Sunday, October 28, 2007

Early logging

My Dad’s logging company started out with an old “2-U D-8” Caterpillar tractor, and an angle blade D-7. They used to load the logs onto the truck with a “Loading crib”. They used a “brow log” along side and parallel the logging road. Then several poles were placed perpendicular, and on top of the brow log to be used as skids. The space underneath was filled with dirt. The logs were loaded by pushing the load log up the skids and onto the truck parked parallel to the crib. The logs were then held in place on the truck with “Cheeseblocks”. You can see why they only sent three log loads to the mill.

Some time in the early Fifties they got a “Triple Drum Skagit winch”. It was used to make a high-line cable log loader. Most things that I know about cable splicing was learned from watching them splice cables together for that loader. One drum was used for lifting the log off the ground. The other two drums were used to travel the log back and forth to the truck or the log deck.

Just like the Caterpillars were simply called Cats, and the drivers were called Cat skinners. The triple drum Skagits were called “Skagits”, and the operator was called the “Skagit man”. The Skagits were built in Skagit Washington. Dads was powered by a flathead Ford V-8 engine. It was mounted on a skid log frame, and was skidded by the D-8 from one landing to the next. There was a rudimentary tin roof over it to keep the rain off. The motor had twin straight exhaust pipes with spark arrestors. When it was being used in a hard lift it could be heard barking throughout the whole canyon. The Cats seldom had working mufflers and the chain saws always had the mufflers removed to give them more power. It’s no wonder that most old loggers were deaf.

They communicated mostly with sign language. Most everything that you needed to know in the woods was usually signaled by hand. Even the swearing was done with sign language, and it was quite graphic, and it was way beyond just the “finger”.

In the late Fifties Dad got a Cat 977, which was a smooth track laying front end loader with a winch. They used the loader for skidding logs close to the landing between trucks. It was funny to watch a skinner try to pull logs with a smooth tracked Cat. The tracks would spin and the skinner would cuss, then find a stump to get in front of and winch the logs to him, eventually getting the log onto the landing.

I can still smell the fir and redwood brush that was crushed. Mix that with a little crushed pepperwood, stir in a little of the smell of dust and diesel. Add the bark, roar, and howl of all the equipment, the cables slapping together. Add a strong sense of danger, and just as strong of a sense of progress. Put in a liberal sprinkling of loud as hell swear words, and it all adds up to some great times.


Anonymous said...

Hey Ernie,
You are a great writer. How come you don't promote your blog?

Carol said...

Nice blog, Ernie.

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EkoVox said...

These are great posts! Even though, I have read them before on the old 299 Opine. Great stuff.