plug in the D5M and by the time everything is ready the D5M should start. Main thing is too fix the 922 loader before it get too cold and wonít start at -29C. So Barry and I work hard in the cold temperatures and get the loader fixed. Then we go and get the trucker off the winter road and at 12:00 AM I drive the D5M cat down main street Ilford, Mb. Not bad only 8 hours behind schedule but we are getting things done.

    When the trucker goes to back up to the loading ramp, that is when we realized that this young kid was a green horn. When you have to open the truck door and lean way out to see around the sleeper on the semi to see where you are trying to back up, that is when I realised that this trucker is a graduate of the CAPTAIN CRUNCH DRIVING SCHOOL. So after about Ĺ hour of miss attempts, Barry takes over the driverís seat of the truck and parks it at the loading ramp first try. Now all I have to do is push the TD-18x2 on with the D5M but I know Iíll never be as good as Jim, who loaded the D6 9U called Bismark in the first try. I have never driven a new style cat with finger tip controls which is hard to do when wearing gloves. Also to be trapped inside a cab with all this heat, one could pass out. I plug away at loading the TD-18x2 on the semi trailer and it doesnít go as smoothly but it is on the semi trailer and not on the ground beside it. Now that we got Young Gun trucker loaded, we load Barryís semi trailer with the grader. This goes smoothly because Barry can steer the grader on the semi trailer as I push it on with the D5M.

    At 4:30 AM we head out of Ilford, Mb very tired and cold from working all night. It snows enough to make the road slippery, but this is no problem for Barry, he has a bush truck with the 8 wheel lock up. But Young Gun trucker only has a southern truck with differential lock which is only Ĺ as good and this means he will be stuck again. Young Gun follows us on the winter road because we donít want him to go first and block the road again like he did when he came in to Ilford, Mb. We tell him when we flash our back up lights, put the hammer down to climb the hill because it is slippery. I have to hand it to Young Gun for being young he listened and did what we told him so you know he will make a good trucker driver.

    The trip out was going very well until we hit the ice road across the frozen lake. Young Gun has never been on a ice road before decided too follow close to us which is a death wish. Two semis can pass on a ice road no problem because they are going in opposite directions. But to travel in the same direction too close together is not a good thing because of too much weight in one spot on the ice. So we flash our back up light and Young Gun speed up thinking there is a hill in the middle of the lake I guess. This is not good, we canít stop in the middle of the lake to talk to him and we canít reach him on the radio, this is a death wish right here. So Barry and I open the doors of his western star semi in fear of going down through the ice. This should give us the extra second to jump from the sinking semi and continue on, we hope, in theory. That was a very long trip across the ice because of the cold and uncertainty knowing that one could be very wet. So on the next portage we stop Young Gun and explain the rules of the ice road. Thinking back if the ice had given out, I would have to salvage TD-18x2, plus a semi tractor unit, that would not be a good thing. We arrived back in Lynn Lake, Mb about 2:00PM and what a trip, no sleep in 2 days and cold, very cold. The cold was made worse by the lazy manís wind, too lazy to go around, just goes right through you.

    What a trip but the boys at the Table of Truth have experienced much harder times of course. Next time Barry and I go on an adventure we are going to take one of them boys with us to see how much they really know. We get both semis unloaded and Young Gun can finally get to feel the open road again compared to putting along with us old folks. It is really good to see the TD-18x2 home with DUALLY. TD-18x2 has the Bucyrus Erie blade which is boat anchor when you are winter freighting on ice. So I torch off the blade and mounting brackets with lots of fires because the old timers thinned out the hydraulic oil with kerosene for those cold days. Back in those days the oil was thicker the better, not like today with all the different types of oil one can purchase. I have lined up a motor and other parts for this cat and I hope to have it up and running this coming winter. The pictures of two TD-18 pulling sleighs will be priceless and better yet if I do a tandem pull for the pictures. I think the pictures will be a little much for Captain Crunch with all those DUAL STACKS. Oh well I think he should be able to get over it with a little Crown Royal to take the pain away.