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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Robert Wilber has this great 'How May I Help You?' page on his website. When I went to this rotten ghetto rental the other day, and saw this, I immediately thought of Robert's picture. The tennant didn't pay the gas bill, so they were attempting to heat with portable electric space heaters. One of their receptacles was apparently worn out, and didn't hold the plug especially tight. The pictures are the result. I was tasked with fixing it.



 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I wish I could have seen the heater that caused this. I didn't think until after the repair was made and I was gone, these people are liable to try to use that heater again. :wallbash: I hope they got rid of it.
 

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Why would you take these jobs MD? you're obviously not hungry(sitting on the computer to all hours). I was taught to size up a job, pricewise or whatever, the moment you drive up and see what kind of place it is.
The money is there with a landlord situation, but are the working conditions? Meth fumes are toxic you know :laughing:

Perhaps it's the good boyscout in you :thumbup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Why would you take these jobs MD?
That's one of the side benefits of being primarily a service electrican. You never know what the next job brings. You can drive right from one of these skanky rentals to a bajillion dollar home on the next call. I rather like not knowing what's behind that next door. Everyone's money spends the same. Service work is very enjoyable, for me. Plus, working mostly in an area that licenses electricians... SOME electrician has to do this work. It might as well be me.
 

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I agree fully about not turning down work, though when I was in CA I went on a bid that was a tweakers paradise that I actually witnessed my boss turning the work down.

I really like the service type work too. They've been sending me to a lot of these type jobs lately and I hope I find a niche in it and can gain more experience, hell the other day I spent an hour tearing apart fixtures and staring breakers before I realized the customer wasn't smart enough to know he had a light switch. Needless to say the customer was charged for me not knowing he was an idiot.
Only thing I don't like is waking up and not knowing what's in store for the day, but I think that all falls in part for me wanting to do well with this service position, just anxiety I guess.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Only thing I don't like is waking up and not knowing what's in store for the day, but I think that all falls in part for me wanting to do well with this service position, just anxiety I guess.
I know, that was a serious point of stress for me in years gone by. At some point in your career, you'll have "seen it all" so to speak. (naturally, you'll never see it all). At least what's behind that next door will not be unfamaliar to you. When you reach a certain point of technical competence, the stress disappears, because you know that whatever you run into you'll be able to handle with no trouble. About the only thing that stresses me anymore about service work is trying to stay clean enough to look presentable to ring the doorbell on the next call. I had a helper that would always seem to stress like you describe. He'd ask me at the end of the day almost every day, "what are we doing tomorrow". Sometimes, if I knew for sure, I'd tell him. Most often, my answer was "I don't know". He'd get all twisted up about it, I could tell. That's a pretty good gauge of a man's experience in the trade, I have found.
 

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My experience to handle most things I think is fine. A lot of it is when I show up I want to concentrate on figuring out what I need to do to get it done.
And in the mean time I have this customer asking these premature questions of "what I think", I've found lately I more or less tell them to buzz off, or just inandate them with technical talk so they'll tell me to buzz off, and I'll find them when I finally have some answers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Yeah, I know, you more or less just got there, got a little bit of stuff taken apart, and they're asking "so what do you think it is?" My usual response is, "I'll let you know in a few minutes". "Well, what could it be", they often follow up. I generally respond with a few things that I already know that it's not, and they're normally satisfied with that for a little while.

If you don't like people breathing down your neck, never become a factory electrician. That's how I started out. Production supervisors literally screaming and cussing about how long was it going to take. Standing over you, hounding you. Another department supervisor tries to grab you for a problem in their deparment at the same time for somthing that's supposedly more important. It tests your temper, for sure.
 

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I love being a service electrician so much I started a service business for myself. I moved from construction to service around '94. Now the thought of eating out of a pale on a cement block between wire pulls and banks of conduits completely turns me off.
I love not knowing what's coming next. Yes, It's hard to schedule home stuff sometimes. But most of the time it all works out.
And to MD....
I worked with a very smart man in the 90s that was and is a wizz service man. The company would send me out and if I couldn't get it, This guy ALWAYS figured it out. My mentality changed to the point that there is always an answer, and I will figure it out.
What did suffer though when I gravitated to service was my code knowledge. With service you rarely pull permits or get inspections. I found myself not looking in the book like the old days. Even today. I am in awe of you guys that keep up with the updated codes. I simply don't have the time or maybe the desire to stay completely updated.
I guess I could be reading the code book now instead of reading all this fund stuff!?
This site is amazing to me. You guys are as work crazy as I am.
 

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I really do love the service work too. Our service guy seems to like me a lot and practically demands I help him on weekends rather than call someone else.
And our methodical/big project minded guy really doesn't like me or my 'get it done' attitude. With him it's always "lets spend the day trying to figure it out".

Both these guys will be retiring in a couple years as well as the owner, so it'll be a whole new shop of young guys. Hopefully I'll be the one called on to do the service work.

It's great work except for always working by your self and can only show off to a bunch of guys you don't even know in a forum.
 

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Besides electricity, I'd say psychology is my other interest. I just like seeing how people "tick"
And our service guy is non-stop entertainment in that respect.

I like working around him, but always seem to go into 'apprentice mode' to try and learn as much as I can about how he goes about things, then of course when the projects are cut and dry i try to impress him. And often get a "good job today" which translates to the girlfriend being real happy all the rest of that Saturday. And also translates to leaving early but getting paid time and a half for the hours he guessed into the project :thumbsup:
 

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Also like Tab mentioned;
Our service guy taught me you don't need to know it all, but just need to know where to look for an answer to something you don't know.

And if I remember right, that same sentence was finished with "whoa-man look at the t!ts on that one" :laughing:
 

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I myself do mostly service work and really enjoy doing this rather than doing new install work. I have spent way too much time out in the cold, rain and snow doing new construction. With service work for me it is the constant challenge of solving the next problem that really makes it enjoyable. After a while it’s like a 6th sense in knowing what the problem is and being able to be creative in fixing the problem. I have spent half of my career working as a maintenance electrician. Every time that I have gone back to doing this I learn more and seem to increase my 6th sense for troubleshooting. When working in a production environment where downtime is sometimes VERY expensive, you learn to think and act quickly in solving problems.

Last December I got a call from a machine reseller that I do work for occasionally. He had sold a used machine tool to a company in New Hampshire and after about a month of use the machine quit working, so I got the call to go fix. This is what the control panel looked like when I got there. There were no prints or any documents for the machine and the customer had production backed up on the machine. They wanted it working NOW (stamping their foot).

View attachment 40

The problem was that the two hand anti-hold down control module was loose and about to fall out of the socket. you can see the socket in the lower left of the picture. Easy fix and good money, but it would been hard if there was something really wrong!

Things a good electrical troubleshooter should know:
Murphy’s Law
Occam’s Razor
48-48-4 rule
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
One zip tie on the two hand controller relay, and write a bill. Sweet.

Occam's razor is right, brother. I just don't understand why some guys automatically thing the problem is the most exotic, complicated thing a mind can imagine, and troubleshoot with that premise. Logic evades these folks.
 

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What a mess of a cabinet, haven't they ever heard of panduit, or forming wires or even tie-wraps?

And I don't know how having a wiring diagram would've helped, it's not like a couple wires suddenly got switched on a terminal strip.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
What a mess of a cabinet, haven't they ever heard of panduit, or forming wires or even tie-wraps?.
Instead of Panduit or Spirap, they used liberal amount of "git r done".
 

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Yes it was a mess, but if you look closely you will see that somebody has done some work on it before to get it to work. Control relays are Allen-bradley and Cutler Hammer. Most machine controls in a control cabinet would at least be the same brand and this one didn't. So that means that there had been other people working on this machine before I got there and the work just might not of been up to par. The saying is "do what you have to to get it to work" applies.

With a wiring diagram at least you can get an idea as to what the machine is supposed to do. This helps somewhat in trying to find the problem. Every bit of information that you can get you hands on will help you locate the proplem.

Oh boy :rolleyes: ;

The nice neat work see that you assume was done before actually was done before at the factory. Notice how all the nice neat wires are on the same side of those 'thingys' on the din rail. Well those 'thingys' are simply terminal strips where the feild installers terminate all their wires according to number. And obviously all the wires landed in the field(the ones that look like crap) were done by a total hack job.

As for the different brands; neither allen bradley or cutler hammer built the cabinet or the machine that is being utilized by this cabinet.
Allen Bradley is about the only name in PLC's which is what you see in the bottom right of the cabinet.
Cutler Hammer is a big name for motor starters, which is what you see in the top left of the cabinet. As far as the main switch (top right) I can't tell who that's made by.

As far as the ice cube realy that you replaced, this is just a plug in type connection, so if there's any vibration this device will work it's way out. And because I don't see auxilliary's on the starter I'm guesssing this ice cube was the MCR.

And any information needed when you find yourself completely stumped using basic troubleshooting skills is talking to the guy who operates the machine who would know best about the machines behavior when it worked and what exactly happened when it stopped working.
Those two bits of information are far more useful than staring at pages and pages and pages of ladder diagrams.
And also benefits in getting the customer up and running again shortly.
 

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Hey Nathan;
when will this new server be up and running? because when I posted #18 it seems the original #18 and #19 were replaced.
I have the correct posts opened in a seperate window if that helps any.

Just a heads up so you know weird stuff is going on.
 
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