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flintgreasewood

Never Shut Down?

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 When someone is running a winter operation in interior Alaska is it common to keep diesel equipment running continuously when you don't have a warm shop to keep it in or a place to plug in heaters?  I'm thinking of maybe 4 to 6 hours of down time between late and morning shifts.  What other ways might one solve the cold weather start up problem?

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Kurt...

Tuff way to go. I hate running my equipment in the bitter cold.

The only guy I know that tried stripping in the dead of winter

used an old parachute canopy to completely cover his Cat. Then a

big Herman Nelson heater.

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Dick,

   The equipment we'd have to keep warm would be a D-8 or 9, a 6yd dragline [which you wouldn't want to move each day], and a pneumatic down hole drill and compressor.  Might be easier to get a large genset and just run it to power a whole slew of engine heaters.

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In the Army, we had Swingfire Heaters for all our motor-driven equipment.

I and later my driver had no problem starting our Deuce and a Half even in temperatures of -50°F. Admittedly other drivers did have problems. However their problems were the direct result of over-eagerness. They failed to let the engine and batteries warm up.

As I recall there was another similar heater. I think it was called a Southwind.

The advantages of both were the igniter fired from 24VDC, gas-powered and self contained. Both came either as air or water output. In the case of the Swingfire, you had a water jacket plumbed into the cooling system while the heater exhausted hot air to heat the water jacket. As related to me by an owner of a Southwind heater, they came as water or air, but not both.

While logging in Oregon a few decades ago, we had a propane fired water heater for our 518 Cat skidder. As I recall the installed price was a bit spendy. But we had contracts to fill and bills to pay.

Consider a small propane water heater plumbed in, say camp trailer size. And as Dick pointed out, use a tent. There were times when I was caught out on the trapline at umpteen below and had to tent the snowgo to warm up the track enough to make the run for home.

Just some ideas to kick around.

eric

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I remember all too well completing technical training in Biloxi, Mississippi and shipping out to Fairbanks, Alaska in January. :)

 

I lived at North Pole - not far from Santa's house. All of the cars (and trucks) had a plug-in to plug in a circulating engine heater. Working at Al's Texaco as a mechanic on the side, I installed and replaced countless recirculating heaters. Strategic Air Command had C-135 tankers that flew across the pond to North Vietnam on refueling missions. The missions went on all year round. Part of the ground support equipment included an assortment of heaters. The same or similar heaters can be bought today from Northern Tool. They're expensive.

 

BP operates all year round at the North Slope. Heavy equipment that must operate in arctic conditions requires attention to four different systems. The engine block can be heated with a conventional circulating engine coolant block heater. The fuel can be heated with a fuel tank heater. The hydraulic tank can be heated with a hydraulic tank heater and finally, the battery can be heated with a battery heating pad made for that job. www.arctic-fox.com has solutions for all of these heating requirements.

 

There are inflatable buildings. They aren't cheap. There isn't a cheap solution. The inflatable building provides shelter and an area that can be heated to keep a machine out of the weather. Heating a shelter is expensive. It requires heating for at least the duration of time that the machine is not working.

 

The real issue as I see it is when a machine breaks down. The dozer quits half way along the cut. You need to have a plan for doing a repair that will probably include having a quick shelter that can be put in place to provide a work area. Again, the solution is probably an inflatable shelter.

 

I learned how to fly airplanes in Alaska. I learned that in Fairbanks in the winter, you cannot strike a match out-doors to light a fire. The match will self-extinguish because the heat is immediately starved from it. In my winter flying survival kit I kept road flares for signaling and fire-starting. Without heat in the arctic, death is imminent. So, always have an absolute fail-proof source of ignition for starting a heating system. A generator is required for most of the above mentioned heating systems. It's part of the price that is paid for the need to keep operating during winter months. Self-igniting unleaded fuel heaters are a reliable source of initial heat.

 

Old timers like Elmer Keturi spoke of a smudge pot heater. It was a pot with a wick and when lit, produced heat, not much heat, but with a good cover over a dozer, a smudge pot will keep it warmer than the other option - no heat at all.

 

- Geowizard   

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look up Webasto heaters, they make diesel fired heaters you mount to machine frame. 12v/24v circ. pumps $1100-$3000 Just plumb to equip. tank. We run yr round and have people start/stop epuip. every couple hrs around -25 or colder between shifts, or use small diesel trailer gen. to plug in to.

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You can get a set of six smudge pots on ebay. They burn diesel, used motor oil...

 

They will burn citronella in the summer and drive away mosquitoes! :)

 

- Geowizard

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Hey, guys.   These are great ideas.  I'm liking the smudge pot idea that can burn used oil...got plenty of that. For working on equipment I'm starting to think about getting some very large tarps that can be pulled over the equipment and propped up on the sides and where ever else you need room with extendable aluminum poles.  I know you can get a fireproof ring that can be inserted into a tarp that can accommodate an exhaust stack.  Propane fueled catalytic heaters work great for instant space heat and they burn so clean that ventilation is much less a problem than with other space heaters...like salamanders.  But just for keeping the equipment warm, the smudge pots are a probably the ticket.

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Smudge pots meet most of the requirements of mining; low cost, no moving parts, portable, durable, reliable, available, easy to repair, there's probably a few more.

 

You can make a smudge pot. Requires adult supervision. Not much imagination needed. :)

 

- Geowizard

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About 30 years ago before I had coomercial power, I use to use a 2-burner camp stove for heating my P/U engine. Then I upgraded to a propane weed burner and stove pipe. Later as I accumulated enough wealth to be considered dirt poor, I upgraded again to commercial power and a Redi-heater. In all cases I tented the front of the pickup. I rarely attempted operating the vehicle when it was much colder than -20° to -25°F.

There are lots of plans out there for waste oil burners. Here are a couple links:

http://www.backyardmetalcasting.com/oilburners02.html

http://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/waste-oil-heater-zmaz78sozraw.aspx

Plus there is a whole bunch on youtube.

eric

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Flint -

 

I admire your tenacity. I have no doubt that some day you will be successful. If you have the grit and determination to sink a Shaft through frozen ground then running your Surface Placer Mine through Winter is simply another challenge except that it's on a different level. i.e. dealing with the larger Equipment and all that goes with it.

 

I am due to go back up bush soon to re-start the Auger Drill. This will be the first re-start for me after doing my first Winterization alone back in September. Each Season brings new lessons. The only addition I have which I didn't see mentioned amongst the excellent suggestions above is an Oil Pan Heater which is in addition to the Block Heater. Remember watching on one of the older Gold Rush Episodes which showed Parker working through Winter and trying to heat up the Engine Oil in the Volvo Truck using direct flame from a propane torch ? Much easier to plug in to a Generator which is what you would do with your Block Heaters anyway. Heat them both at the same time.   

 

Oil Pan Heaters are available from a Company called Kim Hotstart - Spokane, WA. Obviously various sizes are available to suit respective Oil volumes and different specs. Just check the oil volume first then the probe length to ensure you have enough internal clearance. I assume that you will be making all the necessary modifications before the Machinery goes up on to the Job.  

 

People do it so by all means it can be done. I look forward to hearing how it goes as I may decide to follow your lead. Good luck with the Shaft also and don't forget to keep us updated once you hit Bedrock.

 

Steve.      

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Thanks, Steve   I appreciate your vote of confidence.  I've wintered over in Fairbanks one year so I have some idea of the difficulties of operating in extreme cold, but working with big equipment in that type of environment will bring some big challenges.  Fortunately, the guys I'll be working with are seasoned Alaskans who are very familiar with cold weather operation.

   You say you will be auger drilling.  Where is that?  What type of drill?  size?  depth?  Two years ago I bought an auger drill in California and brought a lot of the parts up to Fairbanks to reconfigure into a skid mounted rig we could use on the claim.  Over the winter some low life stole all my auger flites and a big old winch.  Big loss for me.  We're looking for another drill to use this season.

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Flint - Sorry about the slow response. I'm extremely busy at my day Job and get up at 4:30 am and don't get home until 6:00 pm. I'd rather be Shaft-Sinking. In reply, the Auger is a Track-Mounted Bombardier. It's on the Seward Peninsula. If it was in or near Fairbanks you could have it tomorrow. The Hole size is 9". The Auger is a Bullet-Tooth. Depth, well that's going to be the issue. Anything from 6ft. to 106ft. I have it in mind that I don't need more than about 30ft. of Auger and Flights, and yes, I will have spares in case I drop them. The bottom line is that if I'm not in pay at 25ft., the Auger comes out and I will move to a new hole so I take my hat off to you once again for planning to shift 58ft. of Overburden.

 

If I had my time again, which I may well have when I move to Ghana after this Summer in Alaska, I wouldn't buy another Drill. I'd buy an Auger attachment for the Excavator Boom. In fact, I would modify it by Welding on a quick-Hitch bracket to the Auger Slide so I could simply drop the Bucket off and then hook on the Auger slide. We have them ( Quick-Hitches ) on all the Excavators at Work for changing out different Buckets and attachments. The Hydraulics would also have to be attached of course but I think I will try it. I'll send you the Drawings once I've worked out how best to do it. I might cut one off an old Bucket. We don't need anything too large. We're not Augering for large-diameter Piles. Don't forget, for me it's only relatively shallow Holes.        

 

I'll drop you another line on the other Thread shortly. I have a Water-Use Permit. Anybody who has applied for an APMA generally requires one if their usage exceeds a certain limit. I'll have a look at the limits and get back to you. If you're under the limit, no Water-Use Permit is required as the APMA includes usage up to a certain point but you will still have to let them know what you are up to in the event your usage increases ( start running Bulk Samples for example ) then you will have to get a Water-Use Permit to cover what you intend to do. 

 

Anyway, keep well and I'll be in touch. Steve.      

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Steve,

   Looks like we've got ourselves a nice old Kirk Hillman cable tool rig to get us started.  Maybe someday I'll be able to afford an auger like yours.  Fortunately we don't have to run any of the overburden as it is just muck.  From 58' to 69' it's gravel and bed rock.  What do you have going in Ghana?

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