His demeanor had changed from the sullen and bored (we had not had a case in nearly a month) to excited when the Maintenance and Engineering manager of Olympic Stadium had called.
After an uneventful flight, and a quick trip to the hotel to freshen up, we were on our way to the stadium. “This is a very perplexing case,” Headphones began, “Frankie Frazzled, the Facility manager from the stadium, has some serious issues with the natural gas distribution system there, and is worried about keeping the Olympic torch lit!”We were greeted at the security entrance by Frankie Frazzled. “Thanks for coming mates!” he said. “Let’s go straight to our mechanical room.” He led us into the basement to a huge mechanical room with a maze of pipes running in every direction. I noted that Headphones had taken the Ultraprobe 15000 out of the case on the way, and was now scanning around the room, while adjusting the sensitivity of the instrument. There was a faint smell of natural gas in the room, but it was impossible to determine the exact location. Headphones asked Frankie what he and his maintenance techs had done so far, and was told they had applied a soapy water solution called “Snoop” to all of the fittings and flanges in the immediate area of the main supply of gas to the torch. “We could not find a single place where there were any bubbles indicating a leak,” Frankie said with some disappointment.
“Ahh,” Headphones replied, “sometimes the most obvious answer is not the right one!”“What do you mean?” I said to Headphones. “Most certainly there is a significant leak somewhere in this system that is causing an insufficient amount of gas to reach the burners of the torch. We just need to work harder to find it!” I had witnessed numerous occasions when Headphones had used his miraculous Ultraprobe 15000 to locate numerous leaks.
“My dear Wastenot, while there are numerous small leaks in this system, all of which I have located, measured, taken a digital photo of, and stored on my UP 15, they are not large enough to prevent the torch from getting the gas it needs to stay lit,” proclaimed Headphones.
“Then what could it possibly be Headphones?” I asked. Headphones smiled as he changed the probe on the 15 from a scanning module to a contact module.
“When you eliminate everything that is not possible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” He walked up to the main shut off valve for the torch, made contact with the downstream side, and listened.
“This valve has failed in the closed position! I should be hearing flow, and instead, I hear nothing” The valve was quickly isolated, and changed out, restoring the system to full operation, and the Olympic Torch was burning bright just in time to welcome the dedicated and talented athletes arriving from around the world to the 30th Olympiad!
As Headphones and I enjoyed our front row seats (complements of Frankie, of course!) we were proud to watch the USA Women’s beach volleyball team chalk up another win.
Headphones turned to me with a final comment to close out this intriguing case stating, “leaks are not always found external to the system Wastenot, internal leaks through valves and even valve blockages are quite common and easily detected, that is, if you know where to look.”
Stay tuned for the next episode because who knows where Headhpones and Wastenot might end up next…
Doug Waetjen, CMRP