Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Shoreline Show

Detroit Harbor, Washington Island -

After driving steel pilings along the shore near the former Ship's Rib late Monday, island contractor Tom Jordan tried to drive his Volvo excavator from the ice surface.  But the climb from ice to a rock-filled wooden crib proved too much of an angle for the excavator to negotiate.  Tracks spun, ice buckled, and the machine soon wallowed into the mucky bottom.

That is how Jordan's excavator spent the night, with exhaust pipe and top of the motor slightly above water level.   Help was on the way on the Tuesday morning ferry.  Jordan had contacted Harbor Construction of Baileys Harbor who offered to lend a hand by pulling with their larger machine.   It took nearly an hour and a half of tugging, trying different purchase points before the solution was found that offered enough leverage to lift the tracks from the muck and level the machine.   But still, the partially-submerged machine wouldn't skid or roll up and over the sharp ledge.  The excavator's tracks simply would not turn, not without applied power from the motor.

The morning's activity had proven to be an excellent diversion from ice fishing, from work, or from just about any other island thing going on, and a crowd of onlookers had gathered along shore to see when and if the extraction would work.   About the time a few of the spectators broke for lunch, a better purchase was obtained with one excavator arm chained to the other.

Hoping for a long-shot, Tom checked his excavator's motor fluids to see if it was prudent to start up the machine.  After several bursts of compression followed by puffs of white smoke, the Volvo was running, surprising, considering its submergence in the murky, icy water the previous twelve hours.

The final step went smoothly:  the combined pull from two upland machines, plus power applied to his excavator's tracks, brought Jordan's machine up and over the ledge to solid ground on the shore.

Above:  Started and under its own power, the Volvo crawls toward the beach;
Below:  Tom Jordan expresses thanks to the Harbor Construction crew.

Dick Purinton -

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