B Pad Construction Photos - Space Shuttle - Page 15


PGHM Bridge Beam Lift, Page 4

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PGHM Bridge Beam Lift, page 4

In the top left photo, an ironworker is about to hop across and get onto the bridge beam. That's a pretty fair gap between him and the bridge beam, and the bottom of that gap is cold iron, two or three stories down.

Ho hum, just another day on the job.

Wade Ivey hovered around the entire time. He started out as an ironworker, and knew just exactly what was what. He's dressed in a dark blue jacket with white and red at the base of the sleeves.

By the bottom left photo, the bridge beam had begun to come around, into place up just under the ceiling of the PCR. By now it was nighttime, and the interior lights were on. I'm not sure, but I think this shot was taken after I came back with the chicken that Wade had bought for everyone.

In the bottom right photo, it's getting close to where it belongs. One of the last shots I took before I departed for the day.


Additional commentary below the image.


Please note that we're looking at the top right-hand photograph in this image first. I put them into the album out of precise time-order and the right-hand image was taken before the left-hand image, and it's necessary to know this if you're following this lift closely, watching how things were done.

And now I've come back inside of the PCR, and am on level 5 of the left-hand interior platform set, looking down, across, and toward the back side of the PCR.

Along the back wall of the PCR, and going around and continuing along the right wall, red firex water piping can be seen. NASA was very excitable about fires in all of their facilities, and considering some of the outrageously volatile stuff they were working with on a regular basis out there, all over the place, that high level of concern is fully justified.

So there were fire sprinklers all over the goddamned place, with nice bright-red runs of firex pipe feeding water to every one of them.

On the bridge beam, clearly we have a long ways to go before it's in its final resting place.

Two men are riding the suspended load, hard at work attaching such rigging as will be needed to force that sonofabitch around into and through whatever twists and turns will still be required to get it into place. You can now see that the big Manitowoc is still well and truly in the game, with its jib line, headache ball, hook, and nylon sling, all sitting right there in front of us. And maybe take note of the size of that headache ball. Yes, it's closer to us than the ironworker (can't remember a single fucking name, goddamnit) and is larger as a result of that, but it's still a pretty substantial object, in and of itself. Maybe go back to some of the previous images and look at that headache ball again. From any kind of distance at all, it appears as this small, inconsequential thing. It is not.

Wade Ivey, as usual, and as will remain until the last bit of this work is done, is nearby, lower left in this image, looking intently at what's going on, evaluating, absorbing, and providing help. He's the owner of Ivey Steel, but he's also an ex-ironworker himself, and as far as any casual glance at these kinds of operations goes, he may as well be just another ironworker in the gang, working with and for his team just like everybody else. This is the mark of a good leader. A good leader leads by doing, and knows the grittiest details of what's being done as well or better than anyone who's out there, hands-on, doing it. Does your boss do that kind of thing? Because if your boss does not do that kind of thing and does not know the gritty details of what's being done, then your boss is a fuckwit. And, alas, the sad truth of the matter is that most bosses are fuckwits who would never dream of getting the soft pasty skin of their own hands dirty, and who therefore are not, and never will be, leaders.

Also, we're getting a pretty good look down into the right-side end of the PGHM bridge beam that will be transferring static and dynamic loads from the PGHM itself down into and through the load-bearing elements of the RSS, all the way to the ground. Stout. This fucking thing is stout.


Stepping off. Take note of the other two ironworkers as they watch their buddy in the initial split-second of his move over to the bridge beam, across a drop that would break too many bones to think about, or kill him outright. They're right on that shit with him. These guys take care of each other. It's second nature to them. And they don't fuck up.

Nobody is tied off. And this is for a good reason, and it also drove the Safety Guy half nuts with anger and fear. The problem consists in the fact that the safety guy is almost never someone with any sensible experience in this sort of stuff. Instead, the safety guy reads it straight out of the OSHA book, and attempts to lay down those dictums, verbatim, without regard to..... well..... anything, really. The poor guy doesn't know, and as if that's not bad enough, he also has to report to somebody and if anybody gets hurt, and it gets determined that some fucked up rule or regulation in the OSHA book was broken, then all hell is going to break loose, for all parties concerned. Except the lawyers, of course. You can smell the fucking lawyers in that book, and they smell like shit.

Ironworkers are not about to go and do something stupid. These guys know what's up. And lots of times, the business of dragging a rope and harness around, clipping in and clipping out as you maneuver across the steel, turns out to be more dangerous than simply forgoing this sort of bullshit and getting where you need to be without entanglements. Once you're there, ok, go ahead and clip in. But not now. Not while we're trying to get somewhere.

Once upon a time, at Pad 41, we had the Martin Marietta safety guy literally tell us that, when walking across steel beams, we needed to be tied to ourselves. As in, throw the safety rope down below the iron that people were walking on, and then bring it back up on the other side, clipping to the other side of the harness. Now stop, and think about that for a minute. Think of people walking around with loops of rope dangling below them around the steel beams they're walking on, like they're playing jump-rope or something. Nobody would get ten feet before that fucking rope snagged up on something, throwing the guy off the beam and wrenching his back, or worse, and we had a major whoop-de-do getting those idiots to come off of their fantasy-world "safety" directives, and let people move where they needed to move to, unencumbered by a deadly snarl of brain-dead bullshit, as they did so. True story. I was right in the middle of it. In the end, they relented, but only just. Grudgingly. In a pissy mood over it. The idiots.

So yeah, ironworkers do dangerous stuff, and they do it all the time. But you're the new guy here, and how 'bout you shut the fuck up and leave everybody alone, and let them do what they already know is best?

Up at the top of the frame, things are going on.

First thing is that little patch of white, partially blocked by the horizontal angle-iron brace on the bridge beam. Look close, and you'll see a line going through it. So now we know what's going on with the line that went up from the head sheaves on the little stub boom on that second crane that we saw on the pad deck a couple of pages back. They cut a hole in the back wall of the PCR, and just ran the line right on inside to whatever snatch block or other rigging they needed to get that line where they needed it. This typifies ironworker thinking. Solid walls count for little with ironworkers, who will just go right through them if and when they need to.

Second thing is that the nylon sling from the jib line on the Manitowoc is nowhere to be seen. So the Manitowoc is finally gone for good. Things are becoming somewhat less radical, but they're still not "business as usual," not by a long shot. Also, you can see that the nylon sling has been replaced with a common wire-rope sling wrapped around that angle-iron and attached to a shackle that may itself be attached, via a snatch block somewhere, to the line coming in through the back wall, or not, and I have no way of telling. But it certainly wouldn't surprise me if that's what's going on. I'd bet on it in fact, but if the bet got over a hundred dollars, I'd have to switch to using your money, and not mine.

Third thing is, Fuck You, KSC-STD-C-0001, and all the pointy-headed assholes who attempt to enforce you on Good Men, against their will. Looks like the paint job on that fucking piece of lily-white angle-iron is going to get, shudder, SCRATCHED. Call the police! Call the FBI! Off with their heads! And I can just see those engineering and QC paint fucks reacting to things at this exact level of hysteria. But it's late. And those fucks are lazy. And stupid, too. And the ironworkers know it. And they know those guys are home watching something stupid on the television by now, and so they're perfectly comfortable moving back on to the solid ground of the real world, and throwing a proper wire-rope sling around that sonofabitch, like there should have been from the very beginning.

Bottom Left:

And now, finally, at long last, the goddamned motherfucking PGHM Bridge Beam is closing in on its final position, and we're closing in on completing this phenomenal dance of heavy iron, the like of which you will never see, and never ever get anywhere near, in your entire life. Which, is probably a good thing. Good for you, good for the ironworkers. Everybody wins.

I'm up on the top of the PCR interior platforms on the right-hand side, looking straight directly across the width of the PCR toward the left-hand side.

Get a look at that bogie, or, perhaps more accurately, trolley, up there, resting on the rail that will be carrying the full load of the bridge beam, the PGHM, and whatever the PGHM is itself carrying. Heavy iron. You can see a couple of "ears" hanging down from the trolley, with holes in them, and now you know where the ears on the bridge beam, with their own sets of holes, will be going. Look at the top of that trolley and notice just how close it is to the underside of the PCR ceiling, more than just a little bit of which has been cut the hell out of the way to let this work get done. I'm guessing there might be a couple of places up above parts of that thing where you could not even fit the flat of your hand, fingers out, into. It's close up there. Really really close up there, and I can just imagine the fun everyone had getting that thing into place.

The load block has now finally pulled the main body of the bridge beam up near the elevation of the highest platform set inside the PCR, level 5, the removable handrails on that platform set have all been removed, and now at last, the bridge beam can start to be maneuvered around horizontally, toward its final orientation and location. It's been a long grueling haul to get to this place, but we're finally nearing the end of this lift.

Bottom Right:

And we've finally come to the last image in this series, but not quite to the finish point of the lift. It's late. I'd already taken the twenty something mile drive to the nearest Kentucky Fried Chicken and come back with buckets and buckets of the stuff, and everybody had eaten their fill, and now it's around 11:30pm, and we'd started bright and early at 7:00am, and I'd never been worth a fuck the entire time aside from taking these pictures and passing out the eats, and Wade very kindly sent me home shortly after this frame was taken.

The bridge beam is damn nearly in place now.

Over on the far side of the PCR, almost out of the frame up on the right side, you can see that the holes in the ears on the trolley are only about a foot away from the corresponding holes in the ears on the bridge beam, and Wade is still going strong, stooped over in order to see something on the far side below the bottom of the bridge beam.

It's getting late. It's cold. I'm tired. Even though I haven't done a lick of honest work all day. I think I'm going to go home now. It's been a pretty long day.

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