Dave Brubaker receives a retirement gift from tracksetters Dave Millard and George Jackson at Larch Hills Nordic Society chalet on Sunday, Nov. 14.
(Contributed)

Dave Brubaker receives a retirement gift from tracksetters Dave Millard and George Jackson at Larch Hills Nordic Society chalet on Sunday, Nov. 14. (Contributed)

Trail Tales: Larch Hills’ ‘Mr. Fix It’ ready to focus on skiing

Longtime volunteer mechanic Dave Brubaker retires

The Larch Hills Nordic Society (LHNS) has an amazing cadre of volunteers but, with 26 years of volunteering for the club, Dave Brubaker has the long-term award.

As mechanic/welder at Skimikin in 1995, Dave was asked by Ton Hamilton to build a guard around the stove in Cec’s Cabin.

In 1996, Dave helped Blaine Carson get the dry belt back on the twin-track Ski-Doo, and that started it!

From then on, Dave has been mechanic for every machine that has graced the Larch Hills ski trails.

In 1997, Dave built the drumroller to pull behind the Skidoo, and also kept the “Pentti Mobile” in working order. The PB130 the club bought in 1998, and kept down the hill at Linda Irvine’s, Dave feels was a piece of junk, but he kept it rolling up and down the hill to set the tracks.

Then the LHNS made the big decision to buy a one-pass machine, the PB200, and build a concrete shed to house it in, and took the leap into bringing power up the hill.

Working on the machines in Blaine’s Bunker with power and heat made Dave’s work much more pleasant!

But it wasn’t only in the shed that Dave worked on his machines.

Whenever the tracksetter broke down on the trail, Dave was called upon to do his magic out there in the snow.

Many is the time he would be called out at 5 a.m. to come with snowmobile and his tools to wherever the tracksetter broke down and get it rolling again. That’s dedication!

Dave talks about lying in the snow under the machine, determining what needs done, doing what he can, sometimes heading back to phone for parts.

One time, riding shotgun for Jerry Hutter, Dave saw a four-inch steel piece on the tiller suddenly break in half. It took a week to get the tiller back to the shed but, once there, Dave fixed it.

To quote Don Huntington: If you need anything done with steel, get Dave to do it! Dave would ride shotgun with Don Huntington as Don set track for the loppet. Good to have Mr. Fixit onboard!

Now we have the Edge, a tracksetter with more modern electronics. When there are problems, a specialist comes up from Kelowna with a computer and fixes the electronics problem. Dave still did the mechanic/welder jobs.

It wasn’t only the winter that Dave spent up the hill with the machines. Spring, summer and fall, Dave would do maintenance on the machines, kept the batteries in the PB charged and changed the oil.

He took that opportunity to run power underground from the shed to the small Ski-Doo shed for trouble lights to put under the hood of the Ski-Doo – hard to start at -10.

Dave’s projects on the hill are numerous. He built the steel bracket to hold the sign at the entrance gate.

He built eight gates to protect at-risk areas like the bogs, all of which will eventually be labelled A Dave Brubaker Gate. At the shed, he built steps to get to the fuel shed.

Dave’s work with steel is legendary!

In Dave’s working career, he was a key figure at Skimikin Nurseries. To quote co-worker Keith Cox, Dave was always there to trouble shoot and repair the machines.

Rarely was a machine not fixed the same day it broke down. Dave retired from Skimikin in ’02 and turned his focus to the LHNS. We have been so fortunate to have Dave’s dedicated presence on the hill!

Now Dave wants to ski: “I skied only once last year. My hands were too greasy when I left the shed so I turned left and went home,” he said.

See you on the trails, Dave!

Read more: Larch Hills Nordics: Prizes offered for early membership registration


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