Over the years I’ve had the fortunate experience of being employed in various fields of work. One common theme between the all seemed to be the use of acronyms. During the brief time I traded oil shares on the New York Mercantile Exchange the use of acronyms were more common than complete words, ditto for staff meetings and training sessions during my time as a high school chemistry teacher. So it was no surprise to me that the commercial salmon fishing industry here in Alaska uses acronyms. I won’t bore you with the extensive list of them however there is one which has had a significant impact on me this past week, SWR. The wild salmon here in Alaska are world famous for their taste, quality and freshness. SWR is the acronym used here for Salt Water Refrigeration and is an important variable in terms of providing the “fresh” in fresh fish. So last week when we were testing our SWR system aboard the Aquanator and it decided to go on vacation we moved into high gear to get it up and running as we were scheduled to start receiving and delivering fresh wild salmon in a few days.
It took me the better part of a day getting creative with a saws-all to remove the old PVC schedule-40 plumbing on the circulation system. The only salvageable parts from the old plumbing were the valves and later even two of them had to eventually be replaced. With the old plumbing removed the next task was installing the new, simple right. For those of you who have never worked with PVC, primer and cement I’ll provide a brief overview. The PVC pipe (polyvinyl chloride, AKA plastic), is cut to various lengths and joined together with fittings. The fittings form the curves, joints, splitting etc. Primer is applied to the joints and glue is used to make a water tight seals between the pipe and fittings, easy enough. The cravat to the process is in the glue as once its applied to the pipe and fitting you have about a 3 to 5 second window to work with and once the two come together there is no time to readjust for any “problems” you may have encountered. Added to the mixture is the fact that due to the nature of the layout of the existing system numerous fittings had to be applied at one time. I should also mention that it cost well north of $4,000 for all the PVC plastic.
Two days labor combined with 60 feet of 4 inch PVC, 18 elbows, 6 unions, 8 T’s, 4 male couplings, 5 valves, 2 quarts of glue and 1 quart of primer later the SWR circulation piping was installed. All that was left to do was to fire the puppy up and test it, which we did with success Now on to the job of hauling salmon, onward!