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Old 01-15-2005, 02:49 PM   #1
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Default Operation Popsicle......a northern saga.

I started a new job in a new town this year and am now 300 miles from Houston in Mackenzie BC. The artic front that has been wreaking havoc on all of us has been very cruel to ol pdad with the thermometer dropping to -47*C for the last week. The beater I bought for this winter is 89 mercury topaz with 80k looked like a good deal as it came with new brakes, studded winter tires, and a new battery.
The first day of work at my new job, its 6:00am and -38*C, bundled up I go outside to start the ol girl and start another chapter in my life with my new company. Click click click the battery is frozen! Good thing I tried to start it early and called the local cab company....$17 one way. That night I wrap the battery in a heat blanket and all is good over the next week or so......Then the temp drops even more.
Last wednesday I again cannot start the beast as the temp drops so low there is no reading on the thermometer, I leave the keys in the ignition and call the cab company again, when I get to work I call the autoclub to deal with the junker.
Returning home around 5pm I discover the autoclub had not been around and give them another call, "sorry its been nuts today and we're having troubles keeping our tow trucks running" I empathize and the service man arrives a half hour later. With the 2 of us out there cacooned in multi layers of extreme clothing we use parachutes, torches, jumper cables and attempt to revive the popsicle from its deep freeze. No go the rad is an ice block and after 2 hours we're beat, we'll try again tommorrow as I need to go home to Houston for the weekend.
Thursday the tow trucks are busy all day again and cannot make it but they assure me they will do whatever is needed to get me going on Friday, more money to the cab company. I call at noon Friday and they tow truck is broke down they are sorry but there is nothing they can do for me now, it will be monday before they can do anything.
Well now I'm bummed, my first payday in 3 months and havent seen my familly in 3 weeks and my car is dead untill spring it seems. I'm not giving up, the winter will not defeat me I need a plan.
The company enviromentalist that works down the hall from me is always talking about how he likes the extreme cold and it doesnt bother him so I ask "you got any tarps and tourches at home?"...."sure, I'll give you hand after work to get home"
We load into his Nissan Extara after work and make our way to town.....the rad freezes on the way and have to call his wife to pick us up......I feel doomed to say the least.
Still not giving up we take the supples to his suv first and within a half hour the rad is thawed and we're heading for the popsicle. At the hotel where the car has sat frozen for 3 days we start our task with a 50' tarp and drap the entire car, I use a few ice chucks to hold down the sides and fire up to big tiger tourchs attatched to a 20lb propane bottle, the tarp ballons up with the trapped air and I crawl into the circle with a set of jumper cables to charge the battery.
After 20 min the propane bottle starts to freeze and the flame shortens as the tarp starts to drop, boiling water is needed I say. I return with a kettle of bubbly only to catch my new buddy heating the bottle with one of the tourches!!! I make the sign of the cross and his risky actions work. I pour the boiling water over the rad and can hear the ice start to slush in the rad, its working!!
After an hour and half I think its warm enough to try, bingo its running (oh happy day)!!! But the transmission is still frozen and wont go into gear, more boiling water is needed and 2 more kettles are used, that did the trick, we wrapped everything up and I'm ready to go.
Its now 6:30pm and have a 6 hour drive in good conditions to get home to my familly.
The first 20 or so miles is uneventfull with only a few moose spotted in the ditches (looking for salt I guess). I then come around a corner and find 2 semi'* collied on the side of the road, they're trailers have pushed into the ditch and the road is passible (emergency crews are busy and I continue). Over the next 50 miles there are many cars abandoned along the highway and lots of trucks in the ditch. The temp is still dropping and I can only see out of a 8" circle in the windshield, I need to block the rad and prevent the cold artic air from freezing it. The next town and I'm into the liqour store for a box of beer, the cardboard is ideal for rad wrapping, I continue down the road with now a 10" circle to see out of.
As I'm driving in a super clear night with all the stars and bright moon light it dawns on me that there are no other cars on the road tonight.....none, oh well I'm still moving.
About half way home I need gas and something to eat, I'm on the Omenica Plateau and the wind is viscious, the speaker at the fuel pump chirps "I'm really sorry but you have to turn your car off before I can turn the pump on".......oh oh I think.
Sure enough only had the car stopped for less than 10 mins and the rad is frozen again.
I dont care, boil over crack the block whatever, I'm going home.
With the temp gauge reading high heat the window clears up and I can see real well now, a bit of steam seeps out from under the hood but the gauge is holding steady. About 30 miles later I could hear the ice start to move and the rad frees up the temp gage drops and so does my clear windshield. The thermostat is now stuck open and will not build any heat, the windshield is covered and I have to scrap from the inside in order to see, I'm glad there is no other traffic on the road cause I'm all over it.
The next 100 miles remain the same and finally make it home at 2:00am, Pmom is still up worried about my adventure and glad to see I made it.
Houston is alot warmer and only -15*C this morning and the forcast for next week is plus 1 or 2, I hope this is the last of this artic front and I never have to write another epic like this.

PontiacDad
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Old 01-15-2005, 03:10 PM   #2
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Wow, fascinating story. Glad you made it home alright. I can't imagine being in temps like that. Just curious, how do you stay warm in such weather?
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Old 01-15-2005, 03:11 PM   #3
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Wow!!! Having second thought'* on getting a job way up there? Glad to see you made it home -men will do desperate things when the flame of desire burns hot.
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Old 01-15-2005, 03:13 PM   #4
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Made for TV movies right there!

Welcome home Pdad, and thank you for sharing that tell....incredible.

To put things into perspective. Absolute zero or 0 Kelvins = -132C at that temp, everything stops...frozen...everything, now imagine -47C, its only 85C warmer then absolute zero
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Old 01-15-2005, 03:24 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sol
Wow, fascinating story. Glad you made it home alright. I can't imagine being in temps like that. Just curious, how do you stay warm in such weather?
The trick is a layering system of clothes -heavy warm clothes. I spent 3 hours outside last night changing the battery in my friends 1999 Regal LS, and after we put the new battery in (he bought it yesterday afternoon and I put it on the 10 amp trickle charger for 2 hours in the house to ensure a good warm charge) and then we find the car has no current. Finally after 1 hour of trying to diagnose no current (hooked jumpers up to my car and only a very faint current -wires shorting?) we decided to just push the car up the driveway into his garage as he didn't want to parking citations (recieved one Thursday night due to no start). So we pushed the car back and realized even on the slight grade that the road was (covered in ice) our Dr Martens are not spiked -they are more like running smooth glass over smooth glass with water between them. Since it was a slight grade I had to put the e-brake on (no current =gear shifting -remember) and when I hit the e-brake the whole car lit up -all the lights came on bright and so I hit the key again and the engine started cranking. After about 5 minutes of cranking she finally fired up and we drove the car in the garage. Luckily it was only -15*F and 11:55PM so we went to a small local bar and had some Chicken Alfredo pizza and a couple Michelob Ultra'* while we played golf and pool.
I thought it was a rough night for me, but somewhere to the northwest of me PDad was giving all he got driving in a place called hell -yeah it froze over.
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Old 01-15-2005, 03:47 PM   #6
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I mean I've gone camping in cold weather, nothing like stated above (MI doesnt get THAT cold), and I've layered up pretty good, and I was still pretty darn cold.

What kind of stuff do you wear outside?
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Old 01-15-2005, 03:47 PM   #7
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Made me cold just reading about it.......

Glad to see everyone is ok though and warmer weather will be here soon enough.
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Old 01-15-2005, 04:50 PM   #8
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Glad to hear you made it home safe.
Good story. It brought back memories of when I used to live in Ontario.

Helps me to realize why I love the coast so much.
We haven't got any snow yet and the temps only dropped as low as -5 C at night.

You have a lot of catching up to do after 3 weeks.

Hope the new job is going well and you are impressing them with your skills.
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Old 01-15-2005, 05:29 PM   #9
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OMG I can't even handle the cold here but thats Crazy !!
When is that global warming going to kick in???
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Old 01-15-2005, 07:42 PM   #10
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Glad you made it home Daddio, maybe this Siberian front will go back to Siberia next week. Have fun with the fam.
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