In this section, you will find information necessary to prepare yourself to travel and work on a snowmachine. Proper preparation is important to having a safe day and the equipment necessary if an emergency does arise. Be sure to quiz yourself when you have finished to ensure you know what to do before a ride.
Trailering and Towing
For hauling snowmachines, use a trailer specifically designed for transporting snowmachines. Be sure you have all the proper equipment to attach the trailer to the survey van, including safety chains, electrical connections and check that lights are in working condition. Check tires for condition and inflation each time before heading out on the road.
Before loading the snowmachine, always double check to ensure that the trailer is properly secured to the vehicle’s hitch. This will prevent the trailer from popping up off the hitch when the snowmachine is driven onto the trailer bed.
Use the tie-down bars to secure snowmachine skis to the trailer. Ropes, tie-down straps, or ratchet straps can be used to secure sleds on trailers.
Make sure that all trailer lights are working properly. Check brake lights and turn signal indicators. Do a 360° walk around the entire truck and trailer, looking for anything unsafe or out of the ordinary.
With extreme temperatures on the Slope, we often start the snowmachines in the warm shop, or immediately after pulling them out of the shop. If your snowmachine’s headlight can’t be turned off, it may be necessary to disconnect or block the headlight to keep from blinding the driver. Having 2 or 3 headlights shining on the rear of the truck impairs the drivers vision.
When towing snowmachines on the North Slope, you will often be using trailers that don’t have brakes. A speed limit of 45 mph maximum does not mean you have to drive that fast. Drive only as fast as conditions allow, realizing that stopping safely while towing a trailer will take more time and distance than normal. Holding to a 35 mph maximum is a good way to have a safe drive to the job site.
Loading and Unloading
- Safe Operating Procedure (SOP) for loading/unloading snowmachine must be followed.
- Snowmachine may not be lifted by hand onto or off of trailer.
- Either the davit-crane and slings must be used, or the Click for larger viewsnowmachine should be driven on and off trailers. Riding snowmachines on and off the trailers is the preferred method but there are many times, particularly when the operation is taking place solely in the shop, where riding them on and off is impractical.
- Most trailers have ramps that are carried under the back of Click for larger viewthe trailer. These ramps are to be moved by a minimum of 2 people. The ramps here at work have pins that must be replaced to keep the ramp from rolling out of its storage slot under the trailer. Make sure that pin is kept in a safe place when the ramp is in use and that it is replaced when the ramp is back in it’s storage slot.
- When placing ramps for loading or Click for larger viewunloading, make sure that ramps are properly aligned and that locking mechanisms or other alignment clips/pins/tabs are properly engaged. Watch for pinch points!
- Before riding a snowmachine on or off trailers, make sure that other personnel are clear. No other person should be on the trailer when a machine is being loaded or unloaded.
- Ride the snowmachine at a controlled speed, but riders must be aware that traction on the ramps is poor. Brakes must be applied soon after snowmachine center of gravity has passed onto trailer. If you are short on experience, listen to riders familiar with this operation and when you do your first load-up, asked to be observed and critiqued.
- Tie-down bars must Click for larger viewbe used on all snowmachines. This will ensure that the snowmachines stay in position on the trailer. Replace bolts after unloading to keep the threads clear of snow and ice. Ratcheting tie-down straps are used in addition to the tie down bars. Click for larger viewRopes may be used if straps are unavailable and should be inspected prior to use.
- Tilt-trailers are not often found on the Slope but if they are used, use them carefully, and only an experienced rider should load machines onto tilt-trailers.
Tools and Part Kit
Most snowmachines have a location for tool storage just inside your hood/cowling, or the inside of the seat “trunk.” Basic tools are generally included in a container for your machine. These tools will allow minor repairs and adjustments in the field.
The tool kit of each machine should contain, at a minimum:
- Flathead screw driver
- Phillips head screwdriver
- Spark plug wrench
- Adjustable wrench
- Electrical tape
- Duct Tape
- Baling wire
- Cord (specifically made for starting manual start snowmachines)
- Spare spark plugs
- Spare belt
- Tow strap
- Cable Ties
- Emergency Pull Rope
Emergency Survival Kit
An emergency survival kit should contain items to help keep you alive should you become stranded or separated from your crew. Each crew member must carry a personal survival kit and the crew must have a crew survival kit.
Each rider must carry at a minimum:
- 1 GPS unit with all pertinent hand-held information pre-loaded. Don’t forget to record the truck location before taking off. Use the MOB (man overboard) function at least.
- Hand-held radio with an extra battery. Make sure radio is turned on before departure. (Remember that it is not possible to hear radio traffic on or near a running snowmachine.)
- Any job-specific Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) needed for the task planned for that day’s work.
- Helmet for each crew member
At a minimum, each crew Emergency/ Survival Kit will contain:
- A folding saw
- Gas stove
- 30 oz. fuel bottle with white gas
- 4 qt. aluminum fast heating kettle
- 1 – 8′ plastic bag
- 2 cans sterno
- Hand warmers
- Signal mirror
- Potable drinking water tablets
- Waterproof match box with strike-anywhere matches
- Fire Starter sticks
- Emergency food bars
- Cocoa and coffee crystals
- Emergency snap lights
- Space blankets
- Flashlight – “shake to work” variety
- First Aid Kit
- Small Shovel