Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Kids, Don't Try This At Work

A Ski Resort Owner in Maine is recovering from injuries after being run over by the grooming machine he and an employee were working on. The newspaper said "David Beers, 40, and another man were trying to fix a track on the vehicle when it accidentally slipped into gear, onlookers said Sunday."

As with all things Slope Grooming that I read in the Civilian Press, the details are pretty sketchy here...not sketchy are Mr Beers' injuries. Surprisingly, besides cuts and bruises, the only real damage is a broken jaw and dislocated ankle! He's one lucky guy!

Grousers and belts on the machine's right hand track
It sounds like Mr Beers and his helper were "tracking-up" the snowcat when the accident happened. "Tracking-Up" is Snowcat Mechanic-Speak for installing the tracks. These tracks are made of steel "grousers" driven by reinforced rubber belts. Each belt is fastened to itself with "lacings" which are nothing more than hinges really. A hardened steel bolt with a locknut keeps the connection secure.

The grooming machine in question is an LMC 3700CF It's a mid-engine cab-over hydrostatic driven tractor, built by Logan Manufacturing Company. Until his legal troubles with the DEA and DOJ began, LMC was owned by John DeLorean, and named DMC as in DeLorean Manufacturing Company. Back in the day I demoed it's predecessor the Bear Cat. It had to be in the mid to late 90s.

Hydrostatic snowcats don't have gears in the sense that automobiles have gears. Hydrostatic drives are oil driven motors and controlled with valves that select forward or reverse and zero to 100% speed. There's a center detent (think neutral), and a parking brake which blocks the control oil pressure from activating the drive. Modern cats have door safety interlock switches that prevent the pumps from being stroked so no motion will be generated by the track drive motors.

This is why I don't understand the accident. When I'm sitting in the Driver's Throne of my BR350 groomer, and I'm working with a mechanic, I either have the parking brake set, or have the RPMs set to idle with my finger on the Parking Brake Switch. I've never run over a mechanic, or anyone else for that matter...(Oh, I did "pinch" a lift operator between my tracks and a fence once, but no harm, no foul, he became a rookie groomer the following season, was a quick study, and enjoyed a good career for a few years at My Mountain....earning the handle Cap'nDan.) Man, I loved working with him...

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