Sunday, May 31, 2015

Heel Marks, TINSIWT

Picking up where we left off...

There are some things that are inordinately important to the Marine Corps. Fresh haircuts, sharp creases, and shiny wax on linoleum floors. Doesn't matter if the building is falling apart, field day comes and someone is waxing and buffing the floor. The ex-Lance Corporal, or new PFC, from the last story? The Marine we left on police duty? He was that someone. Wax a section, buff it. Work your way along the hall. Get to the end and go up a deck.


Our squadron's enlisted barracks was fairly new. The squadbays were gone, it was two man rooms, three decks high. We worked three shifts, so the rooms made it nice. Some Marines were always asleep, even mid-day, with shifts starting at 1630 and 2330.

 In those days, we wore black leather boots with black soles. At the top of the ladderwell, where you turned onto the deck, the wax had black heel marks, some of them under a layer or two or eleven of wax. After one of the weekly inspections our intrepid Marine got instructed to get the heel marks off, strip off as much wax as necessary, but clean up the linoleum and re-wax it.

Perhaps more instruction was needed. Perhaps he could have been given supervision. Perhaps that supervisor could have provided wax remover and the correct buffing pad. But once again, if that had happened, we would not have a story.

Lacking supervision and unable to get the heel marks off, he had a moment of inspiration. Over in the hanger there was something that would get the heel marks off, get the wax off too, he was sure of it. It came in metal five gallon cans. He'd seen it used, it would clean up grease, oil, hydraulic fluid, fuel and just about anything else. Wipe off a section of wing with it and it was clean and dry in minutes.

You can't buy this wonder solvent any more, I think it got banned in the Nineties, but back then we used it liberally. In a big open hanger or out on the flightline, it disappeared into the air to go destroy the ozone layer. It was called 1,1,1-Trichloroethane. Click that link and you can see, however, in a closed space, a concentration of the stuff in the air causes dizziness, loss of coordination, loss of consciousness, and death.

It will also get heel marks off linoleum. A cupful probably would have stripped the wax off and if he had been quick about cleaning it up, it would have been just the ticket to speed up the job.

But, as I mentioned, it came in five gallon cans. He drove over to the hanger and got one. Came back and poured about a gallon out on the 3rd deck and spread it around with a swab, then went down to the 1st deck to have a smoke while he waited for the wax to soften, leaving the 1,1,1-Trichloroethane evaporating into the closed space of the interior corridor.

A few minutes later, reeling and coughing, a Marine came down the hall and pulled the fire alarm. The base fire department responded, although by the time they had their respirators and air tanks on, everyone was out of the building. A room search was conducted just to be sure. Everyone got checked out and were found to be okay once they were breathing air again.

Large ventilation fans, normally used to push smoke out of buildings, were set up. The solvent was identified and once it evaporated and was vented, the building could be re-entered.

The heel marks were gone, so there's that, but the linoleum was gone, too. Not completely gone, just dissolved to sort of the consistency of peanut butter. You could scrape it up with a putty knife. The linoleum and the glue came right off. After the cleanup was complete, there was bare concrete floor everywhere the solvent had been applied followed by a ragged edge of ruined tiles, and then a shiny, ready for inspection, waxed floor from there on out to the fire exits.

I don't remember what if anything they did this time. I'm not sure that any official action was taken. If I remember it right, he got sent back to the shop under the assumption that it would be better to have him where he could be supervised than working alone in the barracks.


20 comments:

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

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http://asthecrackerheadcrumbles.blogspot.com/2015/05/a-sunday-drive_31.html

Old NFO said...

ROTLMAO! We used that stuff to strip airplanes! 15 minutes and hit it with 100psi and presto, one shiny airplane!

I cannot imagine how long it took to scrape up the tile remnants... :-)

Walter Zoomie said...

That solvent is probably the same crap that got into the water table at Lejeune and poisoned a generation of Marines, sailors, and their dependents. :(

GreyMan said...

As a GM tool room apprentice, back in the day, we used it in parts cleaning tanks. It took off dirt, grease, paint and anything else that wasn't metal or glass. It dissolved our protective gloves in about 30 seconds, so we usually used it bare handed. After a while it was banned, and they replaced the tri-c with mineral spirits. It didn't clean very well, but it didn't eat the gloves either.

Graybeard said...

We always called that stuff trike, just like a kid's three wheeler.

When I started in the electronics biz, everything was cleaned in tric. We had degreasing machines about the size of a top loading home-sized freezer which had a few gallons in the bottom that were heated. You'd put a rack of your circuit boards in there for a few minutes on a shelf, in the zone where the vapor was condensing back into the sump. Got them really clean. Sometime in the late 70s/early 80s someone said it was too dangerous and we switched to freon. Freon was fantastic, great cleaner, but then all that junk science came out about ozone holes and all and that got taken away, too.

ASM826 said...

We called it dry cleaning solvent. Not what it really was. I remember standing on the nose of an F4 with radome open and the radar extended pouring the stuff all over the entire radar system to remove the hydraulic fluid after a hydraulic leak on the lines that ran the antenna.

matism said...

Whatta bunch of whiney crybabies. P&Ming about trike. Surely EVERYONE knows that the MEK shall inherit the earth:
http://tinyurl.com/nzdlpce
}:-]

And Old NFO, it would not have taken much time at all to "scrape up the tile remnants..." as long as they let him use a little more trike...
}:-]

ASM826 said...

Matism,

I think the important question now is, "what effect does MEK have on floor wax, heel marks, and linoleum?"

R.K. Brumbelow said...

@Walter I am pretty certain it did not get into the water supply. That crap is extremely volatile. I know when I was doing industrial chemistry in the UK as part of my classes it was called the "other universal solvent" and we used it frequently when dissolving substances for purification.

So many things that used to be common place chemicals and now are banned because they are hazardous ...

waepnedmann said...

Flashbacks of the Drill Sargeant demonstrating the proper waxing technique while noting to not to let an officer see you doing this while lighting a can of Johnson's Paste Wax on fire and letting it cook down until you had a nice liquid wax to pour on the floor.
In reflection I am surprised that the old WWII wooden barracks never burned down.

ASM826 said...

Lejeune water was contaminated with, among other things, trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, vinyl chloride and benzene.

The Marine Corps didn't know it for years, which is perhaps understandable. But once they did know it, in August of 1982, they covered it up, ignored it, and did not even close the wells until 1985. The wells had been dangerous since the 1950s.

It is a dark piece of the history of the Corps and the gov't has fought any compensation or extra medical care for those affected.

If you're in need of something to rage about, here's a link to start with:

The Few, The Proud, The Forgotten

STxAR said...

I got one of the last 5 gallon cans of 1,1,1 in Houston. I used it to clean the dust off high power transmitters. That dirt would weld itself onto the interior of a high voltage section. Then it would start arcing over. Not pretty.

I remember stumbling out of the transmitter shack once, trying to figure out why my feet weren't working so well. Even with a vent blower running, it was a bit thick.

Amazing what we did and lived thru. Washing my hands with regular gas, the orange stuff with lead in it. Then having to wash again with ivory soap to keep it from blistering. Treating mange with used motor oil, or treating dry skin on pigs with used motor oil. That stuff was great!

If recent science is to be believed, I've been dead for 10 years at least!!!!

R.K. Brumbelow said...

@ASM I am surprised, something like 60% of all produced TCE is lost to the atmosphere... That is PRODUCED. I wonder how much has to be in the water for it to be considered contaminated. I know it is about 50% heavier than water.

Will said...

IIRC, 1,1,1, triclor was the original BrakeClean. It would instantly remove grease and oil from the surface of brake shoes and clutch plates. If the petroleum product had soaked into the material, putting it into a metal can deep enough to cover the parts with the solvent would clean them. This was my technique for cleaning Norton clutch plates, as they ran in a housing that had oil for the primary chain pooled in the bottom. Helped to first scuff the surface with some sandpaper to break up the burnt oil film to hasten the cleaning action.

Dave H said...

I miss trichlor. That stuff was great for cleaning electronics. I had a bottle of it in the TV shop where I worked my way through college. Then at my first job out of school we used various types of Freon for cleaning. That stuff was great for cleaning circuit boards in an ultrasonic bath.

Now we use this so-called "no clean" solder & flux, and the boards get shipped looking like somebody urinated on them and left them to dry in the sun.

matism said...

Whattaya mean "... looking like...", Dave H?

Are you SURE that's not for real?
}:-]

Old NFO said...

Matism, True...LOL And we also used MEK in addition to Trike... As somebody said, we should ALL be dead by now...

Bryn said...

Can't say I ever used trike with the same enthusiasm as your deck cleaner.... My experience with it was in the 80s - trade name "Arklone P" trichlorotriflouroethane, used as a surface cleaner and reel-to-reel tape head cleaner in UK ICL computer installations. Worked well on my cassette decks at home, and on my motorbike switchgear,and on my.......... you get the idea!

Bryn said...

Correction to the above....

Genesolv D 1,1,2-trichloro-1,2,2- trifluoro-ethane
Synonyms: Arklone P, Halocarbon 113, Propellant 113, Asahifron 113, Arcton 63, ...

Nasty stuff.

https://www.wikigenes.org/e/chem/e/6428.html

Knucklehead said...

Used to silk screen circuit boards and we used that stuff to clean off the goop. It would eat anything. Washed our hands with it. YEESH!

I remember waxing barracks floors. Linoleum here in the US, brick in Germany. Takes a lot of waxing to make bricks shine. As someone above mentioned, we set the can of Johnson paste wax on fire (did the same with the Kiwi shoe polish when spit shining boots), poured it on the floor and buffed it hot. Worked great. Heck, I knew THAT trick from mom doing her linoleum kitchen floor. I was one of the few guys (at first) who knew how to run that big ol' buffer also since I'd worked as a janitor all through HS (it paid better than just about everything other than loading trucks for UPS).

Were they simpler times or were we just younger bodies and dumber brains?