Dirty Jobs

Season 2 Episode 44

Steam Ship Cleaner

Aired Sunday 10:00 PM Mar 13, 2007 on Discovery Channel

Episode Recap

Mike starts out on a hill near San Diego, CA doing erosion control. We meet Dale and Gino. Using a mix of wood fiber, water and guar gum they basically glue the hill together. Their truck is hooked up to a hydrant. Water is pumped into the 3000 gallon tank. Mike cuts open bags of mulch (wood fiber) which is dyed green so they can see what they're doing. He also adds two bags of guar which is a binder. Mike screws up and adds a bag of fertilizer as well.

They drive to the job site. Mike gets to run up and down the hill connecting hose so they can spray at the bottom of the hill. They can't spray that far from the truck. The pump comes on and Mike attempts to spray the hill. He's not very good at controlling the hose and running around the hill simultaneously. It looks like they're spray painting the hill green.

When they finish, they need to roll up the hoses. Mike has problems with that as well. He thinks they gave him a joke hose. Mike gets to rest while the guys refill the truck. Now they'll be spraying directly from the truck. Mike has an easier time with that.

After they're finished, Mike has to go inside - with the dangerous blades - and clean out the tank so the next job isn't contaminated. He ended up soaking wet and covered in green gunk. This work is actually only temporary. Six months later they will come back to spray on grass seed for permanent erosion control.

Mike then reads a viewer's letter and we go back to footage of the insectarium in New Orleans. We are shown never before seen footage of a bug that looks like a leaf. It's called a Malaysian walking leaf insect. Looking like a leaf is it's only defense. They don't need males to reproduce, but are able to clone themselves. There are males in nature so the species doesn't die out from gene mutations. Their eggs look just like poo. Mike can't tell the difference.

Next Mike goes on the ship Medea which is a 105 year old steam powered yacht. First he gives us a lesson in Greek mythology about Medea and Jason. The ship, Medea, is at the San Diego Maritime Museum. It is one of seven historical ships on display. The Medea was originally built for a businessman in Scotland. It was then used as a gun boat in two world wars. It was reconditioned in the 1960s and everything on it is original. It is still in use and has a cruising speed of 8 1/2 knots.

Mike is there because the boiler needs to be cleaned every year. Not only does the Coast Guard inspect it, but the cleaning makes the boiler more effecient. Mike gets to use pneumatic tools to remove the bolts so they can slide the burner out. Mike is pretty slow at this despite the power tools. He's excited to see duct tape used on a duct for once. The burner weighs about 300 pounds and they have to lift it onto a shelf to get it out of the way.

Mike gets two brushes and protective clothing. Randy has a trick of putting Vaseline on the face to keep the soot off. He also recommends a head first approach to get through the tiny hole and putting his arms out in front of him like Superman. Randy is on the other side cleaning by pushing a tool through the hole. Mike could get bonked with Randy's tool and he comments that it's a lot like "Whack-a-Mole". When putting on a new respirator, Mike accidentally spits on the safety light and it blows up the bulb.

Once he's done, Mike has an even smaller hole to crawl into underneath the boiler. Somehow Cameraman Doug got up in there too. Mike needs to clean out the muck which is water, rust and unnamed boiler chemicals. He is given a hoe to push the water out.
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