Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Part - 19.h.4. - Work Recap 2


19h.(4) Recap (2)

On a Wednesday, Daddy introduced me to Owen Hart the Structural Superintendent and Ed Owens, the Structural Engineer for Paul Hardeman-Fischbach and Moore, who were doing Phase II of the project.

Later, Morrison-Knudsen joined PH-FM to do Phase IIA.
Phase I involved digging the silos 160 feet deep and about 60 feet diameter, all in dense rock. Then they started pouring concrete in the bottom and "slip formed" the walls continually, until they had poured out at the top. Then they installed the huge girders that spanned the hole from four directions. Phase II involved hanging EVERYTHING to the walls: all floors, the launch tube, a 6,000 gallon cooling water tank, all piping and electrical; building the igloo style Launch Control Center, the Entrance, called the Blast Lock; and the tunnel connecting the silo to the blast lock and blast lock to the Launch Control center.

Also included installation of a 200-ton rollback door.
Phase IIA was the installation of all finish electrical and electronic, controls, operation equipment, etc.

When I talked with Hart and Owens, they said they needed someone to take care of all structural steel drawings plus some other things. They wanted me to start ASAP. When I asked what the pay rate was, Owen said, "Oh, how about a hundred-and-a-half?" My mouth flew open and I said, "A month?" He said, "Hell no. A week!" I could hardly believe my ears, after the $1.25 an hour, that was "BIG MONEY!"

The next Monday morning, I started work as a Junior Structural Engineer. There wound up being 770 different shop drawings that were frequently revised, and there were thirteen sets of these drawings. There was one set on twelve different job sites and one in my office. All were on plan sticks made out of 1/4" by 2" laths with three 1/4" bolts through them. In addition to the shop drawings, there were almost 300 Erection drawings that the Ironworkers used to assemble the steel on the sites.

There were five copies of each erection drawing. One was on the sticks and four were folded so the Foremen could stick them in their pockets and take them down in the silos.
Along with all the other work with drawings, I kept records of costs on all steelwork and managed a steel fabrication shop with as many as eighteen Iron Workers and a Cable Splicer.

We made thousands of steel wedges of various sizes, three inch square "blank nuts" and "alignment dogs" for use in aligning the steel plates on the launch tubes and water tanks.
Since everything was hung to the silo's concrete walls by drilling and anchoring, we made hundreds of pipe and equipment hanger brackets for each site. Plus, Old Cherokee Pete made all the wire rope slings for the project.

Pete was an OK guy. He was the type person that, if he liked you, he'd give you the shirt off his back. If he didn't like you, he had nothing to do with you. Well, he "took a likin' to me." Once he brought me a quart jar full of an "Old Cherokee Recipe" of a kind of stew. It had squirrel meat, some kind of potato and lots of other things that he wouldn't identify. It was SUPER rich. You could only eat a couple of spoonsful at a time. He told me it was an energy booster.

One day, I saw Pete working with a one-half inch cable about twenty feet long. He was making some steel hooks and putting it on some short pieces of chain. I asked him what he was making. He said, "I'm makin' a vehicle tow cable for a friend of mine." When he finished it, he handed it to me and said, "Here ya go, friend!"

For a long time, we had the shop, and I had a warehouse trailer set up at Site #18. This site was about the central one of all the eighteen sites. The warehouse was for Iron Workers' tools, welding equipment and rods, and torches.

The original excavations had a two-inch diameter pipe guard rail bent to the radius of the hole (about 100 feet in diameter). When the hole was closed, the pipe rails were scrapped. Also, the pipe fab shop had some work horses made of two-and-a-half inch pipe. I took four pieces of the bent pipe for legs and one of the "horses" about ten feet wide for the top, and made the kids a swing set. It cost me a whole dollar for the material! The frame is still in the back yard in Millry. We use it for a porch type swing now.

After leaving Conway in January 1961, I didn't have a job for two months. We moved in with Lou for about four months.
In February 1961, I went to work as an agent with the National Life and Accident Insurance Co. in Mobile. I was averaging $108.00 per week, but by the time I ran the debit two or three times a week trying to collect premiums, car expense and taxes, I only netted out about $35.00 per week. That doesn't go far toward feeding a family of four! I'd go by some clients to collect maybe two or three dollars for a little "sick and accident" policy, and they'd say, "Policy Man, I ain't got no money today. Come back Sadity and I'll have some then!"

During the time I was working for National Life, we bought our first house. It was in Terrace Hills subdivision, off Cottage Hill Road. The house was at 4450, then changed to 5200 Almeda Court. It was the center house of a five-house circle.

1 comment:

madisel said...

All this time, and I didn't realize you were building missle silos. It must have been crazy having to drive through all those anti-nuclear protesters back in 1960 just to get to work!