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Working on a Stud Farm

Once upon a time when the world was younger (1970’s) a young man set of to explore some of it but along the way had to stop and earn a crust and so found himself employed at an oil refinery in Europort in The Nederland’s.

Oil refineries have lots of steam condensers and periodically they are shut down for dismantling and servicing. To withstand internal pressure the end plates can be 50mm thick or greater and more than a mtr in diameter and held in place with large steel studs. These are fully threaded rods perhaps 35mm diameter and 450mm long with large nuts on each end.

On our contract, after the engineer had dismantled the end plates they threw all the nuts and studs on the ground in a heap for a couple of peasants (that would be me and Billy) to tidy up. We then sat with wire brushes and a large tin of grease and cleaned the grooves in the studs, greased the threads and finally put the nuts on and stacked them all up in neat pyramids.

There was dozens of condensers and hundreds of studs on site and weeks of work for us and we took great pleasure in the job and created beautiful stacks of our finished works. The foreman was happy cos he could see what we’d done and basically left us alone.

After about 3 weeks, some samples were taken from our various stacks and were sent of site to be stress tested. Lo a few days later a lorry arrived on site and delivered (wait for it) a number of large wooden crates of shiny brand new studs as all of the old ones had been condemned.

Billy and I were heartbroken (Ha Ha) as all our tidy stacks of studs were thrown in a skip and we then got paid all over again to open up the crates and count out and stack in place the correct number of studs, grease the threads and fit the nuts ready for reassembly.

I don’t know if Gulf Oil are still in business but they sure paid dear for this particular job although of course in the scheme of things for an oil company it’s peanuts. We never got rich or found fame and fortune but were very happy sat in the summer sun and didn’t offer to return our wages!!

Mind you the money we earned did go to pay for tickets to see the Rolling Stone perform at the Sport Palais Ahoy in Rotterdam. Front row seats so you could feel the sweat of Micks forehead and that night out is another story!


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