How To Drive a Snowcat: Getting Ready

Fall Line
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Fall Line

Before Blademan's drivers set out for an eight-hour shift (starting around 4:45 p.m., after the lifts close and the crowds clear out), they run down an informal checklist:

>Check the oil.

Blademan's fleet often covers 230 acres or so each weekend night during high season, and lubricating the Mercedes-Benz engines is essential.

>Fill 'er up.

The fuel tank holds 90 gallons of diesel, and one machine burns about half of that each shift.

>Armor-All the dash.

Blademan likes his machine clean. After all, he'll be staring at that dashboard until four in the morning.

>Hose down the windshield. The fleet includes winch machines, which are tethered to trees or other stationary objects for grooming steep trails. The grease from the cable can migrate onto the windshield, forming a layer of gunk over the course of a shift. Using brake cleaner as a solvent, that gunk must be removed before the next shift begins.

>Remove dog hair. Man's best friend is also cat-driver's best friend, but they shed on the upholstery. Preferred method of cleaning the seats: a make- shift lint remover fashioned from wadded-up duct tape.

MARCH/APRIL 2005