Saturday, January 31, 2009


I have mentioned the nifty removable steel "computer floor" deckplates in most of those parts of the starship Lupine where there's any concentration of things of an especially tech-y nature. Back in Engineering Ops and the Bridge, they are covered with high-grade anti-static carpet squares (says so right on the label) in an assortment of semi-decorative dirt-colored patterns. When .gov's Space Force ran this ship[1] the decks were of course painted (and the Engr'g Shop's deck still is), often with sturdy high-VOC paint that required removing personnel from the areas to be painted, sealing said areas off during and after (and doing the work in space suits), then once it had dried, dumping the air 'til the pressure was way low, repressurizing, and sendin' the boys in Space Force grey back in, coughing like mad from the residual fumes. After privatization, refitting, hazmat abatement, and smaller crews, having carpeting (and no paint fumes) was a supposed perk. And hey, it really is, in one's quarters. In places where the deck rarely gets opened.

In Ops, not so much. The carpet squares are, natcherly, not the same size as the deck plate squares, so you have to take up anywhere from four to six carpet squares to get one plate up. Environment & Physical Plant (janitors, plumbers, botanists, etc.) is now on their third controlled-tack glue formulation, which supposedly allows taking up and putting down the carpet squares multiple times. It almost works -- but forms "gloobers," nasty, fuzzy-bouncy, green globs of sticky gunk that gum up the heads of the screws that hold the plates in place and stick to everything, especially shoes and any clothing that comes into contact with the floor.

But we have a brilliant solution: have the plates cleaned and shot with what amounts to bedliner. There are low-VOC, flame-retardant[2] versions of that stuff now; it should look okay and hold up better than the carpet. No more peeling up carpet squares! Hooray!

What could go wrong? -- E&PP could come in and take up all the carpet squares while we were outbound from Lyndon, then decide the cleaning and coating effort is too big a project for the available time, is what. We now have gloober-coated steel underfoot everywhere; our guys don't like it, the Bridge crew loathe it and the Pilots are about ready to go stage a blanket party on the E&PP honchos.

Nobody liked my suggestion, which is take a couple of hours while we can, dog the hatches and hit the Fire Suppression (air dump) buttons. E&PP will come screamin' in when the alarm goes off but it'll be a fait accompli and the glue will be mostly crunchy dust after we get air pressure back. It is kinda A) drastic and B) seriously against regulations (and has been cited as absolute proof of the widely held belief that if you leave a member of Engineering in a room with the Gordian Knot and a pocket knife, within thirty minutes they will have broken one and lost the other) but hey -- no gloobers.

One problem is, we do kinda have to keep an eye on things, so we'd either have to do Ops and the Bridge one at a time (duplicate controls) and risk not being allowed to do the second one, or stick some volunteers in the area in pressure suits, which is not real fun and also seriously against regulations without prior authorization.

So for now, we're stuck with gloobers. Literally. You can tell who works in our part of the ship by the icky sound of their sticky shoes. Gads, it's a glamorous life shippin' freight to distant stars. Oh, yeah.
1. Yes, you're right, they really should be .mil. They are now. Back in The Day, it was more Peace Corps than USMC in many ways. Except when it wasn't.

2. In the Bridge and Ops, we kinda have to have somebody at the controls and thus can't count on bein' able to do the cheap and easy "fire extinguisher" method, which is to evacuate everybody in the affected area, shut the airseal hatches and dump the air. But any non-critical compartment, that's Method One, 'cos no matter how careful you are, fires and extinguishers gum up the air supply. Dumping the air is a two-fer: puts the fire out and you don't end
up tryin' to scrub the combustion products nearly as much.


excitedVulcan said...

You know about the Gordian Knot!

btw, love the starship tales.

Anonymous said...

"(and has been cited as absolute proof of the widely held belief that if you leave a member of Engineering in a room with the Gordian Knot and a pocket knife, within thirty minutes they will have broken one and lost the other)"

I've never had it put in that exact phrase, but damn if that isn't spot on for why I get a healthy dose of "Oh god, don't let him run that!" (And no small measure of LabRat cautiously asking "What are you doing?" as I attempt something or other about the house)

WV: pooke - just a poke, but slower so you can see what you're breaking.

"He's just this guy, you know?" said...

When my partner and I rebuilt our classroom floor risers over the summer, we included floor paint in the requisition list.

We were told "No need, because we are going to have them covered in industrial flooring".

RIGHT... sure you are. It took five years of death threats to arrive at replacing the crumbling wooden risers, and you are going to cough up expensive flooring, just like that?? RIGHT..... Sure you are.

We applied two coats of primer and two coats of heavy black floor paint.... which just happened to 'appear' one day. Ooops. I sure hope it doesn't interfere with the mythical unicorn of flooring when it flies in one night on a cloud of scented farts and deposits a perfectly leveled industrial floor on our new risers.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

"broken one and lost the other" is one of my favorite saying. But mine is about bowling balls.

Anonymous said...

They should have just gotten spiffy carpet covered tiles like we had. However, the special tile pullers for those could be considered deadly weapons and the temptation to misuse them was strong.


Roberta X said...

In utter seriousness, Tim, one requirement was that the plates had to be securely fastened -- these have eight bolts per each, or I should say "had:" four at the corners that connect to the pillars that hold 'em off the actual deck, four more holding bridge pieces at the midpoint of each side. Invariably, the bridge pieces, if present at all, are held by one screw to one plate. It's secure enough, though the lack makes them clank more.

Rob K said...

I really love these stories.