Sunday, March 8, 2015

Petulant Bertha and Her Well-Behaved Sisters!

Into Daylight Saving Time, welders working through the night, attaching lifting rings to components of Bertha, the besmirched Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM), stuck for more than a year beneath the Streets of Seattle.

This is an exact replication of the “rescue” of “Excalibore,” Canadian National’s Tunnel Boring Machine that broke down under an oil refinery in Sarnia Ontario in 1993. Only “Excalibore” was less than one/half the diameter of “Bertha.”

“Excalibore” suffered major seal damage, which resulted in a nine month delay in tunnel completion.

Bertha just completed boring into the rescue pit, where a gaggle of workers will dismantle the Cutterhead, returning it to the surface for repairs. And so far, she is more than 18 months behind schedule. The original Timeline projection for completion of boring reflected September 2014.

Work began on Friday to attach lifting eyes to Bertha for extracting the machine from the rescue pit.

I’ve compiled a series of YouTube clips, that bring us up to date.

Remember to click on the "maximize" button to view the YouTube video in full screen.

•  Bertha Tunnels Toward Repairs. As Bertha’s Cutterhead chews through the concrete piling of the rescue pit, spoils are shuttled by conveyor belts the length of the tunnel, across former Alaskan Way to Pier 47.

Here the spoils are loaded onto a barge, to be delivered by Foss Maritime, for disposal in a former borrow pit located at Mats Mats Bay.

•  Bertha Reaches Daylight, February 19, 2015. A final exciting moment as Bertha gnaws into the rescue pit. In preparation for the break through, a hydraulic pick chiseled out a notch to create a clean entrance into the pit. One is struck by the slow speed of the Cutterhead! Remember, it stands ~5 stories high and weighs ~900 tons, driven by 24 dc motors!

•  Bertha Pushes into the Rescue Pit. Time lapse of Bertha positioning herself on the rescue cradle. Notice the articulated joint on Bertha, just inside the pit. This facilitates pin point steering of the TBM. guided by GPS and Laser measurements. (Thanks, WSDOT!)

•  Chris Dixon, spokesman for Seattle Tunnel Partners, explains the process of retrieving and repairing Bertha.

•  Building a Super Crane. As we’ve just witnessed in the animation clip, a large lifting device will be used to disassemble Bertha’s business end, laying the various segments out for repair. Such devices are “purpose built” for the job at hand. This Mammoet crane has a lifting capacity of 2,200 tons. You may recall the Cutterhead weighs in at nearly 900 tons.

I’ve circled the WSDOT camera that gives us this view of the lifting device.

The “Mammoet” logo was not added until the crane had been in place for a few days. I was unable to capture the individual applying the logo to the frame!

In preparing for the upcoming repairs, a brand new seal assembly was manufactured in Japan and shipped to Seattle last fall.

In addition, boxes of parts and upgrades to TBM components have been stored in a nearby warehouse.

While Bertha has been displaying her temper tantrum, Seattle's Sound Transit TBM's have been busy in the North End of Seattle, burrowing rapid transit tunnels, including a dig beneath the Lake Washington Ship Canal, with a striking absence of headlines!

Twin tunnels, more than 11,000 ft (3.35 km) in length, have been completed without a hiccup. Here is a time lapse walk from Montlake (University of Washington "UW" Station) through the tunnel to the Capitol Hill Station.

“The two TBMs that are digging from UW to Capitol Hill were named Togo and Balto after famous Huskies - the four-legged kind. "Togo" and "Balto" were canine heroes of a grueling sled dog relay to deliver medicine 674 miles from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska during a diphtheria outbreak in 1925. This amazing journey is commemorated each year with the Iditarod sled dog race. 

“As they traveled south, Togo and Balto reached depths of up to 300 feet underground and had to withstand up to almost five times normal air pressure!” (From Sound Transit) 

In addition, TBM "Brenda" is boring 4.3 miles north of the University of Washington Station to Northgate Mall.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

It's a Matter of Time!

So here we go again, with the infamous finagling of time launching us into Daylight Saving Time. With a few notable exceptions: Arizona stays with Pacific Standard Time.  Notice the Navajo Nation in the northeast quarter of the state does observe daylight-saving time. The Hopi Nation, fully surrounded by the Navajo reservation, does not.

And Saskatchewan is, well, Saskatchewan. Most of Saskatchewan observes Central Standard Time year round and clocks are not adjusted during Daylight Saving Time. Some exceptions, including the city of Lloydminster, observe the Mountain Time Zone and do observe daylight saving time.

•   Lloydminster starts Daylight Saving Time on Sunday March 8, 2015 at 2:00 AM local time.
•   Lloydminster ends Daylight Saving Time on Sunday November 1, 2015 at 2:00 AM local time.

Some regions of in British Columbia and Saskatchewan do not use Daylight Saving Time. They include: Charlie Lake, Creston (East Kootenays), Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, and Taylor (all in British Columbia), and most of Saskatchewan (except Creighton and Denare Beach).

Pickle Lake, New Osnaburgh, and Atikokan Ontario, remain with Eastern Standard Time throughout the year.

Sonora, Mexico, stays with Arizona (since 1998) due to its "economic" ties.

January 1, 2006, Indiana fell into compliance with Daylight Saving Time.

The United States Department of Labor defines as the annual time shift:

Daylight Savings Time 

Most states participate in daylight savings time. Those employees working the graveyard shift when Daylight Savings Time begins work one hour less because the clocks are set ahead one hour. 

Those employees working the graveyard shift when Daylight Savings Time ends work an extra hour because the clocks are set back one hour at 2:00 a.m. For example: The scheduled shift starts at 11:00 p.m. and ends at 7:30 a.m. the next day, your employee works an eight- hour shift and receives a 30-minute lunch break.

• On the Sunday that Daylight Savings Time starts at 2:00 a.m., the employee does not work the hour from 2:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. because at 2:00 a.m. all of the clocks are turned forward to 3:00 a.m. Thus, on this day the employee only worked 7 hours, even though the schedule was for 8 hours.

• On the Sunday that Daylight Savings Time ends at 2:00 a.m., the employee works the hour from 1:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. twice because at 2:00 a.m. all of the clocks are turned back to 1:00 a.m. Thus, on this day the employee worked 9 hours, even though the schedule only reflected 8 hours. 

The FLSA requires that employees must be credited with all of the hours actually worked. Therefore, if the employee is in a work situation similar to that described in the above example, he or she worked 7 hours on the day that Daylight Savings Time begins and 9 hours on the day that Daylight Savings Time ends. This assumes, of course, that the employee actually worked the scheduled shift as in our example. 

The Law alone begins an endless series of hot-air discussions, beginning with the Title of the Law - "Daylight Savings Time." However, given the eclectic collection of nincompoops running the Government, it is no surprise that the Feds misspell the law.

Each year, at this time, varying factions of Grammar Police engage in full scale skirmishes over the correctness of "Savings" or "Saving" time.

► Being "Old School" (read "Best School") I'll go with the Associated Press Stylebook and refer to the change in time as "Daylight SAVING Time." Listening to or watching your local news reader will give you a clue as to how serious they are about their profession!

Most will flunk.

► Even the prestigious "New York Library 'Writer's Guide to Style and Usage'" refers to DST as "Daylight SAVING Time."

► And delivering the final blow, the "Oxford Pocket American Dictionary" states "daylight SAVING time."

My first recollection involving the impact of Time Shift came as a young man living in northern British Columbia. My parents were very active in a local church. And I remember looking out the living room window, wondering why one of the church members, dressed in her Sunday Best, was scurrying across our small bridge built over muskeg, to our front door.

My Dad, still wrapping a knot in his tie, responded to her frantic knocking, and I heard her say, "But my Dear, they are all waiting in the Church for you!"

In my professional career(s), I encountered the time warp several times. As a radio personality on the 12:00 a.m. to 6 a.m. shift, spinning country-western music to truckers and other isolated souls, I noted the radio Log pages were marked, 12:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m., 1 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., 2:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m., 3:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m., and so on.

However, the Page 2:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. was marked out with a red ball point "X" with a cursive note from the Traffic Girl; "Switch to Daylight Saving Time. Change station clocks." I added a mental note, "Do Not Pass Go - Do not expect a full pay check!"

In later years, I worked at a "Doughnut-Hole-In-My-Life" job wherein I prayed I would last long enough to get back the hour they screwed me out of!

In our Digital Age, one has to wonder if all the disruption to schedules, transportation, and communication are worth the extra hour of daylight a farmer gains.

Share with us your experience with the time shift, especially as it affects railroad and other transportation issues.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

SPSF: "Shouldn't Paint So Fast!"

Whenever I had to go down the I-5 from Portland to California for either business or pleasure, I deliberately planned to lay over at Railroad Park in Dunsmuir. It was about half way to the Bay Area, which made it an excellent place to enjoy a cool one, watch some mountain railroading, whilst spending the night in either a boxcar, caboose, or foreman's cabin, and enjoy good food in the Park dinning car.

For gawds sake - what more could a person wish for?

My companion and I enjoyed an old fashioned breakfast in the dining car at Railroad Park, and drove over to the station at Dunsmuir, arriving just in time to catch a northbound freighter.

This place is so wonderfully accessible and accepting of rail buffs, as long as you keep out of the way. I think some of these crews checked their make-up before the rolling crew change took place!

SP 8530 (SD40-2T) and her cohorts had spent the morning working up 2,000 feet (610 meters) from the Sacramento Valley, shoulders against the 1.3% gradient at Dunsmuir Station, 322.1 miles (518 km) north of Roseville, where a rolling crew change would take place.

The lead locomotive is a dash-T "Tunnel Motor." Tunnel motors were built to reduce shutdowns caused by overheating whilst operating in tunnels in mountainous areas in the western United States.

The locomotive is modified so that radiator-cooling air intake is lowered to the walkway level, and the cooling fans themselves moved under the radiator cores, instead of on top. Notice the "blanks" welded to the former intakes.

The paint scheme, combining yellow, red and black, came to be called the Kodachrome paint scheme due to the color's resemblance to those on the boxes that Kodak used to package its Kodachrome 35mm slide film, which favored by rail fans of the time because of slow ASA and crisp color accuracy.

On July 24, 1986, the merger between Southern Pacific and the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe was formally denied. But so confident that the merger would be approved, approximately 306 AT&SF locomotives, 4 AT&SF cabooses, 10 AT&SF slugs, 96 SP locomotives, and 1 SP caboose were painted in the new "Kodachrome" paint scheme. Spacing was left to add either "SP" or "SF" on rolling stock when the merger was approved!

The two railroads made a frantic effort to repaint locomotives in their standard paint schemes when the merger was denied. Santa Fe repainted all Kodachrome's still on roster by 1990, though some engines "escaped" - were sold, in Kodachrome "SF," scheme!

Rail fans joked that "SPSF" stood for "Shouldn't Paint So Fast!"

12,800 hp on the nose, another 9,000 hp on the rear!
Once the crew change was executed, the northbound crew faced a grueling climb up through 2.1% at the Cantera Loop past Mt. Shasta to the Cascade Mountain Crest at Grass Lake, elevation 5,073 ft (1,546 meters) at MP 368.5. Thence across the Moduc Plateau to Klamath Falls, ascending the Coast Range at Willamette Pass, continuing north to Eugene and Portland.

Railroad Stuff:
• Southern Pacific 8530, Built as General Motors SD40-2, 3,000 hp (2,237 kW), December 1978. SN: 786174-32. Modified as SD40-2T, April 13, 1991. Became UP 8836, 9/1996. Retired 2001.
• Southern Pacific 9686, built as General Motors GP60, 3,800 hp (2,800 kW), March 1990, SN: 8960022. Became UP 1988, 9/1996. Retired 2001.

See Also: 

Google Railroading, analyzing the Cantara Loop.
Robert Morris Photography features a treasure trove of Southern Pacific at Dunsmuir, they way we wish to remember it!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Restaurant Impossible!: Zoog's Report Card

Back in November 2014, Food Channel's "Restaurant Impossible," hosted by Robert Irvine, undertook renovation and upgrade of Zoog's Caveman Café in Port Hadlock, Washington, ~ 15 minutes from my home.

As a retired Instructional Designer and videographer/producer, I was anxious to visit the location; to witness a multi-camera shoot, and meet Robert Irvine.

Thwarted on both counts.

The Food Channel made sure security was tight and the set "closed" to all but "credited press."

However, I did manage to cobble together and publish two articles:

•  Restaurant Impossible!
•  Restaurant Impossible!: Zoog's Relaunch.

Patrick Sullivan of the Port Townsend Leader recently published a detailed follow-up, which I euphemistically sub-titled "Report Card, " giving us a exceptional behind the scenes look at a "Restaurant Impossible" episode, shot here in our back yard. The emphasis is mine:
Reality TV shows are, by definition, a mixture of "reality" and "artistic license." The challenge for reality program producers is; how do we make something as mundane as digging a hole for gold exciting and suspenseful.

Some are more effective than others.

For me, the "law and order genre" are more accurate in their portrayal - the producer cannot stop the chase or arrest an yell for "Take 2!" On the other hand, as with Zoog's cited above, stretching and bending reality seems to be intrinsic in the creative process.

I find the most egregious reality programs are the "House Wife's of xx" series. How many of you remember your mom traipsing around the house in high high heels, boobs flapping, with a glass of designer wine in hand?

The only series worse than House Wives is Duck Dynasty, a gross waste of production time, effort and expense.

Years ago, my video production company got involved with members of the pioneer reality program, "Cops" whilst it was being filmed in Multnomah County, Oregon.

Our production company was in the midst of producing a series of Hazardous Materials training programs for First Responders, when we go involved with John Bunnell at the Multnomah County Sheriff's office.

In a conversation with his staff, the question arose, "what do you do with your clothing that becomes contaminated at a drug house bust? "We simply throw them away," was the common response.

After spending time with our producers and fire training officers, they quickly switched to wearing HAZMAT clothing and adopted appropriate decontamination processes!

For the most part, I've ceased watching the majority of "reality TV."

After all, how many crabs does it take to fill a vessel?

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Go Hawks!

Permit me the indulgent pleasure of using my voice - my Blog - to rave my football team, the Seattle Seahawks.

To relive the final four minutes of a playoff series wherein the Hawks came from behind by points to win the division playoff, is pushing the limits of this old veteran with three stints in his heart!

Reporters descended upon folk leaving CenturyLink early, assuming a loss to Green Bay, and to beat traffic out of the stadium. Those folk were reduced to quivering bodies of shame!  Some, rumor has it, have already move out of Seattle!

The Seahawks are in position to defend that championship because of an improbable confluence of events — improbable to anyone not scampering around their locker room afterward, dispensing and accepting hugs after a 28-22 victory over the Green Bay Packers. A 35-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Jermaine Kearse clinched the win in front of the largest announced crowd, 68,538, in CenturyLink Field’s history.

I've been wound up all this week!  And remarkably, many folk who have not had a particular interest in sports, never mind foot ball, have been infected with the 12th Man Fever!  It's all over my small town. Safeway is flying the 12th man flag, cars driving by flying the 12 man flag, people all over town wearing Seahawks jerseys!

Symbolically, Scrap-It Recycling's "Shearhawk" destroys New England Patriot's tour buses in Ferndale, Washington scrap yard.

Laying in a good supply of beer, chips, and dip for tomorrows big game!

Go Hawks!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Corbin Foss Completes Epic Voyage: All in a Days Work!

This morning, the Corbin Foss is completing her epic voyage delivering the USS Constellation for scrapping in Brownsville.

The voyage of 16,000 miles began at Bremerton Washington on August 8, 2014.

Her final destination is International Shipbreakers, Ltd.

Here the famous combat veteran will be converted to a pile of scrap metal.

While the entire enterprise covered hundreds of miles of interesting waters, as an armchair traveler, the passage through the Strait of Magellan would certainly been of interest to me.

Finding no support in Portugal, King Charles V of Spain provides Ferdinand Magellan with five old ships to accomplish his journey.

In September 1519 the expedition departed Seville with five ships and 265 men.

Magellan assigned Concepcion and San Antonio to explore the strait, but the latter, commanded by Estêvão Gomes, deserted and returned to Spain on 20 November.

Sadly, Magellan never made it home. He was killed in a clash at Mactan, in the Philippine Islands. On April 27, 1521. After 14,460 miles, the expedition ends back in Seville on September 8, 1522, with only one boat, the Victoria, and a handful of the original 265 personnel.

The tug Rachael (Tradewinds Towing) connected with the tow in Panama. As required by the Chilean government, Rachael acted as a safety backup.

The Capt. Latham switched out the Rachael at Callao, Peru, joining the Corbin Foss on October 19, and stayed with her through November 6th.

Having an additional tug was a safety measure to cope with significant weather and seas, and transit through the Strait of Magellan.

Most worrisome feature in the Strait; Paso Tortuoso (torturous.)

Here the channel narrows down to 1,500 yards (1,371 meters).

In his Blog, Tainui's Travels, John Valentines writes this about his passage through Paso Tortuoso:

"At Paso Tortuoso, 3 big bodies of water meet with interesting and unpredictable races and currents.
We hug the shore in what seems like a 1-knot favorable eddy. Out to starboard there are all sorts of whirlpools and overfalls.

"So impressive that there seem to be high steps in water level between them. "Faraway", 4 miles ahead and in the middle of the channel, is barely making ground in a 4 kt adverse current."

So three additional tugs joined the venture; Beagle, Otway, and Pelican II. Two on either side of the Constellation, and the third attached to the stern.

The passage through Paso Tortuoso was uneventful, and the fleet hove to at Punta Arenas on November 4th. Punta Arenas is a thriving city; with cruise ships calling on a regular basis.

On November 6th, the Capt Latham disconnected from the tow at the eastern entrance to the Strait, returning to Punta Arenas.

Corbin Foss as seen from Capt Latham off the coast of Chile

This was certainly an epic voyage. The Foss Maritime "Constellation Blog," recorded daily position reports through out the entire campaign. But for a highly detailed account, including pilot reports, dozens of photographs and, especial enlightening, a series of five video tapes, showing the vessels advance toward the Strait of Magellan, follow this link.

In the bottom right corner, click on Quadrant Maps. The videos are found in the 5th Quadrant Map.

In researching this article, I discovered a virtual beehive of activity taking place at the end of the earth.

Everything from hustling fishing lodges, helicopter rides to see Cape Horn, weather permitting of course.

Transportation between the main land and island of Tierra del Fuego is interesting, to say the least! In this video, look at the overshoot required to land the ferry against prevailing wind and current!

This RoRo system could be the answer to the Washington State Ferries dilemma. No more expensive infrastructure - docks and relatively inexpensive ferries!

Further Reading:
 ►  Straits in Latin America: The Case of the Strait of Magellan. The boundary treaty of 1881 between Chile and Argentina.

►  Operation Soberanía. The 1978 Argentine military invasion of Chile, left thousands of unexploded mines - to this day - buried along the Argentine - Chilean border.
►  Highly recommend this Princeton University web page, which details the succession of charts of the Strait of Magellan, filling in details by explorers we know little of.