Imagine walking out to your car to find it sitting on blocks, all four wheels gone. Were you parked in the ‘wrong end of town’? Perhaps it was just bad luck? Whatever the case may be, suddenly you find yourself filling with adrenaline as you begin to work out what you are going to do.
Now imagine you were one of the people taking the wheels. Perhaps you have done this many times, and like a pit crew, your crew can strip a parked car of its wheels in a matter of seconds. But what if the bolts were rusted on tight? What if you had to cut the bolts to take those wheels? Would you persist, or would you walk away?
This loosely describes the scenario our maintenance department faced this week. Our mucking machine, seen in operation by guests of our underground tour, was due for some gentle care. Unfortunately, when your wheels have not been changed in many, many years and you live in a damp tunnel, gentle was not going to remove the wheels.
Our crew began as you would expect. They brought the machine down into the workshop and proceeded to attempt to loosen the bolts by wrench, to no avail. So they applied various lubricants to attempt to eat away the rust, to no avail. They attempted to grind off the rust to free the bolts, to no avail. Finally, they cut the bolts at the base, allowing them to screw off that which was not corroded. In the end, removing four wheels took two days.
Once the new wheels are installed and the machine inspected it will return to active duty as a part of our underground tour.
Thank you, Laurie, Don, and Ron for your work on this project. It is so easy to be impressed seeing the old machines working, but what is more impressive is seeing the work that goes on behind the scenes to make this all possible.