A week in the life of an Antarctic mechanic.

A week in the life of an Antarctic mechanic

Well, we are really into winter mode now. With all the summer and science project materials and machinery safely stowed for the harsh winter weather to come, it’s time now for the various station and Wilkins aerodrome machines that keep the whole show on the move over the summer months to have their major services and repairs. It’s not that they don’t get love and attention over the summer, it’s just that the machines are an integral part of the program and need constant care and attention. So over the summer, they just get the minor services and inspections done. We note any repairs that can be delayed to the winter months where we can have the vehicles down in the Casey workshop for a week or more in order to carry out the major services and repairs in a timely manner.

A minor service could be an engine oil and filter change, along with a grease up and a good ‘eye over'. The major service could be everything we’d do for the minor one, along with changing the transmission, differentials and planetary oils along with major component change outs as per manufacturers specifications. One such repair is changing the tracks on a D7R caterpillar bulldozer: an easy job back in Australia, but with the elements down here, it makes it a bit more challenging. We have a fairly extensive parts stock to do most jobs, but we can’t carry everything. So sometimes we just have to park machines up until we can get the part in on the resupply ship which is due around middle of December. We are lucky here at Casey, because the airbus flies into Wilkins Aerodrome which is 65 kilometres from station. So we have the ability to get parts in on the airbus between mid November to early March. Pretty cool stuff, aye?

The plan is to have everything ready for use and working well for the upcoming season. When the scientists and tradies return, they can get stuck into the work programs and not have to worry about waiting for equipment to be available for use. Then it all starts again.

Jeff R, Diesel Mechanic ('dieso')