Thursday, January 22, 2009

Construction update #28

On January 12, the linemen from Corn Belt Energy arrived to change our electrical service for the house and garage. When I first talked to Corn Belt about doing this work last August I didn't think it would be the middle of winter before it was done. As you can see from these photos, they brought lots of neat tools and equipment, and put on quite the show for a few hours.

Even though they had 10 to 12 inches of frost to trench through, this little machine did a pretty quick job of it. Butch the lineman appears to be in a bit of a compromising position in this photo.

This is the only glitch in the project that I noticed. That's our phone line running through the trench in a discontinuous fashion. I didn't think Verizon's line locating marker was very accurate, and evidently neither did Butch.

Here's the view looking west down the trench. The wires previously ran overhead through the branches of the tree on the right. There was at least one branch resting on the wires and I didn't really want to hack half the branches off the tree just to provide clearance for the wires, so burying the wires removes the need to be concerned about tree branches pulling wires down. I hope the trenching didn't do more harm than trimming would have done.

Butch is putting the final touches on the trench in this shot. I didn't catch the names of the two linemen that did all the ground work, so I don't know if his name really is Butch, but for the sake of this post we'll call him Butch, and his coworker will be Slim.

That's Slim over by the truck stretching out the wire that will be our new service. The metal conduit on the ground parallel to the trench will eventually be mounted to the side of the pole at the road.

Slim is guiding the wire through the hole in the meter base while Butch does the pushing. They hit a bullseye on the first try.

Butch ready to cross the trench after the new wire has been laid in it. The trench was less than 24" deep, so we didn't come very close to the septic tank pipe that runs perpendicular to the trench.

After lunch Mark arrived in a second truck and proceeded to do the high work out at the road. Butch and Slim both called him Mark, so I don't think we'll have to invent an alias for him. If you look closely you can see Mark's yellow staff hanging from the wires and the transformer wire hanging limp meaning the power was disconnected to the house at this point. Time = 12:52 PM.

Closer view of Mark disconnecting the transformer from the pole.

Meanwhile Slim has hoisted the new transformer off his truck and prepares to pass it to Mark's truck. I didn't know a new transformer was included in the deal, but it appears to have more capacity than the old one. I think most of the features of the old service were marginal, so it's good to get an upgrade.

Butch keeps busy disconnecting the wires my friend Bud had temporarily connected in October so the new service could be installed with minimal extra work.

Back at the road, Mark extends the arm on his boom so he can grab the transformer on the pole, while Slim stuffs the wire in the conduit so it's ready to be attached to the pole.

This shot gives you a little better perspective on where the new transformer is sitting in the midst of the other activity.

The new transformer waiting patiently.

The details of the new transformer for the sake of all my geeky engineer friends, and because I'll probably never be this close to this nameplate again.

Mark lowers the old transformer to Slim.

Slim attaches Mark's cable to the new transformer preparing it for a little ride to the top of the pole.

Another shot to give you a better perspective on how the trucks were situated, and how impressive it is that both booms can reach far enough to transfer something between them.

Mark approaching the pole with the new transformer.

Almost close enough to attach it to the pole.

Hey Butch, sorry I dug that hole right where you wanted to stand! Note the meter lying on the ground next to his tool pouch, i.e. the power is still off.

Slim pulls the old wire out of the tree.

Mark has the new transformer attached to the pole, and works with Butch to get the new conduit and wire attached to the pole.

Slim takes over assisting Mark as he nails straps around the conduit.

A look inside the finished meter box before the meter was installed.

Mark connects one of the wires to the transformer...

...and makes the final connection using his fiberglass staff. The power is back on. Time = 1:33 PM. Much quicker than I expected!

The finished product on the pole at the road. Other than the severed phone line, I thought the whole process went pretty smooth. The only outdoor work remaining on the system is to connect the barn wiring to the new disconnect, but given the amount of frost in the ground, it may be a while before that job is even attempted.

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