This article is more than 1 year old
BOFH: Goin' underground
It's quicker by Tube
Episode 7 "Okay, so we just need you to run a cable across the street then!" the Boss says, pointing to the new set of offices across the road that the company has leased. "Do we just sling a cable across the street to them?"
"To run a service across the street you obtain a consent from the local council outlining what the service is for - at which time they'll tell you that they won't let you run aerial services because they 'interrupt the unbroken skyline' or something equally vague. Interestingly, it's the same skyline that's interrupted every time the local council puts up one of their street banners proclaiming us to be the cleanest capital in the world, the least congested capital in the world or some other form of general misinformation..."
"So how do we get networking over there?"
"Well, you either pay a Telco an arm and a leg or you get a consultant to draw up thrusting plans for a duct and submit a joint proposal with the contractor to identify a route and do the subsequent digging or thrusting."
"What's that cost?"
"About the same price as the rental of the property for the year."
"Ah. Could we use some sort of wireless arrangement?"
"Possibly, but we might run into some bandwidth problems..."
"So we have to run a duct?"
"Maybe. I'd like to get access to their basement for a while and do a simple survey to see if there's any pre-existing ducting - you never know, the buildings might have been linked sometime in the past."
"Really? Well, I suppose I could ask for a key."
... much later that night .
"So you're sure this is all kosher?" the PFY asks as we tow the thrusting unit into the sub-basement car park of the building across the street.
"Ah. Will we get into trouble?"
"Not unless we hit one of those big electricity feeds to a London Underground transformer. Then it'll be a little touch and go. But very, very quick."
"Ah." the PFY says stepping back from the unit. "So how does it work?"
"Well I'm a little grey as to the full details, but this thing is a big drill, and this joysticky thing controls the direction of the drill. So I just aim it downwards from here for about 2 of these extension pipes, across for about 3 pipes, then up till it breaks ground."
"Riiighhht. So these pipes are.. what.. 5 metres long?"
"Ok so what about 2 pipes down, two pipes across and up, given that the road is about 8 metres wide?"
"Hmm, it's worth a crack I guess."
. . . . one hour later . . .
"What was that?!" the PFY gasps, as the machine shudders wildly and stops about halfway through the crossing process.
"Not sure," I say, comparing the distances with a services map I stole from the council. "Ah. We've either hit a sewer with a slight build-up of gas, or....."
"The front carriage of a Circle Line train."
"F***!" the PFY squeaks.
"Calm down," I say, putting the machine into reverse and turning it over on battery "We'll back this out and redrill it a couple of metres higher and it'll be swe.. Uh-oh."
"It looks like the train's bent the front section of the drill pipe which is stalling the thruster engine so we can't pull it back!"
"S***!" the PFY gasps.
"Again, don't worry, we have a spare drill bit."
"Oh," he sighs.
"Yes, all you need to do is sneak down the tunnel and pull the bent section out of the wall. And recover the drill head."
"You're f***ing joking!" the PFY says.
One long argument, several threats and 20 minutes later, my cellphone rings.
"Yep?... . ... What? . . . You'll have to speak up... Oh it's you! Found nothing Eh? Yeah well it must have been the old sewer after all. And I think the shuddering was because it had run out of gas. Pop into a service station and grab us about four gallons of diesel will you?!"
I cut the PFY off in the middle of a particularly colourful stream of abuse and recalculate my directions. By the time the PFY arrives I've got a new plan.
"Ok change of plans! It's too near morning to redrill, so we'll pull the drill sections back and go again tomorrow."
. . . Twenty minutes later . . .
"Ok, another change of plans. Grab that rag and stuff it in the hole when I pull the drill head out!"
"Uhh.... it's a secret.."
... The next day ...
"So we decided upon consideration to go the overhead route," I say to the Boss.
"But I thought you said the council wouldn't allow it?"
"They wouldn't. But as luck would have it my assistant and I happened to run into a member of the council staff charged with the installation of street banners, and after a bit of haggling we came to an arrangement where we provide him with a cable to hang his banner on. All perfectly legit."
"But I thought you preferred the underground option."
"Ordinarily, yes, but in this case I wasn't so keen."
"I think it was the basement being ankle deep in sewerage that put me off."
"You didn't!" the Boss gasps, horrified.
"Course not, what do we look like, cowboys?"
Must make a note to have my boots cleaned.... ®
BOFH is copyright © 1995-2005, Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his rights.