Notes from Windward: #67


Playing with the Big Toys

Note: this is a continuation of an article started in Notes Vol. 66.
To link to that article, Click Here

  January 9:

     The weather this first week of the new year has been unseasonably warm, and the rain has washed away most of our snow--at least for now. There's an artic front due in later this week, and there's always a good chance for snow when things are very wet and the temperature drop. One bit of evidence of how damp things are right now is the solid cloud bank that often lays down along the Klickitat river this time of year.

clouds hiding in the river canyon

     Our last snowfall was about nine inches, and the snow plow did a great job of moving that out of the way. The trick is to get to it before the sun comes out, melts the top layer a bit, and then it refreezes that night--at which point it's much harder to plow out of the way. We've learned through experience that once the snow stops falling, it's best to get it plowed straight away.

     After our driveway was plowed, I tried to position the snow plow back up where it had been before, and the stress of trying to back that much weight uphill damaged the plow's chains. And so the plow has been parked down at the landing awaiting some repairs. With pleasant temps this afternoon, and the forecast calling for single digits by the end of the week, it made good sense to devote this afternoon to repairing and remounting the chains.


     Laid out on the ground, the chains look like a sort of ladder. The cross-chains are connected to the side chains using a repair link which is a sort of split link that can be worked into place and then squeezed shut with a hammer.

a repair link

     The problem was that a number of these links had stretched and come undone under the stress of trying to back the truck uphill. And so the first thing to be done was to reassemble the ladder, and weld all the links shut so that they're less likely to come apart the next time. Note: chains are difficult to weld because it's tricky to get a good ground connection. My favorite way to get around that is to use a C-clamp to hold the chain, and then just connect the ground clamp to that.

welding a repair link shut

     This is a shop-built set of chains, and we're learning as we go. Each time we've tried them, they perform better, and we use what we learn to improve them. We're hoping that this last step of welding the connecting links shut will do the trick.

the chains remounted
with the rubber tensioning straps in place

     This time I just kept going to the top of the hill behind the dining hall, and turned the truck around on level ground--worked much better. Now the truck is parked up there ready to go if it's needed after this next "winter event" arrives.


Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 67