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WT attempts flight Pt1

I promised you the 3 storey story so here it is. This happened years ago when I was either a 2nd or 3rd year apprentice. First off, you have to remember that I’m pretty old, and this was back when there was nothing like the workplace safety we have nowadays. It was also at a time when apprentices did what they were told or they literally got a kick up the butt from the tradesmen.

We were doing a laboratory renovation at the CSIRO at North Ryde, part of which involved the installation of Fume cupboards…

Img_4455

For those unfamiliar with the term, they look a lot like this. This one is a bit more modern than the ones we were installing but the concept is the same, get the bad air out of the laboratory and share it with the rest of the world.

In order to do that, you need an exhaust system which normally consists of some ducting and a big old fan on the roof. And that’s how come I was up on the roof!  Another thing about this happening so long ago  was there there was no such thing as a cordless drill. And that meant I had to use one of these…

Brace_2

I actually found a better picture, but this one is more like the one I was using, it’s called a Brace and Bit (the bit being the actual drill, as in drill bit).

Ok, so we had to get power up to the exahust fan, and to do this I had to drill an inch and a half hole through four inches of wood (we actually spoke feet and inches in those days). You have to pay attention to this part because it’s important; using one of these to drill a big hole through 4" of timber is a real bitch, but just drilling the hole is not the only thing that’s a bitch. Because of the shape of the bit and the speed the the hole has been drilled (really slowly) you can end up with a hole that has big burrs that will stop the conduit (which has an inch and a half outside diameter) that the hole was drilled for, from going through it.

In order to get a nice round hole, you have to turn the Brace the same way you turned while you were drilling, this is the same for drilling any hole, but you don’t notice it with either small holes of fast (electric) drills. If your not a big strong guy (I was a 17 year old kid), what you have to do is squat down, get a good grip on the round wooden pad at your end of the brace (you sort of hold it like a brandy snifter), turn the bit clockwise while using the strength in your legs to pull the bit out of the wood.

Now, before we get to the exciting part, I need to set things up just a little; this was a long, fairly narrow, three storey building, the fan was at the one end of it, and I had my back to the edge. Ok, here goes…I was straining like crazy trying to get the bastard out when suddenly the bit came out of the brace just as I had increased the pressure from my legs, resulting in a kind of catapult like effect.

The only thing I could really, do was close my eyes and prepare myself for the afterlife. Ok, so you know I didn’t die, but you don’t know what kind of injuries I sustained. For that you’ll have to come back later.

Continued…/

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29 Responses

  1. Geez, talk about a cliffhanger!
    And astoundingly, I actually understood most of the technical kinda description you gave – which either means you are very eloquent and write things in a way that even morons can understand OR! I’m getting brighter! Please say it’s the latter …

  2. You are the master of these cliffhangers. Anyway thank God for cordless drills.

  3. Hilarious!

  4. Danny has a brace and bit or two in his antique tool collection. He says that they were still using them in shop class when we were in high school–not because there wasn’t anything better available but because the school couldn’t afford to buy all new tools when they had “perfectly good” tools already. I think they also figured they’re less dangerous, but I guess you proved that theory wrong.
    Don’t leave us hanging too long. Construction stories freak me out a little. And I’ve heard a lot of them. At least we know you lived to blog about it:o)

  5. This new story is nice and all but whatever happened to the bus ride part 4. Wasn’t there supposed to be a 4? Either way, looking forward to the next segment of this story. Glad you’re not dead!!

  6. Yikes WT! Hey I have one of those fume hoods and it’s not functioning correctly. Will you come by and fix it? Thanks.

  7. “you sort of hold it like a brandy snifter.”

    i like that.

  8. I’ve used one of those do-hickeys but not while atop a 3rd floor roof. Did yer life flash by before you hit bottom?

    You know I’ll have to come back now to read the ending.

  9. Melissa – It’s definitely not my writing ability so it must be you getting smarter.

    Mary – Cordless drills are brilliant!

    Min – Do you have a random comments generator or something? Not that I don’t appreciate your comments, I do, it’s just that you have been commenting more regularly lately and ‘Hilarious’ is an interesting response to someone falling off the roof of a 3 storey building. Particularly when there was no attempt at humour in the post. Am I missing something?

    Jenni – I may finish it tomorrow or I may leave it until after Fun Monday.

    Robinella – There was a Part 4 of the Bus ride, it was posted on the 19th of July. The link is in the sidebar.

    Jenn – If it’s not working, then don’t leave your head in there too long.

    Laurie – It took a little while to come up with a description that illustrated what I was trying to say.

    Brenda – That’s kinda the idea.

  10. Good use of suspense. But since we already know you survived, it takes some of the fear factor and fun out of it. You are way, way too technical for my sleep-deprived brain, but since I have a horrible “can’t turn away from the car wreck” fear of heights and fascination with the macabre, I can’t wait for more. . .

  11. True cliffhanger…

    and even though we know you didn’t die (unless you’ve got some cat-nine-lives thing going on), I’m kinda nervous to hear what happened next.

    Sounds like pain’s involved…:/.

  12. dude just outta curisoity how many life and death experiences can one person have and survive? are you really a cat in disguise?

  13. Ok I will be waiting for the second part…

    *sits and sips on tea*

  14. Nice old-timey drill.

    My grandfather fell off the roof when he was eighty and didn’t break anything – I’m interested to hear how you ended up. I’m thinking if one more person I know falls off a roof and survives I’m going to start living a more x-treme! lifestyle.

  15. OMG…I’m in total suspense. I can see you…just a kid…not much older than my daughter. GASP!

    Even tho you are alive, I’m still worried about what happens next.

  16. glad you survived – the picture of the brace and bit reminds me of my dad’s tool shed – we were always committing mayhem with one or another of his tools. But isn’t that the original cordless drill?

  17. I had two cordless drills with wheels and cogs also powered by the rotating hand. Health and safety are for the weak.

  18. I’m intrigued already!

  19. Ok, if I’ve gotta.

  20. Looking forward to the next installment! Came over from Stepherz! LOVE the title of your blog!

  21. Crazy story man! My Grandfathers had those drills. I thought they were so cool! I don’t know if I am looking forward to the next installment due to my squeamish nature about injuries…but I love your stories…as long as there are no graphic pictures I think I’ll be able to handle it! Have a great weekend!!

  22. I really hope that drill didn’t end up someplace unprintable. Make a hell of a story though, wouldn’t it?

  23. Like I’ve said before, you seem to have nine lives like those kitties of yours.

    Well, since you were just a kid, I hope you mostly bounced.

    I can’t wait to start my day tomorrow with a gruesome injury! ‘Cuz we don’t have any of those around here!

    Seriously though, yikes…

  24. I hope you bounced. Hard.

    I hate cliffhangers. I’m gonna refrain from reading until you’ve posted installments 2 & 3.

  25. TLG – That’s very christian of you.

  26. Thanks for the redirect. It was worth heading back in time. ~R

  27. sitting here in seattle – looking across the horizon at downtown, the space needle, mt rainier…etc
    and reading you, thinking: You must have hit your hard head. Thats the only way you would survive that fall
    bwahhahahahahahahahaha

  28. gee you must really be old if you used equipment like that. looks like the drill is from a museum.

  29. bit-and-braces don’t kill people, idiots with bit-and-braces do? 😉

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