Saturday, May 2, 2009

Drive around the lake

just a little too fast...

The last breaths of this semester are occurring. And with this is generally a sign of projects needing to be completed, exams, homework, and late nights in the engineering building.

Some times you are granted a gift though...and in this case we went and visited Beaver Dam. It was an amazing experience. I took as many pictures as I was able to and will talk about the rest.

Beaver dam is apart of a lock and dam system that covers NW Arkansas and SW Missouri.

This particular dam was made back in the 60's. The design shows on the inside. The insides are painted in colors that I imagine the 60's coated in. The control room walls were a mix of soft browns and a light green. The kind of green you see on all old machines. I couldn't tell you what half the things do in there or how they are operated. Everything had lights and knobs as if it were from the Star Trek series of the same era.

We were able to see the, for lack of better words, giant axles that are connected to the turbines. They consist of a solid metal shaft that is some where in the neighborhood of three feet in diameter. When spinning they were only spinning at something around 90 rpm. I can only imagine the amount of force to get that much weight moving that quick.

Now for the Dam part of the operation. (And yes our group revisited every single "dam" joke from Vegas Vacation and then some) The dam itself as you can see from the pictures is pretty big. It is from top to bottom about 250' tall. Yeah like looking down the length of a football field. The width at the bottom if I remember correctly is in the neighborhood of 170'. And there are tunnels all through it. I had never realized it but most dams have tunnels through out their structure. One of the reasons is to help with drainage since concrete "leaks". Another is to have instruments. One of the main ones is the "Tilt-o-meter". This meter is a string that goes from the top to the bottom of the structure through a pipe. Basically this device shows how much the dam is tilting due to pressure of the water. There was a red line on a little beyond where the pendulum was and asked what that was for and what they would do if it got that far. The operator just looked at me and said, if it gets that far I am running. The red line was apparently the point break for tilt-age.

This picture is looking out over the top of the dam. They had no restrictions in taking pictures in this area. To give some perspective...those blocks on the right are about the size of a VW Micro-Bus

This is a picture showing the height of the structure.

This is looking straight down. Notice how small the door way is in the center of the picture.

This top of the dam, but suprisingly isnt the main control center.

The Feds will be after me for this picture...I took a picture inside of the restricted area....ahhh....I think if I remember correctly it is just a bathroom in there and some stairs.

Needless to say I am staying vague on some details because I dont know what is acceptable to talk about. I am keeping to stuff that could be found on wikipedia and really dont want a goverment agent to come knocking on my door. Especially since they know who I am since I signed my name....although it didnt have a NDA on it...