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Most outrageous experience.

Most outrageous experience.

Most outrageous experience.

We had the start of a discussion in another thread about unusual experiences. It may be more appropriate to continue in this forum. We have had some glimpses of wild experiences from some of our friends. One friend made the papers with some hijinks on a railway trestle, another was sent out into the Canadian mountains due east of Alaska in a vehicle that did not have a big enough gas tank to reach the next gas station, another etc. This may be a good place to share experiences. Did I ever tell about the time I flew tourist, unaccompanied, from Central America to Western Canada with some crutches, some awesome pain pills and a broken hip? Dang, that was an expensive adventure.

"Why not the best?"
Jimmy Carter

RE: Most outrageous experience.

  I think you're talking about me there with the trestle.  I have another trestle story.

  In the Santa Cruz mountains there's a trestle that's sort of the only way from one hill side to the other.  It's about  150 feet long and about seven stories high.  To match grade it has approaches and departures cut into sandstone banks with about 70 degree grades, rather like funnels.  But the kicker is that both of these approaches are curved at the minimum allowed radius.  You can only see about 100 feet in either direction.

  Well a buddy and I were riding our bikes along the right-of-way and got to the trestle.  We looked down. No way down except free falling. But we looked both ways and could only see a short ways.  We then looked at the trestle.  It was nasty!  It had ties that were about a foot wide but had two feet of gap between them and they were dripping with creosote or tar.   We discussed getting caught in the middle as being probably fatal.

  So I decided to do the safe thing and put my ear to the track.  That way I could hear a distant train around either bend, at least far enough away to make it across the trestle.

  Nothing.  Dead silence.  I said, "It's clear, lets book!"

  Well it was very difficult negotiating the ties with bicycles in hand.  It took us about 5 minutes to lurch our way across.  Just as our feet hit the dirt a locomotive pulling about 20 cars came out of the other scarf and onto the trestle going about 20MPH.  We lept on our bikes and fled out of the narrow approach.

  We reached the end of our approach about 50 feet before the train.  My friend just stared at me with a grim look on his face shacking his head.  We didn't speak about it.

Keith Cress
kcress - http://www.flaminsystems.com

RE: Most outrageous experience.


"Why not the best?"
Jimmy Carter

RE: Most outrageous experience.

Are you going to tell us how you broke your hip?
 Or were you doing something stupid at the time?

RE: Most outrageous experience.

There are two ways down from Big Bear ski resorts in Southern California, the so-called front side SH30 and the back-side SH38.  about 90/10 traffic difference.  So, I leave the resort at about 6 pm, head down the backside.  About halfway down, I hit a patch of black ice and pirouette on the highway 450º and  go off the edge of the road backwards until I hit a boulder.

I get out; it's steep, about 40º slope, at least.  Look down the slope, but can't see anything for at least 100 ft.  Look down the road, and there's this gigantic tree about 3 ft forward of my car.  So, the boulder kept me from going over ass over tea kettle for 100 ft or more down the mountain, and I missed slamming into the tree by 3 ft.  

Put out a flare; a couple of cars take note, but nothing happens for HOURS.  Eventually, a CHP cruiser comes by and the officer says, "Oh, you're here.  The reports we got had you about 5 miles further down the road."  Evenually, about 4 hrs later, a tow truck pulls me back onto the road, and aside from the dent in the rear bumper where the boulder stopped the car, it was otherwise driveable.


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RE: Most outrageous experience.

Wow.  Close one.  Funny thing is I read that as you on skis.  Until you're talking about being happy to have hit a boulder and not a tree, which really didn't make sense!

Keith Cress
kcress - http://www.flaminsystems.com

RE: Most outrageous experience.

Flew to an offshore platform to meet a workboat that was going to do some soil survey work for a pipeline that we were to install in the GOM.  It was November and the first front of late fall was crossing the coast bringing winds of about 40 mph.  After closing in on the platform and negotiating the approach around the crane and over to the helipad and through the high gusts, the pilot managed to land and let me out without any major incident other than a few wild changes in direction.  As he quickly flew off, I checked in with the two guys that lived out there and waited for the workboat to arrive.  After several hours dusk came without any sign of the workboat.  Then darkness as I negotiated for a place to sleep for the night.  Bedded down on the sofa in the break room after a couple of dogs and a can of beans.  The wind picked up and for some reason a number of instruments began to become sensitive to the wind and sounded the alarms and shut-in the platform 4 or 5 times during the night, so I didn't sleep hardly at all.  If I had slept enough to have some common sense left by morning, I probably would have called the whole thing off, as the wind continued gusty, now colder and the waves had picked up to 2.5 meters.  

About 9AM the workboat finally arrived 18 hours late and I had to figure some way to make a transfer aboard.  The platform operators told me the basket drop from the crane was out of the question due to the high winds.  I should have clued on that, but directed the workboat to approach in reverse from the downwind side towards the boat landing, figuring that I could use the wind to give me some extra momentum during a swing-aboard via the Tarzan ropes.  The 2.5 meter waves wern't hitting the workboat at a good angle as he backed towards the boatlanding and a big one came by and broke over the stern sending water awash the aft deck and knocking down the two deckhands that were stationed to help me aboard, so he veered off of that attempt.   

The only other alternative was from the boatlanding on the opposite corner of the platform, so we set up for an attempt from that corner.  The winds wern't from a good angle, but the waves although high were negotiable for the boat, so I moved over to that corner and untied the Tarzan rope.  About the same time, I noticed that the waves were going to be a major problem, since at those heights there was going to be considerable variation in the elevation of target zero between the time I left the boat landing and the time I arrived at the boat itself.  It would require pretty good timing to reach my destination at the same time the deck rose to the correct elevation.  OK, 1, 2, 3 swing...  Wind caught me and froze me in mid air before blowing me back to the platform where a large wave made the return to the boatlanding as difficult as it could possibly make it.  I tried again with the same result.  It was going to be more difficult than I thought.  I had to plan the swing better, so waited for the wind gusts to slow.  Third time the gusts slowed down a bit and I managed to reach a full arc.  It looked pretty good, until the workboat's deck started to rise a bit toooo fast.  Still coming up and reaching mid swing.  Getting closer to the workboat now and the boat railing was ... argh!  right at face elevation.  A split second later I was reaching the end of the arc just in time to slam into the side of the hull just below the kick plate of the deck.  Impacting at full force of both me and the boat, the two deckhands grabbed me.  I wasn't sure that was a good idea at the time, as then I had to let go of the rope, but once forcibly committed by their hands, I had no choice but to proceed aborard and released the rope with one hand as the other grabbed the boat railing, then finally letting go of the rope with the other.  The two deckhands pulled me over the railing and onto the deck, just in time for all of us to get hit by another white cap as the boat went down below the trough.  All of us went like flopping fish along the deck into the railing on the other side of the boat.  As the water finally drained off when the boat climbed up the other side of the wave, we   found ourselves by the engine room stairway hatch and quickly got it open and threw ourselves inside with the loud bang of the door slamming shut by itself.  We took advantage of that and very quickly secured the latches happy at last to be out of the action and near the warm engine exhaust pipes.  To this day I can't tell you why I even tried to make that transfer.  I really should have called the whole thing off.   So, I'd say there are two morals to this story, 1. get some sleep before you have to make an important decision and, 2. even though you feel responsibility towards carrying on with your work, don't let that idea overpower your common sense.  Supposedly they don't pay you to be stupid.  Could have very easily turned out to be at least three drown rats that morning.

"If everything seems under control, you're just not moving fast enough."
- Mario Andretti- When asked about transient hydraulics


RE: Most outrageous experience.

Hello berkshire;
I was checking some connections in a sausage factory. The floor was concrete with a pebbled surface. The extension ladder was almost new with good foot pads. No need to tie of. Right! I was up about 10 feet when the ladder slipped about 3 inches. I froze. Then it took off. As I was climbing, I had one foot on the rung above the other.
I hit the floor supported by one knee and both arms. My arms were not worthy and my face smashed into the ladder. My hip was not up to the strain either. Blew a hole in the back of my hip. The head of my femur stuck in the hole in my hip bone. My upper leg was horizontal and angled to the right at about thirty or forty  degrees. I was not mobile. Lying on the wet concrete I discovered that it was covered by a layer of animal grease. Yes, I was doing something stupid alright!!
I managed to indicate that I wanted some cardboard. I was the only one who spoke English and I didn't speak much Spanish.
The workers brought me a 2 ft. by 4 ft. light fixture carton and I managed to crawl, role and drag myself onto the cardboard and off the wet slimy concrete. When the ambulance came the workers loaded me onto the gurney cardboard and all. I was worried but these boys had been handling animal carcasses for years and knew how to work together. They picked me up and placed me on the gurney with no pain whatsoever. I was impressed.
Quite a ride. I was airborne 3 or 4 times on the way to the hospital. I was in an extremely uncomfortable position. I took hold of a stanchion with both hands and the next time I went airborne I managed to twist my body so as to come down in a much more comfortable position. They took me into the operating theater still on the cardboard carton. When I woke up, it was gone.
After 4 or 5 days, I don't know for sure, they took me out of traction and called the ambulance to take me to a clinic with better imaging equipment.
leaving the hospital we came to a speed bump. The driver eased the front wheels over the bump and then hit the gas. When the back wheels hit I was airborne again, and screaming at the drier. The male nurse with us also had a few words to add.
It was just a short drive to the clinic. I guess the driver thought it would be more professional to back up to the curb instead of just parallel parking. To this end he made an abrupt left turn across the road so that he could back straight to the curb. That's when the truck coming the other way T
"T-Boned" us. Fortunately the gurney clamps were not fastened properly. The ambulance moved about 2 ft. to the left. Me and the gurney stayed in the same place and ended up in the center of the ambulance instead of on the left side.
About the time that the scans were finished the police were finishing the report and the driver was ready to take me back. I pleaded with the male nurse to just pull me down the street back to the hospital.
"But it's starting to rain!"
"Getting wet is better than riding in that ambulance!"
He should have been driving for Super Dave Osborne!
I was still in no shape for fighting so they loaded me back in the ambulance and surprisingly we made it back to the hospital without any further surprises.
When it was time to go home from the hospital, I begged the owner of the sausage plant to not have me put back in the ambulance.
They cleaned out one of the meat wagons and threw in some cardboard, and I went home in an honest to God meat wagon.
About a week later I had enough equilibrium to travel and headed to Canada. The airline would only transport me unaccompanied if I could get to my seat unaided. They would take me to the door in a wheelchair, but then I had to get up and make my way to my seat with crutches. Nevertheless there was an attendant about 2 inches behind me, just in case. Can I give a plug for Continental? They were great.
Had about a 4 hour layover in Houston Tx. I wheeled around in a "borrowed" wheelchair in a highly medicated state. I would pull up beside one of the golf cart based transporters and offer to "drag". No takers. It seemed a lot wittier then than it does now.
When I finally got into an operating theater in Canada, I was under for almost 5 hours. Then about three months before I was allowed to put any weight on the hip. Then another three months of go slow.
The good news is an almost complete recovery. I can go up a flight of stairs two at a time now. I had a great surgeon.
Who's next??

"Why not the best?"
Jimmy Carter

RE: Most outrageous experience.

Story one:
Working in Valdez Alaska as a contractor for Alyeska Pipline Service Co. on a big automation project in 1989 (the week before the Exxon Valdez went aground, I have a pre-crash picture of it somewhere). Had to fly in to Anchorage for parts and missed the "normal" passenger flight. Went to a smaller booth called, I kid you not, "Wilbur's Airline"! Wilbur was manning the desk, took my money and told me to follow him to the plane, a Cessna twin engine 6 seater. One other passenger, a regular who sat in the co-pilot's seat. While in the air, the other passenger asked "First time in Alaska?" I said no, but first time in Valdez. He then asked "Want to see a glacier close up?" I said I didn't know, I guess. He pokes Wilbur and points down towards the ground. Wilbur makes an immediate dive! We head straight for a glacier and when I thought he was taking too long to pull up, he heads INTO a crack in it! We were flying inside of a crack in a glacier, 50 feet or so to the wingtips on each side! Never saw anything so blue and beautiful in my life, but scared the bejeebus out of me.

The next day when I returned to Alyeska Pipeline with the parts, everyone was amazed, thinking I would be gone another day because I couldn't have made the regular flight. When I told them about Wilbur's, they all gasped; turns out Wilbur used to have TWO planes, his brother had crashed and died taking someone inside of a Glacier! Alyeska Pipeline Co. would not allow any employees to use them again after that.

"If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend six sharpening my axe." -- Abraham Lincoln  
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RE: Most outrageous experience.

Story two:

Had to work at a gold mine in northern British Columbia. To get there I had to fly to a small town called Smithers and hitch a ride with the crew change that happens every 3 weeks. 8 hour ride on a dirt road in a van full of grumpy smelly smokers (I had quit 3 years before). After doing my 10 minutes of work there, they said I would have to spend the night and could drive out in one of their vehicles in the morning. They gave me a Ford Expedition and sent me on my way, but it took longer going back because it was a work day on a mining road and I had to cede passage to the ore haulers for the first 100 miles. Finally got on the real "road" and about 2 more hours out, ran out of gas! The tank had been full, but I guessed taht because of all the waiting, I had used too much. I had not seen another human since leaving the mine road, then it started to snow! I just knew I was going to die out there in the wilderness, but damned if I was going to die in the car without at least trying to get help. So I looked in the back to see if there was a blanket or something; there were 2 5-gallon jerry cans in the back; they neglected to tell me that I would have to stop and refill! When I finally got to the lone gas station 2 hours later, the people were laughing when I came in. They had taken bets on whether or not they would have to come out looking for me, seems I had been set up!

I was not amused.

RE: Most outrageous experience.


Ladder etiquette 101.

I was working on the transmission pipeline that runs from Las Vegas to Burbank.  I met the Engineer who was our liaison and was also the company safety officer.  This was the second time working with him and he was hobbling around in crutches with a huge bandaged leg.

"What have you done to yourself?"

He'd come across a damaged ladder at work. A foot was missing.  Protocol demanded replacement.  He couldn't bring himself to pitch it so he took it home...

One day he dragged it into his front entry area put it up on a tile floor to the top of the arch.  Seemed ok.  Went up it to paint the ceiling. It slid about two feet down the wall before reaching the ended of the arch and went free fall. He lit with his leg through a rung. Then landed on the rung.

I'm sure the compound and spiral fractures protected his hip...

He said the worst pain was the "logic" pain.

Keith Cress
kcress - http://www.flaminsystems.com

RE: Most outrageous experience.

I used to work with airborne weapons systems.  I was at a govt maintenance/storage facility where they were upgrading some stores using components and fixtures I'd helped design.  Various people were there from armed forces contract office, other contractors etc, checking progress.

The guys doing the work mentioned that one of the fixtures was a tight fit, it had several steel pins that fitted into corresponding holes in the back of the store (also steel), the fixture itself was to react a torque multiplier used to extract a large ring from the back of the store.  The fixture they were using had been worn in but they offered to show me the problem on the spare.

They grabbed the fixture and put it up against the store and indeed, where paint had accumulated on the holes in the store (these things tend to get painted every year or two by the service, need it or not, and the paint can seriously accumulate) the pins didnt' fit.

They then proceeded to start hammering the fixture into the back of the store.

I watched for a second then turned to the assembled crowd and said "You know you've been in this business too long when you stand in a shed full of 2000lb bombs while a fitter hits one of them on the fuze end with a hammer and you don't even flinch".

At this point the realization of what was going on dawned and the look on their faces was priceless.

Especially amusing as only about 100 yards away were the remnents of a shed where something had gone wrong and the roof had been blown off.

It really wasn't that dangerous but steel on steel impact is pretty much a no no in that environment and hitting explosives is also normally a no no.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

RE: Most outrageous experience.

In the market to buy a milling machine, had several very complex parts of a patented device.  Submitted drawings with caveat that if your machine can successfully mill these parts we'll buy it.

Visited machine retailer all set up to show us his machine milling our part.  Everything going fine.  He's talking away extolling virtues of this machine.  Like any machinist his attention switches from us to the milling to the machine controls.

He's pointing out various aspects of the machine, code streaming by on the display when I notice a slight glow.  Umm, I think something's wrong.  The entire machine behind the closed glass doors is now lit up like a light bulb, visually painful it's so bright.  He hits the estop.  The milling machine - light bulb darkens.  The cutter remnants are black.

We didn't buy that machine.

RE: Most outrageous experience.

An old rocket engineering story.  One of many, but this one was personal.

We were testing various catalysts and initiators for a hydrazine gas generator, for a military application with a lower-use temperature of -65 F.  Hydrazine is dangerous stuff, a nasty liver poison.  The catalytic reaction only takes off if the catalyst bed is heated above room temp, so we had added a solid reactant, dehydrated iodic acid or iodine pentoxide, to the catalyst bed kick start the reaction.  Still, we had trouble achieving reliable "ignition" at the low temperatures.  So, we did some ignition testing, using very small amounts of hydrazine and initiators, in a bench rig, under a fume hood in the Chemistry Lab (the fume hood was the kind with a large vertically-sliding shatterproof glass pane).  Cold temperature testing in the lab showed that a small amount of a very reactive metal salt of iodic acid, mercury iodate, could kick start the ignition train quite nicely and reliably.  

But, we needed to test the combination at room temperature too, and eventually, at the high ambient temp.  At room temperature, the ignition event was a real blast.  Blew the bench rig apart, shattered the fume hood, and blew a huge purple cloud of iodine vapor (mixed probably with some mercury and unreacted hydrazine) into the lab.  From the doorway that I'd teleported to, the cloud of vapor rolling across the ceiling was quite pretty in a way.  Once my ears stopped ringing, I was able to hear the invectives of the Chem Lab supervisor and learn that I was to be banned from ever setting foot in the Lab again...

RE: Most outrageous experience.

Dr Tom?

RE: Most outrageous experience.

I was working on a large project that required many drawings. There were details, assemblies and layout drawings.  The company at that time used a plotter to plot the drawings. I think it was an HP. No, maybe it was a Tektronix.  It used those spools of paper and had an ink cartridge.  We kept it back in the back of the engineering area.  I don't know why, but the print copy machine was located in another part of the office.  It would have made more sense to have the plotter and the copier located together.  The copier was kind of annoying because it sounded like a truck idling long after it had been used. There were also some file cabinets in the same area.  I used to keep vendor catalogs in the file cabinets.  We numbered them and kept a log by subject so that we could keep track of them. The larger vendor catalogs were sorted alphabetically in a large bookcase, however.  Some of the plotted drawings needed checking and were piled on a table.  I was leaning across the table to grab one of the drawings when I slid my hand along the edge of the paper and got a very painful paper cut.

RE: Most outrageous experience.

dvd, awesome.  That's the kind of 'outrageous' experience my wife would expect from an Engineer.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

RE: Most outrageous experience.

I was visiting a special cements factory one time to look at their burner fuel system.

I was intrigued by what appeared to me to be and subsequently proved to be, a 20mm cannon (albeit rather primitive).
Every so often the rotating kiln would be stopped, the burners shut down and they would fire ball rounds at accumulations of solids.

Then they had to restart the burners.

Now because I was there, some manager or other just had to be there also. Of course, in the general distraction the appropriate re-ignition procedure got messed up.
The restart appeared to involve opening up the fuel valves, opening up the doors and throwing in burning rags. This didn't look that sensible to me and, coward that I am, my keenness to get close to a 20m cannon contrasted with my attempting to matter transfer myself through the nearest wall.

Just as well. There was now a crowd of operators and managers around the kiln doors all telling each other how to do it when some one did it. There was an enormous ball of fire that filled the place and then a deathly quite. There were no physical injuries, apart from singed hair and lost eyebrows, but the ego damage was extensive.



RE: Most outrageous experience.

We were fishing near one of the big rigs east of the river and similar situation as your predicament came up. We could see guys swinging all over the place and the comment was made that someone is going to get wet. Sure enough a man basket/bar hit the rig and 4 people went in the water. The crew boat was quite large versus our boat so the captain told the crewboat he would pick up the people in the water. We got three of them real quick but for some reason the fourth one looked like he wanted to swim away, but we finally got him. We held on to all four for about 5 hrs until there was a wind shift. Three of the guys got on the rig with no problem and the fourth man didn't want any part of swinging through the air. We carried him to Pilot Town where helicopter picked him up.  

RE: Most outrageous experience.

I've felt so stupid about that incident for so long now.  Glad I finally got it off my chest.  That was the last time I used the rope.  Too much wind now and I just go back to the sofa.

A lot of things out there are like street flooding.  As you start driving into it, its not so high, and you don't really noitice it getting higher.  Then... all of a sudden, its over the hood and spilling in through the air vents, the car starts moving sideways, the engine stops and you're in deeeeeeep s*&%.  It pays to keep track of the differential increments of a situation.

"If everything seems under control, you're just not moving fast enough."
- Mario Andretti- When asked about transient hydraulics


RE: Most outrageous experience.

I worked at an ammunition plant during my college days and the line I worked on when this happened made 4.2" mortar shells.  My work station was out in the munitions bunker which had big berms all around it but I worked by myself so I would come up to the main assembly line to take my breaks and lunches.  This plant also had a nearby assembly line that was blown all to hell by a mishap.  That line made cluster bombs and they were blown all over the place so it was impossible to clean it all up so they just sealed it off.  Animals would regularly set off the cluster bomb-lets.

Anyway, back to my line, the bullets (mortar shells) would go to the "melt" where TNT was heated up to the molten state and poured into the shells whereupon they would be loaded on buggies, something like 8 X 8 or so, nose up, with the pink TNT looking right up at you.  From there, they would be lifted up on the line where the fuses and liners, etc that preceded the fuses would be put on and then they would be packed out for shipment (to Nam).

All the hand tools on that line used by the maintenance personnel were made from Cadmium to prevent sparking during their use.  Similar precautions were taken all around.  The buggy had to be grounded when it was rolled up to the line prior to unloading.

Well, one particular beak I came up there to find a buddy of mine who worked lifting the bullets off the buggy onto the line sitting there idly tapping a nail in the wooden counter of the assembly line with a (steel) railroad spike he had found outside on a railroad spur outside the building with sparks showering down from the nail into the open noses of the bullets sitting there with the nice pink color of the freshly poured TNT.

I figured that if there was a God and he wanted me that was his chance to take me.  I got the heck out of there and never took breaks with them again.

One thing humorous happened one night when Simeon set a steam cleaner nozzle down and went to dinner up in the melt area.  Just as we walked back down to the line from the cafeteria which was located about 1/4 mile from the assembly line down long corridors with a double door about every 20 feet, the steam from the steam cleaner which was playing on a sprinkler head set off the head and that set off the alarm.

From every one of those doors started pouring people of all descriptions, mostly women (most of the employees on these types of assembly lines were women, lots of them overweight) began to run across the open ground back to the cafeteria.  The SOP was that you didn't go back to the connecting corridor which could be some distance from your work station, but exited your area directly across open fields to the cafeteria.

Well, it was wintertime and it was wet (deep south) and the field was sloppy with standing water and we were all slogging across that all of us scared out of our wits.  It seemed like a war movie to me.  It reminded me of the beach scenes of movies like D-Day.  People were going down to the left of me, to the right of me, in front of me, behind me.  I was young (college boy) and still agile, but most of these people were middle aged to older women and they were paying a heavy toll for our late night run through the swamps.  Still one of the most vivid memories I have of a comical scene that I was part of.

As a note, later I transferred to an engineering job on a metal parts line-forges and lathes, presses and heat treat furnaces-no explosives of any kind and as it turned out, someone was walking down a road outside the building eating some pickled pigs feet and throwing the bony remnants onto the ground as they walked along.  Someone else upon coming up on this and seeing the bones alerted security and there was a real panic until they found out what it really was thinking that it was human bones having been blown over there from the nearby line that had blown up that I mentioned earlier.  Quite the panic until it all got sorted.


RE: Most outrageous experience.

This is from my college days in the '60's, pre engineering & pre A&P mechanic days; I was a helper/go-fer at a small aircraft maintenance facility,hoping to learn a little "real world" stuff in the maintenance field along with my formal  schooling.
During the process of inspecting a Cessna 177, the engine's #1 cylinder ( four cylinder, horizontally opposed ) was found,while doing a cylinder leak down check, to have a leak past the exhaust valve.There is a process, called 'staking' the valve, where the cylinder is pressurized, & the exhaust rocker is struck sharply with a leather mallet. Often, this will dislodge lead or carbon deposits from the valve seat, allowing the engine to continue in service. When this is accomplished, great billowing clouds of carbon dust comes out the exhaust. In this case, the procedure failed, and the leak was worse. Talk turned to whether the valve was burnt, stretched, or perhaps the guide was badly worn, causing the valve to 'rock' unevenly in it's seat.....A quick & dirty check for guide wear, is to pull the prop through, get the  exhaust valve off it's seat, and by placing one's thumb on the rocker arm, you can feel the stem of the valve shift slightly as it seeks it's place on the seat. There is a sort of "sweet spot" that can be found by rocking the prop back & forth, while feeling the rocker arm. Me being the eager youngster, I jumped in to "learn something". After a few 'rocks' of the prop blade, the engine suddenly fired, ran briefly, & died. I was struck three times on the right arm, fortunately glancing blows, tho I have a dent in that forearm to this day. What I did learn that day, was that carbon dust will burn just fine, and machinery will kill you. It is no respecter of persons, or forgiving of carelessness. During my days as a Designated Examiner for new mechanics, I always told the story.    

RE: Most outrageous experience.

thruthefence (Aerospace)
So you were rocking the prop on a "hot" engine.
 I guess that one goes down to " Guess how I found out about that.", bummer.

RE: Most outrageous experience.

No, the strange thing was, the aircraft had been sitting for a week, and the fuel selector was in "cutoff", and the mags were "off"! When the impulse coupling clicked, apparently the carbon dust floating around is the gas path was enough to light it off. They did later find high resistance across the mag switch, which explains the "hot" mag. From that day on, all mags have been "hot", in my mind.

RE: Most outrageous experience.

thruthefence (Aerospace)
I recently did some work on an 0320 and during that little check where you shut both mags off at idle, the engine kept running, then would not, do it, when we tried to reproduce the problem.
 We determined that the switch for the left mag was intermittent. A new mag switch later we were back in business. So **it definitely happens.

RE: Most outrageous experience.

This one luckily does not end in any explosions or injuries but...
I work as a structural engineer and for a few years I worked primarily on renovations of large (200K+ sq ft) office/warehouse conversions to lofts.  This often requires waiting until demolition and abatement has begun to do some finalizing of details becuase you don't have x-ray vision to see where things are above the plaster ceiling or behind the plaster wall.   In this particular case I was in the basement of a building measuring up an existing stairwell opening that was going to get infilled.  Next to me was a demo contractor removing the steel divider beams in an elevator shaft that was also getting infilled.  The demo contractor had his oxy-acetylene canister at the bottom of the shaft and was working from a bosun's chair up and down the shaft to cut the beams.  He was basically torching the steel free after tying it off to a winch.  Then his partner at the top of the shaft would lower the steel to the bottom of the shaft.  
Anyway I was walking around measuring up things when I noticed the sparks from the cutting were making it all the way to the bottom of the shaft...all the way down to his acetylene tank as a mater of fact.  Standing 5 ft away from the tank watching big flowing red steel slab bounce of his tank caught me as odd.  Unfortunately he doesn't work for me, but I didn't hesitate to point out the problem.  He seemed perturbed that someone would question what he was doing, but he finally relented covering the tank with a fire blanket and moving it out of the way.  Glad I lived through that one.

RE: Most outrageous experience.

When I was in the Army [Corps/Engrs], we went thru orientation at the Aberdeen ordnance center in MD. We were sitting in the 'VIP' stands, and they were demonstrating mortar aiming and correction. One 'round' went off 50 yds in front of the stand. Another 'round' went off behind the stands. You never saw a group of 2d Lts scramble to exit the area so fast. Of course, it was all a set up.

They did something similar during a nuclear weapon arming demo. In a twinkling of the eye, a jillion flash lamps went off in our faces. Fun and games in the Army.

RE: Most outrageous experience.

Oy.  Monkeydog, I finally had a chance to confer with a colleague - yes, I believe Tom was his first name (he was fairly new to our organization then).

RE: Most outrageous experience.

This one is from an engineer I used to work for:  He was at a junk yard getting some parts and he overheard a conversation between the owner and a patron.  The owner was bragging that he could remove a car engine in less than 5 minutes and the patron bet him he couldn't do it.

He promptly lifted the front end of a car with chains from a forklift and went underneath and started cutting with his acetylene torch.  Suddenly, the car fell and bounced on its front wheels a few times before coming to a rest.  The scene:  the owner was standing in the engine bay of the car holding his torch while the engine was suspended in the air above him - he had chained only the engine to the forklift, cut it free, and let the car fall around him!

As my boss used to say, "You can gauge a man by his tattoo-to-tooth ratio.  If he has more tattoos than teeth, he can't be killed - he will die of natural causes."

If you "heard" it on the internet, it's guilty until proven innocent. - DCS

RE: Most outrageous experience.

A warning that not all the hazards we encounter in our lives as engineers are physical-

I was new to the profession, and had been given the job of doing a "demonstration" (pilot test, really) of a water treatment process, attempting to clean up groundwater contaminated by explosives from a de-mil facility on a Trident submarine base.  The thought of running a rented HPLC and a UV/ozone system off a generator in a tent in the woods, in winter, with our client watching, wasn't helping with getting a good night's sleep!

The night before I was to leave for the base, I tossed and turned in the hotel bed and finally fell asleep.  I had an extremely vivid and terrifying dream that there was a bomb in the room and I had to run NOW or risk being killed.  I awoke in the hallway to the sound of the hotel room door clicking behind me...No pajamas, but fortunately I had underwear and, for some strange reason, a pillow.  So like Mr. Bean, I got in the elevator and went down to the front desk to ask to be let back into my room...

Fortunately, the "demonstration" went just fine, aside from some regular requirement for thawing of the equipment which had frozen overnight in the tent.  Unfortunately, they never bought a unit from us...

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