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There's a hole in the world...

I grew up in a small mining town in the middle of the desert. We only had something like 2500 people in town total. Most of the reason for the town's existence is to provide a place for the workers at the borax mine to live.

But it is a big mine. (For those of you who can't see the QuickTime VR of it, it's an open pit mine, with a pit that's about 650 feet deep, a mile long, and a third of a mile across.)

My dad was a mine manager there. This let me do some things that I would likely have never had the chance to do otherwise.

One year, around the Twenty Mule Team Days celebration, I got to go down into the pit and see them setting up for a blast. They had drilled thirty or forty deep, foot-wide holes in the ground in a grid, and filled them all with ammonium nitrate and diesel oil. Primacord detonators were dropped down each hole, and linked the holes together. Delays were set between each row, so the blast of each successive row would clear the way for the next row. All this was tied to a single blasting cap with a 3-minute fuse and a spitter to light it.

A spitter is a small orange cardboard tube, open on one end, just big enough to fit over the end of a fuse. The other end of the spitter is crimped and sealed, with a wire cable coming out of it, wrapped around a small T-handle which you pull like a party popper. When pulled, the mechanism inside the spitter makes the large sparks that light the fuse reliably.

They finished setting up, and the foreman looked over at my dad, then at me, then said, "How would you like to light this off?"

Like I could possibly refuse?

Everyone else cleared out away from the site, and klaxons started up to warn people away from the blast area.
I was handed the fuse, and told to pull the spitter cable to light it. I did.

Things went very fast then. We rushed over to the truck, hopped in, and raced up the roads out of the pit, siren and lights running. We made it to the rim of the pit on the opposite side, next to the visitor's center, just in time to get a prime view of the blast going off.


OSHA would never allow this nowadays.
Heck, in retrospect, I'm not so sure they would have allowed it then either. :)


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 6th, 2003 01:57 pm (UTC)
That is SO cool.
May. 6th, 2003 04:14 pm (UTC)
That sounds awesome. ('gryn) Nowadays people can only have that experience virtually.
May. 6th, 2003 09:24 pm (UTC)

And I thought playing with Roman Candles was cool! :D

Jul. 4th, 2003 07:12 am (UTC)
Or work as a geologist...

Explosions, I find, are better than sex. It annoys my wife greatly.

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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February 2018


  • 17 Oct 2011, 19:18
    Clever! ^_^
  • 7 Oct 2011, 08:38
    Was each link made from two pieces, or was there fill material inside that you removed? I'm having trouble seeing how to print these in a makerbot-compatible way (though I could just be overlooking…
  • 5 Oct 2011, 22:40
    Nah. It'd just take a dissolvable support material and higher resolution. There are commercial 3d printers out there that can print ball bearing assemblies in one pass, fully assembled.
  • 5 Oct 2011, 18:46
    Nice! ^_^ I was going to be flabbergasted if you were actually able to print it as a unit, but I guess that would take antigravity.
  • 5 Oct 2011, 18:19
    I printed each piece individually and assembled them after some cleanup. I did print four segments at a time, though, unattached, in a 2x2 grid.
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