Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Couple Of Dumbasses For Your Entertainment.

They are very lucky that neither of them got seriously hurt.

When I was a young man working on the dredges that were cleaning the ash from Mt. St. Helens out of the Columbia and Cowlitz rivers back in 1980 I witnessed a similar event.

Up close and personal.

It was a nice Summer day and the dredge was down because a very large babbitt bearing for the four inch shaft that turned the cutter head had worn out.

The cutter head is a giant version of an egg beater sort of that spins and digs up the mud and rocks at the river bottom and breaks stuff loose so that the suction of the pump can suck it in and pump it away.

It is raised and lowered on a large gantry set up by cables on winches.

There were several of us out there watching two guys who actually knew how to pour and shape babbitt bearings. This is a rapidly disappearing skill by the way.

They had a four inch wide crucible on a long rod rigged up so that it wouldn't fall or go anywhere and a big rosebud tip on an acetylene torch tied down to blow right on the crucible to melt this babbitt.

We are all perched on this gantry framework in one manner or another bullshitting back and forth and the river was directly below us.

In other words, there was no place to go, except in the river.

This dredge by the way was fucking huge, it looked like a Mississippi river stern wheeler without the paddle wheel on the back.
It was also older than shit, even back then.

They had a pile of solid babbitt chunks sitting next to the crucible on a cross member and every few minutes one of these guys would gently slip a small piece in to melt it.
There was probably a pint of liquid babbitt in there and a pound of solid babbitt chunks sitting next to it.

This dumbshit deckhand comes climbing out and has been watching this like the rest of us for a few minutes and the guy who is kind of in charge of the whole thing tells him to put a little chunk of babbit in to melt.

Dumbass, picks up a huge chunk of babbitt and just drops it in the crucible.

It fucking exploded.

Boiling hot liquid metal went everywhere.

I was perched about two feet away just behind and a bit to the left of this idiot and saw the whole thing right in front of me.

To this day, I have no idea why no one either got severely burned or dove off the gantry trying to get away but nobody actually got hurt.
Poor dumbass got the ass chewing of his life though.

Those were the days before ten thousand safety regulations were around to make life miserable so I don't think a single one of us had anything like safety glasses or goggles on. Just a pair of heavy leather welding gloves and a huge set of balls back then.

I can tell you that parts of that scene are still quite vivid in my memory these thirty seven years later.

Some things you just don't forget.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I have had that happen pouring Babbitt....Gotta preheat the receiver (mold) to get all the moisture out before pouring (and to get a decent pour). Nothing like hot Babbitt to make yer day get a bit more interesting. Metal flying is a Bad Thing.

    Also: One cannot have too much protective equipment when pouring....hat, face shield, gloves, leathers, etc. You've never seen a man dance 'til you've seen him trying to shake off molten metal.

  3. I worked for 35 years in a steel making facility. We made steel to sell to the casting industry. They would pour it into things like shotgun parts, artificial hip sockets, knee joints, boat propellers, any thing that required something with a precise chemistry. We had many explosions over the years. It is a dangerous business. We melted 20,000 pounds at a time, in open air furnaces. Plus we also melted up to 15,000 pounds in vacuum furnaces. That is, in a chamber under very high vacuum, to keep oxygen and nitrogen completely absent from the alloy. They are trace elements deleterious to the kinds of steel used in jet airplane engines. We had metal in Rolls Royce and GE jet engines, as well as Pratt and Whitney, and several others, and also many helecopter engines and frames. I have many scars from burns over the years of working there. We had one young man get killed in an explosion, once, and also, a horrific tragedy, when a man took his young kids there and killed them. The life of a foundry worker is different today than in 1978. There are classes you must take, and testing and such required each year, plus required safety training is ongoing. All for the best, of course.

    1. Less castings are made these days, at least in my industry parts casings and other intricate cast components are to fabricated from forgings. The art of casting complicated shapes may be lost in time, certainly it seems to me it was never perfected, but some companies were much better than others. You probably have cast many of my companies castings - a major gas compressor and stream turbine mfg a couple towns over from where the movie Slap Shot was filmed...






  5. We only did castings for a few years, for boat propellers. The company would bring the molds in, we would melt the alloy and pour it, then they would take care of the hauling of it back to their shop to finish the rest. We just sold to the casting industry. But the investment casting industry is going strong. Gun frames, boat propellers, golf club heads, knee joints are just a few of the many things that are first cast, then finished on machining fixtures. With the lost wax process, the cast metals industry is able to cast shapes that were unheard of just a few years ago.

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  7. Wow, thanks for sharing the information on the dumbasses of entertainment and I will be visiting them immediately I am done with my academic work. Thanks for sharing the information with us and indeed you are a talented writer. In case you need more articles for your blog feel free to hire our professional writing services by clicking on Secondary Data Analysis.


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