MAY 2004





          Just to recap on the project, we got the D7 Cat across the bad ice on the current of the Laurie River in Eager Lake. Then we had to wait 3 years for the conditions to be right for the 45 ton Northwest Dragline to make the adventure across the lake.


          I no longer have that piece of junk 4x4 truck because I could not afford all the repairs for the little use the truck seen. To replace it, I played junkyard wars with my Dad in my scrap yard. We built the ultimate 4x4 truck for opening ice roads for $150.00, plus you can drive over cars in the scrap yard too. The Monster Truck got itís first work out at Eager Lake plowing snow off the ice to make the ice road. But on a different route this year, away from the Laurie River current which was too hard on my nerves. The Monster Truck worked excellent, except for mashing out the axle U-joints which is not bad considering it is a truck, not a tractor. The axe U-joints are not that bad to change out on the middle of the frozen lake as long as you have your freighting caboose to warm up in.


          With the Monster Truck plowing the snow off the lake it was going very well until I found an air hole in the middle of Eager Lake. This is natures way of letting the lake breath. There is nothing you can do about them because they are covered with a light skiff of snow and never in the same spot every year. Now I have Monster Truck sitting in a hole in the ice in the middle of Eager Lake. No problem, when I built Monster Truck, I cabled the front and rear ends together, then attached lots of cable to the top of the roll bar. With the roll bar always out of the water I climbed up and threw the cable out in the 12" of water now on the ice. Since you always have a second machine when you travel in the bush, I went and got the Linn Tractor that was close by with the freighting caboose. The Linn Tractor pulled the light Monster Truck out of the icy hole in the frozen lake as if it was a kidís toboggan. I lucked out on this sinking and only have play in the freezing water a couple times. The Monster Truck finished opening the ice road with only 3 more sinking in the ice, but that is what it was built for.


          With the road opened to 40-60 feet wide, I let it freeze the month of January and by February the ice is excellent. I have over 48" of blue ice (the best is for weight) over the Laurie River current. Now the fun begins, I hire a local contractor with his D6 Cat with a winch to drag the complete Northwest Dragline across Eager Lake. But we canít get insurance because the insurance company says there is not enough ice on the lake. Well after a month of phone calls and faxes, I came to realise that insurance companies are big bullies with a license to do what they want, like the Red Army. So now I have a beautiful road that cost me all my empty beer bottles and now way of using it. But my cup of coffee is always Ĺ full. Remember I donít like failing, I want to give the Table of Truth boys something to really talk about.

         The Linn Tractor now gets to pull the heavy load that it is designed to pull. But since I donít have the big cummins motor that used to let the Linn Tractor pull the 100 ton payload, I must reduce the Northwest Dragline down to a weight that the Linn Tractor with the small block chevy motor could pull. I jack up the Northwest Dragline and slide a frame under it like a building mover would. Then cut the tracks off and drag them behind the Linn Tractor to the other side of the lake for loading on the semi. The counter weight and the motor go on the back of the Linn Tractor for weight in pulling. Things are going very well until I some how managed to cut my right hand all to pieces in the fan on the motor of the Linn Tractor. This is not a good thing to do, Iím 89 km from the hospital, no phone and no help, not good. I use the needle nose pliers to put most of the skin back in place on my hand. Then wrapped it in cloth and duct tape the crap out of it. I decide to keep working and only have use of my left hand which is not good because Iím right handed. I weld the steel skid to the Northwest Dragline with my left hand and even had to do over head welding. It was a very long day and as long as I kept my right hand cold, the pain was not the bad. By about 4:00 PM, I had the Northwest Dragline ready to be moved out on the ice for the fun trip across to the other side of the frozen lake.

         For any one who has driving a Linn Tractor, they are not the easiest machines to steer with two hands little own with only one hand. So I got everything out on the ice and took a picture and hope that everything was to go well. I knew I could not give up and return after my hand healed for the window of opportunity was already too small because of the time lost arguing with the insurance companies. This was a one shot deal and I had to get the Linn Tractor and the Northwest Dragline over to the other side of the lake before I lose the ice road I built. The biggest problem I faced was the fact that if anything breaks or I get stuck, I only got one hand and it is not the one I use all the time so it is not very good at things. I tighten up the Linn Tractor to the Northwest Dragline and I think to myself. I start pulling I canít stop so this will be a non stop wheelie stand for 10 miles to shore where I can leave everything without worrying about ice melting away.


          Well I kick the gas pedal down and brought the front of the Linn Tractor up to about three feet in the air and shifted the trans to a higher gear. The little small block chevy was screaming for mercy but I could not back out of it for fear of being stuck on the ice. I only backed off on the gas to bring the front end down so the front skis would touch long enough to get me pointed in the right direction. The Linn Tractor was very easy to steer with one hand because the skis were never on the snow. After what seemed like forever, I finally see the lake shore and I picked up the speed on the Linn Tractor. All lake shores have a very good slope to them and I must not get stuck here. So with the Hammer Down on the Linn Tractor I run up on the lake shore, dragging the Northwest Dragline as if it is on a Willie the Coyote, ACME rocket sled. Houston we have a problem, I canít steer the Linn Tractor with one hand at a high speed, so once again, Iím wacking trees down left, right and center.


          Oh what a relief to be on solid ground with all the equipment and make it safely too. Now I only have to travel an hour to be home and see the doctor about my hand. When I arrive home it is only 2:00 AM in the morning which is too late to go to the hospital. I have a habit of not watching time when I get working, so Iíll go in the morning. Some tough guy I am. As soon as my hand started to thaw out the pain was unreal, so I went to the hospital for pain killers. It took over four months for my hand to return to something useable and two years later one finger is still not normal, which I think Iím very lucky, it could have been worse. Once again my cup of coffee is Ĺ full but this time with Crown Royal for the pain. The boys at the cafť Table of Truth were very surprised, but they have been able to finish a job with both hands and one foot wrapped in bandages and been 600 miles from the hospital.


Next issue will tell about getting the equipment back to town with Barry.



BOX 372