Thursday, June 30, 2005
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
A great day to waterblast bridges. A bit like lone voyaging around Cape Horn, during the ice berg season. I have sand blasted and painted railway bridges in the past, so there is a bit of deja vu here. I ended up wet and tired and cold, and I never saw the Horn.
Rest Area 300m
Monday, June 27, 2005
Digging The Dirt.
To a small boy there is nothing like a big pile of dirt. When at a tender age, the family moved to a State House, there was a big pile of topsoil where the lawn was to be. There was also a pile of metal, builders mix, to be used for making concrete and pouring the paths and front steps. The piles became mountains and quarries. Toy trucks and bulldozers put in long days, carving tunnels, roads, and towns. The dog used to piss me off by digging holes in my carefully laid out railway marshalling yards. Then one fateful day the lawn was laid, no more pile of dirt. The only bonus was the parental encouragement to keep the birds off, which I did, with a catapault. But there is something eminently satisfying, after having a gazillion jobs, to be back playing with piles of dirt, and real trucks and bulldozers.
Sunday, June 26, 2005
Thrills & Spills
August, a drunk driver crashed into a truck in southern New Mexico that was hauling 28 55-gallon drums of nuclear waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Project in Carlsbad, N.M.
Less than two weeks later, the driver of another truck carrying waste to WIPP blacked out, hurtling across an interstate median in Idaho. His backup driver was asleep in the cab.
They also get lost.....
The main line of the Puget Sound and Pacific Railroad was shut down for about 12 hours early Monday morning after a semi truck accident near Rochester, Wa.
Just after midnight a semi truck that was travelling westbound on SR12 just east of Rochester left the roadway after striking a guardrail and rolled onto its side onto the PSAP right-of-way. The semi truck, carrying beer was en-route from Grants Pass, OR to Aberdeen, WA. There were no injuries in the incident. The semi truck came to rest with its cab on the rails, which are 10 feet higher than the highway, and the contents of the truck, bottles of cans and beer were distributed along the right of way.
Friday, June 24, 2005
Rivers can be fickle things. We have many sections of highway that wind through river valleys, and every now and then the river will change course and attack the road. It will chew into the bank and steadily undermine it. The first sign of a problem is often cracking opening up in the seal. We can often buy time by filling them and the river will oblige us by reverting to it's normal course.
We have been keeping an eye on one problem area for about a month. It looked like it had settled down, but today I noticed it had moved a bit, and as I watched a new crack opened up. Time to hit the panic button. We like to get off the road early on a friday, and making a deviation and barricading off a washout wasn't in the plan. This afternoon we managed to constuct a deviation on the inland side of the road in about 3 hours, digging out the area with an excavator, and carting in a pile of metal.
Traffic will be diverted around the slumped area, onto the levelled area in front of the loader. We will use cones and signs to do this and then start work on the slump itself, probably by using big boulders, and building up the river bank. But that can now wait till next week.
Rest Area 300m
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Another day, another tunnel
Potholes today. So you load a bucket of pavemix on the truck, collect up the gear and head north.
The R/T crackles, "Slip on Mt Messenger". So you go back to the yard, tip off the pavemix, help load up the Front End Loader, and head south, away to the mountain. It was only a small slip, but a dangerous one, on a bend just out of the tunnel, and unsighted to traffic from either direction. Slips like this can cause chaos. In the photo, the loader has just finished clearing it. Back to the Yard, clean off the tray, unload the Loader, reload the pavemix, collect the gear. The R/T crackles, We all look at each other.... "Bad potholes north...." Collective sigh of relief, .."Lets have lunch".
Rest Area 300m
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Awakino Gorge Tunnel (from the south)
This catches the odd truckie out if they have a high, or over width load. At times we have to assist when earthmoving machinery has to off loaded and driven through the tunnel. It is also the unofficial northern boundary for such things as the local Mokau ambulance & postie.
Rest Area 300m
Who's A Naughty Boy Then...
Trading on the Stock Exchange was brought to a halt from 11.01am until 4pm. The exchange stayed open for an extra 30 minutes until 5.30pm. Eftpos disruption hurt shoppers and retailers. The online auction site TradeMe reported a significant reduction in traffic between 11am and 3pm. Air travellers experienced delays of 25 minutes or more when the loss of internet and email forced Air NZ to manually check-in passengers.
Boy someone could be in real trouble here. Thank God not us
Monday, June 20, 2005
Places We Have Lunch (7)
This river is a popular one for kayaking. It is a beautiful stretch of water, running through limestone country.
( alas I think a bit of my lunch strayed onto the lens. )
Rest Area 300m
I staggered into Casa Fart tonight after a very long and gruelling day, in time to watch a 60 minutes programme on doped out & fatigued truck drivers.
Unfortunately I fell asleep during it. However, bate your breath, I taped it (I think) & no doubt will pontificate at length in the near future.
Sunday, June 19, 2005
"Take Her Down No 1"
Soon your new car will be a close relative of the submarine. And probably sooner than you think.
"Look at our cars. They're made of big heavy things that shake, bounce, and sway; they're propelled by pistons, shafts, gears, and belts; controlled by shafts, gears, valves, and hydraulic fluids. All the really important parts go click-click, bang-bang. The car is a 100 kW (peak) machine. The stuff that hums instead of clanking, the electric load, peaks at 2 kW."
Already things are stating to happen ......
"To meet this steadily rising demand for electric power, car manufacturers are making the transition to a 42-volt grid to replace the existing 14-volt grid. Lower-voltage wires just can't convey large amounts of power efficiently. A new 42-volt industry standard emerged recently, and half of global automobile production will be on a 42-volt platform within the next decade or so."
From Mechanical Engineering Well worth a read.
Rest Area 300m
Friday, June 17, 2005
Rock & Roll
Not only is that one big rock, it is also going to be a big problem getting rid of it. Already the tray is cutting into those expensive tires, and with that amount of left hand wheel on, the whole thing could go over. As soon as the tray starts to lift there is also a dire danger of tipping over.
I Think this is the same dumper
You can see the rock on the tray, which has chewed into the tires.
Now they really have a problem.
Places We Have Lunch (6)
Seaview, just north of Mokau.
A couple of the locals kite fishing. There have been a couple of 11kg snapper caught using kites off the beach this week. They have been having more success than the boaties as the Mokau bar has sanded up and is very shallow. Of course when it is as calm as this, that can be very frustrating.
Rest Area 300m
Thursday, June 16, 2005
A roadman's hut at Bealey (now Klondyke Corner), near Arthur's Pass. South Island. Another roadman's cottage (a later version) on the same road, is being restored by DOC.
Jock Atkins 1909 - 1997
Jock never had a day's sick leave or been laid up all of his working life. He was dedicated to the job and frequently cleared slips from the Akatarawa Road even at the weekend and in the evenings so that the locals could get through.
Jock died in 1997 at Horowhenua Hospital. For 50 years he daily traversed the hilly Akatarawa Road on his bicycle with an accompanying dog and shovel to clear slips, drains and culverts.
At work on the road, Jock was, apparently, immune to the honks and greetings from passing motorists. He had the habit of carrying on shovelling and supposedly ignoring passing traffic but through the rear vision mirror one could see him stooped over, looking under his arm to see who had passed, whether they honked or not.
How cool that someone has remembered a local roadie & made a tribute to him.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Places We Have Lunch (5)
Mokau River Mouth. The Flower Pot rock in foreground. (It used to look like one)
The little white cottage on the cliff is the old signal station, and would report the state of the bar to ships entering the river. These days it is the site of webcams. One looks at the bar, the other is directed back north showing the beach beyond the cottages on the right. Taken over the road from the Whitebait Inn, who do a fine Steak,Bacon & Cheese Pie.
Rest Area 300m
Back On Line
I arrived home today with a bit of sealing chip left on the truck. Not one to waste such a valuable resource I thought I'd spread it on the drive to the Fart residence. I carefully checked power wires, low branches etc, and then, up with the hoist and away. One problem. I forgot the phone line. Ping!
Of course being manly, I managed to use the truck as a ladder and rejoin them.
The sealing chip I'm pleased to report was left over from a job I wrote about earlier., and which after 6 weeks has finally been sealed. The local pub should get a bit of a nudge tonight! There will however, be a couple of souls out all night in a sign truck slowing traffic down on the new soft easily damaged surface.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Places We Have Lunch (4)
"Truckies Corner," Awakino River. I must be a bit late for lunch, which is most unlike me. The sign truck is already parked up, and the crew have found a spot. There are quite a few trout, and often mullet in the river.
Rest Area 300m
Monday, June 13, 2005
Now That's A Digger!
This bucket-wheel excavator, used in coal mining, is having a bit of a trundle through the German countryside.
It's 22km journey to it's new coalface took nearly six weeks, at 10 metres a minute, and at a cost of 7.5 million Euro's. (cheaper apparently than disassembly/reassembly)
The worlds largest, Bagger 288, weighs over 12800 tons, is 96 metres high, and uses enough electricity to power 15,000 homes.
"Years and years ago, when I was a boy, when there were wolves in Wales, and birds the color of red-flannel petticoats whisked past the harp-shaped hills, when we sang and wallowed all night and day in caves that smelt like Sunday afternoons in damp front farmhouse parlors, and we chased, with the jawbones of deacons, the English and the bears, before the motor car, before the wheel, before the duchess-faced horse, when we rode the daft and happy hills bareback, it snowed and it snowed......
A Childs Xmas In Wales
Sunday, June 12, 2005
Jack & Jill
Punctures are a hassle.
It is amazing how people will dice with death, when they have a flat tire. I have seen a couple who blew a tire running into a rock fall, set about fitting the spare in the middle of the road, oblivious to the danger of falling rocks and following traffic. Yesterday a farmer towing a hay baler with his truck, set about replacing the wheel on the baler on a blind corner. Frantic signalling from an oncoming car stopped me rearranging him and his baler. When I suggested he drag the baler off the road to deal with the problem, I got an astonished look and a "I might damage something ..." response.
Boy, did he get it.
I pointed to the 3 crosses from the Xmas crash at the same corner, and using rather immoderate language, asked him if he really wanted to die for a tire, or cause a head on accident, and that if he didn't clear the road sharpish I would radio the police. He grudgingly complied.
Women, of course, have perfected the art of tire changing.
Saturday, June 11, 2005
Practioners of the lolly pop seem to figure in a lot of vacation photo's. This fine gentleman, aiding in the global conspiracy to hold up holiday makers, is on the Canada / Alaska Highway. He seems a lot better dressed than his Death Valley counterpart. (cool boots) He is a local Shoshone.
At first glance I was sure this was a New Zealand scene, It so easily could be.
An old Newspaper, published in 1848 was found in the Garret of an old desert shack. The paper is framed and is in the Pony Express Museum. The following letter is printed in the paper:
"Come right off if you are comin' at all, as Silas Haimes is 'sistin' that I shall have him and he hugs and kisses me so continuously that I can't hold out much longer.
I must have him or you very quick fer my feelin's sich that I must git me a feller before next winter. I jist can't stand it nohow much longer.
Sally Ann P."
Friday, June 10, 2005
Thursday, June 09, 2005
This cheerful chap is a Road Worker in Death Valley. Judging by the shadow it is not the middle of the day. They must be made of steel there even so.
Rust Never Sleeps
Well, you see, here's the thing - it actually makes a film on the inside walls of the cabin and slides down ever so slippery to under the belly baggage pit where it sits sloshing around slowly rotting out the structure. Then that's where I come in like the hero I am and grind, cut and replace all that snot-induced rot, so that you can have your safe hot-breathy-aired flight over the Atlantic."
We keep an eye on this rock. It is about the size of a full sized billiard table, and would be a metre or more thick. I would guess it would weigh something like 8 tonnes. When it does let go, it will end up on the road. Engineers reckon it is pretty safe, but we give it a wide berth. We have to wear hard hats when working in an area like this where there is a risk of falling rocks. At night, clearing rocks and debris off the road, you feel pretty vulnerable. A big rock fall here would be very scary. Of course a hard hat is pretty bloody futile too. When you are called out to "rocks on the road" in this area you never know if they will be football sized, or football field sized. I have been lucky so far, the biggest about the size of a school desk and I could drag it off the road with my truck.
Rest Area 300m
Labels: rock fall
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
This bastard is a flu virus. I am currently riddled with millions of them. Half our crew are out of commission at the moment. They must be tough buggers to live in the biological hell that is the Fart body.
Never mind, Go the 'Naki
Rest Area 300m
Places We Have Lunch (3)
Mt. Egmont, Taranaki, from the Mt. Messenger rest area. It is a bit hazy, but this is the first real snowfall of the winter, and he is wearing his shiny new coat.
Rest Area 300m
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
This small slip is reasonably typical of the sort of thing you can get called out to, in the middle of the night.
It has been shovelled back to the road edge, and larger rocks which were in the middle of the road dragged to the side with a chain hooked to my trusty old truck. You then cone it off so it is visible and put up warning signs. This was taken the following morning. A front end loader is on the way, from the depot about 80 kilometres away. Though a small slip, those rocks would do serious damage if you hit one.
Rest Area 300m
Bring On The Alligator Whisperer
In New Zealand, we can wander off the road to answer a call on nature without becoming a snack for a bear, tiger, or other toothy creature. In India they have to watch the tigers, in Alaska, bears. In Florida the local lines company had to remove an 18ft Alligator from the job.
But these would really freak me out. There are 87 of them, and it's the same job!
Monday, June 06, 2005
Feel The Power
I remember reading an interview in the paper, where a top business mogul in charge of a zillion dollar enterprise was asked if there was anything else in life he fancied doing.
"Stop & Go man", he said, "For a true feeling of power".
Well he is welcome to our reality show.
Torrential rain, a howling gale straight off the mountain, umbrella unable to cope, and a lot of expensive hired machinery working, so no hope of a knock off.
I bravely took this shot through the truck windscreen, heater on full blast.
Rest Area 300m
Sunday, June 05, 2005
I carry a small propane stove in my truck, so I don't have to use my trusty shovel. The trick is to sterilize the shovel by getting it red hot, being careful not to set the handle alight. Many a sausage was cooked like this in the railways. Bloody good too.
I once ended up in the Coromandel on a very impromptu holiday, with a fine bunch of ladies. I was able to appear very manly, by steaming some mussels I foraged in the hubcaps of my car, using a pair of vicegrips as a handle.
Saturday, June 04, 2005
Places We Have Lunch (2)
Friday, June 03, 2005
Choosing Your Accident!
"Queen's Birthday holiday weekend seems likely to get off to a cold and snowy start with some roads in the deep south closed and others open only to vehicles with snow chains. The AA is urging motorists to watch for roadside hazards and reminding them to set aside longer travelling times than usual when embarking on their holiday."
I have been looking forward to some serious lounging, and couch rugby watching. Don't think so somehow..
"AA Bay of Plenty district manager Barry Kidd said such hazards (Weather, wind,fog, ice) have been a common factor in the recent multiple-fatality crashes.
He says trees for example are potentially deadly when they are close to the side of the road.
Mr Kidd warns the consequences for motorists can be as deadly as combat.
Barry Kidd said the driving experts recommend drivers should look for safe escape routes rather than fixating on the hazards."
Well I'm going to play experts too..
Many drivers get so fixated on a hazard on the road, and this includes road works, that they "freeze" and plough straight into them, brakes hard on, wheels locked, knuckles white on the wheel.
When you are in a situation of an impending crash,
Thursday, June 02, 2005
How Mark Felt Became 'Deep Throat'
By Bob Woodward
"With a story as enticing, complex, competitive and fast-breaking as Watergate, there was little tendency or time to consider the motives of our sources. What was important was whether the information checked out and whether it was true. We were swimming, really living, in the fast-moving rapids. There was no time to ask why they were talking or whether they had an ax to grind.
"I was thankful for any morsel or information, confirmation or assistance Felt gave me while Carl and I were attempting to understand the many-headed monster of Watergate. Because of his position virtually atop the chief investigative agency, his words and guidance had immense, at times even staggering, authority. The weight, authenticity and his restraint were more important than his design, if he had one."
I suppose in this day and age, he (Felt) would have written a blog. Somehow, I don't think it would have the same impact on history.
Roll over Beethoven
I have been doing some in depth pondering on a reply I made to some email questions, I made a few posts ago,
" What do you think causes the most crashes?
On our stretch of highway, speed & fatigue by a country mile. Usually a combination of both. The driving on auto pilot syndrome."
I also think the isolation and comfort of modern cars could be a factor. I mean there you are, in climate controlled reverie, a full symphony orchestra, or rock band in 8 speaker surround sound blazing away, cruise control, 27 position power seat, all the fruit.
Well you get my drift!
SEATTLE — Roadside litter comes in all shapes and sizes — from dirty diapers to syringes — but there's one category that out-grosses the rest: trucker bombs.
Most drivers whiz along the nation's highways largely oblivious to their roadside surroundings. But next time you are out there, take a closer look.
"As soon as you look for it you’ll see it," says Megan Warfield, litter programs coordinator at Washington state's Department of Ecology. "You just see them glistening in the sun. It’s just gross."
They are trucker bombs, plastic jugs full of urine tossed by truckers, and even non-truckers, who refuse to make a proper potty stop to relieve themselves.
Disposing of trucker bombs, aka torpedoes or pee bottles, is a thankless task that in many cases falls to highway cleanup crews.
When it comes to human waste, the dangerous category covers trucker bombs and dirty diapers. Together the accounted for 8,000 pounds of trash collected from state roads last year.
In April, Colorado increased its "human waste" fine from $40 to $500. Transportation employees convinced lawmakers of the need for the drastic increase with their tales of finding urine jugs as they mowed roadway ditches. "We hit them, they explode. The operator ends up wearing this stuff," Randy Dobyns told state senators.
Dobyns estimated he picks up at least 50 containers a week, sometimes milk jugs, water bottles or even bags filled with urine. "The folks who dispose of this stuff are very creative in their use of containers," he said.
Well this is one American cultural practice that we don't need!
So when you see a truck stopped, and the driver "surveying" the off side rear wheel, just remember he is doing his thing for a clean and green New Zealand.........
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
Every now and then while cleaning up after an accident, or brooming fine gravel onto a patch we are sealing, I hear in my mind my mum, ...scolding me for not doing homework.... "If you are not careful, you will end up sweeping the streets..."
We use a broom tractor mostly. Not as flash as this one though, sent to me by one of my South Island readers. Thanks Sis.
Like most people, well older buggers, I've always been fascinated by the identity of "Deep Throat", the key source of information that led to Nixon's downfall. Speculation has had all manner of people being the shadowy figure. The hot favourite for a long while was Fred Fielding, Nixon's Deputy Counsel. Even George
There was one man though who was right. Well as near as damn it anyway.... James Mann, a colleague of Bob Woodward at The Washington Post.
"I cannot reveal who Deep Throat was, because I do not know. I do know, however, the part of the government in which Deep Throat worked, and I can speculate with some conviction about what Deep Throat's institutional motivations may have been."
That's one of life's great questions answered. But there is always the big one. How to reply to the question, "Does my bum look fat in this..... "
Vanity Fair Scoop.