The monster crawls...

San Onofre Travel Blog

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Preparing the path for the Monster. This actually took 2 of the 3 months, they had to be really level and compacted to bear that much weight! Here we put erosion control to keep the silt from filling the adjacent marsh
This actually spans November to March, but I'll put it in one entry to make it easier to browse....

I think it's ok to post this now, at the time security was tight, which is why I kind of dissapeared from Travbuddy for a while. It's not directly travel related, but I'll count this as travel since I was out of town, pretty much living on the beach 60 miles north of home for 3 months. I was part of a team moving two giant steam generators up the coast, across a military base to a nuclear powerplant.

The thing weighs 1.3 million pounds (590,000 kilos)! It looks like a hollow tank, but is actually pretty solid, filled with thousands of tiny steam tubes. Because of this, and because of security concerns, it couldn't travel on the highway. To make things harder, the only way to get it off the barge from Japan was to unload it in a little harbor miles and miles south of the nuclear plant.
Besides the washed up boogie boards, if you stare long enough you'll see endangered birds - snowy plovers. This empty beaches on the military base are one of the few places they nest.
This necessitated moving it up the beach most of the way, then on tiny dirt roads through the base, a little bit on the freeway in the middle of the night, and through the parking lot of a state park.

The problem is that the coastline here has every endangered species on the books, some of the rarest and most delicate habitats in the state, and the protection by the military and state park is system is very strict. The utility company hired me and my coworkers to help guide the thing through all the sensitive habitats and to monitor compliance with all the regulations and environmental requirements. Imagine trying to lead a 1.3 million pound elephant through a garden 11 miles long without stepping on any of the plants!

It turns out that (surprisingly.
The two steam generators arrive from Japan, not looking so big... until they get close! One has already been unloaded in this picture
..) it was hard to move. Two different companies specializing in such things built huge machines to move the thing. For the beach, a giant tracked crawler was built. The generator was actually welded and bolted to it, and it crawled at a blazing 0.2 miles an hour some days. For the short section of freeway and paved areas, a 256-wheeled monster was assembled - like a giant centipede, it can lift and turn individual wheels independently or as groups. Both were pretty amazing to watch in operation.

The workers moving the thing were really good at what they do, and were pretty careful with what they were doing, knowing what length were gone to to secure permission to even be in such areas. I'll let the pictures tell the rest, sorry there are so many of the generator, it's pretty much all I saw all day and night for 3 months...


vances says:
Dang, what a fascinating job task. You've inspired me to write a blog about the spreadsheet I made yesterday - but the pictures probably wouldn't pass muster...

:^)
Posted on: Apr 10, 2009
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Preparing the path for the Monster…
Preparing the path for the Monste…
Besides the washed up boogie board…
Besides the washed up boogie boar…
The two steam generators arrive fr…
The two steam generators arrive f…
Another endangered species, Califo…
Another endangered species, Calif…
The first monster rolls off the bo…
The first monster rolls off the b…
The engineers and movers came in f…
The engineers and movers came in …
After months of work, the first mo…
After months of work, the first m…
Everyones nervous as the sun sets…
Everyone's nervous as the sun set…
Workers, biologists, government in…
Workers, biologists, government i…
Uh-oh, just as they pull out... tu…
Uh-oh, just as they pull out... t…
The monster gets underway...  It h…
The monster gets underway... It …
We had to travel below the tidelin…
We had to travel below the tideli…
Long, deserted beaches of Camp Pen…
Long, deserted beaches of Camp Pe…
The crawler chugs along, stopping …
The crawler chugs along, stopping…
You can get a sense of scale  here…
You can get a sense of scale her…
Racing the tide and sun to reach t…
Racing the tide and sun to reach …
A parking spot is built and the mo…
A parking spot is built and the m…
I helped guard the monster during …
I helped guard the monster during…
As the sun peeks up over the horiz…
As the sun peeks up over the hori…
Dolphins, like this family, were a…
Dolphins, like this family, were …
A great egret hunts fish in a pool…
A great egret hunts fish in a poo…
Little bean clams pop out of the b…
Little bean clams pop out of the …
A good indicator that weve got to…
A good indicator that we've got t…
Th giant treads of the crawler, lo…
Th giant treads of the crawler, l…
Finally, after 3 long days, the ne…
Finally, after 3 long days, the n…
The Goldhofer centipede gets rea…
The Goldhofer "centipede" gets re…
At last the Goldhofer carries the …
At last the Goldhofer carries the…
Everything has to go right, there …
Everything has to go right, there…
The utility rented out this whole …
The utility rented out this whole…
It was nice though, the monster  c…
It was nice though, the monster …
The monster passes along steep dro…
The monster passes along steep dr…
Sneaking under an overhanging enda…
Sneaking under an overhanging end…
Oops, only 2 centimeters of cleara…
Oops, only 2 centimeters of clear…
Moving 1.3 million pounds on wheel…
Moving 1.3 million pounds on whee…
Steam generator 1 finally in its …
Steam generator 1 finally in it's…
Guess what.... now the SECOND one …
Guess what.... now the SECOND one…
Snowy plovers, the birds were try…
Snowy plovers, the birds we're tr…
Lots of miles walked and run chasi…
Lots of miles walked and run chas…
These track crushed into the beach…
These track crushed into the beac…
The second generator transfered fr…
The second generator transfered f…
Uh-oh, does this mean it cant get…
Uh-oh, does this mean it can't ge…
The latest storm turns the area in…
The latest storm turns the area i…
This is not good, crappers knocked…
This is not good, crappers knocke…
Driving the Goldhofer with this re…
Driving the Goldhofer with this r…
Mr. Rabbit doesnt like the look o…
Mr. Rabbit doesn't like the look …
No fun allowed in the State Park...
No fun allowed in the State Park...
The second generator finishes its…
The second generator finishes it'…
Me, really tired at the end of 3 m…
Me, really tired at the end of 3 …
Finally done, I of course immediat…
Finally done, I of course immedia…
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photo by: cneoridium