Argo Story

Extraction from a frozen river Ontario, Canada ... Sunday Jan, 16, 2005:

The Argo is a great machine but the winch on it is a must have!! I was out with a friend, Jeff Page, on Sunday going up and down the Holland River when we broke through the ice. The Argo floated and we didn't get wet. It was 4 pm. I moved the floating ice around the Argo out of the way by forcing it under
the stable ice and as able to bring the machine right up against ice I could get out and standon. Fortunately we were about half a mile from my house so I could walk home and get what I needed toget the machine out. The front winch cable was too sort to reach a tree and the rear winch needed a
second battery to run on and the remote control female jack had ice init so I couldn't plug in the controlswitch to make the rear winch work.

The front winch cable was too short and only powered by the smallbattery in the machine. I first went home and got a 15000 lb tow cable and hooked it up to the front winch to a big tree. The front of the machine was lower in the water than the rear because of the engineso when I started winching the front of the boy came over the top of the ice but the tracks weretrapped under the ice ... the winch drained the battery and the Argo would no longer start.

I went back to the house to get another battery (deep cycle marine, real heavy), some flashlights(it was dark now) some gloves because my hands were continually wet and cold. I was thinking if all else fails I can
go back in the morning and get it out but we would try once more tonight. We had some coffee and while chatting my friend told me he had turned on the bilge pump when I went to get the rope from home and that a lot of water had come out and the Argo might have a leak. It became apparent that I had to get it out tonight or risk it sinking and becoming a bigger recovery problem. I had to get the back winch working so I could pull the machine out and I had to get the machine running again so the tracks would
grip the ice and help not to mention getting it back to the house.

It was snowing when we started back with the battery, a propane torch to de-ice the winch connector, some WD40 (I don't know why) and a set of booster cables. I dragged the heavy battery across the ice
with some nylon straps hooked together. when we got back to the Argo it was lower in the water and I was panicked thinking the engine might be flooded. I got in and there was water in the machine. I tried to
start it and to my amazement it started and I was able to use the bilge pump to empty it. Now I knew I had to do something to get it out or stabilise it so it wouldn't sink. I thawed out the connector on the rear winch but I had broken parts of the housing on the male end of the connector with efforts before
and now I had to figure out which way the connector went together .. my frozen hands didn't help much. I went to the front of the machine and had my friend slide the heavy battery to me ... I had to lay across the front of the machine to try and pick it up but lost my grip and it went through the ice and into the river.

I now thought of breaking up the Ice in front of the machine with sledge hammers and pulling the machine with the winch towards the tree. Went home and got sledge hammers and life vests ... it didn't work, the ice was too thick and hard to break. I had to get the rear winch working so I went back to the house and got the battery out of my van so I could hook it to the winch, It was around 8:30, we were getting tired and after several glove changes my hands were sore and very cold. We got the battery back
to the Argo and I was able to fit some marine connectors to it and hook up the winch. The remote control connector was still a problem, I prayed some WD40 in it and it thawed it out some more and I was able to hook up the ten foot long remote control line with the trigger switch on it. The trigger switch has two switches on it a trigger to stop and start the winch and another switch that controls the winch in and out. The controller had fallen in the water and the switches were now frozen and inoperable. I couldn't
believe my predicament and my bad luck. It was snowing, cold and my friend didn't trust the ice he was standing on. I sprayed the switches with the still warm WD40 and the controller started working!!

Thank God ... and I did very sincerely!! Now we had to break some ice around the Argo and point the rear of the machine towards the tree. My friend slid the sledge hammer to me across the ice and I started
breaking up the ice but the handle on the sledge was coated with ice and I lost it in the river too. We managed to get the Argo turned around by hooking up a couple of cables from the rear winch to the tree
and pulling it sideways in the hole in the ice. We deployed the front winch cable out across the ice in front of the machine just in case the machine some how sank we would have another hook-up point. The
rear was now lined up and the cable was under tension but the extra cables I had attached were a problem and I had to let the winch tension off. The control switch was again froze and it wouldn't let the winch cable out and the connector was flakey so I didn't know what the real problem was. I played
with the connector and sprayed the control again and finally it started working.

I was now set up to do the pull and it was near 10 pm. My hands were aching with cold but this had to work! I started the Argo engine and ran the bilge to get rid of the excess water. The Argos rear end would come out on to the ice at about a 45 degree angle so I had to make sure the front end of the machine didn't go under the water because water would quickly fill the machine through the hood and vents. If anything went wrong at that point the Argo would sink and I would get very wet! I started the pull and I knew once I started it, the Argo had to come out or I'd nosedive back into the hole. I put he machine in reverse and started winching. The Argo broke through a couple of times but then grabbed solid ice. I was now at a weird angle to the water and worried the winch cable would snap or let loose and
tear my head off! To my relief everything went as it should and the Argo popped out of the water and I rolled back under the Argos power. The machine performed as it should have ,,, excellent! It was me
that made the errors through lack of experience. The rear winch was the thing that saved the machine and no-one I have spoken to has heard of an Argo with a rear winch!!

How was your Sunday??  

Chris Lauzon