"I don't make hell for nobody. I'm only the instrument of a laughing providence. Sometimes I don't like it myself, but I couldn't help it if I was born smart."

1st Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden.
"From here to Eternity"

Paul Valery

"You are in love with intelligence, until it frightens you. For your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time."

The Wisdom of the Ages

"When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, 'All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed',"

Mikhail Kalashnikov

Ya ever seen my house?

Ya ever seen my house?
Neither have I Ted! You douchebag.
"Here lies the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it."

Zapp Brannigan

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Back to the Mines

Ever wonder where Wiley Coyote got those big weights with the numbers printed on them?
This guy delivered them!
Or his US affiliate (SW Division) did.

Screwing the pooch...
I almost made it an entire month without touching base with my faithful readership.
Fact is: I've just come through a month of what can only be described as ennui Praise me, Kevin. That's French.
Anyway, I don't know what the hell happened. Just a denouements (another French one. Hold me back!) to one of the longest winters of my life.
Weird thing is that there was nothing wrong with this winter. Weather was odd but certainly livable - even nice by Willamette Valley standards.
It's probably due to the fact that I'm insane. I do take several different anti-ennui meds.
Anyway, enough of the pity-party. On to the matter, recently at hand.

"The Saga of the Shitcanned 'Wonder Machine'"
A farce in three acts;
Initially mining was far more low key. On the early mines in the Hill 60 area, the tunnels measured only three by four feet.
However, by this time (1916 and early '17) the routine had been established.
Dig down through the groundwater-soaked topsoil and into the impermeable blue clay beneath, shore the tunnel with timber and finally dispose of the spoil discreetly, very discreetly.
Considering the length and extent of these tunnels it's amazing that this little logistical feat alone came off at all. Somewhere I'm sure there are figures for the cubic yardage of the clay removed - all of it by sand bag - one at a time.
And it wasn't just getting it out of the hole either. The Germans were known to shell random piles of sandbags - just to see what they contained.
So, tons of Flanders' notorious blue-clay was carried sandbag by sandbag to ... wherever.

< significant stretch of time >

Back again on April 26, right on time. Anyway...
Act 1
This mining thing thing obviously works. How can we improve on it?
The Stanley Heading Machine Co, a supplier of coal-mining machinery was contracted to produce the wonder tunneler.
It was expensive, 6,000 pounds. I'd like to do that crossed "L" thing but... I use it so seldom.
It, the machine, was reported to have been specially designed for the notorious "blue clay" of the salient and, being a heavy item at 7 1/2 tons - broken into 24 crates that could be handled by the wagons on the narrow-gauge railway to the tunnel entrance - it must have been therefore, if only as a logistical expense, a costly endeavor.
Finally though, the thing was in position, all 7 1/2 tons of it, reassembled and ready to do battle with the blue clay.
The header itself was powered by compressed air supplied by a surface compressor.
The compressor was powered, inadequately, by several small generators. There was no problem with this arrangement initially.
They turned the machine on and it began chewing its way forward. Two feet an hour.
At the end of the shift, seven hours - and fourteen feet later, they shut down the machine and inspected their (its) handiwork.
A smooth, six-foot tube through the clay needing nothing but timber shoring. The machine worked.
Kind of. The next shift went to start it and found that, while the beast had ample power to eat through the clay while in motion. Upon stopping the clay would flow down over the cutting head and lock up all the machinery.
A full day's digging put the program back in operation and the tunnel sailed on.
The results remained the same - a smooth, six-foot tunnel better than one could ask for but...
The power supply system began to come up short.
The sporadic current from the multiple generators caused the generator's fuse wires to burn through regularly.
Each dead fuse equaled down time meaning: Each piss-ant fuse blowing meant another day's digging to get going again after the minor electrical problem was sorted out.
At one point someone at the raw edge of frustration, being out of fuse wire, wired the compressor with barbed wire and thus did still more damage.
Ultimately, impatience won out and the wonder tunneler was left where she was. The digging continued and the Stanley Header was abandoned under the Flanders clay. Eighty feet of clay at that.
So, there she sits. Somewhere along the main tunnel to the Petit Bois mines awaiting... oblivion.
Anyway, you metal detector types, get on out there. 15000 # ought to send out a healthy signal, even for the Salient. Get looking. You DON'T want Bob Ballard there first.

No comments:

Locations of visitors to this page