A station Mechanical Supervisor's happy place: a workshop full of heavy plant

Winter workshop activities at Casey

Winter is almost upon us. The days are getting shorter, the weather is getting colder, and the rush of summer is somewhat a distant memory.

But that doesn’t mean the work stops. In the Casey workshop winter is where things really start to get busy. The departure of the summer crew, indicates the start of our winter maintenance program, including the arrival of the Wilkins Runway crew, and all their equipment.

For the next 20 weeks, the workshop will focus on completing all the maintenance on the equipment for Wilkins, required to build the runway. With 5 bulldozers, 2 quad track tractors, 2 front end loaders, 3 snow blowers and 2 groomers, plus a tonne of small equipment, there is plenty of work to be completed. From routine servicing to major repairs, all the equipment gets a thorough check over.

As SMS (Station Mechanical Supervisor), my aim is to keep the work coming for the crew in the workshop as well as prioritise repairs being carried out. Ideally, as soon as a job is finished, we move onto the next! Before getting down here, I used to hear them talk about the Antarctic factor, I now understand what they mean! A quick 2 or 3 hour service, will take a day. From digging the snow off the machine, deblizzing it, warming it up, bringing it into the workshop (in the case of the bulldozers, having to remove the blade…) and then letting the rest of the snow melt out… we are finally now ready to commence our job!

With the arrival of the Wilkins crew, we do have the luxury of the Wilkins mechanic also joining us on station. Having Lochie here is great, being able to add the extra knowledge he has from maintaining all the gear through the summer flight period. Adding both Red and Guy from station in and we have a very capable crew to get the work done!

Besides juggling the Wilkins equipment, we need to not lose interest in the station assets as well. Wilkins does have priority, but we can’t just pull up stumps on the station gear. We still need to keep the wheels turning and the lights on, of course! The Main Power House is king; our number one priority! With out the powerhouse, well we don’t really have a station, do we….

- SMS Nick Thornton