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What connects buildings at a factory?

  1. Jun 19, 2011 #1
    In a short story I'm writing, a scene has a policeman running for his life from a couple of crooks. They're at an abandoned factory/mill/plant, and the cop makes his way up a few floors of a building, where he goes out a window and crosses over to another building. I've been looking at photos of factories and see an amazing network of pipes and wires. But what could I use at a factory that would support the weight of three men on a suspended platform running from one building to another? These don't really have to be buildings, and it could be any plant or factory. Probably a chemical plant. I just need to get them crossing on a suspended platform between two large structures at some kind of abandoned industrial setting.

    This photo is a good example of what I have in mind: http://www.dreamstime.com/chemical-plant-image6400423

    Any idea what those platforms are?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 19, 2011 #2
  4. Jun 19, 2011 #3
    And underground tunnels.
  5. Jun 19, 2011 #4


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    The thing in the picture, when indoors, is sometimes called an overhead cable rack. Not sure if they go by the same name when they're exterior.
  6. Jun 19, 2011 #5
    I'm pretty sure Jimmy Snyder is right, though the term is more commonly applied to model runways in fashion shows now. In theaters, I know, there is usually a cat walk backstage, high up to allow access to the lights, their electric lines, and various curtains and their pulleys.
  7. Jun 19, 2011 #6


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    Yes. Catwalks.

    Cable racks, if they're what I'm thinking of, tend to be smaller, too small to support a man safely. They may look similar to catwalks, but they're completely different function.

    Newai, the way to write good fiction is to be accurate. Go find the type of factory in your story. See what kinds of structures they actually have. Make it realistic.

    The way to write mediocre stories is to use the same plot devices dragged from other stories, polsih them and reuse them, whether or not they're accurate or appropriate to your particular story. You might as well just write "the cop ran into a random generic abandoned factory."

    One of the best short story writer scenes ever to appear in a movie was in "Throw Mama from the Train". Billy Crystal reads an excerpt of a story by one of his students:

    "The Captain said 'Dive!'"
    "And the guy that drives the submarine pushed the lever that makes the submarine dive. And the submarine dove."

    It is an awesomely funny scene. And a cautionary tale to all writers.
  8. Jun 19, 2011 #7
    Not where I live, unfortunately.
  9. Jun 19, 2011 #8


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    Well, the other rule of story writing is "write what you know". :wink:
  10. Jun 19, 2011 #9
    well, the small stuff is generally called cable tray. not sure if that is the general term for the bigger trestle-looking stuff. or what tray for pipes, as opposed to electrical cable is called. maybe ask the chemE guys.
  11. Jun 20, 2011 #10
    Have you been writing novels behind our backs, Dave?
  12. Jun 20, 2011 #11


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    Haha no. I toyed with writing for a bit. Everyone does.
  13. Jun 20, 2011 #12


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    Pipe rack. Similar to a cable rack, but they hold pipes instead. (What, you expected some incredibly complex latin name for them?)

    They may or may not support the weight of a person. Depends how tightly the racks were designed to the current configuration. Considering the cost of building the racks, it would be cheaper to accomodate some amount of future expansion/modification than to have to completely rebuild your rack system every time the system is modified. Plus, one would expect there to be a certain safety margin, just as on bridges, etc.

    But, then again, cops don't worry about how much weight the rack can hold when they're running for their life. Damaging the pipes and causing them to leak who knows what type of gas makes life more exciting for whoever follows him.

    In fact, cops don't worry much about anything like that. When I was stationed at a space radar site in Alaska, the security guards used to run across the wave guides once in a while during their training exercises. Only once in a while, because the reaction they got from the tech personnel was always strong enough to make sure it would take a long time to forget. Not only were they risking taking an entire sector off-line, they were risking injury if the wave guide collapsed completely.
  14. Jun 20, 2011 #13
    Of course, we wouldn't know if they were injured until the wave itself collapsed.
  15. Jun 20, 2011 #14
    Well, that's good because that is the current place holder I have so far. I was also toying with a collapse since it's abandoned, and that suits the results of the story here.

    Thanks, everyone!
  16. Jun 20, 2011 #15
    That's true. In fact, the oft-repeated rule "write what you know," itself, suggested a plot to me once: the premise of the tale is that a character decides to become kind of writer's "procuror of experience". He's got access to some kind of huge lot where he can stage car wrecks with junkers and blow up safes and set stuff on fire for the benefit of writers who wanted to see these things in person to be able to describe them. (It's the kind of business one of the mythbusters could go into after their show runs its course.) He keeps it as cheap as possible, of course. Usually he has to invite at least ten people at, say, $200.00 a head, to view a given "event", but a rich best selling author like Stephen King, could afford a special request.

    Anyway,the plot heats up when the experiences being offered start to escalate. He starts hinting he can show them more than they would think to ask for. Could be flopped the other way though; the experiences being demanded start to escalate with the procuror as the hapless victim. Once something sufficiently illegal is staged there's the leverage of threatening to turn the other in to force more.
  17. Jun 20, 2011 #16
    I write murder mysteries.
  18. Jun 20, 2011 #17


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    Newai, what you showed us was an image of what we in Maine and New England would call pipe-bridges. They are much sturdier than cable-racks and could probably easily bear the weight of a cop and a pursuer or two that want to catch/kill him.
  19. Jun 20, 2011 #18
    Same here. The research experience is killer!
  20. Jun 20, 2011 #19


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    I'd like to cancel our lunch-date, Zooby. I have to do research for a survivalist manifest.
  21. Jun 20, 2011 #20
    K. Raincheck.
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