Gut Rumbles

September 02, 2005

me and the water hose

Back somewhere around 1986, I was supervising Area 3 at the plant. The boys over in Chloride Finishing (which I ended up supervising years later) wanted to install a set of booster pumps and tie into a city water line that fed my Calciner cooler. I would have to shut down my calciner for the tie-in.

I thunk a thought. Those booster pumps might not belong to ME, but I could use them. I talked to the contractor doing the work and asked him to replace a ninety on the discharge side of the pumps with a tee, complete with a reducing flange, a 2" outlet, a valve and a Boss fitting where I could connect a water hose.

He bitched. "Rob, this is a flat-bid job. Valves cost money." I negotiated for a while and finally agreed to order the additional parts from the company store-room. I gave 'em to him, he installed them and I had exactly what I wanted.

I ordered 50' of 2" hose and hooked it up. My calcincer operator was a guy named Melvin, and I asked him to help me check out my new washdown system. We did that by me grabbing the end of the hose and Melvin opening the valve for me.

BEJUS! The booster pumps put out 80 PSI and that force backed me up a few steps when it first came out of the nozzle. But I could shoot water all the way to the packing area from where I stood. I could turn around and hose down the BLEACH area from 100' away.

I was having a big ole time. I washed down the rafters, washed off all the tank-tops and hosed all the rust, dust and pigment from the floor into the ditch. I was one hose-wielding bad-ass.

After about 20 minutes of that stuff, my hands started to get tired. I was ready to quit. If you've never held a hose with 80 pounds of water pressure going through it, you may not understand what I'm talking about. Just trust me: it's WORK!


Melvin wasn't around anymore. He had gone off to make his rounds, take his samples and visit the lab. I figured that even if he DIDN'T stop for a cup of coffee in the lab, he wouldn't be back for another 15 minutes, minimum. I wasn't certain that I could hold that hose that long.

I started yelling for help. Nobody came to my rescue.

I couldn't just throw the hose down and run. That sumbitch would beat the shit out of me. I thought that MAYBE I could get to the booster pumps and close the valve myself, but that was a pretty confined space and there was no way I could do that without appearing that I had strolled through a car wash after all the water coming through that hose finished with me.

I saw a structural beam with a Y-Brace on it.

I jammed the business end of the hose into the slot of the "Y," stomped on it with my foot to anchor it, then ran like hell for the shutoff valve.

The hose broke loose before I got to the valve, and it reared up like one of those snakes from the "Anaconda" movies. That sumbitch was whipping around as if it had a mind of its own. I got the valve closed before the bastard ate me alive, but that episode made me reconsider my brilliant idea.

I ended up installing a shutoff valve on the end of the hose to keep from making operating that thing a two-man job. Even after that, I saw that hose knock grown men on their asses. But it damn surely would shoot water a long way.

Sometimes, I'm too smart for my own good.


I pulled a stunt like that once and installed a valve at the end of the hose, was cleaning when nudged by a large "watermelon" in the hose, I made it to the main shutoff just as it blew, the hose was alright as long as the flow was free but pinching the valve at the end was a big mistake, I got wet, bruised and heckled.

Posted by: Jack on September 2, 2005 12:41 PM

oh God!!!!
say there wasn't any risk factor involved--that was one of the funniest stories i've ever read in my life. good thinkin' man. wow.

Posted by: erica on September 2, 2005 01:20 PM

That kind of crap can get you killed...but I'll bet it must've been fun to watch. Heh.

Posted by: Elisson on September 2, 2005 01:40 PM

As a former volunteer fireman I can relate to your experince. The hoses you see stacked in the back of the truck are 2 1/2 inch. You should see what you can do with an inch and a half pushing 1200 PSI. We could strip the siding off of houses.

Posted by: bottlestop on September 2, 2005 01:41 PM

That was one of those lessons that got taught in boot camp too...what to do with a runaway hose. Man, those things are WICKED! I knew firefighting wasn't going to be my calling. Hell, I couldn't even lift one of those things up ..dry..let alone full of back pressure.

Posted by: Kelly on September 2, 2005 01:46 PM

That's why you see two firefighters on a line. We normally only operate with 80-120 pounds of pressure, but that is a backbreaking killer. Try pulling those charged SOB's through a house, over furniture and around corners...Glad we got some young musle men on the department that love to fight the flames. A firefighters Motto is: 'You lite em, we fight em'.

Posted by: scrapiron on September 2, 2005 03:24 PM

I got drenched, but I survived.

Posted by: Acidman on September 2, 2005 06:02 PM

Don't use 80 psi to rinse after brushing your teeth.

Trust me.

Posted by: McGehee on September 2, 2005 07:40 PM

Hehehee! O that cracks me up! Yep! That's why I have to design so much thrust restraint into 6"-12" water mainlines. Heckuva lot of force involved.

Posted by: Desert Cat on September 3, 2005 12:54 AM

"It seemed like a good idea at the time" is the ending to many a funny story. For the person hearing the story, not for the people who lived through it.
But I do wish I had seen that. From about 1/2 mile away.

Posted by: Veeshir on September 3, 2005 09:58 AM
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