B Pad Construction Photos - Space Shuttle - Page 7


GOX Arm Strongback Lift 3

Forum commentary here:


FSS Swingarm Strongback Lift.

And now, having taken another look at my own pictures (duh, what a concept, eh?), I can see plainly that this strongback had nothing to do with the GOX Arm latchback, but was instead the support upon which the GOX Arm hinges were mounted. So it held up the whole GOX Arm.

Ok, glad we got that cleared up.

Some day I'll tell you a tale of $40,000.00 worth of bolts that we had to eat the cost on. Bolts that held the swing arms to the FSS. Aircraft bolts. Yikes! But not now. There's also a psychotic story involving the GOX Arm hinges, too. But again, not now.

These photos were taken from out on the end of the Hammerhead Crane, looking back toward the FSS.

Helluva view from out there on the end of that crane. Which was nowhere near as sturdy as it might appear in some photographs. You could feel it bounce up and down as you walked on it. Three hundred feet up, over the bottom of the Flame Trench. What fun!

These shots are all more or less self-explanatory, but the bottom right photo is interesting for two reasons:

Reason number one is that a close examination of the headache ball on that crane will cause you to realize that we really didn't have another inch to go on getting that strongback up any higher. We'd done used up all the stick that crane had to give. But it worked, and that's what matters, right?

Reason number two is just that it's a neato angle, looking down the barrel, two-hundred and fifty feet back down to the crane cab on the pad deck. I've always liked this shot.

And thanks for the nice words about these little stories that accompany the images. I'll keep 'em coming, ok?


Additional commentary below the image.

Top Left:

And by now you should understand the reason for the bizarre attachment of the lifting sling to a place above the headache ball, as well as the strange choice of locations for the attaching the lifting sling to the strongback. The goddamned crane didn't have enough boom to reach! So instead of going to the significant time and expense of getting a bigger crane, or outfitting this one with some more "stick" (presuming such a thing was even possible with this crane), they, being the masters of their craft that they were, sized things up closely and concluded that it could be done with what they had, and that, my friends, is the story of how you outbid your competition and still manage to come in under budget and ahead of schedule.

It was a thing of rare beauty to behold.

Ok, enough about that. Once again, there's a lot going on in these images, so zoom in and hang on, and here we go.

Right off the bat, no handrail up at the top of the FSS. The farthest goddamned "solid" ground above the pad deck, and no fucking handrail. Why?

Hammerhead crane, that's why. It rotates freely in a full circle, and the boom on that thing is just above the surface of the deck plates up on the 300 foot level at the very top of the FSS, and handrail, removable or otherwise, just ain't gonna cut it, and so the safety department gets to swallow nervously and write out some kind of waiver or other to negate some of the stuff in the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) book, and then hope that nobody goes over the side from up there. There's room for 4-inch toe plate, and you can see it all around the perimeter, maybe half a foot or so inboard from the edge of the flange on the FSS framing steel, but that's it, that's all you get when you're walking around on the checkerplate up on the top of the FSS. Behind our ironworker, you can see that the hammerhead crane is secured pretty well with some hefty turnbuckles, so there will be no worries about someone inadvertently hitting the button, and sweeping everything and everybody clean off the top of the FSS, so that's comforting, right?

But let's get back to our ironworker. I can't be sure, but it looks like he's manually guiding the fucking strongback, bare-handed, repositioning it or some damn thing. Hanging out over thinnest air while he's doing it. Whoa! Pretty ballsy if you ask me. Of course, then again, I'm kinda hanging out a little too, trying to get a good angle on this shot from where I'm either crouched or laying down (cannot recall which, but it's probably laying down, which is somewhat safer) out on the far end of the boom on the hammerhead crane.

Also, we can now get a good close look at the area on the FSS where the strongback is going to be attached, and all we can see is an area of bare metal, and no bolt-holes, which means the connection weldments on the strongback are themselves going to be welded to the framing steel on the FSS. So it's nice to have that little question answered, isn't it?

Right now, it looks like the headache ball is hard up against the jib of the crane, and something's going to have to be done about that, since it also looks like the strongback still has just about one more half a foot to go, before it's at its proper elevation, where it can be connected to the FSS. They're on that shit, however they may presently be going about it, of that there can be no doubt.

One level down, at the 280 elevation, that looks like it might be Wade, mostly hidden behind the strongback, keeping his usual eagle-eyed gaze upon things. Behind him over to the left, leaning up against some damn thing or other, are a couple of floats, which are four foot square constructions of strong plywood and two-by-fours, that get hung by strong rope on the steel where welding or any other time-consuming activity is going to be done, that the ironworkers park themselves on to do the work that's being done in the area. Floats are alarming things that move around when you step on to them or step off of them, and the first time you do this it's kinda scary, but you get used to it soon enough and after a while, you may as well be sitting down on the sidewalk or something. Kinda funny how stuff like that works, and how quickly you get acclimated to things.

One more level down, at the 260 elevation, I can see at least three more people, and the guy in the white shirt is controlling the crane by giving hand signals to the operator, who's squinting up into the sky from way the hell down there in his crane cab. To the left of our white-shirted ironworker, another float leans up against the handrail, ready to be hung out over an open drop of over 200 feet and tied to the structure where somebody can get out on it and get some goddamned work done.

And sure enough, if you look closely, you can see that the weldment that the bottom end of the strongback will be tying to, is already there, complete with bolt-holes, half-hidden by the strongback itself, on the FSS framing steel, just like we surmised that it had to be, back when we were examining the strongback when it was down there close to the ground. It's fun to be able to figure stuff like this out. I've never been one for regular everyday puzzles you solve for amusement, because when you solve a stupid puzzle, all you get is a solved puzzle, which seems like some pretty weak tea as far as a proper reward goes, but this stuff, well now you're talking. Solve one of these puzzles, and you get to do shit, or know shit, both of which I like a lot. But why they did it this way, with two weldments on the strongback, and one on the tower, I'm sure I'll never know. But one thing I do know, is that there was a reason. Shit like this is never a result of random chance. There's always a reason, and it's always a good reason, too. But in this instance, it's not for us to know.

Top Right:

And now, by god, the headache ball is out of the way, the strongback and its lifting sling have been rotated way the hell around over to the side of the crane jib, that last little bit of elevation has been gained, a sharp pair of eyes is hanging over the edge of the framing steel, missing nothing, and we're on the come-along blazing away with it, ratcheting that fucking strongback right into place, right where it belongs, using a goddamned crane that nobody else in the world would have been able to use to do this job. Pretty cool, huh?

Most of the people on the lower levels, including Wade, have moved on, and things once again have fallen back into routine, and the work goes on apace.

Bottom Left:

And now that we're dead nuts right where we belong, the come-along has been abandoned and its wire rope hangs slack, and Wade's right there too, verifying that everything is just so prior to moving forward.

Bottom Right:

Not much I can say about this shot. It pretty well speaks for itself. One of my favorites, not only from this job, but from anywhere, any time, that I've ever pointed a camera at something, pushed the button, and made it go "click."

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