Alberta Phoenix Pipe & Tube Plant photo by Walter Kot

I worked that winter learning the plan sifter trade, that summer I was scheduled to work on the roll floor when the other Miller’s were on holidays.  Unfortunately in April of 1970 I became disabled with another boat of rheumatoid arthritis so I ended up off sick.  When I returned to work I was told to return to my job in the warehouse, and then I was then laid off for no reason.  I figured they did not want me around with my health problems. I went on unemployment insurance and took a year off.  The  two-helper jobs on the flour delivery truck were abolished as a cost-cutting measure.  I knew the owner Dennis R. (Barney) Giles quite well, and he hired me to be the swamper on the city flour delivery truck in the fall of 1971.  The warehouse had finally joined the 20th century, and had purchased a secondhand Clark Fork lift, two electric pallet jack stackers, a single electric pallet jack stacker, half a dozen hydraulic pallet jacks, and finally thousands of pallets.  The first ones they purchased were made from 3/8 of an inch plywood, onto these they loaded 30-100 hundred weights of flour, they were stacked and layers of four, which were interlocked seven high, and two bags were stood up right in the hole in the middle of pallets.  The pallets did not work to long as the sheer weight of 3000 pounds caused to break down.  They next tried 3/4″ plywood, which worked satisfactory.  To load the city truck for Westons Bakeries only required eight pallets of flour for a total of 250 bags.  The flour truck was left spotted on door one of the warehouse, and I was assigned to come in at 6 a.m. to load the truck for its 7 a.m. departure.  I have never driven a Forklift before, but seeing there was nobody around the warehouse between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. it didn’t take me long to learn how to run the machine.  The main thing I had to watch out for were the sprinkler pipes, if I ever hit one of those we wouldn’t have a real mess.  I remember on one occasion I was placing a pallet of flour on the trailer, I had gone over the aluminum dock board into trailer when it started to roll away on the downgrade from the warehouse across Bonnybrook Road fortunately there was no traffic coming, and I had the sense to drop the pallet to the floor of the trailer this anchored the forklift until the tractor and trailer came to a safe stop.  The driver had forgotten to set the air brakes on the rig.  I worked that job the fall of 1971 and the spring of 1972.

In the spring of 1972 I had an opportunity to get a really good paying job at the Alberta Phoenix Pipe and Tube Co. they have acquired a large order for 36 inch sub arc welded natural gas line pipe, the pipe was manufactured by taking flat rectangular sheets of steel rolling them through a steel pipe mill, and welding the seam. I placed an application for employment and was hired to work in the yard filling it with the finished product lengths of pipe that were 36 inches in diameter and 48 feet long.  These were loaded onto railway flat cars, and gondolas the pipe was loaded three across on saddles which were 12 feet beams of lumber 10″ x 10″ they were notched out in the yard using a large band saw that cut contours for the pipe to rest in they were stacked four high and were strapped together using Signode  steel banding that were tightened with air power tools that tightened the straps and steel clips were crimped onto the banding so they would not slip.  One of my other jobs was working as the helper on the Track Mobile a small diesel driven locomotive that had the ability to run on railway tracks, and with hydraulic rubber tires it could be operated on the road.  My job with it was to bring incoming flat cars of steel into the mill for unloading to start its journey through the mill to be made into pipe.  These cars were usually loaded with 12 to 14 sheets of flat steel, when the cars were unloaded we took them over the loading tracks where they could be prepared for loading pipe.  We worked long hours on this job there were two shifts in the yard one started that 6 a.m. till 6 p.m., the other shift started at 6 p.m. and work till 6 a.m., seven days a week so there was a lot of overtime to be made.  I enjoyed working out in the yard, where the air was fresher.  Not like inside the mill where there was lots of airborne pollution.  The mill workers were scheduled to work 3 eight-hour shifts, seven days a week.  There were opportunities to make pretty good money in the different crafts the sub-arc welder’s made a good paycheck.  But like all good things they come to an end the order was finished in November 1972 and I was once again unemployed.  Though I had saved enough money to tide me through the winter.

(0) Comments   
Post a Comment