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Fixing a 7,000-Ton Drill

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the it's-probably-just-your-alternator dept.

Technology 101

An anonymous reader writes: At the end of last year, we discussed Bertha, the world's largest tunnel boring machine. During an effort to drill a viaduct beneath downtown Seattle, the machine — clocking in at 7,000 tons, 57.5 feet in diameter, and 326 feet long — got hamstrung by an 8-inch-diameter steel pipe. The complexity and scope of the repair plan rivals that of the project itself. "The rescue operation (workers call it "the intervention") began in late spring with construction on the shaft to reach Bertha. Workers have been sinking pilings in a ring to prevent the shaft from collapsing, using 24,000 cubic yards of concrete — enough for a medium-size office building. Once that ring is complete, digging on the shaft will start. When the shaft is ready, Bertha, which is damaged but still operational, will be turned back on so she can chew through the concrete pilings to reach the center of the shaft. There, the machine will rest on a cradle where workers can detach the front end and hoist it out." That detachable front end? It weighs about 2,000 tons by itself. The repair bill is estimated at about $125 million.

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What a bunch of Luddites (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47589573)

Surely they could have used 3D printing to make a new Bertha? Preferably from fair-trade private asteroid dust?

Re:What a bunch of Luddites (2, Insightful)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 5 months ago | (#47589661)

Meanwhile the old one is still there blocking the path.

I don't think that they have much choice in this case but to fix the machine in place.

Re:What a bunch of Luddites (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47589701)

Send a better Bertha that is able to bore through a boring machine.

Re:What a bunch of Luddites (-1, Offtopic)

davester666 (731373) | about 5 months ago | (#47589853)

Man, I am so bored of this story. Anybody got a video of a chimp skateboarding?

Re:What a bunch of Luddites (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47590035)

Afraid not, but there is a vid of one falling off a segway.

Re:What a bunch of Luddites (1)

augahyde (1016980) | about 5 months ago | (#47590131)

If you're going to talk about it, at least provide the link: Chimp on a Segway [youtube.com] .

Re:What a bunch of Luddites (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 5 months ago | (#47590675)

That chimp most definitely did not fall off a segway. It clearly saw that it was about to crash into some tree's/bushes and jumped off just prior to impact.

Re:What a bunch of Luddites (1)

Xenx (2211586) | about 5 months ago | (#47591105)

Ok, so I had to verify. He does in fact fall while riding. However, he did jump off the first couple times.

Re:What a bunch of Luddites (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 5 months ago | (#47590499)

It's like when you drill that important in the aluminum fixture you're working on, but then break off a tap in the hole while threading it. Now you've got a little bit of hardened tool steel stuck in the hole.

Re: What a bunch of Luddites (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47592049)

EDM is the cure for that problem.

Re: What a bunch of Luddites (1)

Zomalaja (1324199) | about 5 months ago | (#47592089)

So is warm alum solution.

Re:What a bunch of Luddites (1)

Jason Goatcher (3498937) | about 5 months ago | (#47592661)

Give it the ability to back up? Why the hell would we want to waste our time doing that? We'll just figure things out after we make the whole tunnel. We made double-doodly-sure that there's nothing in the way, so we're set to go.

Re:What a bunch of Luddites (1)

pla (258480) | about 5 months ago | (#47592977)

Give it the ability to back up? Why the hell would we want to waste our time doing that?

Yeah, pretty much my exact first thought too... Even if it can only back up at a few dozen feet per hour, after a few days, it pops back out of the hole and they can work on it without a herculean effort.

For that matter, why can't they just drag it out? Connect it to a big-assed winch outside the tunnel, and pull. Certainly seems like a hell of a lot less work than building an access shaft.

Re:What a bunch of Luddites (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47594347)

as the device moves forward, concrete structures are cast behind it to make the tunnel, which is too small to back the drill through

Re:What a bunch of Luddites (5, Informative)

rpstrong (1659205) | about 5 months ago | (#47594579)

The problem is that the drill head diameter is larger than the inside tunnel diameter. The tunnel gets built out of cast concrete sections which are installed behind the cutter head. You might be able to disconnect the cutter head and back the TBM out, but you still have the head to deal with.

I suspect that the complexity (that is, cost) of using a collapsible head would outweigh the potential benefits, especially since this is hardly a common occurrence.

BTW, a pretty neat animation of the project can be found here [youtube.com] .

Call Callaway Golf (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47589583)

Tell 'em that their Big Bertha is busted and they need a new one.

If that doesn't work, try Ballmer.

it's because of homosexuality (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47589613)

all those gay people, gaying up the place.

Re:it's because of homosexuality (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47589743)

THIS

Re:it's because of homosexuality (-1, Flamebait)

greenwow (3635575) | about 5 months ago | (#47589769)

The digging of the tunnels going through my neighborhood of Capitol Hill, Seattle, which is the second gayest neighborhood in the country, are going just fine. Your claim is wrong.

Our tunnels are being built for the people. The 99 project that is being dug by Bertha are only for rich Republicans to use. It is going to be so expensive to use that the tunnel will actually increase the amount of traffic on surface streets. That is how dumb the Republicans that rule this city are.

The mods are right again! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47589795)

You are a liar. The tunnels have been built, but the Republicans have blocked building the stations so far. They allow us to have holes in the ground, but not the trains or stations to use them. It's good to see a moderator attack you and bury your post for your lies.

Boneshaker (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47589645)

Blight gas incoming. [wikipedia.org]

Bad seals on the bearings and master bearing (4, Interesting)

chaffed (672859) | about 5 months ago | (#47589663)

Actually, something else is causing the seals to fail on the bearings and master bearing. The sampling pipe was the original theory but it could not account for the damage being done.

FTFA “Contractors are not entirely sure what’s happening to the seals. They’re letting sand in, which is not good,” said Matt Preedy, deputy Highway 99 administrator for the state Department of Transportation (DOT). “Either you’ve got gaps somewhere, or you’ve got cracks in the seals.”

http://seattletimes.com/html/l... [seattletimes.com]

Basically, our water front soil make up is not ideal. Much of the Seattle water front is fill dirt from various late 19th century and early 20th century projects around Seattle. Much of the path Bertha is taking underground is lined with caissons to keep the liquid dirt at bay.

Re: Bad seals on the bearings and master bearing (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47589773)

Which literally everyone knew before this started. This entire project , corrupt gov, and corrupt contractors can go to hell. Stupidest idea since we built that classless ferris wheel on our front porch. /seattleinfrastructuresucks

Re: Bad seals on the bearings and master bearing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47589799)

citation or i don't believe you.

Re: Bad seals on the bearings and master bearing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47589835)

Citation that downtown is built on awful soil ? Read any earthquake prediction study of the last any number of years. Citation ferris wheels are classless ? That's a bit more subjective, unfortunately. But trust me morty , they're stupid.

Re: Bad seals on the bearings and master bearing (4, Informative)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 5 months ago | (#47589809)

And yet the University Link tunnel project is a half year ahead of schedule - the tunnels have been finished for a while, and the rails are already mostly in place.

Not every Seattle tunneling project has been a disaster.

Re: Bad seals on the bearings and master bearing (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47589877)

Indeed and I don't recall major problems with the bus tunnel and that train tunnel from a hundred years ago also went relatively smoothly.

The main reason that Bertha is having issues is that it's extreme engineering. Nobody has built a drill that size and the soil itself is quite challenging as well. The tunnel will be built and 30 years from now most people won't be thinking about how ugly the process was.

Re: Bad seals on the bearings and master bearing (2)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 5 months ago | (#47594967)

The digging of the bus tunnel itself more or less went fine, as I recall. However there were some very stupid decisions made by Metro that led to the tunnel having to be closed for two years while they replaced the light rail tracks.

Note to anyone that didn't follow that saga - the bus tunnel, when built by Metro (the Seattle transit authority), had light rail track installed as a future-proofing and long term cost-saving move - but when the time came for Sound Transit to start running trains in the tunnel, they first had to shut it down, rip out the old track and replace it. Metro used the excuse that the technology had changed since the original track was laid. But if you read some of Sound Transit's documentation you'll find their testing showed a risk of electrical arcing and fire in the tunnels - Metro had done a piss-poor job and cut too many corners when the tunnel was first built.

Re: Bad seals on the bearings and master bearing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47592063)

Smaller diameters, no? There are clearly some scaling-up issues with the waterfront borer, in addition to the weirdnesses of what it's digging through.

Re:Bad seals on the bearings and master bearing (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 5 months ago | (#47590031)

Actually, something else is causing the seals to fail on the bearings and master bearing. The sampling pipe was the original theory but it could not account for the damage being done.

Even so, this shows what happens when you plan a one-shot operation with a single point of failure.

In this case, two: the drill itself and the seals. Either one means failure. When it's a one-shot operation with no provision for pause or repair, you're SOL. Fixable in this case? Yeah. For a fortune.

Re:Bad seals on the bearings and master bearing (0)

BitZtream (692029) | about 5 months ago | (#47590041)

125 million on a project like this is hardly a fortune.

Re:Bad seals on the bearings and master bearing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47590877)

regardless to the size of the project 125 million is still a fortune.

Re:Bad seals on the bearings and master bearing (1)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | about 5 months ago | (#47591523)

Just an additional $250 per man, woman, and child in Seattle. You know, the people who get to pay for it... At least the minimum wage will bump to $15 per hour so those low-income families will get to see a good chunk of their supposed raise going to solve a problem that could have been avoided from day one...

Re:Bad seals on the bearings and master bearing (2)

Megol (3135005) | about 5 months ago | (#47592657)

Strange mathematics given that this isn't a temporary project - it is an investment for the future of the city. When doing infrastructure projects one can't only think of the current situation but have to take the future into account. Most times infrastructure projects are founded by loans which means the costs are spread out over some generations of workers.

Huh? (1)

warewolfsmith (196722) | about 5 months ago | (#47589665)

Steel pipe or drill rod?

The Republicans that rule this state... (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47589667)

are doing everything they can to screw Seattle. They hate us, and they want us to suffer with horrific traffic by making every project ridiculously expensive. For example, they made our light rail cost over $5 billion. With the few people that ride it each day because they wouldn't let us put it in places that make sense, we could have given every daily rider $166,000 each and come-out cheaper. With this project, they wouldn't allow it to be put in a sensible location so there are going to be fewer drivers using it than the tunnel it replaces. Also, they're going to charge so much that only wealthy people can afford to use it so that us normal people are going to be stuck with surface streets. This is the same tactic they took with the 520 bridge. It is one of two ways into the city from the east, and the Republicans closed it to minorities and the poor.

Re:The Republicans that rule this state... (2)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 5 months ago | (#47589685)

You are at least lucky enough to have tolls on the tunnel/bridge built. Here we have tolls on roads to build a railway tunnel.

Re:The Republicans that rule this state... (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 5 months ago | (#47590711)

You are at least lucky enough to have tolls on the tunnel/bridge built. Here we have tolls on roads to build a railway tunnel.

What's wrong with that? A good railway system gets traffic off the road and thereby impoves the road for the people who need it. Transport systems are integrated.

Re:The Republicans that rule this state... (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 5 months ago | (#47592253)

Except that the railroads already are in place, goes east-south while most tolls are on north-south, so the traffic will be the same as before, it won't attract more people to use the railroads since there aren't more people available to use it.

A political monument.

Re:The Republicans that rule this state... (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 5 months ago | (#47592589)

Except that the railroads already are in place, goes east-south while most tolls are on north-south,

A railway network, much like a road network needs a lot more than just major routes, because people need to do more than just go from junction to junction. Anyway, it may well be a dumbass solution in this case, but the original point "it's bad to pay for rails with road tolls" is a poor one.

Re: The Republicans that rule this state... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47589717)

This is sarcasm people--Washington is very much a blue state. When all these issues were brought up, state senate, house, and governor are all dem controlled.

Re: The Republicans that rule this state... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47589727)

Never heard of Tim Eyman? He is a Republican, and he is the reason the mass transit here is so horrible and the roads are designed to prevent the poor from getting to work. This state is ruled 100% by Republicans. Even the socialist city council member here voted against raising the minimum wage. Even our socialists here act like Republicans.

Re: The Republicans that rule this state... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47589879)

As a life long resident of WA, I can tell you that you're full of shit. WA is a purple state, the only reason why nobody notices is that it's slightly bluer than purple which means that most of the time the Governor and Senators wind up being Democrats. At the local level, it's much less dominated by Democrats.

Then again the GP is even more full of shit, so there you go.

Re: The Republicans that rule this state... (4, Informative)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | about 5 months ago | (#47591547)

Likewise yourself. A mostly lifelong (until the last 3 years) resident, born and raised in Ballard. And I can tell you unequivocally that Seattle is extremely Democrat biased [wikipedia.org] , and the city leans heavily to the left - exceedingly so [wikipedia.org] . Puget Sound as a whole closely mirrors Seattle, and that makes the entire State lean so far Democrat that it exceeds the national margin of GOP/DEM voting results by several points [270towin.com] . Washington is one of the most solidly Democrat states there are. Outside the rural districts in Eastern Washington (with extremely limited population), Washington is a guaranteed Democrat win - every election.

Re:The Republicans that rule this state... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47589761)

Take your meds greenwow. Then you might realize how moronic your post are.

and 100 yards further there is another 8" pipe ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47589687)

I sense an opportunity here. Maybe they are interested in "pipe insurance" ? It would be a shame if this happened again to this nice drill.

Viaduct?? (5, Informative)

markdavis (642305) | about 5 months ago | (#47589697)

>"During an effort to drill a viaduct beneath downtown Seattle"

Viaduct? How is digging/drilling a tunnel a viaduct? "A viaduct is a bridge composed of several small spans for crossing a valley or a gorge." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V... [wikipedia.org] You cannot drill a viaduct.

They are digging a TUNNEL under Seattle for a car highway as an alternative to an old, damaged viaduct.
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12... [nytimes.com]

Re:Viaduct?? (1)

warewolfsmith (196722) | about 5 months ago | (#47589713)

Yes a car tunnel to be precise.

Re:Viaduct?? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47589715)

Kill yourself.

Re:Viaduct?? (0)

warewolfsmith (196722) | about 5 months ago | (#47589741)

Nah, killing an anonymous coward would be much more fun.

Re:Viaduct?? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47589757)

go back to reddit, you're too intelligent for /.

Re:Viaduct?? (0)

kyrsjo (2420192) | about 5 months ago | (#47590071)

Except that recently, reading /. is like reading only the bottom comments in the /r/all subs at reddit. Reddit's voting system works better in filtering out bullshit, like the "Kill Yourself" coward above your post.

Re:Viaduct?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47590921)

digg proved long ago that pure democratic voting like reddit uses does not work. Slashdot is way better even if it still sucks horribly (like now when it has been hours since I posted a positive up-modded anonymous comment and still can't post this fucking comment; retarded).

Re:Viaduct?? (2)

Livius (318358) | about 5 months ago | (#47589777)

Via = road
Duct = conduit.

Nothing implies above or below ground.

Though in this instance 'tunnel' would be a far more helpful description.

Re:Viaduct?? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47589815)

dude, applying latin grammar rules to english doesn't make any sense.

Re:Viaduct?? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47591623)

conduit = assembled
im+ply = in + fold
instance = urgent
Sorry, I can't understand what your saying about an urgent tunnel, a viaduct being an assembled road, and why nothing is in folds.

Re:Viaduct?? (0)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 5 months ago | (#47589871)

Why a duck? Why not a chicken?

Re:Viaduct?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47591689)

Why a duck? Why not a chicken?

honk

Re:Viaduct?? (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 5 months ago | (#47592983)

Why a duck? Why not a chicken?

honk

Well, at least SOMEBODY got it.

Re:Viaduct?? (1)

Rinikusu (28164) | about 5 months ago | (#47590329)

What if they dig the tunnel, then build a lifted "bridge" viaduct inside this tunnel? WHERE IS YOUR GOD NOW?

Re:Viaduct?? (1)

markdavis (642305) | about 5 months ago | (#47590577)

>" What if they dig the tunnel, then build a lifted "bridge" viaduct inside this tunnel? WHERE IS YOUR GOD NOW?"

UG!!!! I can't handle such a possibility!

200 Years From Now... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47589755)

Plasma digging robot trapped by ring of concrete pillars under Seattle.

Virtual tour (5, Informative)

ian_po (234542) | about 5 months ago | (#47589793)

Whether or not Mitsubishi fucked up their cutter head bearing design, or Seattle Tunnel Partners forgot to read the documents that described the exact location of the previous exploratory bore pipe, regardless of if it's even possible to sucessfully extract the cutter head without sinking the current viaduct with all the additional excavation and ground water pumping, this virtual video flythrough [youtu.be] from four years ago is my favorite thing to come out of the project.

And if you enjoy crappy flash web cam software, you can watch the current progress on the cutter head replacement shaft here [wa.gov] .

Re:Virtual tour (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47589939)

Perhaps Sealttle should take a lesson from the Crossrail project in London. There has been 3 * 1 hour long TV progs about the building of the tunnels recently broadcast.
They were called "The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway".
As a Civil enginner and having worked on the Channel Tunnel, I was amazed at the progress that has been made since the late 1980's in tunnelling. The bits where they had to thread the TBM between existing tunnels at Tottenham Court Road was fantastic.

I'm sure the programmes are on the internet somewhere.

Re:Virtual tour (1)

Prime Mover (149173) | about 5 months ago | (#47591429)

David Macauley [wikipedia.org] did this decades [socks-studio.com] ago.

Re:Virtual tour (1)

ian_po (234542) | about 5 months ago | (#47591973)

Wow! Macaulay's Castle [wikipedia.org] was a favorite picture book growing up. But I don't think I ever read Underground :(

Who foots the bill? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47589813)

So who gets to pay this extra $125 million? Does the contractor company have insurance -- as a contractor who works on your house would have to cover his/her accidents? Or is the bill falling to the tax payers, like when the project goes over-budget for not-so-specific reasons?

Re:Who foots the bill? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47589913)

In the end, it's tax payers in any case.

Re:Who foots the bill? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47591043)

The contractors are on the hook for the bill, not the taxpayers. No idea whether or not they have insurance that might or might not cover it.

Ignore the tea-baggers who are claiming this is a government failure. This one's all about how private industry isn't getting it done.

Re:Who foots the bill? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47593681)

HAHAH you're funny. Who do you think is paying for the contractors? Unicorns and Fairies? Taxpayers are paying the contractors. They are not building the tunnel out of love and respect of the earth or for any altruistic reasons other than taxpayer money. So yes, the taxpayers are on the hook for the bill.

Re:Who foots the bill? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47600865)

No one in government thinks this big; it can't be a government failure

Ahem (0)

Effugas (2378) | about 5 months ago | (#47589953)

World's largest *unclassified* tunnel boring machine.

Re:Ahem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47590617)

I was gonna say, I just heard about one on an Extreme Engineering episode that has a 75ft diameter and is "as long as 3 football fields", which is WAY more than 326 ft. Do you know what the qualification is? How is it they can claim it's the biggest when clearly its not even close?

Re: Ahem (2)

Type44Q (1233630) | about 5 months ago | (#47591761)

Bingo. There's anecdotal but nonetheless convincing evidence that far, far larger tunnel-boring machines are used to connect top secret, underground facilities...

The worst marketing job in the world... (1)

Applehu Akbar (2968043) | about 5 months ago | (#47589997)

...Must be having to sell boring machines. I would try to save the situation by going humorous, with an ad series starring Ben Stein.

Re:The worst marketing job in the world... (1)

u38cg (607297) | about 5 months ago | (#47593343)

Somehow I guess the commission makes it a lot less boring.

Africans dont't have to worry about this.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47590161)

... sort of thing...

Not being able to actually invent, design or create a giant drill.

Still, I'm sure that having your country flooded by millions of corrupt, stupid, dishonest, criminal third world shitbags, against the clear wishes of the tyrannised white majority, who never asked for it, is going to be a wonderful thing!

Why not buy another one? (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about 5 months ago | (#47590227)

Most of these TBMs are left in place in an isolation tunnel to rust away once they've finished a job. Why not just get another TBM and scrap this one? It seems like they're going through a lot of work when the TBM is probably only worth 20 to 40 million to fix it.

Re:Why not buy another one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47590417)

Wait really? They're left to rot away? Man imagine the surprise when a future civ. finds all those things. Or a group finds one during the apocalypse, gets it back running, and just trolls around in it.

Re:Why not buy another one? (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 5 months ago | (#47592059)

Actually it will evolve into an intelligent boring machine, like Veeger did.

Re:Why not buy another one? (1)

evilsofa (947078) | about 5 months ago | (#47590631)

This particular TBM cost $80 million:
http://www.popularmechanics.co... [popularmechanics.com]
They're spending $125 million to fix it. It seems plausible that dismantling it from behind and assembling a new one in place would have cost more than $45 million (plus $80 million for the new TBM).

Re:Why not buy another one? (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about 5 months ago | (#47591119)

Assemble a new one and cut through the old one then. It seems strange that a 7000 ton machine that cost $45 mil gets taken out of action by a pipe. It would seem to me that they'd make it a bit more repairable than this. Oh well, more money, more delays.

Re:Why not buy another one? (1)

Reziac (43301) | about 5 months ago | (#47594825)

Someone explain to me how this is more cost-effective than drilling several smaller paths using smaller, more-proven equipment that costs a whole lot less both to buy and to repair? Seriously, I'd like to see the numbers.

Drilling through mud mixed with rocks. (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | about 5 months ago | (#47594859)

It seems plausible that dismantling it from behind and assembling a new one in place would have cost more than $45 million (plus $80 million for the new TBM).

At first I wondered why they were going to sink a shaft and tunnel into it with the degraded-but-working machine. Why couldn't they just expand the tunnel behind the machine using less automated digging methods, then back the machine up into the room to get access to the front of the machine to repair it?

Then I looked a little deeper and discovered that they're below the water table, essentially tunnelling through mud-and-rocks under several atmospheres of pressure, and the machine is what is holding back a mudslide, followed by Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean, and preventing the creation of a big sinkhole under whatever is above them in downtown Seattle.

OK. Sinking a caisson just ahead of them and drilling into it with the gradually failing machine now looks like the cheapest approach.

Re:Why not buy another one? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47591187)

Why not use convicts and unemployed Negroes to finish the tunnerl? Give them food and water, and bunk them in the tunnel that is already complete. Through the centuries that is how tunnels were normally built. It's entirely doable today as well, given the large excess population of each group (usually one and the same).

Your mom (-1, Offtopic)

TeknoHog (164938) | about 5 months ago | (#47590433)

I came (snickers) here to see all the "your mom" jokes. I can't believe there are none so far.

Boring.

Re:Your mom (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47590591)

Well then, your mom drives a tunnel-boring machine that is not designed to back up and is so fragile that running into a buried pipe breaks it.

Or then, it's your mom who designed one like that.

There, I hope I've made your day.

Re:Your mom (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47592903)

Yo mama is so fat, than when she's bored the bore dies.

Oh, it's drilling alright (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47590629)

Right into the wallet of Seattle and Washington residents.
What a boondoggle. And this is literally just the beginning.

Re:Oh, it's drilling alright (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47591053)

It's the contractors paying these bills, not the taxpayers. They signed a contract to get the job done. Doesn't matter that they broke their toys, they still have to do the work at the price they signed up for. This isn't a cost-plus gig.

Re:Oh, it's drilling alright (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47592007)

I'm wondering if this is an assumption on your part. I am a licensed civil engineer who worked for WSDOT many years ago and was often involved in writing contracts for roadway projects. Having no actual information about what the contract says I suggest that it is likely that there is a clause about encountering unexpected hazards and how additional pay would be calculated.....usually on a more or less cost plus basis.

Re: Oh, it's drilling alright (1)

IMightB (533307) | about 5 months ago | (#47593001)

Except the pipe was not an unexpected hazard. It was noted in the contract and used by the people that did the initial survey...

Haha Seattle lib.coms get screwed (0)

noshellswill (598066) | about 5 months ago | (#47590685)

Screwed and drilled hahaha ...  couldn't  happen to a more entitled,  self-absorbed, rancidly incestuous bunch of drooling lib.com Nancyboiz.  Why build a tunnel instead of an overpass like now?  The snarkly Green warmests thought the tunnel most anti-car ... while rent-seeking  local developers who manufacture 300 squ-ft apts for Amazon & Starbu$$$s peons  calculated $750/ each window view of the granted-beautiful bay.  Can you say closet-with-a-view??  Who sez scum isn't attracted to sewage?  Anyrate the scene  is too good for  current residence so they trickle in a smatter of  Bantu and narco.MEX who pimp krak , piss in the trollies then mug & beat-up the local anti-gun fagbois.

Only $125-M you say?  Pray for an earthquake --- they have a big-un coming ... Too bad  that tunnel is not a back-breaking $125-B  to put the  Wobblies in  their place.

Why can't they just back up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47591457)

So why do they have to drill a whole new vertical shaft to extract the thing? Why can't they just pull it out of the tunnel it drilled? Is this complication something to do with it being "Earth Pressure Balance" machine?

I really found the NYT article to be poorly written and useless on the technical side. It was "gee whiz this is big and expensive" without even the briefest outline as to why the rescue operation works the way it does...

Re:Why can't they just back up? (1)

petermgreen (876956) | about 5 months ago | (#47591591)

AIUI the ground is basically slurry. Even if you could back the machine out (which you probablly can't because the tunnel behind the machine is almost certainly smaller than the head of the machine) you'd just be leaving an unprotected face of slurry in front of you.

Mandingo Party (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47592123)

I feel like I'm reading a porn description.

Idiot drill makers (0)

Khyber (864651) | about 5 months ago | (#47592235)

Can't make your shit out of tungsten so when you hit a teensy 8-inch pipe you don't fuck the drill head up?

They should be asking for a refund on their drill head. I've blown apart 8-inch pipes with 10 inch coring bits and did NOTHING to the bit, which itself was about 1/8th the thickness of the pipes inner walls.

Mohs hardness scale, do you even, motherfuckers?

Re:Idiot drill makers (1)

metaforest (685350) | about 5 months ago | (#47596295)

Can't make your shit out of tungsten so when you hit a teensy 8-inch pipe you don't fuck the drill head up?

They should be asking for a refund on their drill head. I've blown apart 8-inch pipes with 10 inch coring bits and did NOTHING to the bit, which itself was about 1/8th the thickness of the pipes inner walls.

Mohs hardness scale, do you even, motherfuckers?

The cutting discs(Tungsten) and the head face(hardened steel) are hardened materials.
The the cutting face was not damaged at all AIUI. It was the head support and bearing assemblies that got creamed by the head chewing through an 8" steel, well casing which is much thicker than el-cheapo galvanized pipe.

The damaged assemblies were designed to be supporting a much lower torque/vibration load cutting through relatively soft, water-saturated, landfill-slurry.

It's all fun and games... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47592811)

until someone hits a gas pocket and we're *all* screwed.

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