As the Superintendent on RG309 working on the CN in the Atlantic Region, an overnight snow fall of 36 inches brought the Railroad as well as Grinding Operations in the area to a standstill.
With Snow still falling my operating crew and I started pulling maintenance on the machine. A Grind Motor with a bad bearing was discovered during the machine inspections and the Grind Motor needed replaced. Our tool cart at the time happened to be a 6″ toboggan or Sled that had been purchased the year prior after the first snow fall from a local Zellars.
The toboggan worked excellent for moving tools and parts when a two wheeled dolly would have taken many man hours to shovel a usable path. While moving the used Grind Motor back to the crane to be loaded back onto the machine, I pointed towards the top of the hill that stood snow covered beside the Machine. During a break from push/pulling the 400 lb. plus load. My Crew Chief sat on the grind motor and I sat on an empty space of the toboggan, I laughed out loud and this caught his attention. “What is so funny?” he looked at me with fresh snow on his hard hat and snow covering his back and shoulders. I pointed towards the top of the hill and said “Once we get this motor loaded and the guys finish getting the new motor hooked up, I’m taking this toboggan up that hill and ride it down!. He laughed louder than I did and said “Bubba, I’m with you!” I grab the reins and started tugging the rope as my crew chief steadied the Grind Motor.
True to the Story we finished hooking up the New Grind Motor and checked rotation put away the tools. The toboggan was retrieved and pulled to the back of the machine. After sipping some hot coffee and getting a plan together to best ascend the hill.
I met with our CN Grinding Supervisor Pierre Garceau in the Kitchen Car office and updated him on my plan of riding our toboggan down the Hill. He leaned forward and turned his neck to see the top of the hill. He laughed a deep belly laugh and looked at my crew chief who had a big smile also. The two of you Pierre asked? …I nodded and shook Pierre’s hand “Wish us Luck” and in full gear; hardhats, reflective gear, safety glasses and carhartts, out the door we went!
Following a tree line made the accent easy as we were not dredging thru three plus feet of snow. Two thirds of the way up we encountered a fence and road that leveled off. The road was not plowed so we made our way to a good descent location.
Little did I know we had a camera man on the machine and he was able to take only a few pictures of trees, sky and white, but, he did managed to get a good one between tears of laughter.
My Crew Chief and I were in no danger of causing an avalanche or bouncing off a rock. When my crew chief saw we were moving off course he tilted the toboggan while holding onto my shoulders. I threw my hand in the air as we leaned into the turn and snow flew up in a cloud behind us. As we came to a stop near the machine I had tears in my eyes laughing so hard. My crew chief and I could hear the cheers of our other crew members.
After we got our bearing and returned the toboggan to its storage area, we all sat in the kitchen drinking coffee listening to each crew member tell a story of what they saw. They couldn’t see our faces but one crew member said he could hear my Crew Chief and I screaming like little school girls being chased by a little boy with a frog in his hand.
Pierre in his French accent said he thought we were going to fly over the top of the machine like Elliott and ET in the forest and then down the rest of the hill.
I still laugh about it today….
Michael B – Loram Maintenance of Way, Inc.