Bulger Space Yards
“It’s Day Two. Pumping on the graving dock is proceeding nicely,” McNaughton said. “A few days and we reach the drains, which seem to be thoroughly clogged.”
“Pumping started rather quickly,” Chelan said.
“Drainer Pumps had a nearly local office, managed by someone with the Seldon Legion,” McNaughton answered. “They got a tech out here very early, and fixed the ‘problem’. It’s called an On-Off switch. Pumps go to city storm sewers … yes, they did check the water purity first. It’s rain. When we reach the drains, we likely need to drill.”
Chelan gestured at Elaine Bell. “The machinist we hired is making respectable progress on cleaning out the machine shop,” she said. “So far he’s working on ‘Turn on water and power, open all the windows, power up the exhaust vents, and pour water down all drains.’ ‘Open windows’ involves a lot of lubricant and waiting for results. He’s wearing a gas mask. May we retain short-term a cleaning service for the rest rooms and eating areas?” Chelan nodded. “It would be inadvisable to do powerups on individual machines until the place is clean, and machines have been opened and cleaned inside—the one we popped out was filthy in its gearworks. Sarah Yates is advancing toward rebuilding the molecular spray units. She has to finish the current life support system first, but that’s within a day. That schedule is basically clockwork, so long as the working unit continues to function.”
“Knock on wood,” McNaughton said.
“And the graving dock?” Chelan asked.
“The graving dock support spines are titanium alloy all the way down,” Bell said. “They are much overbuilt, so they are in good shape. Their galvanic protection is still working, though it needs replacement soon. Once the drains are working, a vigorous water wash to eliminate chloride would be good. Salt spray from the ocean. We still need to test the foundations. At some point, a retractible cover would be desirable. There should have been one someplace. Alas, we can’t service Space Guard frigates, though that would be a good income stream. Frigates are long and narrow. Freighters are circular. We’d need to add a new graving dock, something much longer, though it could be considerably narrower.”
Chelan shook his head. “Consider a circular dock large enough to accommodate the frigates, or freighters much heavier than the ones we currently operate. That’s long term until we get the finances figured out.”
Bell looked surprised, then thoughtful. “There’s a standard design from the China yards. On which we are a co-owner. Finally,” Bell said, “I found how the 30,000 tons per shipment of nickel iron, and probably the rare earths, disappear in transit.” Heads snapped up.