Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Industrial Archaeology commando style 2

During the same mission and after the steel shop exploration I figured I might as well go for the snooping gold medal and see what other buildings I could get into. When I worked out at Hunters point there was actually some real security provided by the navy. You had an ID card that was checked at the front gate by an MP. It was a a minor hassle to have sales people come in or get certain kinds of delivery's made because of the faint remaining navy presence. The navy was very close to pulling out completely around 1989 when I was there. At the time this next set of pictures circa 2008 was taken there was still somebody manning the gate but they seemed more interested in staying inside the hut than challenging somebody that acted like they belonged there.
As I was leaving the steel shop loft I took a minute and went up on the roof for a few shots. At the top of the stairwell was some cool old elevator winches and electrical controls. There was a neat old mechanical governor on the hoist that caught my eye. It looks like it belongs on a steam engine instead of a elevator hoist. The building I really wanted to see inside of was the old main machine shop. Makes some sense right. All the machinery had long since been removed. Cruising around the perimeter of the giant building I looked for a way to wiggle in without any luck.
Looking down the side of the main machine shop was the scrap metal area. Looking at all the different types of material they were separating is a small clue to the scale and diversity of the work they did.
 In this picture there are two buildings of interest. The large blue building is right next door to where I worked when I was at Hunters Point. The scale is hard to tell in the picture but the blue building is probably a hundred feet tall. Its purpose was for repairing antenna and radar masts. I guess some of these had to be worked on vertically. In the far background of the picture is the optics and instrument shop. Building 253 was probably the best guarded building at Hunters Point. It had electronics, optical repair, calibration, cryptography as well as the ordinance folks housed there. The little projecting tower sticking up from the roof is where the periscopes and optical range finders were tested and calibrated. I was able to get in on the ground floor and look around the main heavy work bays. The main shop was fantastically well lit just with ambient light from the corrugated glass panels that cover most of the building.

 An older low resolution picture of the fancy sectional door. Somebody told me they filmed a science fiction movie in this building in the 80's. Inside was or is a huge fifty ton crane with a monster sister hook. I watched a guy load test the main crane in that building one afternoon. They used a large steel tank that they filled with water for the proof load. The other interesting feature of the antenna repair building was the main door. It wasn't a roll up or swinging type door. It opened in sections vertically. Each section was maybe ten feet tall and the width of the opening which was maybe twenty feet. The sections slid upward and nested together as the moved up. Never seen anything like it since. I would love to hear the story on that door alone.
The safe door leading into the cryptography rooms of building 253. Believe it or not the combination was 25-53-03 the same numerals as the building number.
A picture along one of the really nice electronics labs in 253 that had a full glass window looking out on the south bay a real million dollar view. Old electronic equipment was still strewn about. Some of the south windows were broken out allowing birds to make a cozy retreat inside the room.
 Wind blown dirt and water can grow grass inside under the right conditions. Look at the amount of glass they used. This must have been a really spectacular room to work in.
Climbing stairs and eventually a ladder brought me to the highest point in the periscope tower. It there were range and azimuth notes to different targets around the bay scrawled at the top of the tower. In this picture you can get a sense of how high it is looking toward the south bay and SFO.
In this picture you can see the Bay bridge and Yerba Buena island to the north.

More to come.

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