Ever since I can remember I have had a fascination for all things mechanical. In that regard I was probably not unlike most small boys who are awed by anything that makes clanking or rumbling sounds and spews out great gobs of dirt and dust. But I also had an advantage. My father was the head mechanic for a lumber company and I would often get to “help” him in the garage if he was working in the evening or on a weekend. And when I was very, very lucky I would climb into the cab of one of these monsters (at least to a 10-year-old) and actually start it while Dad checked something or other “under the hood”. In hindsight I think that was likely a ruse, an excuse to give me a special thrill, which it invariably did. So I grew up with the smell and feel of engine oil and grease and it was with pride that I would come home with Dad, the sweet scent of degreasing hand cleaners preannouncing our arrival.
When I got older (all of 15) I began working summers for that lumber company and as gofer and jack-of-all-trades was often required to drive some of that equipment. And so, over the course of the next 4 or 5 summers I became somewhat proficient with tractors, skidders, bulldozers, trucks of all sizes, and other specialised machinery. It was a dream job for a teenager and served to cement my passion for heavy equipment.
Of course I, like many others, eventually grew up and pursued a career that didn’t give me the summers off to play silly-bugger with 10-ton trucks or tree skidders! For most of my working life the only thing I drove for work was a cheap, battered desk with a PC on top, but I would never miss a chance to be around machinery of some sort, even if it was just watching the latest round of road construction in front of the office or gazing out the window as the lot next door was transformed first into a 60-foot pit and then a 30-story office tower.
All of which is to explain why I periodically purchase Truck Trader, Heavy Equipment Trader or any one of the similar magazines available on the local bookseller’s magazine rack. Once on the table beside my chair these “wish books” get well thumbed as I dream and compare technical specs and prices while the spousal unit looks on bemused, somewhat worried about what may show up in the driveway one day.
But while there are times I could sure use some mechanical help on the property, the reality is I’ll never own a “2008 CASE 590SM PLUS III, 3011 hours, 4WD, 24” tooth bucket, 8’ front bucket, plumbed in front end” loader or a “09 KW T800, C15 CAT 475HP, 18spd trans” dump truck, but it sure is fun (and a lot cheaper) to dream - at least until that big lottery win comes through.