The first week of July is always the busiest week for our field service group. As luck would have it, I received a call from two customers for field service work – on the water.
Service Call #1:
I consulted with Rich Streitmarter, Ralph Coonce and Jim Delawder and of course, our field service resources were tapped out. Jim offered to pull a new field tech, Gabe Mercuri, from a job if I could assist him as Gabe has only been with us for about a month. The good news was that Gabe has a lot of mechanical and hydraulic experience from his Army training and forklift repair background. The captain of a riverboat called me at 5 PM, the afternoon prior from down on the Ohio River, with concern that he had lost 20 gallons of hydraulic oil from a power unit that controls the rudder on the River Queen boat – and that they could not find the missing oil. He also added that the boat was booked solid with paying passengers from noon Friday, straight through the weekend. On the trip down there, I explained the gravity of the situation to Gabe. And that we would have about 4 hours to locate the source of the leak and fix it. I also mentioned that in field service, at the end of the day our customer views us either as a hero or a zero.
We found the source of the leak in a forward compartment, under the kitchen area. There was a 20’ long hydraulic hose that had rubbed against some angle iron causing it to spring a leak. Gabe removed the hose and we were off to find a local shop that could build a duplicate hose with the proper fittings. We found such a shop and they came through with a new fabricated hose that duplicated the old one perfectly.
Gabe installed the new hose and secured it above the angle iron structure to prevent future failure of the hose. He then asked the captain to operate the rudder as he bled the air from the hydraulic system. We completed the service call at 11:00 AM, one hour prior to the lunch cruise – kudos to Gabe for his tenacity. The customer was very happy with our rapid response to his request for service so that placed us in the hero category!
Service Call #2:
While we were racing the clock on service call #1, the plant manager of a local sand and gravel company called with a request to stop by his facility to help him investigate an accident that had happened on a floating dredge rig on the gravel pit lake. We had to walk several thousand feet on a floating conveyor system to reach the dredge in the middle of the lake. A plant employee was injured by an arc flash from a cover on a reactor. This reactor had a home-made cover made of expanded steel mesh that was too close to the voltage potential. The employee was burned by the arc flash and required hospitalization and skin grafts. This is a reminder of the dangers of industrial equipment and why our field service techs need to be extra cautious as they are exposed to a variety of potential hazards on every job site. A new cover was fabricated with sufficient free air space for the voltage potential.
Two service calls on the water in one day, is somewhat coincidence, but it was an interesting day. You never know what you will encounter on a field service call and that is what I always enjoyed about working in the field.