ChainSaw Batteries

by kfrego

Myself and Walt Dzeima worked jointly with Kolden Zerneke and Gene Palmer from Harza Engineering’s geotechnical section. They were both in their sixties and well respected by everybody. Our core drill worked exclusively on drilling for exploratory rock information and installing various geotechnical instruments in the foundations and ridges surrounding the Bath County Project. We were the only two individuals on the project with factory training on the installation of some very sophisticated geotechnical instruments. No one else could install them.

Our core drill was operated by two brothers named Phil and Bob from West Virginia. They were rednecks extraordinaire. Their father was an old time bootlegger, their hunting season never closed, and they were related to everybody in seven counties. They knew where to get the best harvest of ginseng for selling on the black market and the best alfalfa fields to knock down a deer in the middle of the night. They were also excellent drillers and workers. If Phil and Bob liked you it was for real. If they didn’t you were totally ignored.

Harza hired a college geology student to work with Phil and Bob on the core drill for the summer. Phil and Bob really liked the kid, which amazed myself and Walt. He was an exact opposite of the two brothers. This kid was city raised, had zero mechanical aptitude, showed very little confidence, and for all practical purposes was an over educated dummy. He took his job serious, he just didn’t have any common sense. One of the things that saved the summer was the kids personality. You couldn’t help but like him. Another thing that helped was the kid had a full time pick-up truck. He could get supplies for Phil and Bob.

Bob would pick-up the chainsaw, leave the switch off, and pull the starter rope a few times. He would explain the battery was dead and ask the kid to go get one. The kid always jumped at a chance to help. While the kid was enroute Bob called the warehouse with his order including snacks etc. The poor kid spent a lot of time chasing chainsaw batteries, rubber wrenches for core tubes, sky hooks, and assorted things which didn’t exist. Everybody at the warehouse liked him too.

We were installing 600 foot deep open standpipe piezometers along the rim of the upper reservoir. Harza special ordered a 600 foot steel tape for monitoring water levels in the piezometer pipes. The kid thought the 600 foot tape was the best thing he ever had. Phil and Bob tried to convince him not to put the tape down a deep hole until the installation was complete. If something caved or fell off the side of the hole he would lose his tape. The kid wouldn’t pass up a chance to measure a deep hole and ended up with the tape hung up 500 feet down a hole. It broke trying to pull it through the obstruction. The poor kid sat down and cried on the deck of the drill.

The kid was a good sport………..he just didn’t know any better.