Stormy Weather

Stormy Weather

One time the contractor I was working for got a job to replace the lamps in fixtures mounted on tall poles surrounding some athletic fields.  One field was so large that the poles upon which the lights were mounted had a cross timber about 25 feet up holding high voltage lines.  The pole itself was about 35 feet high.

The pole was equipped with metal rungs about 4 inches wide staggered about a 12 to 14 inches apart going up the pole.  When you got up to the cross timber it was necessary to squeeze between the two high voltage lines to get up to the fixture.  Therefore the job required two people.  One to climb the pole and exchange the lamps and one person to man the knife switch to turn the power off and on.  It was the only way to get between the high voltage lines.  They had to be off.

Sometimes a metal rung would get bent downward and when you stepped on it your foot would slip and get caught on a small one inch lip on the outer edge of the rung.  It tended to give you a feeling of the “willies” when that happened.

We successfully managed to change all the lamps without falling or getting electrocuted.  That job prepared me for the next one.

The next athletic field (no soccer in those days, these were baseball diamonds) was located next to a large bluff.  The pole in this case was shorter and there was no cross timber.  The metal rungs did not begin for some distance up.  A representative from the power company was on site and had a lift truck.  A lift truck not a bucket truck.  He placed his lift like a ramp and rested the top against the pole.  I climbed up on his truck and made my way up the “ramp” to the climbing rungs.

When I got to the top I attached a pulley and rope system to the pole and started to exchange lamps.  The bluff was near to the pole and the top of the bluff was some feet above me.  We had worked on the lamp exchange for a little while when I happened to glance up over the top of the bluff and noticed dark black clouds rolling in.  I thought to myself; “Self, you better get off of this pole.”

That warning came too late.  Just then the weather dumped on me.  It rained and it blew and it howled fiercely for about 10 minutes.  I ducked my head down and hung on for dear life.  When the storm passed over, there was only one spot on my whole body that was dry and it wasn’t anywhere close to my face.  I was so soaked I came down the pole intending to go change clothes before completing the job.

When I reached the ground I noticed the other guy was also soaked.  I asked him what had happened to him.  Didn’t he sit the storm out in his truck?  He told me that he had been worried that I would attempt to climb down that he had run back and forth under me shouting up at me not to come down.  I had been tucked into the pole so far and the wind and rain were so loud I hadn’t noticed or heard him.

Then I noticed a huge bruise on his face up around his forehead and one eye and down across his nose.  So I questioned him again on what had happened there.  It seems that the pulley and bucket arrangement for hauling the lamps up to the fixtures was the culprit.  When the wind sprang up it had turned the bucket upside down and the large 500 Watt lamp had tumbled out and come down on his face when he was trying to get my attention.

Stormy weather.

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2 Comments

  1. Andrew Matthews says:

    Ouch. Good thing you didn’t come down like the lamp! Strange that the storm came up with no warning. Does that happen a lot there?

    • admin says:

      Yes. In Northeast and North-central Montana storms come in quickly with very little warning.

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