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Wire train removes old catenary wire above train tracks

Septa catenary wire

This video depicts SEPTA’s flotilla-like “wire train” renewing the catenary wire above the tracks on the R7 Chestnut Hill East line as it works its way past the Mount Airy train station. The wires become worn after decades of use. The workers are taking down old catenary wire, dropping and sliding it into the gondola for scrap metal. The new catenary wire is already in place and running trains. Naturally, for the safety of the workers, the catenary is de-energised and grounded.

The following description is from a SEPTA blog post of July 13, 2017
“In our world, a catenary is a system of overhead wires used to supply electricity to a locomotive, streetcar, or light rail vehicle which is equipped with a pantograph. The pantagraph presses against the underside of the lowest overhead wire, the contact wire.
Current collectors are electrically conductive and allow current to flow through to the train and back to the feeder station through the steel wheels on one or both running rails. Unlike simple overhead wires, in which the uninsulated wire is attached by clamps to closely spaced crosswires supported by poles, catenary systems use at least two wires. The catenary or messenger wire is hung at a specific tension between line structures, and a second wire is held in tension by the messenger wire, attached to it at frequent intervals by clamps and connecting wires known as droppers. The second wire is straight and level, parallel to the rail track, suspended over it as the roadway of a suspension bridge is over water.
Simple wire installations are common in light rail, especially on city streets, while more expensive catenary systems are suited to high-speed operations.
The Northeast Corridor in the United States has catenary over the 600 miles (1000 km) between Boston, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. for Amtrak's high-speed Acela Express and other trains. Commuter rail agencies including MARC, SEPTA, NJ Transit, and Metro-North Railroad utilize the catenary to provide local service.
Overhead line equipment can be adversely affected by strong winds causing swinging wires. Power storms can knock the power out with lightning strikes on systems with overhead wires, stopping trains if there is a power surge. During cold or frosty weather, there is a risk of ice build-up on overhead lines. This can result in poor electrical contact between the collector and the overhead line, resulting in electrical arcing and power surges.
On the Media/Elwyn Line, we're working on replacing 17 miles of 80+ year old overhead catenary wire. We're also building/installing new catenary support poles.”


Tabling at Brown's Shoprite for Earth Day

NN earth day tabling
On Earth Day 2021, a team from Philadelphia Neighborhood Networks, a grass roots political organization, hosted an informational table inside the Brown’s ShopRite on Fox Street in Philadelphia. Spokesperson Merle Savedow explained, “What we’re doing is try to raise the awareness of how to stop climate change and promote responsible sustainable living” Signs like “There is no planet B” adorned a tri-fold display and on the table were earth friendly products such as reusable sandwich wrappers. Grocery patrons appeared pleased to receive free reusable Shoprite shopping bags. Along with the bags, the activists offered shoppers a flyer with a checklist of earth friendly actions on one side and notice of a rally happening nearby later in the afternoon. The rally goal was to get SEPTA and the City of Philadelphia to shut down the polluting fracked natural gas plant in the Nicetown neighborhood and switch to renewable energy sources. Watch video and interview of environmental activists tabling at a neighborhood grocery here.


Moverama, movers with Krishna Hare Rama consciousness

Krishna moverama big eye

Moverama ( a concatenation of “move” and “Rama”) is a Philadelphia-based moving company with Krishna consciousness. The Hindu Lord Rama, an incarnation of the God Vishnu is central to a Sanskrit epic, the Ramayana.

Your correspondent encountered the shiny black moving truck with its unique logo down the street where they were moving in a new neighbor. One of the movers I encountered said his business partner is “into” the tradition He thought Rama might come from the earlier Vedas but there is much debate this online. The company company‘s logo is an eye and in the eye, a circle representing for the iris and pupil. In the circle is the face of the monkey God of strength, Hanuman, Lord Rama’s greatest devotee. Resting on his forward-facing palm-up hand is a green mountain with trees and a temple. The drawing references the following story from Hindu scripture:

“One of Hanuman’s greatest moments occurred when Indrajit struck with black magic in the middle of the night, severely wounding Lakshmana and knocking him unconscious. Listening to advice from the physician Susena, Hanuman headed for Gandhamadana mountain in the Himalayas to bring back the herb visalya-karani, which alone could save the lives of Lakshmana and the many vanara soldiers that had also been injured. To do this, Hanuman had to defeat an army of protective demigods, uproot the entire mountain because he couldn’t distinguish which plant was the correct one, and swiftly return before it was too late.” https://iskconnews.org/lessons-from-hanuman-lord-ramas-greatest-servant,1741/

The Moverama crew says their moving is as good as their logo is beautiful.

Watch video interview  of Krishna conscious movers here.


Rainfall increases, basement waterproofing jobs too!

Cu waterproof basement

Pete Golascewski and a workmate from David Brothers Landscape Services brothers were about to clean off a lower wall of a house and patch and seal it after excavating a 3 foot deep trench alongside it. Water had been coming into the house. An engineer suggested the project to stop the infiltration. The trench will be filled with a clay soil which is less penetrable than the naturally existing soil. The soil will be put down in layers, sloping away from the house. The work crew will also install new window wells. Golascewski says these jobs have become ever more frequent in recent years because of very heavy rain falls. He doesn’t profess to be a scientist but nevertheless believes the heavy rainfalls contributing to the burgeoning demand for this type of landscape construction work can be attributed to climate change. Watch video interview of landscaper describing basement waterproofing construction job here.


Staples store feels the heat, scrambles, after popular print manager is sacked

Cu clark staples
According to Chestnut Hill Staples store manager on duty Scott Clark, the staff is scrambling to make up for the loss of Mark Carver, the store’s print Manager for over 10 years. Carver is well known in the community (and your correspondent) for his astounding service and commitment to customers. Testament to his dedication and laments about the restructuring that led to his severance have been steadily pouring in on the NextDoor platform. Clark says work is becoming difficult because the store’s general manager is being called to fill in the gap in the print department to make up for the work that Carver had been so ably managing. “Who’s going to manage the store when she does?” Clark asked rhetorically. Moreover, 75% of the print staff are new hires. He reports that a lot of people have been coming in to the store to express support for Carver. And he had no reservation about speaking publicly. In fact, he says, the staff has been actively and collectively pushing the clamoring of customers back to Staples management. Your correspondent is awaiting a response from Staples corporate communications


Our water line gets switched to new water main

Pipe to attach exisitng connector water line to new water main
Thanks to the workers of Seravalli Contractors for putting in our new water main and for their patience in explaining the construction process

Nearly 9 AM this morning your correspondent went to the corner of Ardleigh Street and East Highland Avenue, the time the water was due to  cut off to all the houses on our block. They were making the switch from the new water main they had laid on Ardleigh Street to our existing water connector line beneath Highland Avenue. A foreman and the workers amiably indulged my questions and so I share what I learned.

The large crew was assembled working into tow teams on different sides of the intersection. First they took diameter measurements of the existing connector pipe now exposed lying 4 feet down. Excavation had preceded by a day or so. According to the foreman, connector pipes can range from 6 to 8 inches in diameter. I believe ours measured 8 inches. “Feeder” or distribution mains can measure 12 to 16 inches in diameter. ( Before excavation began, I saw large black pipes staged excavation along Ardleigh Street;  the ones farther south between Southampton Ave and Gravers Lane, appeared considerably larger than the ones, the next block up, between Gravers Lane and Highland Ave)

A worker then began abrading the existing connector pipe at the point it would be cut. Meanwhile another worker was sawing sections of new pipe to adjoin the existing connector pipe on or street with the main. Pipes are now made of ductile iron said the foreman because they are stronger and more durable than the existing cast iron pipes. He relayed that the stretch of Ardleigh Street north of Highland Avenue was more challenging to excavate because there were a lot of stones in the ground. This Wissahickon schist is commonly  seen in our 100 or so year- old homes. Your correspondent saw connector pipes being hoisted, removed then rehoisted into the trenches.  A pump was put into place to pump out any water that might accumulate during the process. I could not approach close enough to see the worker affix the collars to complete the pipe connections.

Farther down Ardleigh street, after the main had been laid, workers were replacing connections from individual houses along the street to the new main with three-quarter inch copper piping by snaking it through to the main. The workmen looked like prairie dogs popping up and down from the small pits outside each house by the curb. A worker said people may complain that their street gets dug up three separate times because they might not understand the the multi step process. Temporary, large stone asphalt is used at the preliminary stages before the final fill. When all pipe laying and connection work is done, a layer of sand will be poured on top of the pipe followed by a couple feet of soil. Then comes a layer of stones, then a layer of concrete and finally, the street is repaved with the a finer asphalt material and smoothed down with a roller.

I editorialize: for the customer, the only inconvenience is a few weeks of stepping around construction equipment and navigating some muddy streets. A City of Philadelphia Water Department postcard stuck in our door advised us that water would be shut off on December 22, 2020 from 9 am to 4 pm but in actuality, the water was shut off  well after 9  and restored much before 4. Considering the size of the project, interruption to our service was a mere few hours. The  true value of a consistent supply of clean water for our health, for our lives, is  far beyond the very modest water rates we pay. Rates are so low that some of us think nothing of watering our lawns water or filling our swimming pools with water that is good enough to drink!

Watch video here.

See photo slide show here.


Trenches dug, pipes laid, switching to new water mains

New water line ardleigh street
Workers put in new water mains along Ardleigh Street north of Gravers Lane in Northwest Philadelphia. An excavator scoops soil to form a 5 foot deep trench. A section of pipe is then strapped to the machine and lowered gently into place. One of the workers says that before the line becomes active it will be filled with chlorinated water to “shock” it and then flushed with clean water. Water running through the new line will then be tested to make sure it meets quality standards before the switch is made to the new line. The existing pipe runs just adjacent to where the new pipe is being laid. Some days before a new juncture was put in at the intersection of Ardleigh Street and Gravers Lane. The pipes that had been staged along the street south of Gravers Lane appeared to be of a wider gauge than those to the north of Gravers. These photos and video were taken on December 3. On December 21, a worker hand delivered postcard size notices from the Philadelphia Water Department advising residents along East Highland Avenue that the water would be shut off on December 22 from 9 to 4 due to construction. Your correspondent supposes that this will be the time when the switch is made from the old to the new line. Watch video of construction hereFor more information visit PWD at https://www.phila.gov/water/wu/drinkingwater/MainBreaks/Pages/default.aspx


Alleging racism, Free Library staff protests to oust Board Chair

Protest free library board chair balija
White staffers of the Free Library of Philadelphia, in support of their Black colleagues, staged a protest outside the Chestnut Hill home of the Library Board Chair, Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Pam Dembe, as part of a campaign to oust her for insensitivity and alleged racist comments and actions. In this video, a handful of Black employees watch from a corner across the street as the protesters hold signs and shouted chants such as, "When libraries are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!" Librarian Sunita Balija was one of the first to address the gathering of about 25 of her colleagues, who presumably had authorized time off from library work to attend the morning action. She excoriated the board chair, making a case for "The People vs. Pam Dembe" and running down a bullet list of factors to support the demand for her resignation. "Fact: Black staff are largely relegated to non-professional jobs including custodians, guards, and library assistants and therefore they earn seven-thousand, five-hundred, thirty-three dollars less than the median salary while White staff earn twelve-thousand more than the median salary." Watch video here.

Genovese library protest oust board chair

AFSCME Labor Union (District Council 47) shop steward and Free Libary of Philadelhia staffer Perry Genovese explains the protest outside the Chestnut Hill home of the Chairperson of the Library Board.

"I'm here today for the Campaign for a Just Philly Budget calling on Judge Pam Dembe to step down..this is a call being made in solidarity with the Concerned Black Workers of the Free Library who successfully ousted" now former Executive Director Siobhan Reardon. Genovese refers to disparaging remarks made by Dembe and widely reported in the mainstream media. "She doesn't get anti-racism." Genovese says the Concerned Black Workers wanted the protest action taken to Dembe's residence because they hadn't been listened to. Genovese says the black workers were given a slap in the face when the Chair only responded to a letter from white staffers to the Board on behalf of their black colleagues, whose original letter to the Board she had ignored.

Watch video here


Sculptor carves massive sunflowers into tree trunk

Tree trunk sunflower carving
Shawnee Street resident Beth Eames was very sad to see the grand, 100-some year old sugar maple tree in her front yard succumb to disease and have to be cut down last year. So, to honor the tree, she commissioned noted local ice and wood carver Roger Wing to convert the 12 foot high remaining trunk into a work of art, only giving him the high vision prompt of "flowers." After working two straight weeks in the heat, Wing just completed carving what appear to oversize sunflowers, using a special wood-burning tool to set the flowers and stalks off against a dark background. He will return twice a year to apply a natural oil to preserve the work. Eames also had Wing carve an alcove with a seat in the trunk so that people can come by, sit and take selfies. (Why not take a selfie and post it here: https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/chtreetrunkcarving/ ) The current times were added motivation for Eames to do something nice for the neighborhood and give an artist good, paying work. Watch video of tree trunk sculpture and interview here.

 

 


Electrofishing the Wissahickon

Electrofishing

In a short time, aquatic biologists from the Susquehanna River Basin Commission netted hundreds of fish from the Wissahickon Creek just above the covered bridge - and then returned them to the water. Biologist Aaron Henning (center in photo) relayed that SRBC had won the contract to assess the health of the waterways in this region as part of a national study commissioned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The day before, Henning, his teammate Matt Shank and Michelle Peck from Region III IEPA were working down on the Schuylkill River in the less scenic refinery area. Electrofishing entails putting a weak electrical current in the water through a rod, which actually attracts the fish Henning says, to momentarily stun them. This gives the biologists enough time to identify them by species, take measurements and, for some of the larger specimens, take plugs of tissue to test for PCBs and other contaminants. Henning showed off two large, American eels, a species that lives in fresh water but migrates to spawn in the ocean. The squirming pair were eager for release. More photos here

Watch video here