Monday, July 25, 2011

What is it that I do?

I get this question from time to time from people wondering what it is that I do here in PNG. Often I spend my time making repairs to one of my many machines or in the office sending emails, ordering parts or talking with people who need to schedule work. However, recently I have been spending a large bit of my time putting together the new electrical vehicle. Previously we had a 20-year-old Toyota pickup with a ladder rack and some spot lights that only worked part of the time. The truck was constantly in the workshop for repairs and many times was just not reliable. A little over a year ago I began researching what it would take to replace this vehicle and how would we outfit it. I looked at many of the different vehicles available in country and I drew up some sketches as to what they might look like. I then put together a proposal for project funding through JAARS to help buy a new vehicle. Similar to writing a grant project, but on a smaller scale, I put together the needed information and figures for the proposal. The project was accepted and JAARS proceeded to fund raise half the needed money to purchase the vehicle. The PNG branch came up with the other half and a brand new Toyota Land Cruiser Troop Carrier was purchased. These vehicles are designed to haul about 10 people over very rough terrain and are used by the police, mining companies and individuals who want a reliable vehicle for work in PNG.

We started by having all the rear windows extra dark tinted to prevent people from seeing what was stored on the inside. Then we removed the standard bench seats from the right side of the vehicle. We installed a cargo barrier to keep items stored in the back from hitting the driver and shelving that could be used to store spare parts and tools. Both the barrier and shelves were custom kits that are designed for the Troop Carrier and were purchased out of Australia. We also installed auxiliary LED interior lighting so that when the electricians are operating at night then can see into the bins to get supplies and tools easily. We even wired it so that the lights will come on and off with the door switch. Before, the electricians would just throw their stuff in the back or the cab of their pickup (neither of which was secure) and head off to jobs. Often since they could not haul many supplies with them they made several trips back and forth to the workshop to gather items. This made for many wasted trips, so with installing the bins we will be able to haul stock on the truck and keep it organized while cutting down on trips to the shop.

On the outside we made a custom ladder rack to haul ladders and poles. Again this is something not seen much in PNG so we measured and fabricated to make a rack that was functional as well as looking nice with the vehicle. We added the reflective yellow safety strip down the sides to help for night visibility since it is a dark vehicle. There are SIL decals on the doors and twin spot lights mounted on the ladder rack. The spot lights are a marine grade water proof lights that are designed to be able to throw a beam of light through fog and rain and they are rated a 400,000 candle power each. By mounting the lights on both sides we can shoot at least one light 360 degrees around the vehicle.

The other thing that the Land Cruiser has over the standard Toyota pickup is that it has a six cylinder engine and a heavier chassis. This makes pulling our cherry picker for repairing street lights much easier and safer than the previous vehicle. In our testing we found that the Land Cruiser was able to pull the cherry picker up all our hills in two wheel drive where the pick-up struggled in four wheel drive. We also added wide off-road tires and wheels to help with stability and add traction for traversing rough terrain.

All in all we are very happy with this new vehicle and it was a fun yet challenging project to put together. It is something a bit different, but in PNG every day has something different in it.

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