Monday, November 26, 2007

I Learned Something New Today

I learned something new today and it turned a bad day around. It was a rough morning to begin with, when the Pats play at night the next morning is never pretty, but this morning I had the added bonus of cold rain and an outdoor project that's had it's ups and downs.

One of the things on my to do list this month is to upgrade a fiber optic link between a couple of buildings. Time is of the essence on this project as the cold New England winter fast approacheth. The conduit for this particular run has been in place for twenty-something years and had been damaged in the past so I have been sort of expecting trouble on this job.

Last week just before the holiday we hit a blockage in the vicinity of the original damage, but the job foreman probed the area and found a pull box just below the surface, cleverly hidden by a few inches of lawn and dirt, and cleared the blockage. We all went home for the Thanksgiving weekend with high hopes of finishing the job easily on our return.

This morning my Nextel gave it's familiar bleep moments after I arrived in my office. It was the job foreman and he wanted to know if there might be another pull box that I hadn't told him about, as they'd once again come to a screeching halt. They were on the home stretch, the last 500 feet before entering the next building, and there was no record of any more pull boxes or manholes in this section. This was going to be a long day.

After joining the crew for a wonderful game of probing the path with steel rods in the pouring rain, hoping to strike the lid of another splice/pull box, I decided we needed to take a different approach. I called the Facilities Engineer and he arrived like the cavalry with an underground cable locator that not only traced the conduit but it also gave depth readings. We found a spot where it was closer to the surface than normal and with the assistance of a great construction crew and a Bobcat, uncovered an unmapped splice box. Why it was buried (rather deeply, I might add) and never recorded, will remain one of life's little mysteries. You can bet the farm that it's on the map now.

So, we're back on track and I learned all about underground cable locators. We have a variation for tracking cables in house, but I'd never seen one like this. That baby was a Godsend, as were the crew and the Facilities Engineer. And there's something to be said about playing in the rain, as long as I don't have to do it too often.

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