The excavator lifts a snowcat tread during a track maintenance exercise at Chatter Creek. The tracks have to be serviced every year to replace damaged belts and cracked grouser bars. It's an expensive and time-consuming exercise, but necessary for reliable winter operation. Under some winter conditions, grouser bars can break on a daily basis. Sometimes they are replaced at the time, and sometimes they are repaired by welding, which rarely lasts.
In the summer, the tracks are removed from the snowcats, serviced and stored while the snowcat tractors are shipped to Camoplast Industries (ex-Bombardier) in Calgary for annual service. For more information about the Chatter Creek snowcats and their Metal Form passenger cabs, look at our Bombardier Snowcats at Chatter Creek Weblog. Chatter Creek now operates five snowcats, three for transporting guests and two for building and maintaining cat roads and for backup.
Above, Dale torques bolts and replaces damaged grouser bars. Having the excavator to lift the treads is a great help. What has taken 10 days in the past has been done this year by Dale and Christophe in just two very long days. After each tread is repaired, it is rolled up, with the help of the excavator, and left to await the return of the tractors from Calgary and the first shows of the autumn, when they will be re-installed and put to use hauling final supplies to the lodge for winter.