Monday, August 27, 2012

Easy Day

According to regs, we have to all be certified by an accredited outfit in order to operate our articulating boom cranes - or what we call 'em - knuckle boom cranes. This is the obstacle course I will have to negotiate tomorrow. We will be timed as well. Notice the tennis balls? Knock one off - deduction. Knock a pylon out of place - deduction. Knock one clear over, another deduction. See the chain dragging along underneath the test cylinder? That must be in contact with the ground at all times until the far end of the course.

You can see the circle to the right - the cylinder is parked there at the start of the test. We must navigate though the zig zag area - keep in mind that the boom describes an arc moving naturally, so at certain points we must extend the boom while turning the turntable, or retract it at the same time. Screw up and get to swinging? You start knocking balls off. When we get the cylinder to the far end, the chain must cross the red line on the ground, then we lift up, clearing all the obstacles and the hurdle (red and white striped pole), then drop the chain into the circle, and then the cylinder, all within the circle's bounds. We have four minutes.

Then we reverse the course - pick it up, clear the hurdle, drop the chain on the far end of the line, and run through the obstacle course, and park it in the circle to the right. In four minutes. We then have ninety seconds to pick up the weight and drop it into the circle away from the zig zag further back and slightly to the right - once again, without knocking over any balls or pylons, and staying within the circle.

My first and only practice run had me knocking over two balls through the first leg, plus knocking over the hurdle, then knocking over another couple balls on the way back and going over about four or five seconds. I have a problem with depth perception sometimes, plus I got the shakes - I'd had some pretty low blood sugar. I think I had a passing score anyways, but I'd sure as hell like to do better!

I feel for some of the guys there - some are completely inexperienced and have never touched the controls of a crane before. When we first stepped out on the course, a bunch of our go getter types ran through the course in a big hurry without any deductions, but after they were gone, the instructors remeasured everything and moved the pylons in by over a foot, so it's a hell of a lot tighter than what they had to do! Guess it'll be a shocker tomorrow!

Oh, and maybe you can tell we make steel tanks by looking off in the distance a tad.


jed said...

Doesn't look like much clearance there. I bet I could knock over all the pylons on my 1st attempt!

I have, in my life, been up-close and personal only once when the crane operator almost lost a 1-yard dump bucket full of concrete. He was a very experienced operator too, which I suppose is why he got it back.

Oh, happy B-day, you old coot! :)

Anonymous said...

I have always admired crane operators. Jeweler's precision, steady hand and feel of the machine - that's a real craft.
Good luck with your test, Jeffro. Tell us how you did, OK?

Jeffro said...

I'll know in 12 yo 15 days, they say. One of the instructors said I did ok on the practical, but they have to score the written yet. I got 3 tennis balls and went slightly over time on both zigzags, but nailed the over the top from circle to circle both ways with time to spare.

Thx, jed! I'll consider the source!!!;)