Field Notes: The Polar Field Services Newsletter

For the Gearheads Amongst Us

10 a.m.
Dear Tracy,
If I posted one or two of these pictures on our blog, would people who are mechanically inclined find them interesting? If so, which pictures tell the best story, in your opinion? I know I’m looking at the Case Quadtrac tractor–one of the GrIT monsters–and I know Larry Levin and Russ Howes are up in Thule overhauling the axle housing.  But dude, what am I really looking at.

All photos: Larry Levin

10:15 a.m.
Kip–

This rather extensive bit of work is really just to get at an oil leak that is buried well back in the drive train of the machine. It may simply be that the bolts need to be re-torqued, but first you’ve got to get to them – some disassembly required. Not only do we need to address it to ensure reliable operation, but we cannot be dripping oil out on the ice cap for reasons of environmental stewardship.

However, rather than dwell on some obscure mechanical detail that no one would really care about, I would emphasize four points of greater general interest:

1. It’s a big tractor with big components. Note that the boys are using a forklift to move the track and carrier assembly in/out. This is NOT like working on your compact car – nor even a big truck. This is HEAVY equipment.

2. The work is being done SAFELY. There is a primary lift point as well as two redundant jack stands. This is important on a 60,000 lb machine. If it were to fall, Larry and Russ would be just two more oil stains on the floor.

3. They are working inside the heated, well-lit garage at Thule, courtesy of the US Air Force and Greenland Contractors. Both entities have been very accommodating in supporting GrIT and other projects. This COOPERATION should get some recognition.

4. Don’t try this at home. Our people are PROFESSIONALS. Between them, Russ and Larry probably have in excess of 50 years of experience as mechanics. That they both have numerous other job responsibilities but can also get down in the trenches to get their hands greasy as needs dictate is a distinguishing characteristic of many PFS staff, and perhaps not always adequately recognized.

I don’t know if CH2 safety folks or the entities in Thule will see the blog post, but if so, it will make their hearts swell with pride. That’s my take.
 
With generous support from the US Air Force  and Greenland Contractors, the GrIT team will head out from Thule Air Base in March. Bound for NEEM and Summit with a load of fuel, they will continue sled configuration and snow strength experiments as they seek the perfect Greenland inland traverse configuration. Stay tuned!