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RE: SE Grassroots Effort at Change (WAS: Field welding)

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Unfortunately someone was hurt, but you sure as hell must have felt good to rightly predict the failure. Way to go!




-----Original Message-----
From: Neil Moore [mailto:nmoore(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Friday, September 09, 2005 11:49 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: SE Grassroots Effort at Change (WAS: Field welding)


In the past few years, I've had the occasion of firing my client.   One came with a gripe about the bill ( he had a screwed up house expansion and had come in at the last minute).   As he stood standing in the office holding my drawings, calcs and the invoice, I calmly took the stuff out of his hands and told him to get another engineer.

Another was a client and contractor who almost every day had some sort of change.  The client was DEMANDING finished drawings and calcs.    Finally I told him that he didn't need to pay me what he owed at that time and for him to get another structural.   His lawyer and my lawyer got together and an agreement was worked out.   What he didn't realize was I wasn't going to give him the cad files for the work I had already done and hadn't been paid for.   After the agreement was in place, he came unglued when he realized that he didn't have any workable drawings, so another agreement was arranged where he received the cad drawings (for a fee).

He then came unglued again when he realized that I had taken my name and electronic stamp off the files.   Anyway, he went on to hire his third structural designer.

Actually I do refuse clients - many.  As to the field inspections:  when the client doesn't want you to inspect, there is almost always something going on.    On one project, every time I walked on the project there was serious problems:

        a.      Concrete tilt-up panels poured on Friday.  Cracked on Monday morning when I arrived.
        b.      Discovered chord bars not welded (field) on two end walls after the building had been signed off by special inspectors and the local building department.

I'm sure that all of us on the list have had these kind of horror stories.

I once pointed out to my superiors (this is a long time ago) that the field welding of a broken mast of a 200 Ton capacity stiffleg derrick was not correct.   Part of the problem was that the mast was made of "spun" steel and had a yield around 130 ksi.  (Probably Stressproof).  No one checked the chemistry.  There were also other things in my analysis to indicate when connections would fail and so on.   The report/calculations were turned in to my supervisor and I was sent out to a remote site (overseas) for a few months.   Upon my return, the crane had just been certified by field testing.  (It was being used to set tetrapods in the surf in Hawaii).  On the second day of use, the crane failed at the base field weld.  No one was killed but the operator was injured.

When I confronted the management about my previous warnings, they said that they would look more carefully at my calculations the next time.   Within about two weeks, I was working in another S.F. office and my old employer is no longer in business.

Neil Moore, S.E.
consulting structural engineers
shingle springs, california

distressed structures investigations

At 10:51 AM 9/9/2005, you wrote:

Joe Grill wrote:


....I think Jordan has covered the issue as far as I’m concerned. I practice in an area where you never know who might be doing the welding in the field. I can spec. anything as far as certifications etc etc. and will never know, because beyond the design I may have nothing more to do with the project. This area is like doing design in a third world country...

Here's what I think ought to happen.

S.E.s ought to begin to REFUSE to do projects of the type where (1) there are life-safety issues involved with critical components like connections, proper installation, etc., and (2) the Owner will not allow Observation (if not outright inspection) by the SEOR.

Yeah, I know: I'm dreaming. But it has been a LONG time since I've done work under adverse conditions like this, and the last time it DID happen, I sent letters to the Building Official (one of the rare occasions where there was a building official) with cc: to the Owner, protesting what I sincerely believed to be inadequate work.

Interestingly, this was intelligence gained from an "uninvited, unpaid" inspection tour I made of this project. The Owner didn't want the inspection, and I knew that the B.O. in this small city doesn't provide inspection unless requested by the Owner.

So I did a guerilla inspection based on my almost certain suspicion that things weren't done right--it was an unusual retrofit installation and I had had to answer a LOT of "stupid questions" from the contractor, many of them repetitive, letting me know he hadn't a clue what he was doing, nor what I was asking for.

Sure enough, I found problems. I sent the letter. No response from anyone, just as I expected.

And this client will never contact me again, I'm pretty certain.

"Imagine all the S.E.s
Telling the Owners and Contractors to get lost

"You may say I'm a dreamer
Well, I'm probably the only one..."

(With apologies to noted CommSymp Dreamer John Lennon)

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