B Pad Construction Photos - Space Shuttle - Page 3


OMBUU Lift 3

Forum commentary here:


OMBUU Arm lift, third and final page, from up on the RSS (which turned out to not be strictly true, see below).

Top right photograph is Wade Ivey (owner of Ivey Steel) and Rink Chiles (Ivey Steel ironworker general foreman, both facing away from the camera) and a gentleman who's name eludes me who worked for Olson Electric.

It was really cool being able to wander around all over that tower with a camera, in case anybody was wondering what that might have been like.


Additional commentary below the image.

Top Left:

Almost there. Once they got close, I ran over to the elevator, ground level on the FSS, and went up to what appears to be perhaps the 260 or maybe the 280 foot platform elevation level and walked over to the southeast corner where I could get a good angle (What the fuck's up with photographers and goddamned angles, anyway?) looking down at the OMBUU now almost in contact with the RSS, and grabbed this frame.

There's lots going on in this image.

Be sure to click on it to get the full-size image, and then maybe hit the enlarge button on your browser a couple of times to really bring it in. Despite the fact that this is a scan of a common print photograph like you'd get at the photo store back in those days, that little Zeiss Ikon Contessa 35mm camera that I had, captured a remarkable amount of detail, with no special lens or anything else, and these images will tolerate a bit of zooming in.

Ok, all nice and zoomed in?

Good. Let's go.

Get a look at the top, dark gray, surface of the OMBUU, and find the cutout over on its far right-hand side with a nice half-round curve that perfectly matches the size and roundness of the lighter-gray vertical structural pipe with a couple of flat collar-looking flanges on it and an I-beam coming into it at an angle, extending down and to the right in this image. The actual connection plate is visible as a squared-off shadow, which is part of a weldment that's just below where that I-beam comes in to the vertical column.

That cutout in the the top of the OMBUU will be flush against the steel column, or pretty damn close to it, when the OMBUU is bolted up to the RSS. Looks like they've got maybe a little under three feet to go, horizontally, and they're pretty much dead nuts already, vertically.

Whether they continued to boom right, or stopped short and used come-alongs to finish sucking in the OMBUU, up against the RSS, I do not know.

An ironworker using nothing more than a chain come-along and his own muscles can exert a tremendous force upon, and move, truly surprising objects with it. Maybe one day I'll tell you what I saw five ironworkers do with the entire RSS Bottom Truss, using just chain come-alongs and muscle. The bottom truss was a weldment that was nearly 200 feet long and a little less than 50 feet deep, made out of 36" diameter (I think) structural pipe, and what I saw that day still causes me to doubt my own eyes. So yeah, if they needed to suck the OMBUU into the RSS with a come-along or two, it would have been easily done.

Needless to say, looking at this image, you can tell that there's really nowhere for the OMBUU to go, except for exactly where it's supposed to go. The marvel is that it's all worked out in advance, using nothing more than a little geometry and trigonometry, and it always fits perfectly. Pay attention to that math shit in school, children, because you never know when, some fine day fifteen or twenty years off into an opaquely-unseeable future, you'll find yourself clapping your hands in glee at the outrageously cool shit they'll let you get into once you demonstrate to them that you can handle it.

Unless, of course, somebody fucked up on the engineering, or failed to take into account every last thing in the area. Which happens, and is the source of Great Disagreements on behalf of the parties who might be liable for the costs incurred when you're renting one of those big Manitowocs and paying for a crew of union ironworkers, and you wind up wasting a full day or more in an attempt to "make it like the drawing shows" (which is something the pointy-headed engineers never tire of spouting in your face), even when the drawing shows something that's plainly impossible, once it's compared to the real-world setting it's supposed to fit into.

Down at the very bottom edge of the image on the right-hand side, wearing his white hard hat and yellow shirt, Wade Ivey stands beneath a lighter-gray light fixture on the access catwalk to the OMBUU, keeping a close eye on things.

Far below, down on the ground to the left of the OMBUU, it looks like Howard Baxter is also still keeping a close eye on things, along with his TT&V buddy, who's slouching casually on the front fender of my ratty little VW.

Top Right:

And now I've come down a few levels on the FSS and have walked out on to the access catwalk for the OMBUU itself, on the RSS. I was all over the place with that damn camera whenever this sort of thing was going on, trying to get as many differing views of things as I could, trying to show as much as possible about what was going in in the resulting pictures. And while all that was going on, I was also trying to stay the fuck out of the way, and also trying to stay the fuck on top of the structure and not "step in the hole" anywhere along the line, while squinting through the viewfinder on the camera. It's much easier to go over the side, or into an open hole, than you might imagine, so you have to be very mindful of that kind of thing at all times, even when your mind is closely focused on whatever else it is that you're doing or looking at, at the time. The penalty for getting this one wrong is severe, and you do not want to get penalized in this manner.

Ok, back to the OMBUU access catwalk. Wade and Rink are right there, giving things the close scrutiny they require. Olson Electric's general foreman is giving the camera an unfriendly look. Wish I could remember his name, but it's gone. He was a decent enough sort, but he was also an electrician and as such, played a roll as both friend and enemy to the ironworkers working for Ivey Steel.

The craft labor broke down into three major categories on this project, and those categories were Structural, Mechanical, and Electrical. Each major category had its own areas of expertise, and saw to them to the exclusion of all else (which will become important here in just a minute). Nobody was going to be able to do anything until the ironworkers built the main structure first of course, but once the main meat and potatoes of that was in place, the pipefitters (Mechanical), and the electricians (Electrical) would be all over the place laying in their piping and cabling, and this would be ongoing even as the ironworkers continued to flesh out the bones of the main structure with the ongoing installation of miscellaneous metals as well as occasional modifications or additions to the main structure, as dictated by the customer and end user, NASA.

So far, so good.

But if one craft was attempting to install something, and another craft's handrail, pipe hanger, cable tray support, or whatever, was in the way, and engineering had failed to account for it on their drawings (happened all the time), then things got interesting.

To begin with, those engineering drawings were the law. Break the law, take the penalty, pay the price.

But it was never as straightforward and simple as that, no matter many little exculpatory clauses were plastered all over the drawings and sprinkled throughout the specifications, to the effect of it being the contractor's responsibility to verify all existing conditions prior to commencing work, and accounting for said existing conditions as part of their firm fixed-price bid.

This is bullshit, and it will not stand up to any proper scrutiny, and even though the customer and their engineers knew that, they would still relentlessly and everlastingly attempt to enforce it (but only to their own scheduling and budgetary benefit, never the contractor's).

"Make it like the drawing shows," the engineers would smugly condescend to you, but if the drawing fails to show, or incorrectly shows, something in the way of the platform you fabricated precisely to the dimensions of that drawing, blocking you from bolting the goddamned platform on to the existing structure, well then it's your fault, and you will modify your platform to suit the existing condition, and you will do it at no additional charge to the customer, and you will do it without being given any scheduling relief for the hard date that we set for completion of the work, and you will also do it per the direction and instructions of the customer's engineering department, to whom you will first submit your planned alterations for approval and then wait until you receive official notice to proceed with with altered scope of work while those engineers review your submission.

Fuck. That. Shit.

The crooked sonofabitches were essentially telling you to do their design and engineering for them, with no additional schedule or cost increase accruing to themselves.

Not gonna happen, bucko. You can take that shit right down the hall with you to somebody else's door, and please try to not let my door hit you in your thieving ass on your unworthy way out of my goddamned office.

And so we find ourselves up on the OMBUU access catwalk, with the OMBUU still not connected (There's a fair bit of daylight showing, hip level between Wade and Rink. Don't step in the hole, remember?) and Olson Electric's guy just kind of hanging around, all casual-like, enjoying the pleasant weather up there.

And what the fucking hell might that have to do with "make it like the drawing shows" I hear you ask?

Another good question.

It's because the different trades will cheerfully snipe at each other, and each group needs to keep a close eye on what the other groups are doing, lest something expensive befall them at the hands of another trade.

We've already learned what a monumental pain in the ass it can be when things do not quite match the drawings, and since time is money, it behooves Wade and his ironworkers to get the goddamned OMBUU bolted on to the RSS as fast as they can.

And if, as sometimes happens, there exists perhaps a bit of 3x3x¼ angle iron on the RSS, which might be there to support a bit of nitrogen purge tubing, or perhaps some mineral-insulated cable, or whatever, to be furnished and installed at some future date by others, and it's in the way and it's keeping the OMBUU from mating flushly against the steel of the RSS, and nobody's around watching, or sometimes even if there is, the ironworkers will simply torch the sonofabitch off, and then go merrily about their business of bolting the fucked up OMBUU to the tower.

And so, things rapidly devolve into a game of "Who got there first?"

And sometimes the guys who got there first win, and sometimes the guys who got there first lose. Sometimes you're the giver, and sometimes you're the receiver.

It all depends.

And so, Olson's guy is there, watching, and I'm sure the pipefitter's guy is lurking somewhere nearby, too.

Let them go and request a change order from NASA. Let them deal with existing conditions. We haven't got time for this shit. We need to hang this fucking OMBUU on the tower. Today.

Bottom Left:

And now we've backed farther away from things, looking from over on the FSS once again, and can see the number of people involved. The sightseers that originally appeared in images of the lift, down on the pad deck, are not in attendance up here. These are all people with a direct interest, whatever it may entail, in the business of fastening the OMBUU to the RSS.

Also, my surmise above, in the verbiage for the Top Left photograph, is now proven wrong, which goes to show just how easy it is to misapprehend things you are looking directly at. From here, it's abundantly clear that the OMBUU is still a foot and a half to a couple of feet high as can be clearly seen via that daylight which is still showing between the OMBUU itself, and the end of the access catwalk to it, right there behind Wade Ivey, as well as the handrail elevation mismatches between the access catwalk and the OMBUU itself. You find yourself oftentimes looking directly at something, and either not seeing something that's there, or seeing something that's not there. Funny how that kind of thing works, sometimes.

Since I was in no way directly involved with the connection work itself, I have no idea what might be going on with keeping the OMBUU up where it still is, but we've already discussed those sorts of things generally, above, and will just have to content ourselves with something along those lines as a proposed, but completely unproven, explanation for things.

Bottom Right:

And now I've moved over to the other side of the RSS from the OMBUU, most likely up on the SRB (Solid Rocket Booster) access platforms which lived on either side of the RCS Room (Reaction Control System), and protruded a pretty good ways out in front of the RSS, and provided a pretty unobstructed view of things, but I do not remember for sure, and this might be wrong.

Wherever I'm shooting from, it not only lets us see the OMBUU from a completely different perspective, but it also gives us an excellent look at the crane cab, looking back down the boom toward the ground, which is probably why I picked this location and framed this shot the way I did. Directly to the right of the crane cab, the lighter gray Fondu Fyre coating on the Flame Deflector can be seen, and above that in the image, the darker shades of the Flame Trench itself yawn open widely, set against the lighter shades of one of the comb-like SSW Water Headers over there on the far edge of the trench.

And so, whilst admiring the beautiful view from up on high, in the arch-perfect Florida weather, we shall conclude our little presentation on the OMBUU lift, and move elsewhere. There's more work to be done, and more pictures to be taken.

Lots more.

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