Losing my bearings

The W’fers came back yesterday.  For one day.  And it was good.

They had left us almost a week ago to expand their local experience by w’fing with a couple of neighbours for a few days each.  We share w’fers.  And the w’fers get a variety of experiences as a result.  But they needed to get back our way by weeks-end and then on to their next w’fing gig birthing calves in Alberta.  They came back to us because we were enroute, we needed their help with the log jam and, Sal’s cooking is worth traveling for.

And so, early Monday morning they returned, we got to work and, by the end of the day, we had pulled and stacked 42 lengths of log.  Pretty good work day!

We have 44 lengths of log but the winch packed it in!  Had to to leave two at the bottom.  Here I am up to my ankles in winches and the one I am employing fails!  What are the odds? (they are pretty good, actually, since a winch NOT working is unlikely to break).

Anyway, it is a 5 ton winch being worked by a miserable little 1/3 hp electrical motor.  The winch hauls a line that carries a log that Sal blocks-and-taykles up in the air so the log section is only between 200 and 400 pounds.  It then runs on a rolling block on the highline up a gradient of about 35 degrees for about 100 feet.  This may be hard work but the winch is the strongest link in the process.

Or so I thought.

As the day wore on, the bearing/bushing in the main shaft of the winch must have been wearing itself to dust.  I didn’t notice.  Not til it was too late.  Because the motor is too little for the job, I would attach a handle to the winch and assist the motor with my own body and energy.  I found myself winching harder and harder and harder as the day wore on.  I kept saying to myself, “Dave, you are getting old!  Good thing the w’fers are here to take the log from you when it gets up the hill.  This winching thing is hard!”

No wonder.  The bearing had packed it and I was bare-metal winching!

It is truly sad when you don’t know if it is because you are too old that it is too hard or if it is really just too hard!  Turns out, it was really too hard.  All I can say is Atlas could not have hauled that last log up without breathing hard.  I was breathing really, really hard.

I will take the winch apart and put in a new bearing.  Then I will upgrade to a larger motor.  Over the next decade I will get older and the job will seem harder every year.  Every year, I will suspect the bearing is failing again.  I will be wrong every time.  It will be me.  But this year?  This year, it was the bearing!

Winch - Before Disaster Struck









PS – after writing this, I went out and dismantled the winch.  Had to hammer the spool off the shaft.  When it was open for inspection, I saw the problem…..the shaft had been worn away and it was no longer round.  It had an oblong profile with a big bend in it.  It is amazing it turned at all!


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