Encore Travels to Ft. Chipewyan

This is our story of our placement of a unit in Fort Chip started in the summer of 2015 when we were attempting to deliver some construction material to the new swimming pool in Fort Chip. The only route is via the barge. When we contacted Guy Thacker of Fort Chip Marine; he was very cooperative, easy to deal with and had some suggestions that cut our customers cost down considerably. After meeting Guy on the Peace River landing several more times, we realized, this was a man we could do some honest business with.

We also realized another large truth. And try and put this in the perspective of a company that has never considered working in the Northern areas, the ice roads, the territories. We realized there was work for us here, Good work. And the same lifting and transport skills, the dependable and fair attitudes and work habits that we use every day in Alberta and the Capital District; still apply and will work in the Northern latitudes.

We have to be prepared for some winter challenges, but we fill a need that companies and citizens need. We carry and lift stuff, lots of stuff. Light poles to lumber, drill collars to dead horses. The horses are tough, the legs keep slipping off the trailer. We knew we could do the same for the people of Fort Chip and area.

We made an arrangement with Guy and he agreed to put one of our units in his fleet. He could use it to offload and load trucks; and perhaps help him build the ice road.

We caught the last barge back to Fort Chip. My son Jeff, drove the picker and a small highboy, onto the barge and made the trip into the Fort Harbour. We stayed in town for the rest of the week, familiarizing, and training the drivers and crew in operation of the unit.

We trained a number of drivers, who were familiar with the trucking aspect of the work, but the picker is another skill altogether. The unit we placed in Fort Chip, was perfect for this environment. The truck is a tandem Mac, with a pre regen motor. This means, the environmental pollution package, that is now on ‘every’ diesel motor, is not a factor. This single factor eliminates over 50% of the modern day truck problems. AND it will idle, overnight if required; something a regen motor will not do.

This is a solid package, a dependable motor, a heavy drive line, a fifth wheel and 12 ton picker with a very complete rigging package.

The crane has been downgraded to an 8 ton to allow non journeymen to safely and legally operate the crane. This is important. It allows us to train and teach a valuable skill to workers who have little or no experience on this type of equipment.

The crane skills have to be taught along with rigging and familiarizing the crews with all the lifting slings and their particular uses. The cloth slings, the cables, the matching pairs of chain slings, their uses and capacities.

Jeff stayed on site teaching and working directly with the crew and drivers. Fortunately most of the students had decent previous work experience and the crane work seemed an easy step for them.

It is a simple enough folding crane, with approx 50 ft of boom available. There is a small deck winch, and even a winch on the crane. But this is a folding crane, so a winch allows the nimble package to swing the boom over eg. A vessel; and lift one end with the crane and the near end with the winch. With a skilled hand, it allows us to stand things up, or lay them down; all IN the air. It’s not grinding away on the ground, or flipping over centre, bouncing back and forth. One simply lifts and does the lay over or stand up, in the air.

The crane has another unique trick to it. There is an 8 ft dead stick, that can be manually pulled out of the tip of the crane. It is perfectly and custom formed to fit inside the boom. This is no whimpy factory piece, as it will lift to the full capacity of the crane. It has a finger of solid steel projecting from the Top of the very end; with the rest cut back in a streamlined angle.

This does 2 things. All the crane tips have the lift point at the bottom. This is the top, we just gained well over a foot of clearance. Many times a site demands an interior lift, or reaching thru doors, or under wires. With this unit we can do it, easily because the rig up on the truck includes a low profile attachment. We take the large hook off the crane and use another custom device; a swivelling unit that looks like 2 shackles back to back. We just gained another foot. And when we lift it UP, the cut away in the dead stick means the lifted item, (gear box, air conditioner), doesn’t hit the boom. It’s a slick system and all our units are rigged like this.

Jeff stayed with the crew until he was satisfied they had a good grasp of the crane, the rigging, potential hazards, and the special techniques we have learned in 30 years of owning and running boom trucks.

Our truck has been on site for over 2 months now. We have done a few jobs, but the winter road, as Guy informs me, will be ready on schedule; January 15. (There was so little snow his crews had to hold their water in with bales). When the first trucks roll in, we expect unit 313 to be on the job, hopefully every day.

We are trying to run the road this winter with our tractors and are actively seeking work. It appears we will be doing some work for the new pool and hopefully for the water treatment plant.

We don’t claim to be ice road truckers, we’re just picker guys looking for work, and we ARE in Fort Chip. Please call Guy Thacker at Fort Chip Marine, or Encore Trucking in Edmonton.

Don Lucas

Ft Chip 4

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