The Rescue of Gigantor Dec 2007

On the CBS Sunday Morning show last weekend was an interview with famed film director Francis Ford Coppola. He made a statement that no small part of his success came from more often saying “yes” than “no” to people.

Boy – am I glad I said “yes” to Karl. I think it was Sunday, just after Mary and I were driving away from the snow-buried Gigantor the 2nd time in two days that he called to volunteer his time and said Tom Baker was offering to help me get Gigantor out of the woods. Trailers were staged for a retrieval, and diesel mechanics consulted. All I had to do was to say what day we’d make the attempt. For once I didn’t give in to my desire not to impose on others. It was obvious, I needed all the help I could get.

So – Mary, Tom, Karl, and Mike Jennings all met up with me at the ranger station Tuesday morning, and headed up the road. It was warm-ish (at least above freezing) for that neck of the woods in December, snow melting, rain pouring down, and could have been slightly wetter only if we had chosen to do this in about 5 feet of standing water. Although at times – it felt kinda like we were doing exactly that.

The county road had been plowed, which gave me great hope that this would be pretty simple. Well – the county road ends about a mile short of where Gigantor was parked, and the plowing stopped there. Sunday’s 2 feet of snow had compressed to about 9 inches of standing slush. Moosenstein had no problem romping into the site, but Mike Jennings’ truck quickly showed that it really wasn’t a trail vehicle, and we put him on the strap and turned him around to park. Mary crabbed up the trail in her rig, and Tom, always good for putting on an impressive show, chained up all 4 corners of his 1-ton dually Duramax crew cab and churned his way up to the parking area. And Karl – well – Karl is just like Chickenman. (HE’S EVERYWHERE! HE’S EVERYWHERE!)

When we left on Saturday night, the fuel had become as solid as bacon grease sitting in the fridge. On Tuesday’s return, the fuel we could see in the jerry can and the filter was fluid, though thick, and it became obvious that the old batteries really didn’t have what it would take to spin the engine and get the air out of the injector lines. Fortunately – I’d made a good guess when picking up 2 more batteries from Costco, and they fit in place just dandy. I think having 2 new 100 month batteries with 900 CCA (cold cranking amps) of power through cleaned battery terminals more than likely beat the heck out of some old mismatched 700 and 450 CCA pukes that came with the thing when I bought it. With the new batteries in, we easily ground on that engine for a minute at a time. While I was working on changing the batteries, Tom plugged in his 150,000BTU heater to a generator, hooked it up to the 20 lbs of propane he brought, and let ‘er rip. If we couldn’t heat things up enough to start the rig, we’d at least melt it in place. As it was raining like a cow peeing on a flat rock, the easy-up made things tolerably dry over the engine bay.

After a few spins, the engine started to catch and cough – then die. MORE HEAT! MORE HEAT!

So – we put the heater a little farther under the fuel system, put some real diesel fuel into the tank we were switched to, and I put chains on the back tires when the downpour lightened up.

And the next time it caught – it stayed running. So now for the turnaround and the long crawl out. As I was in Moosenstein, Mike Jennings took over the driving duties in Gigantor. (That is a Tamer definition of trust – that you see how Mike drives his Cherokee in the woods, to then willingly plant him behind the seat of your very own vehicle…..)

Gigantor and snow and cold really don’t mix – on so many levels. He wouldn’t move by himself, and he wouldn’t move much on a strap, even with Moosenstein tugging and yanking. We popped the trailer off, and I put M-Stein’s butt in a hole off to one side, and Tom pulled the cable over. Well – the title says that Gigantor weighs in about 7400 lbs – and when I hit the winch, he had Moosenstein pulled out of its hole in no time. Hmmmmm…….that didn’t work very well.

Then I went back into the hole, and Karl hooked up his rig, and with two winches from different angles, plus Mike driving the rig, Gigantor moved enough to finally get him 180’d and back on the strap behind Moosenstein – and trundling down the road through the slush.

The rest was pretty uneventful – Tom brought the trailer down behind him, the trailer went on Gigantor, M-Stein went on the trailer, and everyone finally headed down Foss River Rd under his or her own respective power. Time to head for Bubba’s roadhouse in Sultan, where a splendid late lunch was enjoyed by all. It truly beat the heck out of going to work for the day.

Thanks again to Mary, Karl, Tom, Mike for their hands on assistance –

And for everyone else who sent an e-mail and followed with concern and suggestions.

I am so glad to be a Timber Tamer. See you all at the Christmas Party.