Tonight's cuppa: Cuban espresso cappuccino
Tonight, "Dirty Jobs" host Mike Rowe tackles his 200th filthy occupation. He begins by walking down the train tracks, reminiscing about meeting awesome, hard-working people, touching the nation's infrastructure and violating farm animals.
Mike wants to look back and celebrate — field producer Dave Barsky even blows a horn and wears a silly hat — but that will have to wait until next week.
In the meantime, Mike heads to Boise, Idaho, land o'taters — and, as it turns out, trains — to get up close and dirty with a locomotive, and I'm there to liveblog it all for you. So sit back, get a container of disinfectant wipes and play along. I'm sure there's some dirty job in the house you could be tackling — and just think of the kinship you'll feel with Mike.
Or, just have a hot cuppa and watch from your easy chair. I won't judge you.
Let the liveblog begin…get ready to get dirty.
Mike expected fireworks, but not in his pants. He also promises backa–wards ballet. Yeah, right.
Filthy, stinking credits!
Mike looks at undone locomotive, wearing a very fetching pair of blue overalls. Turns out these trains will wind up carrying commuters somewhere in Mike's home state of Maryland. He thought it'd be fun to come to Boise and make a choo-choo.
Trains are important. Be grateful for trains. Say hi to the folks at Motive Power who make them, and also rebuild and refurbish older ones.
Mike leaves the undercarriage build-up area (wow, that sounds uncomfortable) and comes into the fabrication building to talk to a guy wearing a leather apron and goggles about the AIRCO table, which is a plasma C&C burn table.
LeatherApron says this is the first stage of the locomotive, beginning with raw steel, which is probably a lot tougher to chew than cooked steel.
LeatherApron has Batman glasses, which keep debris out of his eyes. Mike gets the cool goggles too. LeatherApron has a Spaceman helmet. Mike has a Motive Power baseball cap with flames on the brim. Will Mike get a helmet? Will debris singe his hair? The suspense is killing me!
OK, hit play again. Good, Mike gets a helmet.
Now we move an orange carriage gantry thing that costs more than my whole life. Mike nearly crashed the orange carriage gantry thing, which probably only costs half of Mike's whole life, as he's a TV star and all. Anyway, now for the hot plasma.
X marks the hot plasma. Just like cutting gingerbread sheets to make a gingerbread house, but without the actual gingerbread or Necco wafers for the roof. Never did like those Necco wafers. Oh, meanwhile, Mike looks at the plasma and is nearly blinded, but not quite.
Worried about slag sparking. Boy, things like that keep me up nights. Or, not so much.
The machine works all by itself. Not very dirty and not that hard for Mike, who is doing a disturbing amount of standing around.
Mike knocks off slag and swears he's working. Yeah, right.
Now Mike uses a crane-supported electromagnet (You think this job is easy? You type that fast!) to move the cut pieces of future choo-choo. The crane-supported electromagnet is also orange, and Mike does a sophisticated dance with it. That's what he said, anyway.
Mike does an extra special dance to move the very heavy piece, which could wreck the building if it makes a swing for freedom. But, it does not. So far, still not that dirty.
LeatherApron's leather apron looks a bit grubby, but he's hardly broken a sweat. But he does have two garden hoes. Mike grins. Shut up, potty-mind Mike.
The hoes and rakes clean up slag or ash or junk or whatever out of the thing into the other thing.
Next, Mike moves some levers, drives a thing, drops stuff and worries about the size of his ear canal.
Mike — who, by the way, is a Ford spokesman — does a commercial bit with an innerspring mattress, a Ford F-150 truck and Barsky. What could go wrong? Stay tuned.
amazed! Amazed, I tell you!
Ford, or as my dad would say, Found on Road Dead or Fix or Repair Daily. Hey, no hate mail, unless you want to send it to my dad. I've never owned a Ford, so I have no firsthand experience. I take that back, I did rent a Focus once. It was nice, but the door locks were possessed. But that's a story for another day. Back to the show.
Mike scrapes residue with a hoe. He still looks pretty clean to me. LeatherApron reveals he had to go through grinding and beveling to get this far. A guy named Ray comes in with a dumpster. He's got his own way of hoeing — which is flipping the whole thing over with a forklift. Ray is a smart man.
Ray's done a couple hundred locomotives, and he was worried about Mike falling off his undercarriage. Shut up, potty-mind readers.
Mike and Ray go for the middle of the dumpster and then pop some things loose. Still waiting for Mike to get actual dirt on him. Ray reveals he has a better way, but Mike manages. Mike concedes that Ray's way is more fun. Ray looks like a man who knows fun. He's not much with a beard trimmer, but he knows fun.
Mike gets to drive a yellow forklift. I'd type the instructions, but nah. Mike follows Ray, one foot on the gas and one on the brake. "What did one polar bear say to the other polar bear?" sez Mike. "I'm (bleep) freezing."
Huh. I heard the same joke, but with walrus. Must be a regional thing.
Mike prepares to flip over the huge whatever it is, pick it up with the little orange turbo guy and go up and forward and and flip it over, BAM! Easier said than done, apparently. Ray mocks Mike, who mocks himself first.
Up, up, forward and up — and BAM! "We just knocked all that crap off," sez Ray. Sure beats hoeing.
One more BAM! Good one! Ray, "My table's clean." Mike sez there's more schmutz, so additional flipping is called for. Someone's having waaaay too much fun here, and remains waaaay too clean.
Now, instead of being in the dumpster, the schmutz is all over the nice clean snow outside. Mike and Ray prepare to move the thing that had the schmutz on it over to the switcher underframe, where it will become part of the locomotive.
Mike sees the piece he cut the pieces out of, which are attached to something that lets you lift the locomotive up to change the tires. Locomotives have tires?
Mike must go to another building to do some blasting. Still clean as a whistle.
Coming up, Mike enjoys the skull-cracking noise of an impact wrench and tries not to die.
Mike enters the blasting place and meets Lester, who goes through the center door and grabs his blast hose, which shoots iron filings. Ouch. He plans to scar up the metal so that it can be painted.
Mike puts the head thing on, but he's got a big head, so adjustments are necessary. He also needs earplugs, which Lester should have mentioned before he put the head thing on. Mike realizes he doesn't know what size his ear canals are. Lester's are large.
Head thing back on, big blue gloves and an air supply. No, not the band.
Mike starts blasting scale, which is surface waste caused by rolling and extruding steel. What, you think I know what that means? Just typin' 'em as I hear 'em.
Mike says wearing the suit is almost a complete sensory experience. He can't hear; no one can hear him; it's claustrophobic and hard to move around in.In other words, it's kind of like being "Tommy." (You think Jack Nicholson can't sing? Think again.)
Inside, there's an overpowering smell of worn leather and other people's sweat. But he can taste stuff.
Thanks for the over-sharing there, Mike.
Mike thinks Lester deserves a raise. Lester says you'd better like who you're in that helmet with…or, wherever you go, there you are.
Mike gets ready to go into another building and find another guy doing another thing. Still kinda clean — but then, I don't have Smell-O-Vision.
Hoping for something a little less mind-numbing, Mike heads to the Annex, which is just around the corner, about a mile away. Look, all the equipment fits in the Ford truck. I'm amazed! Amazed, I say!
Mike knows a big old engine when he sees one. He meets Freddy and Rodney, who are both dirtier than Mike. They're getting ready to do a complete rebuild on a block. Mike guesses correctly that it threw a rod, which he judges is bigger than the average rod. "There's a rod, this is a cylinder hole…"
Rodney has a socket. He loses a bolt, but it's OK. I lost a bolt once. Took a week to get better.
Mike says it takes 90 hours to disassemble an engine to clean it. Now you know.
Next, Mike loses control over a 13-ton engine.
Mike learns he should take 'er north first, then he explains the internal combustion engine and catches the lip on the backside of the power assembly. Skyrocketing could result. "That'd be bad," sez Mike. "Real bad," sez Rodney, who seems to do all the talking in this particular duo.
Rodney then explains that the new 16-cylinder locomotive engines have better compression, a new design and more horsepower than older, 20-cylinder ones. Ah, increased efficiency. If only we could teach that trick to Congress. *sigh*
Rodney sez to take 'er north again. They don't rebuild all the cylinders. It's contract-specific. Good to know.
Mike sez the engine produces 15 times the horsepower of the average passenger car, but refrains from comparing it to the horsepower of the Ford F-150. I'm amazed! Amazed, I say!
Next, they're removing bolts from the block and pan. BTW, Mike is again wearing his baseball cap with the flames on it, in case you were curious. And he is finally getting a bit grubby.
But Mike is tightening instead of loosening. Right-tighty, lefty-loosey. Thanks, Rodney, I knew that. Now, as soon as I can tell my left hand from my right, I'll be all set.
Mike feels betrayed, but he has two to go on the other side.
Now there's scraping of burnt oil. Of course there is. Scraping sludge is what this show is all about.
Rodney now wants to split the block and the pan, and that will take a crane. A big, yellow crane.
Mike explains rebuilding an engine. Something about injectors.
Rodney warns Mike not to walk under the road, and we take 'er north again, resulting in some rocking and rolling.
Now we go west, but Mike hits east. I feel your pain, my directionally impaired brother.
Next, Mike explains how one could turn into a puddle of snot.
Mike announces they've arrived at the "Dirty Jobs, omigod, where'd the light go, everybody starts shooting everything at once because it's going to be dark, and we don't have a show" part of the show, which is his favorite. One would think he'd come up with a snappier name for it, but there you go.
Anyway, a big part of the engine will come out, rise into the air on a crane and be swung into a thing that begins with P. Mike says it's cool. A 27,000-pound engine will spin like a chicken on a rotisserie, controlled by Wilmer, Robert and directionally challenged Mike running the crane.
Glad I'm not there.
Mike explains that the engine is cleaned with detergent, while the engine block gets a shower. Looks a little cold for a s
hower to me.
Mike learns the cleaning solution will turn you into a puddle of snot if you if gets on you, which may have happened to a wayward drunk, who left behind a glove, a bottle and a light bulb. Mike quips that the drunk had a bright idea.
Mike wants to see the rotisserie work, but they can't run the spray, because everyone would die. Good safety tip, Wilmer. Robert started in grocery, came into washing engine blocks, prefers building models. He realized one day he couldn't stand people. Mike recommends Robert pal up with Barsky. Mike calls Robert a misanthrope, while Wilmer says other folks have other names for him.
Excuse me if I've mixed up Wilmer and Robert. I have a sneaking suspicion Mike did, but I may be wrong — and I'm tired of rewinding and retyping the names in the preceding paragraph, so moving on now.
Wilmer and Robert reveal that they keep working the wash cycle, and that they're now on overtime and very happy about it. Mike is grateful he wasn't dissolved.
Next, Barsky loses it, and Mike commits fake suicide and toots a horn.
Bright and early the next morning, Mike and the crew prepare to shoot the finish of the story in the finish shop. Mike reveals that this is the second day on the shoot, which has happened because cameraman Doug, in search of that elusive Emmy, is risking life and limb in search of a shot.
Doug gets a little shirty with Barsky, who is wearing a jacket from the cranberry farm. Good to know they keep these things.
Mike tries to relieve the tedium by pretending to shoot himself, commit hari-kiri and hang himself. If this whole TV thing doesn't pan out, he has a future as a mime. Of course, then, he might really kill himself.
Then, just as the crew is ready — lunch! Barsky gives Doug impossible options. Doug is not happy, because he had a perfect shot set up to match a shot that cameraman Troy took. Then the crane operator postpones his tuna sandwich to help Doug get the shot. Give that man an extra bag of chips.
Doug shoots Mike from above, looks nice.
Now a finished locomotive, wrapped in plastic, emerges.
Now Mike gets to drive the train, with Carlos and Gerald, who are qualified to prevent Mike from causing a disaster. Mike has the key, with his name on it. He pops in the key, now it's time to push the start button and fire it up.
Main engine start! Go to forward! And off we go!
Slow down, slow down, stop 'er. Forward with the brake.
"I'm still in training!" sez Mike. And off we go.
Cool blue-and-yellow Northstar train for Metro Transit. It can go 83, forward or reverse — "We don't do it here," sez Carlos.
Put it in forward. Forward. Bring your throttle lever back to six, just let it rev up, and it'll start moving through the brakes. Turn your bell on, blow your horn.
"Out of my way, sinners!" sez Mike.
Out on the tracks! Mike is very happy. They go up to the switch and then back. Apply the brake.
This was a big day for Mike, who's trying to build the drama.
"Told you we were going to build a choo-choo," sez Mike, "didn't know I was going to drive one."
Mike makes his pitch for taking pride in hard work and recalling the days when craftsmen and tradesmen were role models. It's something he truly believes in. Click here if you don't believe me.
Let the celebration begin!
BTW, next Tuesday, Feb. 24, at 9 p.m. ET/PT, in a special episode, Mike reflects on his first 200 "Dirty Jobs." Until then, keep it dirty!