Sam Wisecup, a mechanic for the city of Steamboat Springs, works to repair the augers on a large snowblower. Wisecup says he was "born to turn wrenches."

Photo by Scott Franz

Sam Wisecup, a mechanic for the city of Steamboat Springs, works to repair the augers on a large snowblower. Wisecup says he was "born to turn wrenches."

Team of skilled mechanics helps keep city of Steamboat Springs ticking

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— Before Steamboat Springs residents ski on perfectly groomed Nordic trails at Howelsen Hill or make it to work a little easier because of plowed streets, a group of four men many people have never seen help to make it all happen.

City fleet supervisor Jason Weber and mechanics Sam Wisecup, Barry Fischer and Levi Wisecup work behind the scenes to keep this city going.

And they don’t take their mission lightly.

“There’s a huge amount of stuff we have to maintain, and we’re a jack-of-all-trades type deal,” Weber said last week in the busy city shop where the team of mechanics service 174 pieces of equipment for 20 departments in the city. “It’s a pretty coordinated effort on our part to make sure everyone in the city has the vehicles they need running to do their job.”

Inside the city shop on Critter Court, the bustle and focus is contagious.

The mechanics inside face the challenge of prioritizing a number of work orders that get tricky when ambulances, police cars and plow trucks all start coming in at the same time.

And the mechanics’ work has become more important this season as machines experience a higher rate of breakdowns and other mechanical malfunctions than they have in some previous years.

Last Wednesday was a particularly busy day as the mechanics rushed to fix two machines that are vital to the area.

Sam Wisecup was charged with fixing a giant snowblower that needed some attention after it ate a large rock hidden in the snow.

And Levi Wisecup was working to weld together a new trough that goes inside the truck the city uses to fill in pot holes.

“The biggest part is knowing people’s lives are at stake,” Levi Wisecup said. “You always have to pay attention. If the wheels aren’t put on right or we don’t do something right, it affects a lot of people.”

Sam Wisecup said he feels the need to fix things at all parts of the day.

“I just can’t stop,” he said last week as he prepared to awkwardly stick his head and arms between the augers on the front of the large snowblower. “It’s what we want to do. It’s what we like to do. I live to turn wrenches.”

Together, the mechanics have more than 55 years of experience in the field, and they each bring certain skills.

Fischer, the bombardier expert, spent 10 years fixing the groomers and other equipment at Steamboat Ski Area.

Before that, he was an airplane mechanic for Delta Airlines.

When something breaks, Sam Wisecup first hits the books and is more trained in some of the older mechanical techniques from the 1950s and 1960s that still are tried and true.

Levi Wisecup is more of a “backyard mechanic” and will more commonly fire up his smartphone or computer when he starts to tackle a mechanical problem.

“It’s fun to watch these different eras of mechanics come together,” Weber said.

Weber calls his own drive to fix things a “sickness” that he doesn’t mind having.

When he’s not at the shop, he’s also a volunteer for Routt County Search and Rescue.

“I’m a fixer,” Weber said. “I always want to fix things.”

He likes to compare the team of mechanics to a center on the football team.

“Peyton Manning gets all the attention,” he said. “But without us, there wouldn’t be any team.”

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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