Welders Fixed Sunset Blvd. Pipe with String, Math and Mud

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When a geyser fed by a broken pipe flooded UCLA last July, ingenious city welders used string, math, clay and white-hot metal to restore water service. John Nerio was one of a dozen welders who arrived the day after the break — what they saw was daunting. A 90-year-old main line running along Sunset Boulevard that connected to two somewhat younger pipes from the ’30s and ’50s in a Y-shaped angle. It was all so old that the city had no blueprints to guide the welders about what was underground or how it should be repaired. Nerio said it was the kind of challenge he likes. He was among a dozen welders who worked in overlapping 16-hour shifts over three days to repair the pipes. “When that last piece went in, it was just applause, everybody was happy,” Nerio said. “We were ecstatic. Everything fit, it fit like a glove.” They filled the pipes, and it all held — nothing leaked. Their work was done. Nerio has been welding for 35 years, the last 26 for the City of Los Angeles and the DWP.

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