background image
Page 124
A History of Austin's Newest General Aviation Airport
W. H
Chapter 6
"Your pipe gang gets everything in place and
your welding crew--that's one of them there,
the squat one with the arms and the ten-gal-
lon mouth on him--they put a stringer bead
to it."
"The initial weld, you mean."
"Then other welders come in behind and
make filler passes. That's your firing line:
your stringer, like I just told you, followed by
a hot pass and your capping welders. Some of
the hard-to-fits, if you was to look closely, you
might see a back weld or two, it all depends."
"Okay then," I said. "I'll let you get back to
Shorty eyed me and I could tell he was a
man who took his job seriously, a character
who wanted that seriousness to get through
to people like me, owners, managers, bosses
of all brands. "We x-ray every weld, if you was
"So I understand."
"You want, I can tell you about the hydro-
static testing. Ever seen a pipe filled with twen-
ty thousand gallons of water? A couple of days,
you can come back and see for yourself."
"I'm more concerned with the schedule,"
I said.
"The twenty-inch, end of the month, like I
said," and he was right.
A Matter of Scale
On another visit, my oldest son James,
then fifteen, flew over to Bird's Nest Airport
with me in late October. By then Shorty had
the 20-inch pipe patched and partially rebur-
ied. He also had the new 30-inch pipe welded,
lowered, and in place ready for testing. James
crawled down into the hole and I took a photo
of him standing next to the enormous pipe-
line. It wasn't until I saw him standing there,
a young five-and-a-half foot tall teenager next
to this massive high-strength steel tube, that
I felt the magnitude of the pipeline relocation
project. On paper the project looked trifling,
so many lines on oversized sheets of paper,
yet here I was on-site with the excavators and
backhoes cranking out enough decibels to split
eardrums and fling massive hunks of rock like
toy marbles. From here the project looked like
what it was, an engineering marvel.