The second Milestone in 1959 - the flooding...

Revision as of 6 December 2012 at 13:36.
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1959 was a heavy rainy year and it's remembered because of a great flooding. The water level in the lake got so high that it surpassed the top of the plant building. The water filled the entire engines building and so all the electrical equipment was 100% under water.

In an intent to avoid the flooding of the engines room the army use explosives to build a canal to drain the lake, you can still see the remains of the canal in -32.814906,-56.438895. The water drained by the canal for about a month till the lake reached the normal level.

After that flooding the country could not afford a new engines so the UTE (Usinas y Teléfonos del Estado) which is the national energy company designed one of it's engineers to try to rebuild whatever were possible. The engineer was Catón Ernesto Silva y Antuña Arriera who had many years of experience working in the UTE's testing laboratory in Montevideo.

A group of engineers and technicians worked with Mr. Silva and after some months he got 2 of the 4 engines working, they lasted 2 years till the country could afford to buy new ones from the USA.

The main rebuild method was to short the output of the generators and put them on a low controlled generation so the cooper winding begun to raise temperature. He and other technicians had to go into the generator to measure the winding temperature, if got over 60 ºC the isolation would have been harm.

Y had the luck and pleasure to visit the plant in 1986 or so, one of the engines was under maintenance and someone showed me the inside of it. It's a very impressive experience, the rotor was lifted by 3 hydraulic jacks built into the generator. You can see the heavy rotor and the windings 2 inches over your head and my thought at the time was: "if a jack fails I'll be like a smashed cockroach". I could also see the axe of one of the running generators one level below the rotors, it was like 50 inches in diameter, I got stuck for a minute looking at that mass of steel spinning at 120 rpm or so, I don't exactly remember the speed.

It was one of that unforgettable experiences of my life.

By the way, the information posted here was told to me by my father, Mr. Catón Ernesto Silva y Antuña Arriera (1925-2005).

Ernesto Silva., 6 December 2012