Round Ceilings and Straight Lines

The Northern Montana College in Havre, Montana decided to build additional structures, … in the dead of winter.  (Havre, in the dead of winter, gets very cold.)  The building was to be made of block walls.  Block walls have to have a minimum amount of heat in order for the mortar to set correctly.  In order to protect the mortar the project leaders tarped the whole building and ran heaters inside.

It didn’t work.

Later on I was there to install wiring, and noticed that you could scrape the mortar from between the blocks because it had frozen before it set.  Apparently the decision was made to leave it as is, because years later I noticed a large crack in the block wall where the bad mortar had been used.

The auditorium on campus had a large dome for the roof/ceiling.  In order to install lighting fixtures in a straight line we had to drill holes and set the boxes from the top side of the dome (outside).  We were working through the roof to accomplish our purpose.  The top layer of lights was easy to set.  As we worked our way down the sides of the dome it became more difficult to maintain a straight course on the fixtures due to the circular nature of the dome.

We drilled our holes and set our boxes and ran conduit across the top of the domed roof.  Later insulation and roofing materials were layered over our conduit and boxes.  To finish the job inside we used scaffolding in the auditorium to reach the ceiling.

It was then that I noticed that we had missed with one box.  It was one foot out of line.  However from the floor this misalignment could not be seen because of the extreme height.

On that job we had a great deal of underground electrical conduit runs.  The plumbers too had buried piping.  Later on the plumbers were going to connect two plumbing piping systems.  They dug up a pipe, a welder cut a round hole in it, and prepared to tap a second pipe into it.  The welder reached into the hole and pulled out a chunk of rubber.

He had cut into one of the main high voltage lines.

They called us up there in a hurry.  We had the power company shut down the power.  We pulled out the wire, patched the hole, patched the damaged insulation and got the power back on before night.

It was an expensive mistake, but the welder lived to see another day.

And as for expensive mistakes……

On another job, one contractor had us use large wire with the wrong type of insulation for the purpose for which that particular run was intended.  The electrical inspector caught the error and we had to pull all that large expensive wire out, and pull in the correct wire.

The incorrect wire was of the type that is normally used for welder leads.

I wound up making a good set of jumper cables out of a portion of it.