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Steeple Jack.


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Really Guys,

When you work high you are conscious of the height but you don't really give it a lot of thought. If you did, you wouldn't be able to move.

I started at 11-1/2 building these for my father.

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We built the roof first, as shown in the picture, attached the ladder cage, and then jacked them up 5ft. at a time.

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When we reached height, the bottom ring was tied into the foundation and then the vertical stiffeners were added. Once those were on, I was sent up in a bosun's chair with a 5-gallon pump sprayer full of soapy water and the structure was pressurized to about 10psi. They'd run me all the way up and then back and forth, first around one way until I'd reached the ladder, then lower me 5ft. and run be around the other way, as I soap tested the joints for air leaks. If I found a leak, I'd pull a 3/4-inch wrench out of a bolt bag tied to my belt and snug the bolt up until the leak stopped. Sometimes I had to loosen up the seam, take a putty knife, push some extra butyl into the joint and then snug it back up again.

Once we got done soap testing, we had to go up on top, remove the dolly pivot, lower the dolly and block and tackle and then install the roof cage and handrails.

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To install the roof cage, we had to, one-by-one, remove the nuts for the legs for the roof cage, put the brackets on and then add the nuts and washers. If we didn't do it carefully and a bolt dropped out, we had to take a long stick with a gob of butyl on it, stick a bolt in the goop, and then lean inside the center hatch upside down and reach out and stick the bolt up through the hole while the other guy stood out there on the roof waiting for the bolt to come up through the hole so he could capture it with the bracket, washer and nut.

Once all the brackets were on, the roof cage was unpacked from it's bag, which had been hung on the side of the ladder cage, and the roof cage was assembled and tightened. After that, we'd unpack the breather valves and install them on the roof (There are huge polypropylene breather bags inside these things that are inflated by breather valves to minimize air infiltration.). Once everything was assembled, we climbed down.

It was in the days before OSHA and we didn't have any fancy harnesses. We'd tie a length of sisal rope off around our waist and to the top of the ladder cage and then walk out on that roof using the nuts to gain purchase on that glass-coated steel roof.

My Dad was the G.C. and at first wouldn't let me do it. I used to catch flak from the guys working for my Dad because I was the boss' kid and they'd taunt me about being a Daddy's boy 'cuz I wasn't going up and wasn't carrying my weight. My Uncle Al was job site foreman and my Dad wasn't always there, so I just bugged the hell out of Al until he let me do it. He caught holy hell for it when the old man found out but after that all the old man said was, G** damn it, Mike, don't you ever tell your mother that you were allowed to go up in that chair or put on one of those cages or she'll cut my n**s off."

The first couple of times I did it, my knees were shaking so bad that my teeth rattled. After that, my nerves settled down. You learn to concentrate on the job at hand and on not making a mistake. Focus really well on doing the job and you realize that you're safe and that the height is meaningless; at the same time you know that if you screw it up it becomes meaningless really, really fast, so you don't allow your attention to flag, no matter how many times you do it.

To us. That scaffolding looks pretty rickety. To that steeplejack it's just another day at work.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Hi,

Read the rest of it, I posted it too early by mistake and you responded before I'd finished. Ironically, I only fell once while doing this; from the ladder into the trough - a distance of about 6ft. It was Thanksgiving weekend 1965. The structure was up on the jacks and I missed my footing and fell onto the corner of the loader opening - a piece of sheet metal about 3/8 inch thick. It never tore my jacket but it knocked the wind out of me and punched a hole in my back just below my rib cage large enough for a man to put his rolled-up fist in. Al couldn't stand the sight of blood; when I rolled off that thing and into the trough he came running over, jerked me to my feet and asked me if I was OK. I was gasping for air, pointed to my back and just kept trying to catch my wind. Al lifted up my coat, I heard, "Oh my G....," and he passed out and went down like he'd been floored by Sonny Liston. The old man just growled, "Come-on, get in the car, let's get you sewn up so I can get back here. We're already behind schedule. Someone wake Al up and let's get this next ring on."

Never fell again until 2000 when I went off that friggin roof.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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How tall and what do you put in them,,the city boy asked

Tom you beat me to it...

Hi,

The ones in the photo above are 25 X 110 (106' really) but the average farmer opts for a 20-40, 20-60, or 25-75.

High-moisture haylage, mostly. Sometimes corn or grain. The ones we put up on the roof of the Pabst brewery in Newark were 20-60's and hold hops.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Really Guys,

When you work high you are conscious of the height but you don't really give it a lot of thought. If you did, you wouldn't be able to move.

That is a fact.

When I was a kid working on high rise buildings in Houston, It was just another week and another floor. Then you get away from it for a while, and someone needs a sixty foot pole and knuckle scaffold built for the new overhead crane in the nuke plant. You want me to do WHAT?

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Yep,

Did some of that too; 118th MP Co.(Abn), Ft. Bragg. Those were the best days of our lives, eh?

Gary is right though; you get away from something for a while and then you go back to it and it scares the crap out of you.

When I was going through the Q-course at Bragg in '89, we did a nighttime equipment jump into Camp McCall. Our stick was sitting there in rig waiting to board one of the birds when one of the Tacs came over, pointed to our stick and the one next to it and said, "You guys're in for a treat. You're gonna get to jump a gooney bird!"

He then got us on our feet and marched us down the line to a CIA DC3 that was being retired. Getting on that thing was a b***h! No walk-on ramp; we had to climb up a wood ramp in full combat gear with packs and weapons bag. Then, unlike WWII, we didn't have any sling seats to sit in - the interior was baby-butt-slick stainless steel, no rivits, no hold-downs, nothing to hang onto - it was all set up for sliding crates out the door really quick.

We had to sit on the floor, nested like a bunch of stacking chairs, between the guy's legs behind us. On the way to the DZ, it had been 12 years since I'd left Bragg. Unlike 1977 at Bragg, I wasn't raring to go. Instead, I was sitting there on that floor scared sh**less, trying not to puke and asking myself if I'd lost my friggin' mind getting back into that stuff after so long.

It was so cramped in there that by the time the end of the stick was out the door, we were past the end of the DZ. I took the top six feet out of a pine tree and got scratched up pretty good. One of my team members wasn't so lucky; he ended up hung up about 30ft. off the ground with a dislocated shoulder and a broken jaw and had to recycle.

It's funny how, even if we're scared as hell, we still do the stuff that we do anyway, because it's our job and who we are. Today, they'd probably have to use a blow torch to get me to let go of that ladder cage and walk out on one of those cans again.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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huah, all the way. And your right. When I did my para crse they force fed you how safe it was, the specs, each riser broken down. Inversion skirt keeps it open and air obstacles out. The ride in the bird was the most terrifying. Why else bring a chute. A hercy bird doesnt land the greatest. So our PI's instilled the idea that regardless that your a 195lb man strapping on, 35lb main, 15lb res, 100+ruck, lets add snowshoes and rifle and webbing, double door smash 16 plane formation. middle of the stick inboard,,,is this safe...

Did you eat, you might wanna hold on to it, long hump ahead

P hour 0220hrs, is this ship safe? yes jumper have a good one. I crossed trg with 10 Mountain Div and the Italians in Somalia (TransallAC)

Feet and knees together, chin on your chest, 5 points of contact

Fair winds soft landings

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You know, that's a good description of how it must feel, with ideas crashing through your brain at a million miles an hour.

Makes getting on a ladder seem pretty tame.

I've been over the edge on several 12-20 story joints. It's something that used to come easy, not so much nowadays.

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Bunch of damn nutjobs, jumping out of perfectly good airplanes.

Thanks for being there!

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you have never been up in a Herucles CC130 AC. You would ask for one, or two...

...and its not the jump, its the plane ride. Once that plane is about 20min out of the DZ we are all standing. Thats when you see who has the iron stomach

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Au contraire, Stephen.

4 1/2 years in the United States Marine Corp

4 1/2 years in the United States Army.

I've had plenty of rides in a herkybird, along with several other types, including the A-4 Skyhawk. Just never had any desire to jump out of a perfectly good airplane.

-

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My step dad used to jump for fun, he was on something like his 20th ride in a plane the first time he landed in one. I'm with Erby, I'll be going out the door when the thing is on the ground.

Tom

I made two sport jumps. Both in August 1977 with the Indianhead Sport Parachute Club at Camp Casey, Korea. First jump, no problem; second jump, a rookie jumpmaster tapped me out 30° outside of the wind cone on a windy day.

Of the four of us who went out of that Huey, I got the closest to the DZ, which was a parade ground, but I found myself on an impact course with the high tension wires along the side of the road that borders the north side of the parade ground. I practically climped that left toggle to turn that chute and then had to tuck my legs way up toward my chin to miss the lines as the chute turned and then begin running with the wind. It took me right down onto the box of a big International Loadstar truck in a motor pool, dragged me along the roof and then off, where I got my feet underneath me long enough to put a big dent in the hood before I ended up on the ground with three broken metatarsals in my left foot.

I never made a sport jump again. I don't regret it. Too loose - too cowboy.

You know, some of those chimey stacks look tall enough that, with the right kind of a rig, one could probably base jump from them - or end up an omelette.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Au contraire, Stephen.

4 1/2 years in the United States Marine Corp

4 1/2 years in the United States Army.

I've had plenty of rides in a herkybird, along with several other types, including the A-4 Skyhawk. Just never had any desire to jump out of a perfectly good airplane.

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I was only stating the standard DS answer to whenever I hear that...maybe its the canadian birds, but you know thats not true...welcome aboard marine/soldier...I am starting to think we could hold roll call...platoon strength so far

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