A Matter of Physics

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Footsteps, yarns and little fibs
Out in the wop-wops, the bulldozer was stuck!

Submitted: May 30, 2017

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Submitted: May 30, 2017



They took our old D6 bulldozer off us supposedly because the maintenance costs were too high, even though it hadn’t cost a penny for a couple of years! It was all part of some big plan we weren’t party to, the upshot being we shared a flash, new Komatsu with power shift and all those bells and whistles new machinery has. I preferred selecting a gear and pulling on a clutch lever, but new is supposed to be cool, eh? The only thing was, we had to share it with another forest and it came with its driver, so we had put old Mick off.

The flash machine arrived, but the driver had two weeks holiday, so I gingerly unloaded the thing off the transporter and was unimpressed using a decelerator, the opposite to a car’s accelerator! Anyway we were all in one piece! We had some urgent tracking to do so I drove the machine for some forty hours or so, learning as I went. Compared to the D6 it seemed a heavier, lumbering brute of a thing, give me a hand throttle any day.

When Dipstick arrived, I was pleased to get off the machine! I never came to know his proper name, he was dubbed Dipstick after some character in The Dukes of Hazard. Within a day or two he had flopped it into a tight U-shaped gulley, wedging him there tight as a bull’s bum sown up with a chain! We had to lift the machine by using the blade and rippers and packing logs under it. It took two whole days! I reckon to this day, once we got him turned and moving he tried his best to run me over while I was trying to guide him out! Hooks reckoned so too.

I thought he couldn’t do any harm ripping rock and stockpiling it for the crusher, but when I went to pick him up one Friday night, he had gone over the side, couldn’t back up and the only thing that saved the machine from cashing over a bluff  into the gulley, was a stout Manuka tree! It was all very precarious! Dipstick reckoned he’d jumped off it and then climbed back on to switch it off. Maybe, but he didn’t want to get back on to try to extract it. He had some urgent appointment in Dunedin so we had to leave the machine there.

I took him back to HQ and called on HJ for a favour. He had the only logging winch available within cooey, but it was on his small TD6 dozer.  We loaded it onto his old S Bedford and I trundled off leading the way. I was half expecting the Manuka to have given way, but it was still there! I hooked the rope onto the Komatsu ripper bar, but when HJ started the winch, the heavier machine pulled the smaller one backwards. While HJ scratched himself a hole in the rock to sit the TD6 in, I cranked up the Komatsu and dicky as to was, I set it reverse while HJ tried to winch me up. It was dark, snow was beginning to fall and it was cold as charity! I had shone my truck lights on the Komatsu and I didn’t like the rocking and the twinging of the rope, especially when the Manuka tree started to lurch! I hoped if it gave way, we wouldn’t both end up in the gully! But we were doing no good.

We went back down to the mill to pick up a couple of logging blocks – laymen call them pulleys. One was a double and the other a single. This was HJ’s idea. I rang Phil, a neighbour up there who owned a D6, hoping it was reasonably handy to the site. It was about an hour away from the gravel pit, so we had time for a coffee before we went back up. The snow wasn’t lying, just swirling around and we could hear the clanking of tracks meaning Phil was not too far away.

With no gloves to protect us from the cold on steel, we set up the pulleys in a watch tackle system, the single pulley onto the Komatsu ripper bar and the double one was going to be on Phil’s dozer when he arrived, which merely was going to act as an anchor. HJ parked the TD6 in a rocky depression and I parked my truck to provide light. When Phil arrived we hooked the double pulley onto him and he pulled it taunt with the thought of driving away, rather than being pulled backwards. Visibility was poor and snow was getting down my neck and I supposed the others too!

It’s a matter of physics: three pulley wheels equates one third of the work required to pull the same load. Or to put it the other way, it gave the winch three times the power! With ease, the Komatsu popped up to the top of the bank! There is some fulfilment in salvage and we all grinned but wanted to get out of there, away from the cold. We loaded The TD6 onto HJ’s truck and I took Phil to his ute, down the road, he had no cab on his dozer and he was freezing by now!

‘The good old days!’ These were the days of cooperation. There was no thought of charging for HJ’s or Phil’s assistance. Quid pro quo is how things worked with us. I had done favours for both as they had for me, we didn’t see the need keep tally. It’s a pity those days have gone! Anyway, I was dumfounded when I reported the incident to the big noise in conservancy office! Not a word of, ‘Well done!’ instead he said, ‘Silly buggers floundering in the dark and snow. You should have waited for daylight. If it went over the bank, too bad, we’d have to replace it!’

Yeah, with taxpayers’ hard-earned!



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