Note: This feature is in the July TT&C 2012 issue.
July TT&C 2012 issue
Lou Desbiens with an International TD-25C dozer that he scratch built in the 1970s. This model is a replica of the dozer his father, Raymond Desbiens, owned and operated for many years.
Scratch built by Lou Desbiens, this blue off-highway logging truck uses a King Hauler undercarriage.
Greg Thompson, of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, has lived an adventurous life. By the age of 18, he had his first airplane pilot license. He paid for lessons and the license by “operating machinery every opportunity I could and saving the money earned. I drove tractors and snowplows through most of my high school days. I love machines.”
After high school, Thompson followed a family tradition. “I immediately went to work in the logging industry following high school,” he said. “My brother Len and my brother-in-law Ian McKinnon are still loggers, and my father, Herb Thompson, was a forest ranger for most of his adult life until he retired.
“Now, just for the fun of it, he logs using a horse and skid. Dad used to tell me stories about his childhood when he used a horse and skid to haul firewood for his parents. I guess logging and the forests are just in the Thompson blood.”
As a logger, Thompson operated skidders, dozers and log loaders. As much as he loved the forest-green woods, the clear blue skies are what finally won Thompson’s heart.
“After logging for about five years, I once again felt the lure of the open sky, so I saved some more money and earned a commercial helicopter pilot license. That was in 1989, and I still fly helicopters for a living today.”
Thompson’s love of flying is what first led him to radio-controlled (RC) models. “About 30 years ago, I decided that flying RC model airplanes would be fun. The winters are long and cold on Vancouver Island, so I wanted a hobby to see me through from fall to spring. Each winter, I would build a model airplane, getting it completed in time for spring flying.”
After seeing a RC semitruck model from Tamiya, Thompson decided that it might be fun to put together a RC truck kit and run it around inside his house during the winter.
“I purchased my first RC truck model about 10 years ago, roughly 2002. It was a 1/14 scale model logging truck. I just knew if I was going to build trucks, they had to be loggers.”
Thompson’s first RC model was a kit version, commonly called a King Hauler, by Tamiya. He received an unpainted cab, frame and wheels to build a semi. He then scratch built a log bed by extending the semi’s frame and adding a trailer with log rigging on it. The trailer is held to the cab with a hook, which makes moving actual logs on full-size vehicles like this model very dangerous work.
The transition from RC airplanes to RC trucks proved easy for Thompson. “Since building that first logging truck, I have built on average one logging truck or vehicle a year; although, I actually work on two or three models at a time. Just like before, I build in the winter months when the snow is deep and the wind is cold.
“Some of my models include a D8N dozer, D8R dozer, Hitachi 350 excavator, Volvo A40D articulated dump truck and a CAT 330B log loader. Each of the models has electric-drive motors and hydraulics that operate at about 150 psi. And all are radio controlled. The models are made of aluminum with styrene (a form of plastics) cabs.”
The large articulated dump trucks (ADT) are somewhat complicated to build. The rig swivels in the middle so that the trailer follows in the cab’s tracks rather than cutting to the inside where it might just fall off of a mountain. Steering is accomplished via hydraulic cylinders that pivot the entire trailer in relation to the tractor.
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