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Thread: Moving to Dillingham

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    Question Moving to Dillingham

    Hello, I'm totally new here but an old hand at bulliten boards. I've got a hundred questions about moving to Alaska but I'll start out slow by asking just a few at first about getting my truck up to snuff.

    Here's the scoop:

    My wife has already been in Dillingham for about a month and I will be joining her as soon as the spring thaw hits. I'm finishing up business here in sunny SoCal. My truck is a 1999 Dodge Ram 2500 V10 2X4. I know I have to barge it in, but that's about all I know. Here are a few starter questions:

    1. I already have a 1000 watt external tank heater installed because where I live (Fawnskin, Ca) dips into the +/-0*F range. Is that big enough for the oil pan as well as the engine coolant system?
    2. Do I have to have a battery blanket and/or tranny pan heater too? I realize the more the better, but I don't want to overdo it too much.
    3. What kind of engine oil should I use?
    4. Do I need special transmission/brake/power steering/wiperfluid/etc.? If so what?
    5. I'm kinda stuck with the 2x4 and I realize that it won't be of much help some of the time, but does anyone from that area have any idea just how useless it will be?
    6. What about tires? What kind; Do I have to have studs or can I get by with heavy-duty chains; If I have to have studded tires when can I put them on and when do they have to come off?
    7. What is the best transport (barge) company to use?
    8. Is there any thing else I need to know? (I purtty much think there is )
    I have WAY MORE questions about hunting, fishing, procuring bulk foodstuffs, etc. but for now we'll just start with my truck. Thanks!

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    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    After a month your wife should have all these anwsers already. Dillingham is a coastal town and they don't get the same level of cold as the rest of the state. Wild chill up the wazoo so bring a lot of fleece layers and a good outer layer that is water and wind proof.

    Quote Originally Posted by ghoti View Post
    Hello, I'm totally new here but an old hand at bulliten boards. I've got a hundred questions about moving to Alaska but I'll start out slow by asking just a few at first about getting my truck up to snuff.

    Here's the scoop:

    My wife has already been in Dillingham for about a month and I will be joining her as soon as the spring thaw hits. I'm finishing up business here in sunny SoCal. My truck is a 1999 Dodge Ram 2500 V10 2X4. I know I have to barge it in, but that's about all I know. Here are a few starter questions:

    1. I already have a 1000 watt external tank heater installed because where I live (Fawnskin, Ca) dips into the +/-0*F range. Is that big enough for the oil pan as well as the engine coolant system? This will be fine
    2. Do I have to have a battery blanket and/or tranny pan heater too? I realize the more the better, but I don't want to overdo it too much. a battery blanket is OK or get a really good battery. battery pads can tend to over heat a battery if it is not seriously cold and shorten their life. If it is an auto tranny you don't need a heater. I am further north and don't run one on my Toyota 5 speed.
    3. What kind of engine oil should I use? what ever your owners manual tells you to
    4. Do I need special transmission/brake/power steering/wiperfluid/etc.? If so what? no on everything but the washer fluid. most washer fluid sold up here is nearly pure rubbing alcohol with a little additive for cleaning.
    5. I'm kinda stuck with the 2x4 and I realize that it won't be of much help some of the time, but does anyone from that area have any idea just how useless it will be? When it gets really wet and icy you may have trouble getting up hills, but if you chain up you will be fine. maybe get a set of those cable chains?
    6. What about tires? What kind; Do I have to have studs or can I get by with heavy-duty chains; If I have to have studded tires when can I put them on and when do they have to come off? The thing about 2WD trucks is that when it is really wet and icy you can't steer unless the front tires can grip the wet ice. I always recommend a full set of studded tires on 2WD vehicles. You will find out any restrictions out there when you get there. There may not be any if there are no paved roads.
    7. What is the best transport (barge) company to use? Northland may be your only option that I am aware off.
    8. Is there any thing else I need to know? (I purtty much think there is )
    I have WAY MORE questions about hunting, fishing, procuring bulk foodstuffs, etc. but for now we'll just start with my truck. Thanks!
    Why not find a beater 4WD SUV down there and make sure it is good to go and then ship that up? Most rigs that spend any time on the coast in SW are not worth transporting out in a couple of years due to the mold and salt rust. SUVs have a higher resale value in the Bush and are much easier for keeping things thawed out.

    Do you duck hunt? If you do bring a dozen or two decoys and some goose decoys. Do you have a quality raft? Bring that. Lots of fly in and float out places out there. Flyrods: 4wt 6wt 8wt and a 10wt. 4wt might be underkill but the grayling will be funner.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ghoti View Post
    My truck is a 1999 Dodge Ram 2500 V10 2X4.


    Sell that truck and get something else. Anything 4x4 will be much better. If you need a truck get something with a smaller more fuel efficent engine. Gas and diesel are expensive - much more so than CA. Even if you have to pull a boat or other trailer, you can't pull it very far and a V8 would be more than enough. If you don't need to pull, get something with a 6 or even 4 cylinder. You ain't going on a 2hr drive on a 6 lane at 80 mph.

    It's going to cost money to get a vehicle to Dilingham and you won't have a lot of choices on buying something once you get there.

    As AK Ray said, Dilingham is on the coast and the temps aren't nearly as bad as the interior. The wind may make it feel worse to you but a car doesn't care about wind chill.

    All you really need special for a gasser is an engine block heater. You might want to put a new battery in it, but I've never had trouble starting our 01 Explorer down to -25F without a battery heater. I don't have oil pan or tranny heaters either. You could go with synthetic fluids if you are worried but most people do fine on the regular stuff.

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    Default More Questions...

    Thanks for the answers so far. I'm stuck with the truck so that's that. I'm glad to hear that I needn't put too much more mony into it to get it up to snuff for Dillingham.

    I still need info on tires (studded or not and maybe a brand recommendation) and barge information.

    I'm also looking for information on provisioning.

    My wife works in a hospital where the most common answer to most questions I have are "I don't know, my husband usually takes care of that."). Do bulk goods need to be barged in or is there so other way of getting goods - especially food stuffs.

    Some one mentioned to my wife something about Wal-mart or Costco in Anchorage shipping goods. What's up with that?

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    Studded tires are nice but if you got good snow tires it wont be a problem. You see people driving small 2 wd cars year round without much trouble.
    Northland barge service is a good place to start for car transportation. I think there are a couple more out there but cant think of the names offhand.
    Getting a big bulk order of foods/goods is an option. I know a lot of people do it ( or at least used to back when I lived there). There are two fairly well stocked supermarket stores just like any other small town. Yes it is fairly common to order stuff from Walmart, Costco, Sams and many other stores here in Anchorage that do "Bush" orders. Those are usually mailed or shipped air freight on one of the many cargo planes that visit DLG daily/weekly.
    Its a cool place lots of things to do if you like the outdoors. Oh yeah make sure and get a good boat! It sure helps to access the best hunting/fishing areas.

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    Default Excellent!

    Thanks for the great info.

    About the boat...

    Don't laugh, but I have a large PWC (3-seater jet ski) which I have used to scuba dive and even fish in the ocean. Would that be worth bringing to such a climate for fishing/hunting?

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    Default oh yeah...

    The jet ski has a tender trailerwith holds about 4 cubic feet and 500 pounds of gear or whatever.

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    There are PWCs in various Bush towns around the state. Like a lot of small engine powered machines in the Bush most stopped functioning years ago.

    Spring and Fall you will have to wear a dry suit to stay alive due to the wind chill and if you fall off you have about 5 to 10 minutes to get back on before your hands stop working.

    Summer time it might work out well for getting out onto the bay. Consider that many folks are at set net sights in chest waders pulling reds from their nets for most of the day, so in July and August you should be fine.

    Does it have a wind screen? That will help keep you warmer when cruising due to the layer of cold dense air just above the water surface.

    Bring a second impellar up with you. Does it have a stomp grate? If they make one for it get one.

    The PWC should work fine for getting into and out of remote coastal areas. Just be mindful of the tide and be prepared to wait for it. Food and shelter make a 6 hour stay on the beach a lot more fun.

    Once out there you should be able to find a purpose built boat that will handle the conditions for beaching and rough weather. All welded aluminium work skiffs are the norm.

    Studded tires: the BFGoodrichs M&S are fine for large trucks. Costco sells them as do others. Get a second set of steel rims to mount them on and it makes the change over easier and cheaper!

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    Thanks Ray! I went out to the Pick-A-Part jujnk yard today and bought a nice set of steel rims for only $35.00. When I buy the snow tires I will have them mounted so I can do my own change overs in fall and spring. GREAT IDEA!

    My PWC does not have a wind screen but I am sure I can rig one if I have to. I have plenty of spare parts and the know-how/tools to keep it running so no worries there, but I guess I'll have to learn the ins and outs of the tide when I get there. I'm sure I'll find a fishing/hunting buddy up there who can school me on ALL of this when I get there, I'm just trying to get a heads up on what to take beforeI go.

    Okay, NOW I'm hearing about some services out of Anchorage that can FLY vehicles into Dillingham even in winter. Anyone know the name of a service like that or if they can fly something in as big as a truck? It looks like it will cost me about five grand to barge myhy truck into Dillingham but the story my wife heard was that someone just flew their car out of Dillingham for about a thousand dollars. That would be WAY better for me.

    Again thanks ya'll for all of your advise.

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    Default flying cargo

    A car is one thing. However a full sized truck is a whole nother kettle of fish.

    Keep in mind that backhaul is typically cheaper than front hauling. Backhaul helps pay for the fuel they were going to use anyway to get the plane back to town. Front hauling you typically pay twice as much per pound.

    Northern Air Cargo (NAC) has regular flights out there, but has changed their service to primarily palletized freight using 737s. They might still have swing tail DC6s for shipping trucks.

    Lynden Air Cargo flys C130s all over and they will have flights out there weekly.

    I have used both of these companies shipping other equipment all over the state.

    For the wind screen look at ATV screens. They typically bolt to the handle bar or fairing so they might be the easiest to modify.

    Here is Northland Services barge schedule. They won't be running until March 2010, and you can either put it on in Seattle or later in Anchorage.

    Some things about barging a vehicle that I learned back in 1982 when we moved to Adak. This service was by a subcontractor to the Navy not Sealand that actually shipped the truck. The car will get wet inside and will forever have the funk of mold once you get it out of the container. Don't ship anything with the truck like a tool box. There is a 90% chance that it won't be on the truck when it gets to its final port. Manifest everything on the truck like the spare tire and sound system.

    I have never had a problem with air cargo. We still manifest everything on the rig, but there has never been an issue with missing gear.

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    Lived in Alaska 30+ years, bush Alaska for 5 years.

    I wouldn't waste the time or money to ship a full size two wheel drive truck out there. You could chain it up when it's icy, but that would be a royal pain taking chains on and off all the time. Anybody who has spent any time in that area will tell you how icy it can get. I would guess that to barge it out from Anchorage is going to be $3000-4000. Find a little 4x4 pickup or suv and ship that out, as long as it runs it'll always be worth at least as much as the shipping costs. Even one with higher miles is okay. A tank heater is okay, but a block heater is better. I never had a tranny or battery heater on a vehicle, A good battery will always start a warm engine, if you have an automatic set the parking brake and put the vehicle in neutral. When you do that the pump in side the transmission starts circulating fluid and it begins to warm up. In park she just stays frosty cold.

    Best wishes,
    Paul

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    Default The main reason I'm taking the truck...

    well, actually ONE of the main reasons I'm taking the truck is that it has a large toolbed/box/camper-shell-type box on the back of it that will haul all of my gear from Seattle/Anchorage to Dillingham. It is going to cost me nearly as much to get all my wife's crap (sorry honey ) from Los Angeles to the barge and on to Dillingham by frieght as it will to drive it all to Seattle/Anchorage and barge it. So the truck is a (nearly) free cargo container taht I can drive around Dillingham when the weather/roads permit.

    It's only 7 miles from where we will be living/working into town on a newly paved road with no hills or anything, so if things are too bad outside, I'll just stay home or hitch a ride. I really only expect to use the truck for going to town and maybe out to the some of the fishing spots along the river in the summer/fall. I mean, its not like you can actually GO anywhere even in a cheap, old 4x4 -- right?
    Last edited by ghoti; 11-17-2009 at 22:26. Reason: spelin'

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    Default 2-wheel drive is fine

    I lived many years in Dillingham. Most of them when it had only gravel roads. Though I had a 4x4, my wife had a car with 2 wheel drive and she did fine.

    With good tires and some weight (a new snow machine?) in the bed, you'll probably be fine.

    As for warming up a tranny by keeping a vehicle in neutral with the parking brake on.... well, I've learned from experience to never leave the parking brake on in sub-zero temperatures. It ain't fun when you can't move.

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    Two important things to do if anyone is moving from sunshine and warm to Alaska.

    1, Go to the nearest hospital and get evaluated to see if you have all your marbles.

    2, If they say you are playing with a full deck, get a second opinion.

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    Default Sunshine and warm...

    ... often equals gangs, crime and illegal aliens.
    If I'm crazy for living here, so be it. Alaska isn't the same Alaska I grew up in, but it's still the best thing going.

    Perhaps, however, if people took the test you indicate, there would be far more room for hunting and fishing and less people trying to re-make Alaska in the image of the state they came from.

    ghoti a word of advice: leave Kalifornia behind and take Alaska on its own terms.

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    Remember what I said about not having anything in the truck. It might not be there when you pick it up at the end of the voyage.

    The two times I have shipped vehicles for work the shipper required that the vehicle be empty of everything but the spare tire, jack, and lug wrench. One time we put a shovel and small tool roll behind the seat and they took it out and told us to take it with us. The other time we palletized all the gear from the bed of the truck and shipped it separately on the same voyage and manifest.

    If you are planning on using your truck as a shipping container you need to check with the company before you show up at the yard. It would suck to miss a voyage shipping date while you are running around Seattle trying to find a way to ship all your gear.

    One of the reasons they make you ship trucks empty is to prevent damage. At sea the load will be subject to a lot of force and if not secured properly will blow out of the back of the truck and be scattered all over the container making a huge mess. The shipper will not take any responsiblity for the damage either since they can't control mother nature.

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    I know a lot of people that use their cars as shipping containers when they barge them in, I did and everyhting made it, never heard of any problems doing it. I believe the barge Co's charges a flat rate depending on length +/- 17 ft or something like that. Flying in a truck is spendy-my buddy had a full size Ford flown in and I think it was 6k.

    Two wheel drive will do 95% of what you need, unless you are going to be launching your boat this time of the year-I do. Get some studs and drive smart-you'll be fine.

    The PWC would be fun and maybe usefull for hunting the Nushagak. They are illegal in Wood-Tikchik Park past 1st lake so?

    KK

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    Thumbs up I agree

    Quote Originally Posted by sayak View Post
    ... often equals gangs, crime and illegal aliens.
    If I'm crazy for living here, so be it. Alaska isn't the same Alaska I grew up in, but it's still the best thing going.

    Perhaps, however, if people took the test you indicate, there would be far more room for hunting and fishing and less people trying to re-make Alaska in the image of the state they came from.

    ghoti a word of advice: leave Kalifornia behind and take Alaska on its own terms.

    Sayak, you echo what I've said for a long time as well! Less infrastructure, less California comforts. The simple yet challenging existence in Alaska back in the day was really good. The good thing is there is still a LOT of country a guy can still go get lost in.

    I live in the sunny warm south now, and really dislike it (didn't want to use the "h" word). Lord willing the wife and I will be heading back north soon. Ready to trade my jet in for big tires and a prop.

    The parking brake thing will get a guy in trouble with rising and falling temps, gotta have that uncommon/common sense on how to do that stuff.

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    Northland services will allow the vehicle to be jambed with stuff when you ship it. I'm down at the Anchorage docks several times a summer and virtually every S.U.V. getting sent to the bush is jambed with non-perishable food items and household goods being shipped with them.
    Bunny Boots and Bearcats: Utility Sled Mayhem

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    Default Shipping container

    My cousin lives there and he was telling me about people shipping a container with a vehicle in it for 5K. They would also fill it to the brim with anything and everything that they could. Some hard to get items and things to sell for profit. With the price of food you should buy and and all dry goods that will keep for a year and ship that with it as well. Your wife should be able to get some idea of things that are needed and things that you could sell for a nice profit as well. If you drink, buy a years worth

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