The Forest Around Us



Bill Moore

I need a whatchamacallit
for the gizzmo
....There are big yellow, black, and purple machines at work in this forest around us. But far more interesting than all the iron monsters are the people who either run the rigs, work near them, service them or stand back and shake their fists at them The people. And until the day when some smart young fellow invents a button pushing device that a chap can sit home in his rocker–feet by the fire, martini in hand–and command the iron thing to go get logs, the people will always be more interesting.
....It takes a lot of folks to bring trees to the market-place. And it takes a lot of talent to run some of the gold-plated log loaders, Cats, mobile towers and log trucks in use every day on the shores of the Pacific. And it’s not only just running them that takes the talent–it’s the servicing and repairing of these machines that requires a cool hand and a nimble mind.
....To a logger such as myself, weaned on an old 11 x 13 Willamette steam donkey, the dinosaurs of the woods today fill the mind with confusion and empty the pocket-book of coin. I’m sure somewhere there is a big sound-proof room where they put the geniuses who invent these monsters. I’ve been near tempted to ask if for a few
pennies more, could one modify some of the new yarding towers into a Titan spaceship!
....Well, I’m not belittling these big machines. I’m just saying they scare me. The price and the size. Whatever happened to the good old 10–10 Lawrence donkey? Now, there was a machine. Five thousand bucks and you were in business. Ah, the good old days!
....And thinking of those so-called good old days–and a few good ones yet to come–I can’t help but speak of certain individuals who were and are very much a part of the scene of this forest around us. I speak of the “parts man,” that tower of knowledge who most good machinery houses employ to translate the loggers’ language into intelligent part’s numbers.
....So the big iron thing broke down, and the woods are full of logs, and the foreman is biting nails, and the mechanic is scratching his head. It just happens there’s no page in the parts book covering this particular breakdown. No problem! The good old “parts man” will know, ‘cause all he’s got to do is to sit there by the telephone in Vancouver waiting for some logger to call help.
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British Columbia Lumberman, January, 1976

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....“Hello, parts man, this is Potts Logging Co. calling. We need a What-chamacallit for the Gizzmo. It’s the one right next to the square shaft. It’s got an old number stamped on it but I can only read the number seven on it–or maybe it’s nine. Anyway I need it five minutes ago.”
....If you think such conversations haven’t happened, you haven’t lived in the bush. Ask Norm Gregory of Walkem Equipment in Vancouver. Norm has answered and translated more such orders than a dog has fleas. I know–I’ve phoned him not knowing what I wanted and he’s told me! I believe men like Norm Gregory had X-ray eyes that could see through metal into the inner bowels of these big machines. It’s pretty hard to estimate the valuable service such men as Norm have done for this industry. “Parts” are like a new baby to them–they’ve got to be delivered–on time–the right size–and maybe even the right color.
....Nobody ever phones the president or the janitor of a machinery firm at night or on holidays–but the “parts man” is lucky if he can go and quietly read on the john for 10 minutes without a panic call from some outfit. I understand that Norm is now retired after so many years with the Walkem people. Take ’er easy chap, and thanks from a lot of us up and down this coast for all the translating into action you did so well. Oh, by the way, Norm, before you go–where could I get a –
....Logging is a business of pretty sophisticated machines these days – not only on the Pacific coast – but all across Canada. The big tree har-vesters that cut down, limb, stack and haul are crawling all over the woods in the Interior of B.C., western Ontario and Quebec. They take some mighty fine looking after–and a good under-standing mechanic better not be too far away. This industry is always short of good mechanics and it’s certain that if the big machines are going to pay their way we’d better have a steady crop of young, intelligent men and women coming along who know something about fixing, servicing, parts ordering and a few with X-ray eyes.
....It’s apparent that we can’t go back to the good old 10-10 Lawrence donkey style of things (but I wish I could lay my hands on a good one!). Those simpler hand friction days are gone and we’re airborne into jet aged logging. And so is the “parts” business.

....Now a phone call for a part might sound like this – “Hello, Potts Ultra Log-ging Co. here–I want a black start button for our new computer on your new Model Y is it.”
....“Well, sir, let me see – I’ll send a Telex to our shops in Paris, Kobe and Battle Creek and see if they have one. We’re fresh out as there’s a strike in our red button factory in Brisbane, but we’ll do our best sir to get it to you in seven months.”
....Now if you think this is silly–you haven’t ordered parts since yesterday. It’s a whole new ballgame and between strikes and foul-ups you’re the victim of world wide machinery. They now tell you things like–“I’ll phone Montreal and see if they have

one left or I think Fresno has one.” Every logging outfit has to come with a world atlas now or they won’t know where to get bearings on their ball-joints. Leaping Lizards Sandy–where’s my 10-10 Lawrence!
....As I said at the start, I think the people in this forest around us are much more interesting than the mach-ines. Thanks again to all you Norm Gregorys in all the machinery places who help a logger along the way. Oh yes–and could one of you find me a three cornered cotter key for a–

Keep out of the bight,


British Columbia Lumberman, January, 1976