Impromptu Engine Shop

Wayne Van Horne

I was assigned the job of replacing an engine on a Norsemnan at a logging camp on Vancouver Island at Emerald Point, just around the corner from Rock Bay in Johnstone Strait. The pilot had landed there with a failing engine and I was asked to do the recovery. With a helper, Bert Van Den Ham, a partially dismantled engine, parts and gear necessary to load it into another Norseman, plus tools, a set of beaching gear, and other bits and pieces, we flew to the site from YVR.

We put the beaching gear on the A/P we had arrived in and got it ashore, off-loaded the replacement engine, put that A/P back in the water and he left. We then rigged the beaching gear onto the sick bird and got that A/P ashore with it.

We were in good shape, except we had to get a tripod or something to attach our chain hoist to.

It turns out, the only people in the bush smarter than airplane mechanics are loggers. The camp boss suggested we use a logging arch. He pulled a 10 foot log up to the sheave so it was steady and just off vertical. This gave us the height we needed for our hoist; we were in business. With the cat he put the arch into position, the sling was installed, all disconnects were made and the engine removed. The fresh engine was re-assembled and installed. On day 2 we did a ground run, partially dismantled the other engine and loaded it, back in the A/P and put the A/P back in the water.

The pilot we needed did not arrive due to bad weather and that night it began to snow. It was a very wet and copious fall of Vancouver Island's heaviest white rain. Bert and I were up most of the night removing snow so the A/P would not sink from the weight.

The logging camp was a good home away from home. The food was good and there was lots of it and there was always plenty of hot coffee and warm quarters. A pilot was dropped off the next day and we flew home. Again help on site was freely given and gratefully appreciated.

rwvh 12 June 2004

ge, minor edits