What the **** is a millwrong?

I’ve heard the quote and un-official definition of insanity is: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting something to change.

That’s the perfect explanation for the place in which I call work.

And that place stresses the hell out of me. Especially this week.

Being an apprentice mechanic in a big industrial facility is a weird business to be in. This place runs twenty four/seven/350… and when it is not running, I start running.  But most of the time it’s work that isn’t really work. Route sheets, PM’s, welding projects, trying to look busy….


This was my week. Feb 6 – 9, 2012


10 hours worked

Our mill got a huge grant from the government for a ‘Green Project’ and chose to install a condensing turbine. It’s damn near done, but there are a few bugs that need to be ironed out of the generator.  It’s already piled up once and the part that got

The Mona Lisarepaired and reinstalled, but was not rebalanced. When something winds up to 3600 rotations a minute it tends to wobble if it’s slightly out of whack.

That being said the contractors that organized the project, wont let me pull a wrench on the damn thing. So I run for the odd part or tool and watch the vibration charts with the vibration techs. Surprised she’s still in her sockets.  I also try to talk to most people on the job, they are pretty interesting and are from all over.  But what was really accomplished by me was (you guessed it) pretty close to ZERO!



Hours worked 11

Let’s get this straight. I feel like a prisoner in my hometown. When you’ve lived somewhere for 20 years and went through some hard times, and the majority of my initial schooling. You tend to recognize and know a lot of people. Friends, enemies, family, ex-girlfriends, punters, drunks, doctors, lawyers, mayors… you name it.

So when I say, ‘been there done that’, I truly mean it. When something fun comes up in the weekday evening is kinda few and far between and I say I want to go, I REALLY WANT TO GO! So I planned to go on Tuesday.

My morning was spent by the boiler repacking a couple of snot blowers (as I affectionately call them) in the pleasant if quite un-natural heat radiating from the steam lines. 

My afternoon was spent waiting for a lock out. To change out some 18 inch valves that weighed at least 150 pounds. I never got to turn a wrench until 2.30pm. And when I asked the people who wanted this done if I had to get it done that day they all looked at me like I was dumb and said yes.  That pushed me from annoyed to   right     fucking      irate.  Did they not know that I had a life outside of work?

So after much swearing and some time spent after the work day was supposed to end, we got it done. I jumped the gun a little and ducked out during the cleanup phase. Rushed home, had a shower and called buddy up so we could go play music. His simple answer was that he forgot about tonight and the drummer had cancelled out anyways.  Everybody say it with me: “Serenity Now! Serenity NOW, DAMMIT!”



Hours worked 15

The guy who was filling in for the boss while he was gone totally went on a power trip. And was giggling when he told me to fix the chain that was really really jammed in the piece of equipment. Twisted, bent and broken heavy duty metal crap. FUN! But lets add a twist, it’s 20 feet in the air! GREAT!  You now have to wait 3 hours for scaffolding and then proceed to hope that it’s only just that one section that’s jammed all to hell.  Luckily it was and you only had to spend 12 hours working on it. Trying to remember what you had did 2 or 3 years ago on that piece of equipment, is always scrumptious goodness.  Being in charge of the job for the first time is ssssooooooo relaxing as well.  *gnashing of teeth*



Hours worked 10

Accosted by planner, according to him I stole his chain from a separate work order to get that chain conveyer running again. (inner dialogue inserted here —>) Jeeze, so sorry for saving the pulp mill, I will forge some proper chain from scratch next time.  Happy thoughts happy THOUGHTS!!!!!!! RRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAA! *karate chop*

Then finish off the day with the worlds most inept mechanic who gets offended if you tell him he’s doing something wrong. But he’s my journeyman and out ranks me, so I sit back and let him do his thing and, by golly gee, it actually worked this time.

And by the way, just before you go, you gotta work nights next week.


Conclusion: I can’t be a millwright because it is just so wrong.


About theadroitarborist

You walker, there are no roads, only wind trails on the sea. -Robert Bly
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