Cutting edge

The shop floor at Duncan's Ltd. is buzzing with activity as dozens of employees man the loud, industrial machines that feed Whitehorse's steel needs.

The shop floor at Duncan’s Ltd. is buzzing with activity as dozens of employees man the loud, industrial machines that feed Whitehorse’s steel needs.

Country music is barely audible over the sounds of latches closing, torches welding and men giving each other instructions.

Although the family-owned business is largely known for its mechanical contracting, plumbing and ventilation services, it also does custom metal fabrications on a CNC (computerized numerical control) plasma cutter.

The $30,000 machine, which is connected to a desktop computer, is roughly four feet wide by 12 feet long and can cut just about any pattern into steel.

“You could draw a doodle on a napkin and I can throw it on the scanner, and it’ll cut it out,” said Dilan Parker, shop manager.

There are almost 2,000 images on the computer, Parker said.

In the past decade they’ve produced everything from decorative fence toppers to gun range targets to Christmas presents.

Some people come in with just a concept in mind.

More recently they’ve used the machine to produce three eye-catching bus shelters for the City of Whitehorse and the Kwanlin Dun First Nation.

The shelters, located along McIntyre Drive and Range Road North, are adorned with a large crow and wolf at either end.

KDFN artist Justin Smith is behind the designs, and his work is also featured on the lampposts near the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre.

Parker said it’s a project that was first suggested by Whitehorse transit manager Cheri Malo about two years ago. The idea stems from the fall 2014 intergovernmental forum between the First Nation and the City.

The process to create the panels takes several hours but is relatively simple.

The images are sent to Parker, who then creates a stencil from the design and feeds it into the computer. This part is the toughest and most time-consuming, he said.

Once the machine cuts it out, it is sanded down, sandblasted and painted.

Parker said the company typically does signage, but this was the first time it was asked to do this type of design.

Since then, the City has asked for more bus shelters with steel panels.

“The glass shelters are getting smashed on a regular basis,” he said.

“Hopefully as that happens, we’ll replace them with metal panels. Then it’s just a matter of bending the panel back into shape with a hammer and touching up the paint.

“It’ll save the city a good chunk of money.”

One of those shelters is planned for the bus stop near the Greyhound bus depot on Second Avenue.

The City also commissioned the company to design a large panel – seven feet tall by 11 feet long – for the shelter near the A&W restaurant, which should go up in the New Year, Parker added. It features a fisherman relaxing in a boat on a peaceful pond.

And yesterday, he received an e-mail from Yukon College, which inquired about the possibility of creating two designs for a bus shelter near the institution.

One is an intricate butterfly while the other features a face in the centre of a sun, surrounded by rays.

“They stand out really nice and it makes me happy that we can put our mark on the town,” Parker said of the shelters.

“It makes the place look nice.”

He pointed out that none of the three shelters have been vandalized in the year since they’ve been up.

Parker has worked at Duncan’s for just over 20 years.

He started out on the shop floor as an apprentice, before he was even out of high school.

He worked his way through the sheet metal trade, became a safety supervisor and then a shop foreman.

Nowadays, he mostly deals with customers and makes sure “everyone’s happy at the end of the day.”

“The equipment has come a long way,” he said, pointing at the company’s older, larger CNC plasma cutter which is used to create ducts.

“Our old computer only had 256 megabytes of RAM and it was top of the line at the time.”

With two machines, the company is a lot more versatile, he adds.

“People come to us with just about anything these days. The possibilities are almost limitless.”

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

What the ‘new normal’ looks like for now

As the Yukon slowly reopens, this is what it looks like at restaurants and other businesses

Many continue to opt for take-out as dining rooms reopen

City considers options for more patio space

Yukon government suspends phone program for vulnerable women after data overage issues

The Yukon government suspended service without warning last month to cell phones… Continue reading

Campgrounds reopening June 4

Yukoners are asked to stick to their “double-bubble” households, respect social distancing… Continue reading

Yukon government has valid claim in Wolverine mine bankruptcy, judge rules

“This application arises because of an irresponsible mining venture in the Yukon”

City tickets 50 on day one of return to parking meter enforcement

A total of 50 parking tickets were issued June 1 by the… Continue reading

Driver charged in 2019 Whitehorse pedestrian death

A driver has been charged in relation to the 2019 death of… Continue reading

Council holds off on designation decision for portion of the tank farm

Decision comes in light of notice of violation to project proponent

City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week. June… Continue reading

Pilot Station salmon sonar to go ahead this season

The Pilot Station sonar, located near the mouth of the Yukon River… Continue reading

Renovations start at LePage Park

The Yukon Historical and Museums Association has started a resurfacing project for… Continue reading

Contract awarded for mixed-income housing project

The Yukon government has awarded a $16.8-million contract to build the mixed-income… Continue reading

Most Read