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TR: Bolt testing, Darebin Parklands 6-Nov-2011 At 9:54:33 PM gfdonc
Procrastinate, verb (used with object) to put off till another day or time; defer; delay.

My daughter came up to me on the weekend to declare she’d learnt a new word. “What is it?” I asked. “Guess” she said. I replied I thought she would know that word already, which drew a contemptuous smirk from my 12 yo almost-a-teenager.

Procrastinate was the operative word. I’d had Mike Law’s test jig (for busting stuff) in my shed for the past 9 months, and hadn’t gotten around to airing it. The threat was it would be going back to NSW soon. Today was the day to have a play.

I emailed Singer, who lives in the same suburb. The Darebin Creek is just a few hundred metres away, and I’d located some large basalt boulders there months earlier. But better, Singers reply was there were some boulders in his back yard we could use. That’s good, I thought, rather than risk incurring the wrath of Parks, we can make drilling noises on private property.

After some daughter-related delays I rolled up after 6pm at Singers with a collection of hardware that weighed far to much to be carried by hand, and a hand trolley. “I brought some beers too, man, ‘cos alcohol and vandalism seem to go well together”. Singer’s place slopes steeply down to the creek and my hand trolley was thwarted by a ramp and path. Singer quickly came to the rescue with a garden tractor and trailer. Cool transport for a bolt-testing rig.

“You might want to use the electric bike, dude”. He motioned over to part of the garden where a home-modded bike sat with a collection of batteries. “Plug it in first”. Huh? Yes the excursion was potentially more than a short walk, so I found a red-and-black connector, and another red-and-black socket, plugged it in and was soon on my way down the hill, in pursuit of Singer and the tractor, being careful not to wash out on the steep gravel path.

We pulled over at a bluestone boulder about the size of a bar fridge. After a brief discussion it was decided this wasn’t big enough, so we crossed another couple of properties before making our way onto the bike path, then up a short petrol-electric cruise to the larger boulders I mentioned.

I started drilling on the left side, only to find an army of bullants, of the one-inch sized variety, emerge. Some of them seemed fairly pissed off to be covered in rock dust. And as I happened to be wearing with open-sided sandals, I felt especially vulnerable. I managed two holes and was attempting to insert some metal when the first lightening bolt exploded inside my shoe. I jumped, yelling, hopping and ripping off the shoe. Singer took over but got attacked (through a sock) before the anchor was set. Eventually we managed a solid, equalised anchor and placed one of the test samples a metre away.

However, there was too much slack in the line, and adjustments required frequent visits to the formic attack zone, resulting in some urgent and highly-vocal retreats. We played tag-team attempting to change the Spectra lengths to accommodate the setup without getting bitten. Score at that stage: Steve vs Ants 0-2, Ants vs Singer 2-0. Ouch.

Eventually we were good to go but the best hanger we had for the test bolt (a 10mm stainless) was one of Mikl’s homemade steel plates. This deformed and failed at about 36kN, with the bolt showing no sign of strain. We rejigged the setup with one of my Singing Rock SS hangers, but that failed at about the same level with the bolt intact.

With the fading light, still nursing ant bites and under attack from mosquitoes, we decided it was time to withdraw. The test bolt unscrewed easily, but one of the anchors was a fixed-head 12mm bolt and had bent, so wouldn’t unscrew. Bugger. Not wanting to leave the heavy steel hanger behind we tied some Spectra around a nearby tree, but the length was too long and the test jig ran out of travel. I went back down to the tractor to get some nylon cord, but that stretched too much. The ants scored again, with this bite more fierce than ever, and I yelped and went hopping down the hill while Singer made some other arrangements.

Eventually the bolt yielded, we threw everything in the cart and made a hasty retreat. Score: Ants 5, Bolts 2, Singer-Steve combination 0.

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