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23 Sep

After-Action Report: The Robert Bourassa Heavy Performance Expedition

Welcome to a new entry of the After-Action Report, where we hit the open road to see if our equipment can handle a true endurance test in the furthest reaches of the northern road network.

Every journey needs a destination and ours was the Robert Bourassa hydroelectric dam outside the northern Quebec town of Radisson, nearly 1,500 km from our starting location in Ontario. The road to Radisson was a thoroughly intense one, a voyage comprised of stunning environments, gorgeous landscapes and occasionally harsher roads. Thankfully, our setup was up to the task yet again. For this voyage, we chose a Ford E-350 XLT Super Duty Van. Attached to the van was a tandem-axle travel trailer providing us with all of the survival necessities.

Our journey began late on a Thursday afternoon. It was our intention to traverse the open highways all throughout the night, an experience that the drivers found both daunting and enjoyable. Our van-rig performed excellent on the open highway and we used 3rd and 4th gear mostly. Initially we left the van's transmission overdrive on but when the roads became hilly and rural we disabled overdrive. Our average speed was 95 KM/H or roughly 60 MP/H.

The Van on the Dam

 The first hurdle of our journey complete, we set up camp just outside Radisson and spent the next day taking in the sights. The northern reaches of Canada contain some of the most scenic territory we’ve ever seen. The day’s light showed us a vast collection of surrounding forests and pristine lakes while the moonlight revealed a night sky free of any traces of civilization. We were kilometers from any sources of major light pollution and as a result, the stars were able to shine with all their uninterrupted splendor. The whole of the Milky Way felt within our grasp. Past midnight and after a relaxing drink by the fire, we set forth to find a good spot to stargaze and we soon beheld the glorious green display of the aurora borealis streaking across the sky. We were all stargazers in our youths, looking up at the black of night and wondering what was out there. To see such lights in so remote a place was nothing short of inspiring.

Our final day in Radisson was spent pursuing the namesake of this trip, a visit to the Robert Bourassa dam. In order to do this, we left our base of operations and partook in Hydro Quebec’s local tour of their vast network of hydroelectric dams. We observed the interior workings of a hydroelectric station, observed turbines up close and explored the dam’s network. The tour was an insightful one and it culminated in our ultimate destination: the Robert Bourassa dam, the crown jewel of the James Bay Project. This dam is Canada’s largest hydroelectric power station and the eighth largest station in the world; standing 162m (531 ft) tall and 2,835m (9,301 ft) wide. The dam is capable of generating over 5,600 megawatts of clean energy and together with the other dams; approximately 16,000 megawatts are produced, making up 75% of Hydro Quebec’s total power output. However, the most impressive aspect is the dam’s main spillway, aptly nicknamed the “Staircase of the Giants”. Each of the Staircase’s ten “steps” is roughly the size of two football fields combined, providing a true sense of scale when you see it. We observed the Staircase both up close from the dam and from an adjacent observation deck, taking in the sheer size of this man-made marvel cut into the Canadian Shield. It was a truly epic way to end our time in the town of Radisson, as we then returned to our trailer and departed, commencing the second phase of our journey: the trip to James Bay. We traveled west along the road to Chisasibi and beyond, traversing the harsh washboard roads towards Fort George and ultimately on to the barren coast of James Bay.

The Staircase of Giants

 All in all, we considered our second journey – The Heavy Performance Expedition to be a rousing success. Our van and trailer endured the lengthy journey there and back and our equipment tests were successful. This trip yielded good subjective analysis testing results for future comparison with other configurations. 

Heavy Performance Expedition - Subjective Results

The sights of The North were astounding to behold and we learned much about a prominent alternative energy source: Hydroelectricity. We hoped you enjoyed our recount of the journey and as part of our media release; we’ll be releasing a series of high-definition photos & videos on our Imgur & YouTube accounts, giving you a small taste of the northern roads.

Keep an eye on the Blog and Twitter for future updates; we’ll have more for you soon!

 

26 Aug

Announcing: The Robert Bourassa Performance Voyage

Welcome back to the Blog!

We hope you've been having a great summer. It's been an interesting one here in Ontario, a wave of harsh heat and some of the most intense rain the province has ever seen. However, autumn is nearly here and we couldn't be happier to announce that once again, the Trailer Blocks team will be packing up and hitting the open road to enjoy the end of summer and to put our signature aluminum lift/lowering blocks to the test.

This long weekend, we'll be installing our lift blocks to our trailer and then setting our sights on the Robert Bourassa generating station, a hydroelectric damn on the La Grande River in northern Quebec. This trip will be roughly the same length as our voyage to the Daniel-Johnson dam, a round trip that will stretch nearly 3,000 km long. The journey will take our 26' tandem axle test trailer through a number of different environments, allowing us the opportunity to truly test our block's ability to endure harsh terrains. We'll be collecting a lot of data along the way and studying the interactions of our heavy components. This will include our impressions of the trip and dam, before-and-after shots of the trailer's installation and gorgeous, high-resolution pictures of all the sights we see up north.

We'll be sharing the results of our second Performance Voyage in an After-Action Report and we can't wait for you to join in our experiences. Keep an eye on the blog and our social media channels for the latest updates and content uploads.

12 Dec

After-Action Report: The Daniel-Johnson Dam Voyage

Back to it!

We here at Trailer Blocks are happy to announce that our performance team has successfully completed its first Performance Voyage to and from the Daniel-Johnson Dam in Quebec and we consider it to be a rousing success. Our team set out for the engineering icon with our customized trailer, fitted with a set of our 2” aluminum lift blocks.

The journey was a rigorous exercise, full of snowy conditions, icy roads and the kind of temperature drops that can chill even the hardiest of us to the bone. The average temperature during daylight travel remained between -15 and -20C, but as the night pressed on, the temperature dropped even lower. We passed through some notable cities along the way, like Montreal and Quebec City and the long stretches of highway gave us ample opportunities to test the trailer’s stability and its ability to perform under intense weather conditions. As we neared the Dam, we found ourselves crossing a ferry at Tadoussac and from there, we ventured through an increasingly mountainous terrain full of winding roads to reach our destination. We arrived at the Daniel-Johnson Dam roughly sixteen hours after our departure; exhausted by the drive, but satisfied in the knowledge that our performance parts had held up against the elements. Over the course of the journey, we had two separate drivers who both noted that during the drive, there was a substantial improvement of tracking and far less wander.

We made it a point to take our time and thoroughly enjoy the dam itself. To stand before such a showcase of human ingenuity is truly awe-inspiring. I can honestly say that standing near a structure of such immense size can greatly alter your perspective on things. Unfortunately, we weren't able to access certain areas of the dam, nor were we able to partake in any guided tours (due to our arriving in the off-season). However, we still enjoyed our time at the Daniel-Johnson Dam and we will remember the sights and sounds of that place for a long time.

 

lowered trailer and dam
 

 

The trek home proved to be just as efficient. The snowfall from the previous day was significantly lessened and the roads had been mostly salted, but there was still enough resistance on the road to provide a challenge. Upon our return, we took stock of the aluminum blocks, the bar and the trailer itself. While the blocks and bar had remained at optimal operating quality, the trailer had taken a bit of a beating. Road aggregate had blasted the underside from high speed driving. Detailed analysis of the products performance after this 3000 kilometer journey will be done in our shop. 

As mentioned in the previous entry, we are continuing to work towards our Photo Gallery with over 150 pictures of the trip to be uploaded. We’ll have more updates in the coming days.

28 Nov

Announcing: The Daniel-Johnson Performance Voyage

This weekend, the Trailer Blocks team will be hitting the open road and putting our product lineup to the test. Starting on Friday, November 30th, we’ll be setting off with a trailer fitted with our own signature aluminum trailer blocks on a 3,000 km round trip to the Daniel-Johnson Dam in Quebec. The Daniel Johnson dam is the second largest hydroelectric dam in all of Canada and the largest multiple arch-and-buttress dam in the world.

As we previously stated, the purpose of this trip is to carry out some extensive performance testing on our aluminum blocks. Along the way, we will be collecting as many photos and video clips of the process as we can. Along the way, we’ll also be documenting the trip’s major moments, optimizing our trailer’s performance and sharing our general impressions as we visit the modern engineering marvel in all its glory.

Once we come home, we’ll be uploading the journey’s content in the days to follow . It’s our hope that with our content, you’ll be able to experience the voyage for yourself and maybe even take away some inspiration for your upcoming trailer journey.



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