Quad jobs. They’re out there for ATVers who have a unique set of skills and don’t mind gittin’ down ’n’ dirty during the workday.
Travis Hallam is a contract welder for Ghost Dust Fabrication Ltd. in Edson, Alberta. Over the last 20 years, Hallam has managed to merge his love of ATVs with his proficiency as a welder to work a job that sees him run a 2016 Can-Am Outlander XTP 1000 to perform pipeline inspections and weld pressure pipes for local vendors.
“These pipelines run cross-country,” said Hallam. “Aside from walking, an ATV is really the only way to get around on them to take samples. Other times, we have to do pipeline integrity digs to replace predetermined sections of pipelines that are corroded or damaged beyond allowance.”
Tools of the trade
Hallam has rigged up a low-ground-pressure ATV welding unit to pull behind his quad, which includes a welder, oxygen, acetylene, cables and tools.
“It’s got pretty much everything a welding truck has,” he said. “I can quickly mobilize into soft ground areas and perform pipeline welding repairs. It saves us from using nodwells or skid sloops. It also saves the oil company from needing to put down access mats. Way less equipment needs to be trucked to location, saving the client money. It’s also safer by no longer needing to lift welders or welding skids out of trucks and onto other equipment. I can trailer my setup to a location and quickly and safely unload and ride into the dig-up location.”
During pipeline dig-up, Hallam is usually joined by a foreman, equipment operator, labourers and an X-ray inspection crew. — Photo courtesy Travis Hallam
Hallam’s mobile work station came about thanks to some ingenuity from a creative friend.
“A few years ago, I was on a pipeline replacement section job,” said Hallam. “The two final tie-in welds were in a very wet area. They wanted to lift my skid out of my truck and put it onto a Nodwell. I wasn’t too keen on it so I asked if I could bring in an ATV unit. A good friend of mine has a welder mounted onto a tub trailer that he uses all the time around his family farm so I asked if I could borrow it and see if it would work in my application. It worked so well that I had to build my own. The consultant and spread boss were so impressed with it that I was requested to bring it to all the other remote dig-up jobs.”
For pipeline inspection, Travis Hallam is often alone with his 2016 Can-Am Outlander XTP 1000. — Photo courtesy Travis Hallam
Depending on the job, Hallam may be on his own in the wilderness or flanked by a small crew. For pipeline inspection, he is often alone or working with one other co-worker. On a pipeline dig-up, Hallam is usually joined by a foreman, equipment operator, labourers and an X-ray inspection crew who bring in their own ATVs and side-by-sides with their tools.
Caution: messy muskeg ahead
There’s a great variety in the terrain Hallam traverses, such as trails, mountains and sand dunes. That being said, Hallam’s work is no cakewalk. The majority of the topography he crosses is entrenched in mud and muskeg, making it a difficult, mucky job with its share of challenges.
“While it is fun using an ATV for work, those dig-up jobs are often in really wet areas,” said Hallam. “All of them require me to wear chest waders in mud and water up to my waist. Being dry and comfortable is the key to making good X-ray-quality pressure welds.”
The right fit
So, how did Hallam end up finding the perfect job to utilize his skill set? By making his savvy self recognizable.
“I grew up riding ATVs and have always been an ATV fanatic,” he said. “Working at different shops, I was always the ‘quad guy.’ ATVs are widely used in industry here as many of the areas are remote and in hard-to-access/wet terrain. Being a contractor and known for being an ATVer, I was usually the guy sent out to do the jobs that required an ATV.”
When he’s not on the job site, Hallam is exploring rural Alberta on the same Can-Am Outlander he uses for work. His favourite places to ride are the Cadomin and Coal Branch areas. He’s cool with swapping his quad for a dirt bike as well, preferring to ride single-track trails around Hinton.
Being a shrewd, diligent worker has paid off for Hallam. He’s living his best life every day.
“Doing what you love and getting paid for it is the best,” he said. “Being outdoors all day, taking off the welding lid from time to time and doing something different is a huge bonus.”
ON OUR RAD RADAR:
Rider: Travis Hallam
Where: Edson, Alberta
Occupation: Contract welder for Ghost Dust Fabrication Ltd.
Bragging rights: Rides his ATV for a living
Weapon of choice: 2016 Can-Am Outlander XTP 1000
Local ride recommendation: Cadomin and Coal Branch. “We have everything from nice trails to mountains, sand dunes, mud and muskeg,” said Hallam.