Shut Your Eyes

I was put in charge of wiring a building for a distribution center.  Material for the job was transported from the factory to a distribution point, sorted as to destination and reshipped to the customers or to their job sites.

When the main panel for our job came in it was about seven feet high, four feet wide, and two feet deep.  It was a floor standing model and took three 800 amp fuses.

I was working that time with a young apprentice.  When the panel was hooked up to the power and ready to be turned on, I told him; “Shut your eyes.”  I did it to pull his leg a little.

I hit the power and “BAM!”  It blew a hole in the side of the panel wall about 10 inches across, and fire blew out the hole.  The apprentice said; “Wow!  I thought when you said ‘shut your eyes’ that you were joking.”

I tried to convince him I thought I was joking too.

We discovered that the factory had run a screw from the outside of the cabinet through the metal into a main buss.

An 800 Amp fuse is pretty expensive.

My mistake was that I had assumed that, coming direct from the factory, everything had been checked out for operation and safety.  In this case, … not so much.  Since that time I have found a number of cases where product came from the factory in a faulty condition.

When such a large scale mishap occurs, the company sends an engineer out to see if the product is still usable.  The lesson I learned on that job is, you never assume anything.

While I was still on the job at the distribution center, my company hired a young girl from Labor Ready as a runner.  She had picked up some wire for me to use on the job.  Instead of bringing 2/0 wire (for 200 Amps), which was what I needed, she brought #2 (for 100 Amps).  No one had explained the difference in wire size and function to her.

It reminded me of the old electrician’s joke about an apprentice bringing wire to a journeyman.  The apprentice said that he couldn’t find a roll of #12 wire so he brought two rolls of #6.