December 31st, 2016 in Around the Woodstove
Well, this is all over…fixed…in the past…history! If you recall the last post on Around the Woodstove we bragged about all the great repairs we had made on the snocat. We did everything right and nothing could go wrong now.
We were wrong about that! Early in December during a deep cold spell our entire snocat froze up. There was a little water in the hydraulics and we were immobile, dead in the water. This was huge! How do you defrost a massive snocat??
Upon research and advice from many in the industry we learned we needed to tent the entire cat and then heat it up to defrost it. When the cat would run again we needed to drain and fill the hydraulic system until we were sure there was no more water in it. Apparently it does not take much to freeze a hydraulic system.
A friend who had worked in Antarctica told us we needed a heater with a blower on it. Our plan to use little propane heaters was just not going to cut it. So we rented a massive heater with 2 huge hoses that were about 10 inches in diameter, to do the job.
We bought the largest tarp we could find. Then our master mechanic Mario went after it He tented the cat using wood to suspend the tarp so it would not melt. Snow was piled around the outside edges of the tarp to create a seal.
Then we tucked those 2 fat hoses up under the tarp. It puffed up like a balloon, but held! In about 4 hours the cat defrosted. Mario quickly groomed up to High Camp and back to keep the route open during the repairs. Then the cat made its way clear down to the parking lot. Here we staged a brand new barrel of hydraulic fluid and over the next few days the hydraulic system was drained then filled until we were sure the water was out. We needed to use the heater to keep the system warm. The cold continued and we did not want the cat to freeze up again.
Of course we know that stuff happens…especially at High Camp. We sure thought we had figured everything out and that the cat would perform perfectly all season. We are once again humbled by unforeseen forces of nature. We are back on line, enjoying the snow and looking forward to the winter of 2017.