Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Advantages of Gate Guarding, Are There Any?

Today looks like it is going to be a nice, beautiful day. No clouds, rain or high winds, with the temp reaching up to the lower 70's. I guess you can't beat that.

Sherry and I were talking last night about what the advantages of gate guarding would be. Let me list what we think are some.

1. The Pay. The basic rate is $125 a day with the company we are with. Some companies that I have heard and read about start at $150 to $175 a day. If you are fortunate enough to get a gate that is concidered a main one like us then you would get paid more.

2.  South Texas Weather. We don't like snow or ice so going south was ideal to us. In the winter months this is the place to be. It does have its days where a heavy jacket comes in handy but for the most part it isn't bad. We have had days were the temp has reached into the middle 80's and it is still February.

3.  The Freebies.  We have received all kinds of food. We have been given steaks, catered food, and even deer sausage. One of the land owers even has given us a DVD movie called "Giant". The story was based on the area we are in. May not be a very good advantage but we thought it was nice.

4.  The People. We have met some real nice peolpe here at the gate. The workers come and go and if they are just going to town to get a few things they always ask, "Do you need anything from town?" When I bought our new air conditioner we had help from the guys to get it up onto the roof.

5.  The Sunrise and The Sunset.  I am originally from Arizona and we got some pretty awsome sunrises and sets. Here in south Texas it reminded me of Arizona when watching the sunsets, very pretty. Again may not be an advantage but we sure enjoy them.

6.  No Boss Around.  Have you ever had a job where the boss is always breathing down your neck? Well not here. You are placed at a gate and nobody ever bothers you. Now if you need something or have a problem you just give him a call and things are taken care of.

7.  Solitude and Quiet.  What I mean, is there is nobody to talk to except the truck drivers. No politics, gossiping or back stabbing like you might get at another job. Quiet in the middle of the desert, if you like that sort of thing.

8.  Learning Something New.  If you have never been in the oil field business, then this is very interesting. We never knew that any of this was ever going on. I was amazed that they can drill over 4 to 5 miles deep and then turn right. How does that happen with steel pipe?? MMMMM, makes you think.

9.  Fuel Savings.  This one might be a stretch but I am going to list it. Since you are manning the gate at all times, you really don't go anywhere. I put in about $50 every two weeks to get me back and forth from Laredo. Not bad I think.

10.  The Wildlife.  So far we have seen rabbits, deer and roadrunners. What we have been told that was out here but yet to see are wild hogs, bobcats and rattlesnakes. I don't like rattlesnakes but I have yet to see one in the wild. You are now thinking this guy is totally nuts. Sometimes.

Well that's about all that I can think of for now but like I said before, this is what we think that are advantages. I am sure people that read this may think otherwise, which is fine by us.

Until next time.............Be safe.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Gate Guards, Is It For You?

Quick note about the toilet, the floor flange is ordered along with a new gasket as well. Once these parts come in I will put on my plumber's hat and go to work.

OK moving on. We have been at this gate now for about 3 months. This is a main gate to about 10 to 15 different wells. There is a constant flow of traffic day and night, so Sherry has the night shift and I have days. I often wonder what type of people can do this job. The job is not hard, come on signing people in and out requires about 30 seconds, but it can get hectic. So what does it take to man one of these gates? Going into this blind is one reason why I am posting what we have been through so far.

The first attraction is the money. You get paid $125.00 a day, which is the going rate now. Some companies pay more than that per day but we will stick with this figure. A check or direct deposit once every two weeks is pretty good cash. Now for you math wizards out there if you try to figure the hourly rate for 24 hours you will be disappointed. I have done it and it is below minimum wage, but figure the "actual" time that you are working and you might be surprised.

Next for us is that we are out in the boon docks, I mean in the middle of nowhere. I tell my older kids that we have found "BFE" and it has a zip code. I guess we are fortunate that we are close the interstate and we get decent cell phone signal but on the other hand my internet signal is very weak. That's why I haven't posted anything lately. Now if we were deeper back, like nine miles in, there isn't hardly any cell service at all. I have noticed on many trucks that they have some kind of booster for their phones, may have to check into this later. We are close to a small town but their grocery store is the only one and the prices are out of this world, imagine that. We are only about 50 miles from Laredo so I go into town to get groceries for two weeks and any other business as well.

Next up is the dirt and dust. We are right at the front gate and on a dirt road which leads back to the wells. The road is kalche (don't know if I spelled that right) and rock and this stuff gets into everything. If you happen to have your windows open because it is a beautiful day this would be a bad mistake. The dust is everywhere that you can imagine, I mean everywhere. Then it starts rain. This dust now turns into a pancake type mess, thank God for rugs.

Let me try to size this up for you, if you like the pay, don't mind the dirt and mud, don't have good good cell service and have to travel 50 plus miles to get food, I guess this is for you.

Next time I will try to give more info about this job. We are by no means an expert on the subject but just giving our experiences to you. I am trying to put it in perspective for anyone who is toying with this idea.

Until next safe.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Big Problem On The Toilet

Yesterday turned out to be a beautiful day, no rain, very little wind and our wonderful dirt road was dried up. No standing water except for the big hole out in front of our gate. Speaking of water I decided to tackle the toilet problem after Sherry was up and moving around.

I got my tools needed for the job and turned off the water and proceeded to tear into it. Lets see, water off, take plastic foot pedal off, take cover off around base, disconnect water line to toilet, and remove the four nuts and washers. In doing this I noticed that one of the bolts was at an angle, not straight up and down. I am thinking now that this is not going to be good.

I carefully lifted the toilet up and out of the bathroom and to my surprise what did I notice that the floor flange that is screwed to the floor was cracked in three different places, Oh Crap.
(I guess that was an appropriate statement.) What in the heck am I going to do now!! I purchased some JB Weld and started to basically glue this thing up as a temporary repair. I let it set and then put it all back together. When I was setting the toilet back in place I was careful not to disturb the flange. Once in place I started to tighten the nuts being very careful not to tighten them to tight. I think once or twice before I must have tighten them too tight and it cracked then. I left a towel around the base to see if it has stopped the leak and will check it out in a day or two. Sherry told me last night that the toilet was too loose, so I will tighten it some more.

I have a SeaLand 510 Series toilet and they have three different floor flanges that they use.  I have no idea which one to buy. I am not much of a plumber when it comes to PVC pipe and repairs. So hear is my fix. I will buy the flange that will drop through the floor about 2 inches. I will then cut the pipe so I can place a rubber connection with hose clamps and that should do the trick. NO primer and no glue to mess with because that stuff sets as soon as you make the connection and no room for error. I need some room, if you know what I mean.

Oh I forgot to tell you that the furnace started to work again. I thought lets try it and see if it will put out some heat and it did. Thanks Lord. I don't know what was wrong with it but I really don't care as long as it works. I have had the furnace pulled out once before because when we bought the trailer it didn't work so I put a new circuit board in it and it worked. It seems that the trailers we buy it takes some kind of circuit board to get the appliance to work again. Go figure. Well that's about it for now. We are in a wait and see time on the toilet until I can get the new floor flange. Don't know what I may talk about tomorrow, hopefully it won't be about any more repairs, until next safe.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

We have Cool Air Now!!

The weather here in south Texas is very strange. Within a week we can go from the mid 80's to a very cool low 50's for daytime highs. The problem is that the a/c unit doesn't work if you remember me telling you this earlier. It can be very warm inside the trailer, as you can imagine.

I mentioned before that this Gate Guarding job pays quite well. So why not go ahead and replace the a/c unit, how hard can this be?? Well I started to do my research and found a unit that I thought was a fair price. I started to think about it and decided to replace everything that had to do with the a/c system, right down to the thermostat. When researching the system I noticed that there was an optional heat strip that I could install. Sherry and I discussed it and I got the OK to get the parts. So figure this, there is a 14 inch by 14 inch hole in the roof and I am going to fill that hole with all new and updated parts. Now that the parts are on there way I started to examine the installation process.

In case you want to know I have a Dometic Duo-Therm 15,000btu system with a 4-button thermostat. I looked up into the return air vent and noticed 4 long bolts tying the outside unit to the inside air return system. I got the outside unit to the trailer from FedEx and now wondered how I was going to get this thing up on the roof. I asked one of the guys that worked at the well and he brought a step ladder and two other guys with him and we man handled the unit up to the roof. Thanks Shawn!! Now it's up to me to get this thing hooked up. I have never done anything like this but somebody did it before so I think I can do this. I unbolted the 4 bolts and then went up to the roof and to my surprise the old unit lifted right off and then I slid the new one into place and went back into the house to finish up.

I connected the a/c to the control box and secured it down and went to the thermostat, turned it on to cool, the unit did not start and I was getting nervous. A few minutes went by and then the fan started blowing but no cooling. OK wait for it........wait for it........then I heard the compressor start and low and behold we have cool air coming out. YEAH. I was quite surprised how easy it was to change this thing out. I was done with the outside unit and now when the rest of the parts come in it is all installed from inside the trailer.

I had a mix up with one part but it didn't have an affect on the operation of the unit. I finally received the rest of the parts and finished wiring it up and now everything is new and updated just like if it came out of the factory.

Let me pass on to you some things to look out for if you ever want to try this on your own. There are ac wires just like you would find in the old stick and bricks, one white (ground), one black (hot) and one green (chassis or unit ground). There is also a 12 volt wire, the colors may be different from one trailer to another but mine were grey (12v hot) and green (ground). When you disconnect the 12 volt wires make sure they don't touch anything. If they do you are sure to pop a fuse like I did and it took me awhile to figure it out but did and replaced the fuse with no problem. If you can define colors and possibly work a volt meter you should have no problem doing this project on your own.

Now that the cool air is working and the furnace and the heat strip are working it is time to tackle the toilet now and see why it is leaking around the base. I am slowly but surely becoming an expert on this toilet. I have replaced every conceivable part on this thing and now we are wet at the base, oh well it's always something.

Until next time be safe.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

I'm Still Here Alive and Well The Final Chapter

Let me see, we are at the gate, the kid left, the trailer is somewhat level, not really but ok, and we are signing people in and out like crazy. Then it hit like a ton of bricks, Sherry realized she has the night shift, oh crap. Well it wasn't all that bad but this is what we agreed upon. It looks like we in for the long haul at least up to the end of March. Now we can look forward to Christmas with the kids back in Houston.

You see we took this job on the pretences that we get Christmas Eve off when we talked to the company. A few weeks has pasted and I kept calling our field suspervisor and he said that he was working on it. We have not even met this man nor has he called us to see how we are doing, not much of a supervisor if you ask me. Well it was coming down to the wire and he finally showed up one day and he said that he would ask this couple whose gate was closing down if they would cover for us. They said yes and he told me that I would have to pay them, which was fine with me, but I didn't know what we were getting paid, nobody has told me. As a matter of fact the lack of information with this company is fenominal, he looked at me like I knew what he was talkng about. Not to impressed with this guy.

We talked to the other couple and got things squared away and we took off on Friday morning the 23rd of December. We stayed at a hotel for the night and went over to my oldest daughter's house for some Christmas cheer and left back for the gate on Christmas Eve. We entered into the gate at about 11:00 PM and got everybody settled, especially Bri. I drove all the way in the rain and I was very tired but we still had to help Santa with a few things before I went to bed. Sherry stayed up until about 4:30 or so and I took over while she went to bed. Bri and Sherry woke up and Bri opened her gifts. She kept asking Mom if see saw Santa last night and she told her that she did and that Santa knew what was going on and why Mom was still up.

Now that Christmas is over and the decorations have been put away we can consentrate on establishing somewhat of a routine. The weather has been really weird meaning it is cold, then hot, then raining and windy and cold again, all this happening within like two days. When the weather is hot we open the windows and try to cool off some but the disavantage of doing that is all the dust comes in and boy everything in the trailer has a brown tinge to it. I have to get the ac unit replaced.  DING.....DING   You know what that means, until next safe.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I'm Still Here Alive and Well Pt. 2

Well lets see, where did I leave off..........Oh yeah, in Texas.

We arrived at an RV park just north of Nacogdoches, TX on US Highway 59. We did call the main office like I said before and gave our number to them and she said that someone would be calling us about a gate. Lets say this was on a Monday. Nobody called us until the next day, which just so happened to be my birthday. Wait a minute, somebody did call us on Monday and he said that there might be work in north Texas since we were close. He also said that he gave our number to someone in Henderson, TX which was just north of where we were by about 45 miles.

Needless to say he did not call and we were not sure what to do. Now on Tuesday we finally made contact with the guy in Henderson and he said that he didn't have any gates available but we could go up there to their compound and stay there until something came open. Great don't have to pay for a site. We started to pack up and I was bringing in the last container when the district manager for the southern TX area called me and wanted to know what we were doing. I told him that we were heading to Henderson and he said that we might have better luck securing a gate job if we headed south. Sherry and I talked about it and since this was the original plan we decided to head south. Once on the road the field supervisor called me and asked if we could be at a gate by Thursday morning and I told him where we were and I said yes. So off to south TX and a gate guard job. Boy things sure move fast in this business.

We stayed at a nice park for the night and was reasonable, didn't even unhook it was a pull through. I called the district manager and asked if we could stay at their Whitsett, TX location for the night and then drive to the gate the next morning and he said he was fine with that, so off to Whisett, TX for our next stop. We found the place with no trouble and pulled into their compound. You see this company has 3 different locations in south TX and all of them have about 4 RV sites with full hook-ups for the people at no cost, pretty cool uh???

We got settled and we talked to a nice lady who ran the office there and she knew we were coming to stay there. Once settled I asked about where we could get some groceries and Sherry and I and Bri went shopping. We were excited and relaxed to finally be so close to our first gate guard job.

The next morning the lady said that we needed to be at the gate at 8 and now it is 8:30. Mmmm this ain't good. I hooked up and we were on our way with directions on how to get there. We arrived at what we thought was the right place, sewer and generator trailers there and some kid signing trucks in and out. He told me where to park the trailer and he would start to hook us up to the sewer and generator. He showed Sherry what to do on the paperwork, a no brainer, and she started working. I continued with the trailer while the kid, once he got things hooked up, took off. NO real training at all you pretty much take control of the gate until someone says otherwise. We know that this is a main gate to a bunch of stuff back there and it is a 24/7 type job, by the way we weren't told any of this, we just figured it out on our own. You tend to ask a lot of questions. DING, DING UH OH I have to go and sign someone in, until next time be safe.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I'm Still Here Alive and Well

I know that it has been awhile since my last post and I am sorry for that but I will try to get you caught up on what's been happening.

We finished up at Branson at the end of November. We were by ourselves for the longest time until they hired a brother sister team to give us some help. We were only able to work with them for about two weeks before we left. It is my understanding that they will be back next season. This past summer has been a trying time for us. The biggest thing that happened was that the ac unit took a dive. I called a repair guy and he was able to patch a hole and recharge the unit. That lasted for only about a month so I called him again and he never made it back out. So we have been without air conditioning since September. Luckily fall came and so did the cool air. During the cool months of fall we needed to use the furnace a time or two. I noticed that when I turned on the furnace the fan would start but no heat. Great no ac and now no heat what could go wrong next?????

During our stay at Compton Ridge we have been talking to some of our friends about a job they took last winter. The job is Gate Guard. What that means is that in the oil field business usually when there is a rig drilling they hire people to man a gate and log people in and out of the area. They told us that you have to be a licensed security officer with the state of Texas and they pay very well. The starting pay is $125.00 a day. Just so you know "a day" means 24 hours. So you have to be up or someone has to be up 24 hours. If you are by yourself I don't see how you could do it. JMHO.

One of my biggest concerns was how did they contend with the black water tank. Our friends said that they had a honey wagon come out once every two weeks. I am thinking that this won't work for us. The gate guard companies do provide a generator, fuel for the generator and "non-potable" water. OK not so bad we can get drinking water at 125 dollars a day, but I still don't think we can do the black water dump once every two weeks, not going to happen. Sherry and I continued to discuss the opportunity and our friends told us about a gate guard company called Gate Guard Services.

I contacted the company and the lady said that they are hiring and they provided the generator, water, fuel and a sewer type system. Not sure how it worked but really didn't care. They also provided us with all the paperwork needed to get our license. How cool is that. With this information now it was a done deal that Sherry and I would be Gate Guards working for this company. We got all of our paperwork, filled it out and sent it back to them before we left Branson. There were a few hiccups with the paperwork but was ironed out with no problem. So we left Branson around the beginning of December and started to head south to Texas. We were told once we got to Texas we were to call the company and let them know we were in Texas and they would give our phone number to the proper people to place us at a gate, so we thought.......until next time be safe.