11
The snow was drifted over the hood, as if trying to devour the truck for dinner.
Back To The Stories

Operation "Drift Tamer"

Share This Story

I remember it like it was just a few years ago. Well, maybe because it was just a few years ago. It was the winter of 2011. My friend . . . err, for privacy sake, we will call him “Tucker” and I were out snowplowing since the winter storm had gotten so bad doing tow calls were almost impossible. We get a call from our tow-trucking boss, “Mike,” stating he has not heard from our other boss “Jeff.” He knew of his whereabouts and that the alternator quit working on the 460-powered 4x4 wrecker (I think it was a fan belt, but that’s a mundane detail here folks considering there are bigger issues, such as the gas-sucking v-belt equipped 460 itself), and he was stranded in a little town barely big enough to support a blinking light at an intersection. Therefore, we told Mike to keep in touch and not to take any side roads, specifically North-South roads as the wind was blowing east. This was a heavy storm, dropping well more than a foot of snow through the night. The wind chills struggled to be above zero, if they even were, as they were forceful enough to shut down all but the main highways. The counties weren’t even trying to open side roads unless it was an emergency condition.

Probably 45 minutes later, we get a call from Mike.

“Hey guys, I think I'm stuck.”

Tucker and I: “Are you stuck or not?”

“Well I am not moving. The truck isn’t moving anymore.”

“Do you need us?”

“I got “Kyle” on the way with the International flatbed to come get me out.”

“But can he make it to you? Mike, what road are you on?”

“Mulliken Road.”

“Mike, that’s about the worst north-south road you could be on tonight.”

“ . . . Oh . . .”

So Tucker parked his truck (A 1998 Dodge Ram 1500 with a cable controlled 8’ WESTERN Pro Plow and a 88-98 GM bracket, with modifications to the front frame horns of the Dodge to accept the bracket) and jumped into mine (A 1995 GMC K-1500 extended cab with the Heavy Duty Chassis package consisting of a 14 bolt semi-float axle, 3.73 gears, a built transmission with a Summit Racing deep aluminum pan and Autometer gauge, a 350 High Output from a ’94 Caprice Wagon powering it all, and a WESTERN Pro Unimount 7’6” up front.)

Keeping in touch with Kyle, we forge our way out toward Mulliken Rd. We had a general idea of where Mike would be, so we took the main road out to Mulliken, and then headed north. Kyle was giving us traffic-, err snow depth, reports as he was ahead of us, and Tucker and I braced behind, because we knew a plow was going to be of use. Pretty soon, we got the call.

Mike: “Hey guys are you on your way? The snow is getting deep!”

“Yes, Mike, we are following Kyle.”

“Oh good. Please hurry. The snow is getting deep.”

“We will get there as soon as we can.”

Up the road a few miles more I found myself lowering the WESTERN halfway from travel height, as the snow was getting deep enough to drag differentials and the lower bracket through. A few minutes later, Kyle calls us to explain he stopped so he wouldn’t get stuck, and Tucker and I are amazed how far he managed to travel as it is.

We finally catch up and pass Kyle in the flatbed, and make our way toward Mike. We now see he was stuck in a snowdrift, and the snow was drifted over the hood, as if trying to devour the truck for dinner. I make a pass or two beside the truck, then get out to talk to Mike, who is a bit shook up. Just then, I noticed amber lights flashing to the north, but not coming any closer.

Me: “Uhh Mike, who is that?”

Mike: “Oh. I called 911 because I got scared so they sent out a tow truck.”

“Mike, 911 calls us for tows! We have our truck here!”

“Yeah but I was worried.”

Anyhow, I make another pass to try and blow the drift beyond the truck and got my plow hung up. Luckily I had to my use my 10,000lb Harbor Freight RoadShock Winch (Before they went to the Badland name for all you newbie Super Couponers.) and with Kyle’s flatbed as an anchor, we got my truck out. Finally, after a few rough passes later, we managed to get Mike out and Kyle through the drifts.

Now we had another situation: The tow truck up the road with its lights on was still in position. Ultimately having no other choice, we pressed on, with the WESTERN Pro Unimount rowing the snow aside. We approached the tow truck and he was eager to see us:

“It sure is a crazy time to be out here like this, man!”

Tucker: “Yeah those are some pretty bad drifts out here tonight. That was our boss we just got out.”

“They sure are! By time I got back in here, I think the road closed up behind me, so I waited for you guys because I saw you had a [WESTERN Pro Unimount] plow with you!

“Don’t worry; the plow can lead the convoy until we hit the main road.”

“Sounds like a good idea to me!”

So with amber lights rotating, my 95 GMC and WESTERN plow led the way for two tow trucks and Mike’s truck through the road back to a main highway, one drift after another, until we reached the stranded Jeff. The other driver parted ways as he had had enough of the blizzardpalooza, and I don’t blame him.

Luckily, Jeff is an intelligent man, and used every last resource he had to his availability to try and stay warm. From using the truck’s heater until the battery died, to burning through his cigarettes, to finding a large-sized cloth behind the seat and repurposing it into a blanket to keep warm. This man will do anything to survive and help another, as was the case here. He was just out to help someone in need, something he always answers to.

Kyle stages the flatbed and winches the absent-belt (I remember that’s what it was, Tucker told me so) tow truck, and Jeff managed to stay thawed enough to be able to get a little bit of sleep and return back to work the very next day:

Jeff gets a call about three vehicles blocking a roadway so much, that the county truck cannot make a pass to plow it. So he enlists Tucker in the newly belted 4x4 and me with my truck. Kyle was busy with other assignments.

We get there and see the reason why the county couldn’t get through. One car was buried in the shoulder of their lane, another car tried to go around and was sucked into the oncoming lane’s shoulder, and a third car, with a guy still in it, was stuck between the two. I don’t know about you but if I saw two cars stuck, I probably wouldn’t attempt it with mine.

Only one problem, there was a huge, long drift blocking us from getting the cars winched out. It was beyond the cable reach of the tow truck. So I set in with the plow. With each pass, I found myself getting stuck, as the snow was so high it kept rolling right over the top of the blade, trapping the truck. After each pass I had to be winched out, so I could ram the pile again. Eventually, after several hard pushes to break up the drift, Tucker managed to extract each car from the frozen drift.

After it was all said and done, the truck was allowed a stay indoors in a heated shop to thaw out. A hard job earned for all of us, and a job well done by the Western Unimount Pro Plow. It was a long night, but we were all co-workers (more importantly, best friends). It’s what friends do for each other. Each of us is willing to use our resources to help the other, and my WESTERN is no different. It tags along every winter, helping those in need.

Since then, I have had that plow on two other trucks, and is currently set up for both. I had gotten the plow well used from a company in which my dad bought their retired plow truck. The mount was bent, but salvageable. Besides the mount, all the plow has needed was a couple hoses, and a motor. It has been an amazing snowplow and easily the best one I have owned to date. Thanks for the commitment to quality, WESTERN.

-Josh

Special thanks to my friends mentioned in this story, for without them, I would not have any adventures to remember and share! It would be greatly appreciated if each were given a hat, if this story is worthy of such. They are as much a part of the story as I was. Thank you Tucker F., Jeff L., Mike A. and Kyle M.

The snow was drifted over the hood, as if trying to devour the truck for dinner.

Share This Story