Sunday, January 20

How to cut a four-foot-deep trench

The SierraTel people put in a phone line for us using only a Caterpillar tractor with a backhoe and three Caterpillar bulldozers. How simple!

The most impressive piece of equipment was the ’dozer with the giant four-foot-long ripper. It had to make four passes in order to bury a conduit pipe and a 6-pair wire cable. The first pass gets the ground accustomed to being rent asunder. The second pass widens the channel a teensy bit. The third pass is made with the cable/conduit laying attachment. The final pass smooths everything out and puts the earth back together (relatively).

I was mightily impressed with the driver’s controls to pilot the brawny beast. It’s all done with fingertips! A nice comfy seat gives the operator a good view of the surroundings. In the seat’s soft padded armrests are the controls for speed and steering. If you have thumbs and fingers, you can drive. Steering is done with your choice of the four fingers on your left hand; only two are needed to go left or right or you can use only one if you don’t mind moving it from one paddle to the other. You could steer it with your nose if you don’t mind not seeing where you’re going. Or your big toe if it’s warm enough to take your shoes and socks off. You could even steer this thing with your obedience-trained dog’s paw if you…oh dear—I’m getting too far afield here.

The pictures tell the story better than I ever could.
The mud-coated portion of the ripper is a whole four feet long
Here it is going down to gopher-land
Here it is fully down and ready to rip!
Watch out gophers, ground squirrels, worms, roots, coffins, alien UFO hiding places!
We're puttin' in a PHONE LINE!

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