Saturday, December 17, 2005
posted 12/17/2005 04:37:00 PM UTC+12, McMurdo Local Time

Strapping the Willy hose

Finally got a little time to spend in front of a screen and write a little bit about strapping 6" fuel hose, which is one of the things I've been working on this week. When you're in Antarctica, pretty much anything that you put on the surface of the snow will change the way the wind moves snow in that area, which will then create snow drifts. Since our fuel hose sits on the surface of the snow, it eventually drifts and would get buried if we didn't do something about it. So, a few times per season we will 'strap' the hose, which basically means pull the hose out of the snow and put it back down on the surface. We accomplish this by wrapping a big tow strap around the hose, hooking that to some sort of vehicle (in recent years, it's been a Pisten Bully, but before that it was either a Spryte or a beefy snowmobile,) then very very carefully driving along beside the hose dragging it a foot or so to the side. We have to be super careful since the fuel line is full of fuel -1.5 gallons for every foot of hose- and if we ran over the hose, it would likely rupture and cause a fuel spill. There are also connections along the way to contend with, drifts of snow that have to be dug out, curves, slack, and several other little issues. Overall, the process is a lot of fun, but it does require quite a lot of care, concentration, and hard work. Here are a couple pictures of what the process looks like:

Strapping - rearview mirrorStrapping - from the back

Also been working on lots of other fuels stuff. We had our last two flights arrive at the ice runway late last night and leave this morning. The runway and roads in the area are getting covered over with melt pools, which are basically puddles on the surface of the sea ice. The ice itself is still pretty strong, it holds up C130s, but it is a bit spooky to know that you're driving on a layer of ice above a bunch of very cold water and then hit a puddle. I've also done a little more woodworking stuff, some fuel transfers, and other random tasks lately. The station is getting geared up for Christmas, complete with decorations on the telephone poles and garland inside buildings. Looking forward to having an extra day off! That's all for now.

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