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Inspection Rule #1: Don't Look Down

Thursday, July 2, 2015

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ST. LOUIS--It is a rare breed that can work at great heights.

And few of those stalwarts have the opportunity to share their dizzying view of daily life with us mortals who are outside that breed.

Videos: YouTube / National Park Service

The videos, shot in October by WJE and just released by the National Park Service, include "Peek over the Top."

Now, however, the National Park Service has done just that, releasing a series of short, stomach-churning videos shot by WJE (Wiss Janney Elstner Associates) while its engineers performed an in-depth corrosion inspection of the St. Louis Gateway Arch in October.

Starting 630 feet up, at the 17-foot-wide top of the nation's tallest monument, the investigators rappelled down the length of the curved Arch legs, examining the 50-year-old stainless-steel skin inch by inch.

The job begins with "Descent"backwards, from the 17-foot-wide summit, down the 600-foot legs.

And did we mention that this was on a very windy day?

The inspections were triggered by years of reports of corrosion observed on the structure. Because stainless steel was considered both rustproof and maintenance free when the Arch was built in the 1950s, no protective coating was applied and no maintenance protocol was developed for the monument.

"360° View from the Top" is not for the vertigo challenged.

As previously reported, the October inspection turned up stains and discoloration but gave the monument a structural all-clear.

Video of the study itself, however—with a soundtrack of banter, "Danny Boy" and buffeting winds—has just been edited and posted to YouTube.

The whole series is available here, or individual videos can be accessed by clicking on the title below:

360° View from the Top (0:24)

Adjusting Ropes (1:40)

Descent (2:09)

Descending Further (2:12)

Over the Edge (0:30)

Peek over the Edge (1:00)

Returning from the Intrados (1:47)

Testing (0:40)

Windy Ascent (5:43)

Pass the Dramamine, and enjoy.


Tagged categories: Carbon Steel; Corrosion; Engineers; Inspection; Monuments; North America; Program/Project Management; Project Photos; Stainless steel

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (7/2/2015, 8:40 AM)

Has the Arch gotten its 50 year cleaning, as recommended by the designers?

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