Often part of the magic of working in fast paced environment is the people that you work with. Below is a true story about one of those moments. I hope you have as much fun reading as we had doing.
A brand new golf course had been selected to host a PGA tournament. Since the local ILEC had not released an easement, the trailer for tournament staff could not be fed by the in ground fiber network yet. To make sure that no deadlines were missed, a corporate partner had a portable 80 foot tower trucked in to provide full network connectivity back to the primary club/regional network core for these temporary offices. This same tower was also used to feed the course’s Golf operations which had just started up. The tournament was moved to a new location at the last minute but the trailers were left to provide power for the wireless link, and a network back to the primary club for golf operations. The company decided to move the trailers, but the golf operations staff still needed their corporate network access.
How it started
The corporate partner that provided the tower had the engineer who had helped deploy the tower the first time in town for another meeting. I call him up and tell him we need to go look at this thing and see when we can get this move scheduled. On the way over a project manager from corporate IT calls me and wants to meet before he goes back home (a 2 hour drive), and we agree to meet in the field at the golf course. At 5:30pm we all meet and stare into the sky.
The golf operations personnel had impressed upon me how much better their job was when they had proper access to their corporate applications. Since the engineer responsible for the tower wasn’t going to be available again until two weeks hence, we were going to miss the deadline. All people on hand were in agreement to not have the local operations down for any time. It was decided to redeploy the tower that night. The tower is erected behind the tournament trailers, and is in very soft sand. Going up to 80 feet high, and weighing well over 12,000 lbs we figure that the project manager’s diesel F250 4×4 would be perfect to move this beast. We were almost right.
First we have to tear down the current trailer/tower, which involved lots of digging, moving of jacks, moving concrete pads, large steel beams with grimy grease, climbing on the tower, bringing the tower down into “travel position”, and using muscles we forgot we had. Even with 3 guys this was a time consuming process, did I mention it was dark? You never realize how many things there are to trip on in an empty lot until you do it a few times.
Finally ready to move the tower we backed the truck up, hooked on, and promptly moved the thing 1 foot before burying the truck up to its axles. We dig the truck out, re-position the tower to help put more weight on the back wheels, and move it another one foot or so before burying the truck again. We try packing the pathway, digging a small trail, adding weight over the rear wheels, nothing works. It is now 8pm at night.
I call the project manager for a nearby construction site and ask if we can use one of the pieces of equipment on the job site to get this done. He makes a few suggestions as to which equipment might work best and where we might find keys. This involves two of us, climbing all over equipment looking for keys. Since we don’t have flashlights, we’re using the screens of our blackberry as lights. This attracted the attention of the local security folks, who, while professional, made sure that we weren’t up to no good. Needless to say we had some “‘splainin to do”.
Finally we are able to get a lull (4 wheel drive Combination crane and fork lift) started and drive it over to the tower. Did I mention it was dark, and the lull has no lights? Driving heavy equipment by Braille at night is always entertainment! Since the fork lift has no tow hooks we have to hook a chain around the front of the lift to the front tow hooks of the Ford. The combination of the lull, plus the F250 4×4 is now able to move the tower to its new home, 75 feet away. Now all we have to do is set it all up again, re-point the antenna to something that is only 12 inches square and more than 2 miles away – at night working under the headlights of the truck. Easy…..
Luckily the corporate IT guy has every tool imaginable, including crimpers, screwdrivers, pliers, mastic tape, zip ties, gel filled scotch locks, punch down tools, WD-40, gear oil, and most importantly a 5 pound hammer. We got to work re-stabilizing the tower, getting the concrete pads moved, and getting it level and tieing it in. Breaking it down was a piece of cake compared to the work it took to get it set up again and level. Thankfully we are able to put that 5 pound hammer to good use. We had to perform an emergency repair on the feeder wire that usually hangs 60 feet in the air. When we were done with the repair it had more splints and emergency wrap than a boy scout going for his first aid badge. We take an educated guess at the proper antenna alignment and then we hoist the whole assembly into the air 80 feet.
The Moment of Truth
We plug the golf course operation’s computer in and amazingly it works the first time. Even better, we were seeing speeds that are easily 10 times what other remote offices were able to achieve when on the corporate WAN.
Providing superior service is more than just raw technical knowledge. It involves worth ethic, knowledge, drive, people skills, and often a good dose of creativity. All of these are traits that typify GeeForce consultants.