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.

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