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Seattle Seattle

20th May 2010

Van Fix and Boeing Factory Tour

    The day began with a call to the Everett Auto Clinic just before 8am to let them know about the strange vehicle sitting on their forecourt. I explained to the guy, another Geoff, that the dealer would be along to tow it away for repair shortly. He seemed OK with that and asked me to pop over with the keys so that it could be shifted onto the road. I indicated that I would come over straight away. I asked the receptionist where the place was; ten blocks away. I said I'd walk. "Walk" she said in astonishment. I waved bye as she stood totally bewildered and did the trek in fifteen minutes in crisp, breezy air. It felt good to get the legs moving again.
    When I got to the Auto Clinic, Geoff was no longer a happy bunny; I guess he thought he wasn't going to get the business and just wanted my van off his forecourt. I could see his point of view. I explained it could no longer be started. "So push it onto the roadside" was his response. Now this beast is big and heavy, I wouldn't be able to do that on my own. One of his technicians was about 5' 8" tall and about 5' wide, with about 18 stone to boot, an ideal chap to use, but I thought better of it. After arguing with the guy, he agreed to give me an hour to shift it, after which he would get the vehicle impounded. I relayed all this to Don, who came over after 20 mins. Don clearly had no confidence in the dealer's mechanic, so he asked the chap if he would run a diagnostic on the charging circuit and then fix it. Geoff, the man, was now a happy bunny, and I reached the elevated status of "sir" again. Some deal was struck between Don and the man regarding wholesale prices. I let them work it out between themselves.
    Don and I went for a coffee by the local marina. There were quite a few small craft moored up, and a whacking big aircraft carrier on the jetty just outside the marina. This is the home of the Everett Naval Base. Don pointed out the island where he is building his log cabin, about four miles out in the Puget Sound. There is water everywhere you look around Seattle, which makes it so attractive for the likes of me.
    Don dropped me off at my hotel and said he would be in touch about the Auto Clinic's diagnosis. It turned out the alternator was dead, so Don got one from a cheaper supplier, gave it to Auto Clinic and instructed them to change the belts too. Don and the dealer covered the costs. When I walked back to the Clinic, Geoff stated that the transmission hydraulics needed servicing too. Was he touting for more business? I'll dwell on that for a day or two, and maybe take it to an outfit that specialises in transmission hydraulics. Could cost $130 for a check over.
Part of Static Display Area
    Now I was mobile again, I quickly zoomed off to the Boeing Factory which is in Everett. I managed to get there in time for the last tour of the day. Just prior to the tour, I had the opportunity to look around the static display in the visitor's centre. This is the closest I would get to planes and have the opportunity to take photographs. Photography was forbidden inside the factory.
Me Holding the Tail Fin Up
Composite Fuselage Component
for the 787 Dreamliner
    The overall site was colossal, and was moved from Renton , 10 miles South, to Everett since larger aircraft needed larger runways, and this new site fitted the bill with its 9,000 ft strip. The main production factory is inside the world's largest building: 100 acres and 43m tall. The blue doors in the picture below are actually each the size of a football pitch. Another building close by is the paint shop. Incidentally, a plane normally carries about 800 lbs of paint on it. Light colours are favoured since they tend to be lighter in weight.
     We had a tour of a couple of bays, each one third of a mile long. In one bay we saw the 747-8 being built, in the other the 787 Dreamliner was being constructed. The latter uses 50% composite components. Whole body components utilise contour one-piece composite fuselage board (COPB2). Witnessing the awe-inspiring process of jumbo jet assembly close up was moving. Indeed the assembly lines were moving too; 1.6" per minute. It was hard to take in the sheer scale of the operation here, and the monies involved in building a plane. The technology was highly impressive. Talking about impressive, our tour guide was a chap born and bred in Everett to Scottish parents, was very knowledgeable and possessed a quirky sense of humour. But my everlasting memory of him will be his sideboards and flat cap. He had no beard or moustache, but his sideboards were as big as bushes and almost touched his chest. My brother, who works for British Aerospace, will be jealous of my tour there.
Boeing Factory Building
Boeing Everett Airfield
    Evening meal was at Denny's; a healthy salad. Eating my meal, I thought back to John Steinbeck's "Travels with Charley". He had traveled throughout the United States in a specially-made camper which he named "Rocinante" after the horse of Don Quixote. Perhaps I should conjure up a name for my van, now let me think.....
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Seattle Seattle

Uploaded from Best Western Cascadia Inn, 2800 Pacific Avenue, Everett, WA 98201 on 20/05/10 at 22:05

Last updated 22.5.2010