Tuesday 25th February – Inside an engine, pick-axing clay soil and Tim drives the loader

March 11, 2014

Another varied day today. As we got on with the normal testing Thorsten came to see if we wanted to have a look at the engines while they were being serviced. A 12-cyinder 300kW engine…do we?! We jumped at the chance and while watching how the valves are adjusted we even then got roped in to maintaining the spark plugs.

Lunch for the veggies was the remainder of the baked rice from the previous day with fresh salad and fries and was again very tastily topped off with a nut cake (the arrival of which I found a useful time for the German for ‘excellent’, which I can say but not spell, surprising most of the people around the table). After lunch, as maintenance on the engine continued and an environmental engineer continued taking NOx and formaldehyde readings while the engine engineer (that sounds odd but I hope you get my meaning) tuned the engine to improve its performance we were looking for something to do before testing again. Thorsten asked if we’d mind cleaning the compactor which was still full of clay-soil from last year – they had been waiting for the winter to freeze the mud and make it easier to knock off. We didn’t mind at all, in fact having eaten a spoonful too many for lunch I was glad of the exercise and we set about using hoes and mattocks to clean the rollers of the six inches of compacted mud they’d accrued before testing began.

With little to get on with once testing was done I set about writing a bit of visual basic code to strip the readings from the abysmal data output by the gas analyser (it writes to an excel file but lumps the data and units into one cell with no consistent format) – to get anything in a plottable fashion you’d have to rewrite out all of the data which kinda defeats the point of having it recorded anywhere!

We finished a bit earlier than expected and spent a bit of time taking photos of the site for our final reports that go back to the REA before Thorsten asked whether one of us wanted to load some silage into one of the hoppers. Tim jumped in the loader cab and I hung in through the window as we got a crash course in driving and manoeuvring the loader before we were set loose on the silage. Tim successfully dumped over a tonne of silage into the hopper before we headed off for dinner.

That evening I eventually got round to taking my laptop to the internet and sent off some emails and posted the first blog. Feeling a bit better that I’d actually achieved something I then set about getting on with a bit of work too and only when I couldn’t think how to rephrase one of my corrections did I finally give up and go to bed, only to have it go round in my mind for the next hour or so. Oh well, hopefully by the morning it will become clear…

Sunset over the roller we cleaned during the afternoon and I didn't even play with the colours!

Sunset over the roller we cleaned during the afternoon and I didn’t even play with the colours!

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