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Old 01-26-2013, 12:15 PM   #1
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I'm Back from NO

Ok, so I flew out to NO the other day and drove a short way to visit a potential project at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, just east of the Louisiana border. The project involves major repairs to the B2 Test Stand, which is a structure used to test rocket engines and boosters. In fact, it is the largest structure of its kind on the entire planet. There are four stands at the center, with two of one type and two of ones that I got to climb around on. When I refer to them as stands, it’s a bit of an understatement, since they are actually enormous towers with insanely dense steel supports, braces and gusseting. The iron used for parts of the hold down structures is four inches thick in some places, which to the uninitiated, is deceptively heavy, unwieldy and at times, dangerous to handle by simple virtue of its weight. This thing is so big it has two permanently integrated derrick cranes mounted on it. With one crane rated for 200 tons, and another at 75 tons, this thing can pick a booster rocket off of a barge, lift it in to position and lower it through the middle of the test cell for test firing. Back in the day, the Apollo boosters were fired in these stands, multiple times, before being certified for manned space flight.

The project entails performing corrosion control [sand blasting and painting] on a significant portion of the structure, and repairs/replacement of a huge quantity of structural steel, replacement of post-tensioned rods [4,000,000 lbs. to be exact] and repairs to tensioned cable tendons. In addition, checker plate and steel grating, steel stair structures, tower sections and handrails will be removed and/or replaced. The “flame bucket” is a 65’ diameter steel and concrete tube designed to divert the flames and pressure waves produced by two and three million pounds of rocket thrust safely away from the structures. This is to be re-tensioned in place with steel rods embedded in to some very serious concrete anchorages.

All in all, this project is a fast-track construction endeavor two or three magnitudes of difficulty greater than anything I’ve ever personally participated in. It remains to be seen if our bonding company will write a performance and payment bond for us, so I’m not getting too excited just yet. At the very least, I got to climb around on an historic structure which I think is in the top five list of the coolest places I ever got to visit, four of which exist at NASA owned facilities and one of which belongs to Space-X.
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Old 01-26-2013, 12:57 PM   #2
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you havent seen my mine or my bunker yet Ancona .............

oh alright those test rigs are pretty impressive and you are lucky to get the access you do to the NASA locations.

How has NO shaped up after their little problem with rising damp a while back ?
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Old 01-26-2013, 01:04 PM   #3
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NO is back on track for the most part. Those who actually give a shit have restored their properties to pre-hurricane levels or better, and those who don't give a shit have not. The line is pretty clearly drawn along a certain economic line.

By the way, follow this link and scroll to the bottom of the page for some pictures:

http://crgis.ndc.nasa.gov/historic/B-1/B-2_Test_Stand
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Old 01-26-2013, 01:07 PM   #4
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Sounds something that would be featured on one of those "modern marvels" type shows on one of the science cable channels where they talk about the engineering that went into big buildings.
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Old 01-26-2013, 01:29 PM   #5
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Hi Ancona,
I am new to the PM Bug forums.

I have been in construction for over 30 years. That sounds like one hell of a project that will be priced at 24 - 40+ million dollars. As far as your bonding I hear 37% is the threashold so your company needs 9 - 16 million $ in unencumbered assets/cash and also a certain percentage of the work in progress could hinder the bonding company. Also remember one thing and that is to get "waivers of subrogation" from all the subs. If your company is not doing this, your loss prevention department is not doing it's job. Good luck to you in getting this project. I have experience in all the things you mentioned (Blasting, Painting, pre/post tension systems, concrete repair and cathodic/electronic steel corrosion protection) I just read you original thread and see you are a subcontractor. What is your specialty ?
Originally Posted by ancona View Post:
Ok, so I flew out to NO the other day and drove a short way to visit a potential project at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, just east of the Louisiana border. The project involves major repairs to the B2 Test Stand, which is a structure used to test rocket engines and boosters. In fact, it is the largest structure of its kind on the entire planet. There are four stands at the center, with two of one type and two of ones that I got to climb around on. When I refer to them as stands, it’s a bit of an understatement, since they are actually enormous towers with insanely dense steel supports, braces and gusseting. The iron used for parts of the hold down structures is four inches thick in some places, which to the uninitiated, is deceptively heavy, unwieldy and at times, dangerous to handle by simple virtue of its weight. This thing is so big it has two permanently integrated derrick cranes mounted on it. With one crane rated for 200 tons, and another at 75 tons, this thing can pick a booster rocket off of a barge, lift it in to position and lower it through the middle of the test cell for test firing. Back in the day, the Apollo boosters were fired in these stands, multiple times, before being certified for manned space flight.

The project entails performing corrosion control [sand blasting and painting] on a significant portion of the structure, and repairs/replacement of a huge quantity of structural steel, replacement of post-tensioned rods [4,000,000 lbs. to be exact] and repairs to tensioned cable tendons. In addition, checker plate and steel grating, steel stair structures, tower sections and handrails will be removed and/or replaced. The “flame bucket” is a 65’ steel and concrete tube designed to divert the flames and pressure waves produced by two and three million pounds of rocket thrust safely away from the structures. This is to be re-tensioned in place with steel rods embedded in to some very serious concrete anchorages.

All in all, this project is a fast-track construction endeavor two or three magnitudes of difficulty greater than anything I’ve ever personally participated in. It remains to be seen if our bonding company will write a performance and payment bond for us, so I’m not getting too excited just yet. At the very least, I got to climb around on an historic structure which I think is in the top five list of the coolest places I ever got to visit, four of which exist at NASA owned facilities and one of which belongs to Space-X.
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Old 01-26-2013, 03:22 PM   #6
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Welcome to the forum! Our specialty is environmental engineering and abatement, however I run our industrial demolition and structural reformation department. As Vice President however, I am someone who wears many hats at our little firm. Sometimes I am procurement, sometimes HR, sometimes I am remedial design, etc., etc.

That said, our bond line will more than cover our portion of this work, which should be no more than 4 - 5 million. As far as reserve requirements, experience counts. We have fourteen years with our current bonding agent and over one thousand successful jobs. We have never defaulted on a project and never will. Our agreement is unusual because of the hazardous nature of working with and around all sorts of toxins that we are either removing or stabilizing, so we have to have 20% of our total bond line in cash reserves. That is total float, not a chunk of cash in the bank every day, all the time. For instance, if I have two or three million in the operating account on average, they will split the averages and we get ten times average cash plus hard assets for our bond line. For larger firms, the float is smaller, but you get the idea. Our guy is a pretty large bonding company and well respected among their peers.

As an aside, we are finishing up a project where we had a large cash exposure where we started [in August] to have pay lag problems. When we got 120 days out we had over four hundred large on the table. I went to the notice to owner paperwork and got the info on their bonding company so I could notify them of our intent to claim. Lo and behold.......their bond agent was First Sealord, and they were in receivership. They had zero re-insurance and the principals had "payed" themselves all of their deferred bonuses, travel expenses, etc. In essence, they looted all remaining cash and anyone with a bond was fucked. Anyhow, we're only on the street for about sixty large now, but the prime who had the bond is up to his ass in alligators on this project, having under bid it by around 1.5 million. The guy who bid it originally found out he was getting laid off so he set them up with a big fuck you. This man bid the project like a Butler building instead of an engineered steel structure. He left out the AFFF system entirely and went around five hundred thousand light on the painting, having estimated it as if it were halls and walls, instead of structural steel with a three coating epoxy system.

Anyhow, the test stand will be a nice feather in the 'ol cap if I can successfully bid and complete it at a profit. Welcome to the boards.
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Old 01-27-2013, 01:58 PM   #7
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I have been going through the drawiongs and specs for this project for a couple of days now, and I am officially afraid of the project. The way this thing is put together, I would have to have multiple crews on multiple levels doing an incredible amount of steel removal, sandblasting and lead paint remediaiton. The schedule from front to back is 305 days, which does not include no-work days, which occur when there is a teswt firing on one of the other stands, holidays, foul weather, etc. I will have over a million dollars on the street before I see our first billing paid. We have to mobilize manpower and equipment, purchase blast media and small tools, work for the first billing period [30 days] and then wait for my first check after another thirty days.

That's a lot of bones to throw on the street. In addition, the bond fee is paid up-front, and since we're working immediately adjacent to a waterway that links to the Gulf of Mexico, I have to lay our 65,000 dollars for a minimum premium on longshoreman and harborman exposure insurance. That's not even to mention I'll be paying per-diems, hotels, fuel, etc. in addition to my burdened labor.

Fuck.
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Old 01-27-2013, 02:47 PM   #8
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Better to let someone else be the prime contractor and work for them ?

Feather in cap is not as important as recognising your limits.
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Old 01-27-2013, 03:07 PM   #9
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True that Rblong, true that. I was invited to the site visit by Sauer Inc. who is a long time customer and prime contractor. That said, although I am personal friends with a number of their project managers, a million dollars is a lot of cabbage and would mean we have to throttle back other bidding opportunities or rely on some dusty old lines of credit, which raises the cost of money and dips in to profit.
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