Wes and I are in upstate New York kicking off foundation drilling for the new valve chamber at Gilboa Dam. The temperature was 14 F and falling when we walked out of the terminal at Albany International, and the light snow that we drove through is apparently just the prelude to a 10″ snowfall forecast for this Tuesday. We were hoping to move the big drill rig down the steep access ramp to the chamber floor on Tuesday, so we spent some time this afternoon making a different plan.
I learn new things every time I travel, and this trip is filled with opportunities to expand my view of the world. For instance, I learned that engineers who mainly work in the tropics can bring all of their warmest clothes and still be woefully unprepared for foundation construction in really cold weather. I also learned that there’s a Walmart just about everywhere, and they have the stuff you need so that you can show up ready-to-work on Monday morning. I also learned how terrible is the iPhone camera at photographing the moon. The photo above is a poor representation of the gorgeous full moon reflecting off of the snowy field behind our house. It’s really quite stunning, and also small crystals of snow are falling frozen from a clear sky when you gaze up at the moon. The rural part of upstate New York is quite beautiful, and is populated with friendly and engaging people.
Speaking of friendly and engaging people, the best lesson of the day was how to thaw a frozen water pump in record cold temperatures. At right is a photo of Jimmy and his helper (or possibly Jimmy was the helper, it wasn’t at all clear) running a 50,000 BTU salamander heater into the CMU pump vault outside our kitchen. They assembled a short section of 8″ chimney flue pipe on each end of a 90 degree elbow to direct the blast of hot air downward into the vault. It took more than an hour to drive up to Cobleskill and back for the ducting, but then only about 10 minutes to melt the ice that was blocking the supply pipe. It was like a beach bonfire standing there. The minor inconvenience of losing plumbing for a half-day was negligible compared to the delight of chatting with Jimmy about the odd cold-weather problems that he had already repaired that day.
Tomorrow we meet with Southland/Renta, the general contractor, and the Owner’s team of engineers and inspectors. We hope to be installing our test caisson on Thursday morning, even allowing for a little snow delay, and will go into production work soon after.