In 2000 when I originally wanted to visit the Saudi Arabian part of Tapline which subsequently was  called off  I decided to stop in Jordan for a few days and go along the Jordanian section of the line and Riyatain.
I met Hanna Kreitem and his family and I was surprised to learn that they never had been back to Riyatain since it was closed down.                            QRhanna1.jpg (40493 bytes)
 I was planning to go there there and Hanna arranged with either Saleh or Issa Widyan to meet me to get access to the station and while talking it over, Hanna, his wife and his son Henry decided to go as well. On the way I wanted to see the old employees and our first stop was at Sukhneh a smalll village a few miles west of Zerqa, where we found Abdel Hadi Ras.
Abdel Hadi left Tapline on the mid Seventies and I had always made it a point to pass by him whenever I drove to Amman. So I was looking forward to see him and his family again.  We were received as long lost family but were disappointed to learn that Abdel Hadi had suffered a stroke a few weeks earlier from which he was slowly recovering. The time passed very quickly and we had to continue the rest of our planned journey.

QRabdelhadi.jpg (39903 bytes)The next stop was Mafraq where we wanted to see Assad Nukho. We arrived at his house only to be informed that Assad was in the United States visiting a relative. As is customary, we just could not continue the trip without having coffee, tea and Arabic sweets. I was disappointed to miss seeing Assad again .

On the way to Mafraq we bypassed Jerash because the previous day I had been to Jerash to visit the ruins once again anQRosama.jpg (30497 bytes)d to find Osama Yassin. I happened to drive through the center of Jerash and found the streets deserted.  I stopped at a spot to look around for somebody and in a narrow alley I heard some voices. So I walked down a few  more steps and a man came out of a building. I asked him if he knew somebody by the name of Osama Yassin. He was surprised and it turned out that he was Osama's uncle. So that solved my problem and we went together to see him.  Osama is doing well and owns a very successful large olive processing business in Jerash. QRmafraq.jpg (24180 bytes)
In Mafraq the road lay-out has changed considerably, the junction between the road coming from Amman and the H4 road is now totally changed. This picture shows the fly-over coming from Amman while we are driving eastwards on the H-4 road.

The villages we passed on this road have grown tremendously, a far cry from the few small farms of the old days. The change must have been brought on by the availability of water and electricity now extending just past the Km 1013 turn off.
Hanna had spoken with  Saleh Widjan on the telephone and we had agreed that we would meet at Km 1035.
Right a the turn off road is a large electricity sub station and many other buildings have sprung up all over the area. The same is true for Km 1035 station, I could not believe the changes I saw there.
QR1035d.jpg (26842 bytes)          QR1035c.jpg (28096 bytes)           QR1035b.jpg (30574 bytes)            QR1035e.jpg (33823 bytes)          QRIssa.jpg (27824 bytes).

When we arrived there, we were received by Issa Widjan because Saleh had to leave unexpectedly. I asked Issa if the water well that we had drilled in 1983 to produce water to displace the oil in the Syrian/Lebanese section was still being used, he said that the casing had caved in due to lack of cathodic protection ! A surprising development as the well is about 50 feet from the UCP station. Apparently the cable had been cut and nobody had noticed it.QR1013radio.jpg (29464 bytes)QR1013.jpg (22979 bytes)

We departed with Issa to Km 1013 just for a quick look. We entered the old equipment room and found some of  the radio equipment dating back to the 1960's still in place.

Going further east towards Riyatain the landscape became more familiar, fewer houses and less agriculture.
Once we passed the S curve I could see the station in the distance and it was already very obvious that all the trees had died as there was no sign of anything green. We turned off on the dirt road and instead of having to make a left turn by the station wall, there was now an entrance straight ahead through an opening in the wall into the old compound.
A soldier stopped us from entering but after a short discussion with Issa, he allowed us to proceed..
QRfamilyh.jpg (28878 bytes)   QRhanna family.jpg (32811 bytes)  The two family houses are now separated from the rest of the compound by another wall. One of the houses is infrequently used by the military to house officers when they are in the area, hence the wall and the guard.
Hanna Kreitems house is completely intact, complete with the old Tapline furniture and other furnishings, quite a surprise ! The other house that was used as a guesthouse is completely empty. I remember that whenever I stayed in this house I could always hear the wind, it was always windy at night, rushing through the pine needles. The trees have all died and the noise will no longer be heard.
We then drove to the old entrance and went to the Pumphouse. Entering the Pumphouse  through the large rolling door on the west side I was facing the turbine that had not been fired since 1975. I had a closer look at it found it to be intact ( I never forget old habits), I lifted the cover and the Sundstrand fuel pump was sitting there. As with so many other things I saw on this trip, seeing this pump reminded me of something that happened here in Riyatain back in January 1957.
The turbine had just been installed and had been on line a few times. VHF radio problems however meant that it had to be run attended at all times. John Kelberer who at the time was Superintendent of C.E.& I. brought me from Sidon to sort out these communications problems. The problem however shifted from radio to mechanical problems with the Sundstrand fuel pump. Sitting in the long table in the Control Room he decided to take the pump apart because something was stuck so that it did not deliver enough fuel. He knew how it was constructed and on opening the back end, told me to put my hands under it  "because there were some small pistons inside that would fall out.". Off came the cover and out came 24 ? small pistons half of them rolling off the table onto the tiled floor.  We did not see any problems and tried all that afternoon  and evening to reassemble the pump but to no avail. One  needs twenty four fingers to old the pistons down while the cover is replaced. There was no spare pump available so we had to try to reassemble this one. We got some help from the mechanics but we lacked the dexterity and the room to hold them all in the right position !
Only after extensive tests was it discovered that these very close tolerance  pistons were sticking because the fuel and operating oil used by these pumps were incompatible and when they came in contact it formed a thick waxy residue. The problem was finally resolved by changing the type of operating oil.

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QRpumph3.jpg (26176 bytes)                 QRpumpr.jpg (31899 bytes)                  QRsurger.jpg (38918 bytes)                  QRpiping.jpg (32237 bytes)         

I had another look around and compared the present view with those in the days that we were still in operation. The station was always very  well maintained  and many trees , including olive trees were planted within the boundary walls. The Recreation Hall always extra inviting after a long hot day because of the beverages served.

             So I will complete this write-up with a view of what is left of that very nice bar inside.

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                          We drove away from Riyatain as the sun was setting on the western horizon.

                                                                   Just like it did years ago on Tapline

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Kendal: November 2002.