Back in the early part of the 70s we had a project relocating a water line on South 1st Street where a big “S” in Williamson Creek. (as shown in the photo below). Three new bridges were be built.
We were on the tail end of that job, cleaning up and pressure testing. The City of Austin had a crew that performed the pressure tests and they came out twice and each time the line failed. The General Contractor that was building the bridges had already started work and it was imperative that we get that line approved or it would start holding up their bridge work.
We hunted and hunted for the leak, but it was such a slow leak that it was becoming more and more impossible to find. I was becoming discouraged, due to all the pressures being put on me from every direction.
Then to make matters worse the City Test Truck went down and it was going to taken several days before they would be able to come back to do another test. That appeared to me to be a perfect opening for me. I got the old inspector, Boone Heep, to allow me to do the test. He wanted us to pump up the line to the prescribed pressure and leave it over night. He brought out a chart recorder, like the one below, and we hooked up to it. It would record the water pressure on the paper wheel throughout the night.
When we all left for the evening. I got some guys to help me and we rigged up a pressure pump to a fire hydrant a little ways away. There were some cedar trees so the pump was where it wasn’t seen. I spent the night sitting out there out of sight. I’d watch the recorder and a pressure gauge and when it went down a pound, I’d fire up the pump for a few seconds to build up the pressure. It was such a slow leak I only had to do it 3 or 4 times throughout the night.
Along about 5:00 AM I saw some headlights coming. Boone Heep pulled up and checked the recorder clock and it showed to be holding pressure, so he got back in his old truck and drove away. I continued to watch everything and when he rolled back in at 7:00 AM and checked it again, he gave us a thumbs up. We unhooked everything and loaded up and left.
Boone Heep said “I came out real early in the morning because I was afraid you’d pump it back up right before I got here this morning. But everything looked fine to me”.
I said “Boone Heep, do you really think I’d ever cheat like that” ? He just looked at me with a raised brow, as if to say, you are just like your daddy. You’ll do whatever it takes to make it work.
Fifty years later and more than likely that line is still in service and I didn’t have to lose any more slept about that leak. Besides it was so close to passing the tests anyway. It probably wasn’t losing more than a teacup full of water an hour.