Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Blown Chucks and Dog Sneezes

If you've been reading my blog for a while, or if by chance you know me personally, then you know that I work in a facility that manufactures evaporator coils for air conditioners.  This is similar to what we make. 

Note that this is not one of our coils.  It's just a random picture I snagged off the internet.  But it's the same type of unit that we manufacture at our plant-- just a little different design.  That copper tube on the front with all the little copper tubes sticking out of it is called the header or manifold assembly.  That's what I make.  Well, the tubing department makes all the little tubes, and I braze them together.  Again, not exactly like that, but similar.  That has no bearing on this story.  I just thought you'd like to know what it is I do for a living.

Back to my story.  Part of the process of manufacturing these coils is to test them for leaks.  The coils in our plant go through two separate leak testing processes.  The first method of leak testing is to dunk pressurized coils into a big tank of water and check for air bubbles escaping.  This big tank of water is known in the plant vernacular as The Test Tank.  The people who work on The Test Tank are known as The Test Tank Operators. 

The way it happens is this:  the coils are rolled down the conveyor and up onto the test tank.  The test tank operators attach an air hose to the coil at the header assembly-- that part of the copper tube sticking out in the illustration above.  The operator then lowers the coil into the water and increases the air pressure to a specific psi.  He observes the coil for a specific amount of time, and if no bubbles are spotted, the coil is leak free, and he sends it down to the second leak testing procedure.    I won't go into that here, because it's irrelevant to this story.

What the test tank operator connects the air hose to the coil with is something called a chuck.  Some of you probably already know that, but for those of you who don't, the air hose is attached to the header with something called a chuck, though what that has to do with men named Charles is beyond me.

Charles...Chuck...never mind...

As it happens, every so often, due to the chuck not being connected properly, or flawed copper, or any number of reasons unbeknownst to me, as the air pressure builds inside the coil, the chuck comes flying off of the header.  In the plant vernacular, this is known as blowing a chuck. When a test tank operator blows a chuck, it makes a very distinctive whump sound.  Followed by water shooting into the air.  Followed by screaming and running.  Followed by raucous laughter from those who didn't just get an unexpected shower. 

It's all very entertaining.

Hey, I work in a factory.  You take your fun where you can.  Like making fart noises with your purge gas, something which I can neither confirm nor deny that I may or may not have recently figured out  how to do.  Fifth Amendment.   You know the drill.

OK, moving right along...

As I said, when the test tank operator blows a chuck, it makes a very distinctive whump sound, upon which everyone in the plant looks around to try to spot who it was that blew said chuck.  We've done this for as long as I've worked there.  And pretty much everybody is going to look.  It's the entertainment value, you know. 

A couple of nights ago, I was laying in bed, all snuggled down under my blanket, just about to drift off to sleep, when Rylea sneezed.  But it wasn't just any old sneeze.  It was a sneeze with a very distinctive whump sound.

We humans are creatures of habit.  Seriously, creatures of habit.  I kid you not, laying there in my bed, in my house, nowhere near the factory, when I heard that distinctive whump sound,

I rolled over and looked to see who had blown the chuck.

And Rylea just rolled her eyes, and said, "Sometimes, I jes' don' know 'bout that woman".

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