Reinventing the Wheel Can Be Dangerous

Another incident involving a person attempting to recycle a used barrel results in death… How many times do we have to read such things before everyone knows to leave that to experts or at least combine some facts into reasonable actions?

  • an “empty” barrel may contain a few drops of some flammable liquid and a lot of air,
  • most liquids evaporate and come into equilibrium with a vapour in the space above the liquid,
  • because the bung of the barrel is a restriction, such fumes may not dissipate even after years,
  • the concentration of fumes in air may coincide with concentration required to combust,
  • any welding, cutting or illumination operation may ignite the fumes causing an explosion of a large volume of a flammable mixture, and
  • a barrel being orders of magnitude larger than a balloon may not contain an explosion within, and
  • the human body is frail being subject to death by blood loss, cessation of circulation by impact, or damage to the central nervous system to say nothing of other serious injuries resulting from burns, cuts and penetrating wounds.

Still, it keeps happening. People think of the resource a discarded barrel provides but neglect obvious dangers resulting from former contents and welding and cutting operations. Sometimes even accumulation of welding gasses in a barrel can be fatal if a cutting torch sneezes.

The solution is simple. Fill the damned thing with inert gasses, water, sand, etc. before cutting into it. What’s a life worth compared to the few minutes of time it takes to do any of these things?

see BBC News – Man dies after Horspath barbecue explosion.

I wrote about a similar event in a school a while back…

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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18 Responses to Reinventing the Wheel Can Be Dangerous

  1. oldman says:

    “I have been accused of knowing nothing despite being a published scientist (peer-reviewed) with all kinds of high tech experience. e.g. designing, modelling, building and installing high tech stuff since before PCs:

    Pog, your scientific credentials are not in scope here. Your PC skills and your objectivity are.

  2. Chris Weig wrote, “I can’t really imagine Mr. oiaohm succeeding at that”.

    In the old days, I hired a typist to produce my finished copy. I could just as well have hired an editor/spell-checker.

  3. Dr Loser says:

    That wasn’t me, Robert…

  4. Chris Weig says:

    Kind of irrelevant and also irreverent. I doubt anyone would be convinced by any mere statement, so why ask?

    Oh, I’d be very interested. Especially in: are there any post-secondary education degrees out there where you don’t have to be able to write? Even for a B.S. or a B.A. you usually have to write a small thesis at the end. And I can’t really imagine Mr. oiaohm succeeding at that.

  5. Dr Loser echoing Tar’s question wrote, “I am curious oiaohm, what is your education?”

    Kind of irrelevant and also irreverent. I doubt anyone would be convinced by any mere statement, so why ask?

    I have been accused of knowing nothing despite being a published scientist (peer-reviewed) with all kinds of high tech experience. e.g. designing, modelling, building and installing high tech stuff since before PCs.

  6. Clarence Moon says:

    Tar over my years I have done a board range of training

    I think that adds up to “none”.

  7. Dr Loser says:

    All very admirable, Hamster.

    But I believe Tar’s question was:

    I am curious oiaohm, what is your education?

    To be fair, he has asked it twice.

    Now, my limited understanding of this, Peter, is that you are roughly 36 years old, and your sole actual qualification (I don’t even know whether you graduated) is some sort of batchelor’s degree from the New England University in northern NSW.

    Given your incessant bleats that you know everything about everything, I would suggest that Mr. Tar has a perfect right to ask what your qualifications are.

    Were you on the chicken-strangling side of the curriculum, or did you specialise in fence-mending?

    There might be an IT course buried somewhere down there in Armidale, but I’m buggered if I can find it.

  8. oiaohm says:

    Tar over my years I have done a board range of training. Focus has mostly been in the physical construction side of IT environments to suite required tasks. Along the way I have picked up many different qualifications as different sites got recycled and as different tasks have been required.

    In none the qualifications I use regularly use have I gone threw to have a PHD or masters in. Its not that I could not is more the time factor and my english written. The long papers PHD and masters stuff normally wants is not me. So lots of BA’s, diplomas, cert 4 and cert 3s on top of that a few trade qualification yes this does include trades that are not IT. All based on what the problem at hand required me to get.

    Most of the time I only do the qualifications to the point of meeting the legal requirements todo the jobs. So I don’t study to just study. Its study to earn money.

    Tar so my resume goes all over the shop. Completely does not follow the model of go into a field and be a specialist. My resume is also normal for a rural person. Being a specialist is not that useful rural since the staff to support you might not be there.

    I would not say doing what I have done is easy by any scale. It would have been simpler to pick a single field and specialise. That would not got me working were I wanted to work. I grew up where I could be somewhere that I knew as far I could see there was not another human. Cities fell crowded to me. My qualifications section of my resume just the past 10 years is multi pages. About a new field to my resume that I have never had before every 2 years. With many others maintaining the fields I have.

    Tar even for myself to know what I am currently qualified in at times is dig out my resume and see if I am due to to a update in it or not when it comes to doing something I am not doing regularly. So yes the true jack of all trades class of person. Also to be annoying my company job title is dynamic. Changes with the assignment when it changes so does my pay rates.

    Now if I was working at a Uni or in a city I might have got to specialise but where I work does not suit that. Also where I work if I had done specialise for months at a time I would not be working and would be employed only casual.

    I am replaceable normally by another rural. City people normally don’t have the board skill sets since they have been able to focus.

    Yes my english suggests to a lot of people poor education but the reality is not the case. Some people are just not good at english yet they can be good at many other things.

  9. Tar says:

    (my comment keep getting eaten :/)

    I am curious oiaohm, what is your education?

  10. Tar says:

    I am interested oiaohm. What is your education?

  11. oiaohm says:

    Chris Weig http://barbecue.sourceforge.net/ and the software thing called a “barrel shifter”

    So yes Linux is very useful with barbecue and barrels just the electronic forms. Physical forms not so much.

    Explains why not. When it comes to software barrels and barbecue don’t mean what people think. I know the funny expression you create when you say to a person I will just download barbecue now who does not know that barbecue is a program.

    There very valid reason not to mix Linux stuff with physical world stuff since it will just get confusing at times.

    Chris Weig really you comment shows how little you know. Its not a question you need to ask after using Linux for a while.

  12. Chris Weig says:

    No “I recommend Debian GNU/Linux” at the end of this post? Strange, I would’ve thought that Linux would also be very useful for barbecues with barrels.

  13. oiaohm says:

    Clarence Moon
    “I will have to express my amazement that you Linux fans are so familiar with sawing up barrels. Is there any connection?”

    Yes for some Linux people like their is a connection same with some windows people. The difference is city vs rural.

    Barrels in case roof leaks in shipping containers and other things they can be a useful source of sheet steal to patch over the leak.

    Remember shipping containers are the largest computer cases you can buy and when one develops a leak its a major problem. Those servers are normally water cooled so near by is large water storage being a very large tank or dam. So near by there is a very safe place to cut up a drum to get the metal to patch a leak. Air grinders and oxy are normally onsite. Air compressor is used for cleaning servers of build up of dust and junk. You will mostly have drums around from some of the extras you use in servers like fuel for the backup generators.

    Shipping container servers for good cooling are placed in old mines so can be out in the middle of nowhere.

    So basically cutting up drums at times is part of my job Clarence Moon since its the only way to get the material quickly to repair the leak before a minor leak turns into a system failure.

    This is what I was talking about with oldman about working rural in IT you need extra qualifications. A city person can go down the local hardware shop and buy a bit of metal to fix problem. Rural has to be able to acquire it from other items and not kill self.

    This in Australian even includes using redgum sap crystals plus metho to make a water proof sealing solution. An epoxy sealant substitute that is good to about 300 C.

    Robert Pogson and me have both worked rural. Being able to acquire materials from non conventional sources at times is part of the skill set. That is why a City IT person cannot go straight Rural IT without extra training they don’t have the knowledge required. Since in the city they don’t require the knowledge of what other materials you can use and how to safely acquire sheet steal and other products from drums and other items.

    Its also why it annoys me when City IT people think they are better than Rural IT. The true case of the matter most times I can do their job but they cannot do mine because they are simply not qualified.

    Rural has extra skill set requirements. In fact I could not work Rural USA at the same level I do in Australia without doing extra training. I don’t know their plants there and how they can be used when you don’t have particular supplies.

    Like if I asked Oldman what native plants do you use to seal a water cooling system by his training record he would not have a clue. This is a large server rural question you have to be able to answer.

    Robert Pogson has not worked big iron so might know what but would at least know who to talk to in a local area to find out.

    Yes natural supply of materials for IT repairs is kinda specialist extra of Rural IT. Like making sealants, glues, solvents and so on from natural sources. Sources that just happen to grow in that area.

    Clarence Moon basically the connection is not Linux. Rural is the connection. You will find windows personal at times with the same skill sets working on rural servers.

    Linux just happens to be used in big iron place in mines and the like rural so get a bigger population of rural techs around Linux.

    Also City Windows techs have a bad habit of being bigots to Rural Techs so a lot of Windows Rural Techs don’t admit up they know how todo particular things.

  14. Dr Loser says:

    Sorry, Robert, I really am off. I just couldn’t resist the Diogenes bit.

    Ta ta! And thanks for being so considerate.

  15. Dr Loser says:

    Diogenes, I would think.

    Not that even Diogenes would saw up his own barrel.

  16. Clarence Moon says:

    I will have to express my amazement that you Linux fans are so familiar with sawing up barrels. Is there any connection?

  17. oe says:

    Might mention its worth doing even when cutting one up with a recip saw and/or chop saw. These can throw a lot of sparks and heat too.

  18. oiaohm says:

    Had this happen with a no cap at least empty looking 20L plastic drum just happened the explosive fumes heavier than air where trapped in the drum. So a stray spark enters 20L drum well away from where I was cutting down ogre tip for re-coating with harden coat by welder. Scared the living crap out of me. After that I remembered to check if all drums near an area that I would be cutting grinding were closed and moved any that were suspect away.

    Robert Pogson
    “The solution is simple. Fill the damned thing with inert gasses, water, sand, etc. before cutting into it. What’s a life worth compared to the few minutes of time it takes to do any of these things?”

    So there is a extras you missed. Check that all drums and other possible explosive containing objects that you are not working on are either sealed against the sparks you are going to be making or have been moved out the area.

    There is a possibility he has the 40 G drum open while he was preping legs for the barbecue and it decided to go bang. The mistake I am not cutting it I don’t need to make it safe yet I will let it air out first(so letting any stray sparks in). Yes this is a path to death next step is cut something else near by and you are dead as the drum takes offence to containing the explosive force.

    And your advice is a little bad. inert gasses can be displaced by cutting/welding torch gasses also can be displaced by the heat of the cutting tool making what ever is coating the inside of the drum turn to vapour leading to o my god I am dead.

    Some old spray natural oil drums we had were nasty for this one they left a crystal coating on wall of drum that was apply heat become vapour followed in a bit by big bang once the gas ratios got high enough. Air of course getting in threw the cut by the angle grinder action. Use to use them with a remote controlled grinder to demo why not to cut any drum at random and why inert gasses theory they were taught was a risk to there life. People don’t forget the bang.

    Water/Sand are two safe options on a drum that you don’t know what it has contained. What ever you use must not be displace-able by a gas and must be able to absorb and weaken explosive chemical.

    Simple policy if you cannot do it with the drum filled with water or sand don’t do it think up another way of doing what you want. Air powered angle grinders and a big water tank is idea at times.

    There are a few ways the drum might have got him.

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