Back to work on some large projects, the importance of maintaining equipment and weather observations.

Maintenance and works keeps it all running

Straight after the Christmas and New Year break, armed with the parts and materials delivered on our December resupply, the Casey trades team are immediately back into their heavy schedule of maintenance and summer works.

This seasons major projects include construction of the Casey utility building floor and then fit–out, including a new waste water treatment plant, refurbishing and re–wiring of the Casey balloon shed, construction and commissioning of a new seismic hut and fit–out of the new east wing accommodation block. Along with the new works program, the maintenance program continues with the installation of a new amino pump in the tank house and a major motor rebuild as well as scheduled servicing in the main powerhouse.

The trades team are also called upon regularly to assist some of the science projects that are occurring on station this year, including remediation. The pace will continue until the close of the summer season in March.

Generator rebuild

The Casey mechanics are rebuilding Generator #1 engine due to all consumption concerns (pistons, rings, liners and a cylinder head) along with a planned 10,000 hour service interval including (front and rear crankshaft seal, water pump and injector change outs), as well as flushing the cooling system and replacing hoses.

The Casey electricians are testing that the alternator, sensors and switches are all in specification to manage engine warnings and protective shutdowns.  The mechanics are also conducting a 20,000 hour service on Generator #2 (turbo, injectors, valve lash adjustments, water pump, front and rear crankshaft seals, fuel pump governor, starter motor, replacing hoses and cooling system flush).

With three separate trade groups (electricians, plumbers and dieso’s) vying for limited space within the main powerhouse so we can all achieve our set goals, it’s good to see that all personnel involved are helpful and all coming together to achieve there individual tasks in a cohesive and good humoured team environment. With Wol and Mick keeping the everyday maintenance activities moving along in the workshop, Steve, Pat and myself can fully concentrate on repairing planned work in the main powerhouse and monitoring the emergency powerhouse whilst it is powering the station.

With the shutdown duration planned for two weeks, this is the only time during the year that most major and intrusive works can be achieved as it will spend the remainder of the year continuously powering away to keep essential services running, with the emergency powerhouse only used as a secondary backup if a fault arises.

Rick, expedition mechanic

Weather observations

The observations team here at Casey consists of three staff members. Two weather observers and a meteorology technician who performs observations. These include two upper air soundings (weather balloons) and synoptic observations each day for the entire year.

The balloons ascend at about 300 metres per minute and take almost two hours to reach above 30 kilometres in altitude. The technician maintains the Bureau’s automatic weather stations (AWS) equipment and some of the Division’s AWS’s.

As well as monitoring the weather, staff provide aviation support over the summer months for helicopter operations at Casey and the Casey skiway and on occasion assist at the Wilkins aerodrome. The team also acquire clean air samples twice each month for the CSIRO for the study of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The most distinctive weather feature are the strong easterly winds enhanced by the downward slope from Law Dome 1395 metres of about 100 kilometres to the east. The “hydraulic jump” is a feature of this airflow, its position is unpredictable and results in erratic blasts of gale force or even stronger winds.

Scott, weather observer