Saturday, November 27, 2010

11 All things Wilkins and stuff..............

Hello people,

well this week has been a big one, with much on station well under way and much done. As i said in my title Wilkins and stuff...........................so lets get the stuff out of the road as the Wilkins bit is far more interesting.

So two entries ago i attached a video about the Casa 212 that had a bumpy landing at one of our remote field camps.  Happy to tell everyone that they are this week the Pilots and Engineers have come home with a present. While there they obviously had a little spare time on their hands so they found an old chainsaw that was broken and well you know Engineers take a look for yourself................



There is even a coffee jar as a fuel tank......................

Ohhh and i got to add this one a couple of the guys learning how to ski.............I'm mean but its funny.

video

No as for the main job of the week was the Wilkins mobile garage, last blog you saw it being towed down to station and the sled being put together. Well there is a building that sits on it and that was shat we were building.

It starts like this


and


and inside the 4 containers!!!!



So after unpacking all the containers all 4 of them we started putting it in order and the first thing we needed to make was the back wall as from this point all the rest would be self supporting. It came together very smooth almost too smooth, something mustn't be right as we aren't having any problems.


laying out the back wall on the deck of the sled before putting the walls in.............


Cliff with the back wall on right hand of picture ready to be stood up............


Up she goes..............

After this it all went quite quick but too a fair amount of planning and organizing on the ground before we started to do any lifts. All the bolt holes even lined up, well most of them anyway!!!!!!!!



Lifting a portal

Above you can see we have just finished lifting a roof panel into place and the guys are tieing it in.
Just in case you don't think i work down here i though id add these ones................


Big smiley me in the orange hi vis...........

 Not going to make it too easy for you so turn either your computer monitor sideways or your head and you'll see me drilling.............lol


My favourite job was sitting in the warm cab of the crane as the day before Kenny the slave driver worked us to the bone......................was nice sitting down!!


Kenny trying to tell me something.....................hummm


So all in all it was a very very big week and we even had time to get the mobile rock crusher into the work shop to deblizz it as it was quite full of snow............


Only just fit into the workshop with centimeters to spare.............gaud I'm a good driver!!!!


Looking at a snow filled radiator now that's cooling for you to the extreme.


This belt is meant to carry the finished product after its run through the crusher but in this case its SNOW!!!


Jaw crusher also strangely full of snow..................gaud anyone would think i was in Antarctica!!


This mobile jaw crusher is totally run by hydraulics and your looking at the hydraulic pump gain covered in snow. As i guess you've figured we put it in today in an attempt to melt all the snow out of it over the weekend BUT i highly doubt that is going to happen. When all the snow melts where do you think it goes................................cant go down the drain as its mixed with oil so in the next couple of entries ill show you how we look after all that waste water and how it is treated, only wish there was smellovision for that blog entry.

Tomorrow I'm going to be leading a group of expitionars to a place called Browning Peninsula where there is a field hut. I have been looking forward to this for a long time as last season it was not possible to make it out there due to the melt and weather conditions. This place and another place we will be walking to called Peterson Island are teeming with birds, penguins, juvenile Elephant seals and Weddell seals. So next entry will be a mid week one and I'm sure everyone will like it and ill get to really give my new lens a workout!!

Also today Sunday the 28th November is my Fathers Birthday and id like to say a BIG WHITE happy birthday to you...............im thinking of you Dad!!!

So until then be good,

Michael

P.S............"Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm."
                  Winston Churchill

Sunday, November 21, 2010

10 A tour of the Red Shed, Wilkins sled deja vu and jet engines........

Hello all,

As per requests on a station tour here is part one. Many thanks to Paul Deverall for giving me permission to show his video AND it saved me from doing it more to the point............

video

again thatks Paul Deverall...............it should be noted that when this video was shot (dodgy as it is thanks to Pauls dodgy video techniques) it was shot in winter where there was onlly 23 on station, currently there is just over 80 so its a little different.......

So there is the red shed done i will try and do some more over the next couple weeks when i have time.

Now for the Wilkins sleds..........over winter the guys here got alot done one of those things was the new opperation building AKA Hadleys Hotel after the Manager at Wilkins.
from left to right you have Johan (Plant Operator) ME and Kenny (BSS) no that's not a typo he can be a little full of BS but his position is Wilkins Building Services Supervisor .



                                       Ray Ray ready to start the to in the Hilux....................




So here we are all connected up ready to go with me in the Challenger at the front and Gary in the D7 at the at the back as a break. After breaking the sled out the rubber tracked Challenger didn't do so good on the icy surface so after a couple false we finally got it going. However the D7 was now the lead and i was holding up the rear.



Even the Dozer needed help at one point where the other tractor needed to pull along with the D7 to get it up.......


So after Towing the Opps Building up to Penguin Pass ready for the incoming winter crew to fit it over winter we moved on to another Wilkins job which is a new building where the mechanic can work on machines. SO its a little different to all the other sleds we have built and i think the dieso will worship us when we get it up there. Wilkins is about 10deg c colder on average than us on station and when we get a blow they cop it a fair bit worse.

Dedlizzing time, last season we had built one sled and put the remanding on it which is now what we needed first.






There is was and will be at current no way known to man that we have the machines needed to get that out of there. That sled had blizzed up so bad in all the cross members and bracing that it was one with the snow. Deciding that we would take what we needed and let the sun do the work for us we too the top off and brought it down to be assembled.



                                      Kenny doing an impersonation Jean Simonds of KISS what do you think???????





All the time this was going on myself and Johan was trying to get the crane ready as it needed a little deblizzing itself.



Top right of that pic is the radiator and its is full of snow middle is the heads of the motor.





Say hello to Mr Herman Nelson....................the Herman Nelson is the yellow thing connected to the quad it pumps bloody hot air through the ducting to where ever you need it.

video

Herman working away................took about two hours to get the crane ready to started.

Once we got it going it was time to flip the individual pieces of the sled dig the snow off then put it together and to skip a couple pics and get to the good bits......




Cliff is still working............i cant believe it either!! LOL
Now as for the jet engines as you might recall the Antarctic Division has a chartered Airbus 319........well part of running the plane is having redundancies like in what we all do as a way of life here in Antarctica. But in the case of the airbus as it isn't here for long enough the engines are not shut down. But if they were to shut down and the on board stuff doesn't work they pull this baby out........


Now i think i got this right its a compressor off a 707...........its a jet engine that supplies air to spin the turbines fast enough to start them................

video


So i think that this is enough for this entry into my blog however i had a question emailed into me from Joseph Clarke asking me "did your parents visit to the BIG A.have any influence on you going to Antarctica or,......did you always want to go ?"

YES................i remember looking at their photos and thinking i HAVE to go there and ill do whatever it takes to get there..........at that stage i was working for a family friend in their quarry and only a week after seeing my parents pictures of Antarctica i happened to be looking a newspaper and there was the add that changed my life. Mind you i did get a rejection letter but it was the start think it took me another 2 years to reapply and when i did i didn't get anything back. At this stage i was working for another company and its one of those things i remember exactly what i was doing where i was when i got a phone call from the Division wanting me to go in for an interview.

Joes second question is "judging by the ice on your face after taking the photos outside,and then only for a short time I guess..................How on earth did those guys of the heroic age survive with their comparatively primitive  equipment food and shelter,especially the winter journey to Cape Crozier ,they must have been supermen."

Actually Jo i was outside for a fair while and i didn't really feel the cold except a little brain freeze..........crazy i know but the division so a excellent job of kitting us out with gear that is well suited to the climate and work we do. As for how the Heroic Age guys did...............after being here and seeing what Antarcticaca can through at someone all i can say is absolutely incredible. We have unbeleivable warm and weatherproof clothing they had very basic clothing indeed................


Will do a little more touring around the different buildings as we go on..................but enough for now must go and do something!!!!!!!!!!!


Michael


P.S................"I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief."
                      Gerry Spence



Wednesday, November 17, 2010

9 A walk to the Wharf, Rowdy at work and plane incidents......

Hi All

last Sunday i took a stroll down to the wharf and i saw my first Adelie Penguins for the season so i thought i would share some of the pics and as for the lens i think its working fine thanks Craig from Teds Brisbane CBD..........










Look at this funny little guy trying to pick a rock for his nest and he is nowhere near it

video

Was rather funny as where the pictures and video was taken was at the Casey Wharf which is about 5km to the closest Adelie Penguin Colony. They are looking for the rocks to put around their nests to attract the sun and keep their egg/s warm......................

My mate Rowdy, how to explain young Cliff. Unique no that's not as individualistic as the man himself is............................i can say you know it when he is around and you miss him when he is not. Bring colour and light into all our lives but loud hummmm understatement of the century..........LOL

Cliff is a "General Trades" down here and he actually is a Boilermaker by trade so here he is fixing one of my tools..........




In my previous blog called "4 Well I'm still here" you might remember me talking about a tragedy that happened when the French were transporting their expetionars to their base. Have a look there is still c current link to a newspaper article http://absoluteantarctica.blogspot.com/2010/10/4-well-im-still-here.html.

Well this is whats playing on the news at the moment..................and its here!!!

video

All are safe and well..............................

So another week as started and I'm settling in here almost too well, its so nice to feel so comfortable in both environment your in and those people your around. The Division do an amazing job at employing people from so many different walks of live with such varied experiences that in talking to them and listening to the journey that they have made to get here is absolutely amazing. Same thing in talking to the boffins as we call them of scientists...............its not often you rub shoulders with these people so in talking to them in what they are doing here is very interesting. Most of the Scientists that come here normally do a science talk on their project and last year they were very well attended, normally standing room only.

Ive had a request to do a little photographic tour of the station and whats involved in running it so might start that next blog......................

Enjoy,

Michael


P.S....................."Take risks...you can't fall of the bottom."
                             Barbara Proctor

Sunday, November 14, 2010

8 How about a little BLOW!!!!14/11/10

Firstly id like to start by thanking all of the 516 of you that have visited my little page and its humbling that so many of you find what boring old Michael gets up to, but i love it!!!!

Some of you that got my emails last season might remember the first weekend we were here last year we had a blizzard. Well we got one this year too, not quite as bad as last years but none the less impressive.


Here is a pic from last year of the weather board in the mess...............
AT= Actual temp DP= Dew point
Wind = direction in a compass reading/average wind speed in knots and WG= Wing gusts in knots

So first thing to notice is the direction from which the wind is coming from. Here at Casey the strongest wind always comes from the Easterly direction and 73 isn't far form it. Wind gusts of 91 knots even though last year it did apparently reach 101 so to put that into perspective 91 knots =  168.532kph and 101knots = 187.052kph. Rule of thumb in going outside in those sort of conditions isn't like a stroll in the park. We have blizz lines installed around the station. All they are is rope around poles that join all the buildings up so in zero visibility conditions it is possible to get from building to building. Secondly you must inform someone as to where you are going and call them when you get there. Only too often you hear stories form other stations where an expeditioner has gone outside only not to make it to where they wanted to go and nobody knew. There is only one result for that.............................. Lastly there is the 1kg to 1 knot rule, needless to say i haven't been in a blizz i haven't been able to stand up in.

Met (Bureau of Meteorology) had predicted a blow for us on Friday afternoon peaking that evening and dropping off to next to no wind on Saturday. You quickly learn that unlike back in Australia they are seldom wrong here. Friday we were working eagerly to prepare the station for the blizz which is ensuring all the blizz lines are in place and everything is tied down from being a potential missile.


video


A little video of trying to move around last season................you'll hear me laughing towards the end and that's Jeff on the ground you should just be able to make out after being blown over and Brett chickening out in going to the smokers hut........



Here is what happens when stuff isn't tied down..................... Antarctic Ingenuity wins with the modification of a bit of plywood and a little plastic.



This is a pic of the same board almost a year later and its amazing that the numbers are almost identical.......................but this is what we had on Friday.


video
Here i am working hard.............

Here are a series of pics to give you an idea of how and what it looks like..........



Taken lunch time Friday 1pm..................



Dinner time 6pm.....................


Saterday morning 8am...............

to give you an idea on distances, the closest gas bottle it about 4m away fertherst 9m maybe..............thats not as bad as i have seen here either. It wasnt snowing wither, it was snow being blown. Over winter there was a hell of a lot of snow fall here. One dump they had i think 2 or 3 foot, it was a months snow in one day. This hadent been hard packed so its still blowing around..........

On my way to take the middle shot in the series above just to give you an idea what happend to you.....................here i am in all my glory


Another thing i was going to show you was our toilet..................i know why would i want to show that but as you can imagine with the high winds there is an incredable sound inside the red shed (living quaters) and with the differing air pressures you get intresting side affects like......................


video

Then there was the after effects.........................






Wharf Road for those of you who remember from last season has been completed and now must be done again...................i didn't have much to do with it this year as i was on the second Herc it had already been commenced by a couple other operators and only helped out occasionally. But its about 30% full again and now must dig it out again! LOL

This week we also did Hagg training around a caned course................................................



video

Cliff showing me how "GENERAL TRADES" do it...............................

Now we come to last night think a picture would sum it up better.


Your looking from Casey Station towards Wiles the old American Station (you can see the old ray dome and a hut) at ice burgs stuck grounded....................

Its tuff with views like that every day/night to look at as we are only getting maybe an hour or so of twilight......................

Well that's all i got for you this week, be good till next time.


Michael


P.S............."Depend on the rabbit's foot if you will...but remember it didn't work for the rabbit."
                    R.E. Shay