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…
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…
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.
Filed under: Serials |