CAT TRAIN NEWSLETTER
GREENHORNS and that is with capitals, and that is what I was when I took on my first freighting job in March/00. Boy did I learn a lot about freighting on that job because I did everything wrong or backwards. I had lots of experience behind me, which consisted of reading a book called Sigfusson Roads and drinking a few cups of coffee with Cyril. Plus I dragged the sleighs I got from Cyril around the yard a few times and now Iím ready to haul a $130 000.00 lodge in for my first customer.
Iím going to tell you about growing up on the bald prairies as a skinny kid with rocks in my pocket so the wind didnít blow me away. Saving any piece of paper that had anything to do with winter sleigh freighting in my scrap book which I lost in my divorce but it gave me the skills to cut and paste. Oh well live goes on, now I got this new computer Iím making the best scrap book ever, with the information I get of the internet, so the ex wife can have the old scrapbook. By the time I ended up in Snow Lake Mb in 1990, I got the bug to go freighting. My Mom and Dad gave me the book Sigfusson Roads for my birthday, I read it over and over and thought it was the Bible. There are a lot of good info in the book but they donít tell you everything you need to know, if they did, old Svein would still be writing. This was my first big mistake, thinking I read a book and Iím are ready to go and that I did, off I go driving my Red TD-9 Crane Cat across Lake Wekusko. I knew nothing of cracks in the ice under the snow, it did not take long to find the first one, the little cat did a beautiful nose stand into the crack. This is not bad but the main highway to Snow Lake curves around the lake at this point. It did not take long for word to get to Snow Lake that Joeyís cat which travels with the boom in the air, you canít see the boom because it is flat against the ice, has run in to a problem. Also the cat is red and this stands out on white snow, so when the town, not half of the town, show up to see what I did now, it was a little embarrassing. I was able to get the Red Cat out with no major problem and drove it the rest of the 26 miles to the Farro Mine without screwing up.
In 1996 I moved to Lynn Lake Mb and this was the best move, there is a lot of freighting history and stories that have to be told. My second attempt at freighting came in the spring of 1997 and was a big screw up. I thought I could pull a tundra sleigh which has really wide skis down the Fox Mine road loaded with scrap steel. I didnít make it very far until the loader couldnít pull the loaded sleigh and then I decided to unhook the sleigh and move it with the loader from behind. This was a good idea until I unhooked the sleigh, then it took off down the little hill I couldnít pull it up. Then the sleigh turned and went over the side of the road and disappeared down the steep embankment, what a mess this ended up to be. This is no problem, I get to build my first winter road to get to the scrap steel and the sleigh. It took two years but I got it done and cleaned up the site and took lots of pictures that didnít turn out. Losing the sleigh was not a great loss, I got to met Cyril, who came out to see how a prairie boy freights down the highway.
Cyril told me I was wasting my time with that tundra sleigh and I should get his old skinny skis-sleighs. In January of 1998, I was the proud owner of Cyrilís yard in Lynn Lake and was moving on the property to live as a guard. Now I was set to go freighting on a big time scale, had a proven freighting yard and 100 rotten wooden sleighs and I was ready to go freighting but no customers. Winter sleigh freighting had died out almost 25 years ago and this should be no problem getting customers. Wrong it was almost 2 years before I got my first customer and then this is where the word Greenhorn is used the most. Everything on the first freight haul that could go wrong went wrong but I didnít damage any of the customerís product.
March 29/00, I headed out of the yard with my crew of merry men, they werenít very merry for long, driving the Black Cat pulling 2 loaded sleighs. This was my first freighting job other than dragging the empty sleighs around the yard. This should be easy because we are not building a road, we are travelling on top off the snow, so pulling two loaded sleighs on the road breaks should not be a problem. Wrong this is the stupidest thing I did next to leaving the Linn Tractor and Caboose at home, every time I turned around the little cat was stuck or hung up. The next brightest thing I did other than saying I DO, was drive the cat out of a portage on to the lake. The problem being is the snow from the lake is blown in to the portage and is hard enough to hold the cat but not the sleighs. Now that I had everything stuck in 6 feet of snow and no second cat to pull out the stuck equipment, me and the not so merry men got to shovel for good part of a day to get the cat and sleigh unstuck. This is something I will never forget and have never done it since, but it was never mention in the book I called the Bible.
After wasting most of the day travelling to the lodge because of all the inexperience of being Greenhorns, we arrived late and unloaded. Now we are going to make good time highballing back home, because this cat has 5 gear and we are going to make good time. Problem, if you spend all day getting to the lodge, youíre not going to have enough fuel to get home. We ran out of fuel 10 miles from home and had to ski-doo to town for fuel. That really took the merry out of the merry men. Finally home and the trip took almost 24 hours and in 2003 it takes less then 10 hours round trip.( It is amazing what a little experience does for a fellow and better equipment goes along way too.) We continued to haul in four more trips but this time we took the Linn Tractor and more sleighs. Things went very smoothly after I realized the limitation of a Linn Tractor, I only hung it up once on the portage but we had the Black Cat to pull it out. Being Greenhorns, I didnít realize the limitation off old wooden rotten sleighs and the sleighs were a on going problem. I learned a lot about the sleighs and how they work, spent a summer designing an all steel ski. This has really worked well having good quality sleighs and the business is picking up now that Iím getting experience.
KING OF OBSOLETE
Lynn Lake, Mb
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