Fall/Winter 2012

The PSL Shop meets the ARA Deadline

The hose reel in the PSL shop.

The Shop

Rory Holland is the PSL shop supervisor, all the work that goes from the engineers and drafters pass through his hands first. When asked about this project he gives high praise to not only his staff of instrument technicians, but also the work of the PSL engineers. “Overall the project flowed through the shop much quicker than anticipated. The guys in the shop easily met the ARA scheduling. Much of this was the coordinated effort between PSL engineers and the instrument makers. If changes were needed, support was instant and allowed the project to move forward without delay. It had its complexities, but that was handled by Engineers Terry Benson and Jeff Cherwinka,” he said.

Darrell Hamilton conducting tests.

The Technician

Before PSL sends instrumentation out it must be tested no matter what the time frame. Recently technicians, machinists and engineers put in all night hours to ensure that everything was working correctly before shipping to the South Pole.

One person who was feeling these deadlines looming over his head was Darrell Hamilton a PSL technician working with the ARA project. He makes it clear that he does not have much time, as he begins to explain what he is working on. “A lot of testing of the new ideas and new materials that we incorporated that would make the drill work.

For example getting the water pumped out of the hole at the same time the drill goes down the hole. Testing the initial hose and finding that it didn’t come close to supporting the drill. We also had to test plumbing systems,” he said, “We knew that the drill was not going to be adequate. The early part of summer was spent on the concept of keeping the drill small, but able to do the 200 meters depth. The concept of pumping water out of the hole as they were drilling became the most promising. This method also presented other challenges such as the added weight on the drill head and return water pump now had to be fully supported. The majority of the drill has been sent, but some parts will be shipped in ten days.” He goes on to clarify that the drill comes in three parts, and each unit has to be tested. All three units have been tested individually, but not as a complete working unit. When he reaches the South Pole one of the first jobs that will face him and the support team is more testing. “This is part of the pre-season schedule as all of the equipment will be assembled in an outdoor area with access to electrical power, tools and other equipment. Once testing has proven satisfactory, test holes will be drilled at the same location before moving to the remote ARA drill sites,” he said, “Because of the incredible obstacles of working at the South Pole, this would be a type of schedule that most projects would follow even if they weren’t using new equipment.”

He goes on to explain that due to the extreme temperatures at the South Pole, you never know what will work from one year to another. Darrell arrived at the South Pole on November 20, and was welcomed by a brisk -27°F temperature.


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