January 24th, 2016 in Around the Woodstove
A year ago we were challenged with finding a new groomer since our 1973 Piston Bully finally broke down for good. The frame was bent to the point where it could not be repaired easily. It was definitely a sign to replace the machine, something we knew was coming but had tried to avoid. In retrospect, this was the best thing to happen since we were not taking the bold step of finding a newer, stronger machine…we were just trying to get by. This was the kick in the pants that we needed. We found a Piston Bully 240 D which was newer ( 1988) and a much stronger machine. This new groomer has served us well ever since. But there it was…the old Piston Bully 170 marooned about a mile below High Camp. Paralyzed, the track off; it sat there as the snow melted, then continued to sit there through the early hot summer when it was dangerous to move due to high fire danger. We thought me might just cut it up with a torch and drag it out in pieces but the forest was tinder dry so there it sat.
Fall approached, the weather cooled and we had to face the facts. That machine could not spend another winter marooned on the road. We had to get it off the mountain! Thank goodness we had a team of hard working creative thinkers to problem solve the exit. Matt, our mechanic, along with Dan, Paul and Don, good friends of High Camp took over the exit strategy. They worked together to get the machine off the mountain and down to Dan’s property near the parking lot. Dan and his friends have visions of bringing the old PB back from the dead. There may be a time when it runs again just around our little neighborhood grooming some of the properties…who knows?
The first idea the team tried was to get the track back on and drive it slowly down. They spent five hours wrestling the track back onto the machine. Then Matt began to carefully drive down and the track immediately flopped off. The frame was bent to the point where the track would not stay in place. It would start up and run for a while before it heated up and smoke poured out. After cooling down for a time, they could move again. I guess you could say it kind of ran. The other issue was without a track on one side it was very difficult to steer…wanting to head off to the side of the road.
Plan B: Our top notch team chained the trackless side of the blade of the PB to a suburban. They started the beast up and began to drive down the road as the suburban worked to keep the PB from careening off into the woods. When the engine heated up and smoke poured out they stopped and waited for it to cool down. Using this process they took 3 days to move that old 1973 PB down the mountain to Dan’s property. It was tedious and at times dangerous, but it worked. Bottom line: it is off the mountain and not the constant reminder of machinery gone bad. Except! The track was still up there. We waited for the woodcutting party and using many strong backs hoisted that old track into the back of the truck and drove it out…dumping it next to the old PB where it still lays.