By Neville Ryan
The stories in this series are a compilation of events that took place over several trips while mining Tiger Eye, Snakeskin Jasper and Rainforest Jasper in the Pilbara region of northwest Western Australia.
We were about 250 miles from the nearest town driving the truck and towing the generator across a flat, stony, treeless plain. It was hot, dusty and as usual there were plenty of flies around. Suddenly we heard a “clunk” at the back of the truck, looked back and saw the generator back in the distance. This cannot be good! On inspection we found that the tongue of the trailer frame holding the generator had snapped leaving the cup and part of the frame attached to the ball at the back of the truck while the rest of the frame (and the generator) were off in the distance. Now we had a huge problem. We needed the generator to mine (and incidentally to take home later) but we didn’t have a welding unit and we are 250 miles from town.
As in all these types of situations the first thing that must happen is that a committee must form as soon as possible. Remember when 2 or more guys get together to solve a problem a committee must form immediately. There was a lot of head scratching, swearing, blank stares and “dunno’s” going on and no one really had a solution. After we had tried and discarded all our ideas someone noticed dust rising in the distance. One of the guys thought it might be a vehicle but was soon told what a wanker he was for imagining things. However the dust cloud was getting bigger and we could see a speck of white leading out in front of the dust and it was coming straight towards us. If you have ever seen the scene in Lawrence of Arabia where Omar Sharif rides his camel in from the desert to the encampment you can imagine what we were seeing, minus of course the camels and anyone that could be remotely called handsome. That little white speck turned into a white 4 wheel drive and finally turned into a 4WD Toyota driven by Fred, a friend of ours from Perth.
Fred didn’t know we were out there and happened to be on his way to check out potential mine sites. After the greetings all around the conversation went something like this. Fred- “What seems to be the problem boys?” Us-“The generator frame is stuffed”. Fred has a quick look and says “No worries”. He backs up his Toyota next to the truck, opens up the rear door and lo and behold there in front of our disbelieving eyes was sitting a welding unit. He cut off part of the frame, used an angle grinder to smooth out the joins and set to work welding the two pieces. He did a beautiful job and it was stronger than before. We never had a problem with it again. A few handshakes and goodbyes “Thanks Fred”, “No worries boys” and we were off in different directions. We never did cross paths on the rest of the trip.
Think about the odds of being 1,000 miles from home in the middle of the bush, 250 miles to the nearest town on dirt roads and tracks) and someone we knew driving straight to our location……with a welder on board. If there was a place selling lottery tickets out there I would have bought a stack of them.