After over 20 years working in this industry, I thought I had seen and heard it all. However, a situation came up the other day that reminded me that, ridiculous things will always continue to happen, and they can still surprise me. It got me thinking about all the weird/stupid things that I have experienced, which propelled me to discuss them.
Here are some stories of what I have seen. Although, at the time, none of this seemed funny, I can laugh about it now. Hopefully you find some humor in these as well. If you are reading this, and happen to realize that the story is about you, please don’t be offended. We’re all guilty at some point.
Back in the 90’s, I took a call from a guy who was having an issue with his software, that was used to interface with his ventilation controls. I started with the basics:
What issues are you having?
What can you tell me about what happened to lead up to it?
We went through a few things when I finally got the truth.
In his words, “the program was acting funny, so I put in the disk and tried to re-install it.” When I asked what version was on the disk, he read me what was on the CD. I realized he had put in the Windows disk!! Piece of advice; don’t try to re-install Windows while you have several programs running. It doesn’t go well for your ENTIRE COMPUTER!!
For those of you who have worked on a flex auger, you’ll know, they are probably one of the simplest pieces of equipment in a barn. Therefore, when I received a call one day, I was informed that an auger would not run. I had complete confidence that I could talk him through how to get it running, or at the very least, determine what the issue was to send out the appropriate parts.
When a flex auger motor doesn’t run, what’s the first thing to check? If you said “Is there power at the motor?” then you get a gold star. I had him check that, and sure enough we had power to the control box on the side of the motor. So then it proceeded as follows:Q. Is there feed plugged up in the control box that is hitting the switch?
Q.Will the motor run if you override the relay?
Q.There can only be one thing left, the thermal reset has tripped. All you need to do is push the button for the reset.
A. I have, nothing changes.
Q. Did you push it hard? Sometimes they take more than you think to reset them.
A. Trust me, if I push any harder I will break something. You need to get out here right away, my pigs have not eaten since yesterday, and I do not have time to mess around with this.
So I hit the road, ‘cause you know--he’s only a 6.5 hour drive away, and I had nothing better to do. Once I got to the barn, I showered in, and then proceeded to do what Reagan did with the Russians. Trust but verify.
I went to push the reset button, and lo and behold the motor started immediately! I turned around with a “are you kidding me” look on my face, and heard, “OH! THAT reset button.” He had apparently been pushing on the rubber piece on the back of the motor that covers the shaft. I had no words.
Back in the day, I installed a lot of Cablevey systems. They offered multiple features that customers enjoyed. The drive unit, had a clear plastic cover, which allowed you to see what was happening without needing to remove the cover. One customer had an issue of breaking them continuously. He asked me one day, “Do they make a clear metal cover?” (read that again). I managed to keep a straight face and inform him that, although it was not currently available, I would let him know as soon as they invented that
Everyone desires a warranty to cover every break, right? Unfortunately, warranties do not always cover items that break from obvious abuse/misuse. I think we can all agree that’s fair. So when a fan blade with several broken fins was placed in front of me, I was told that it needed to be replaced under warranty. Naturally, I had to ask a few questions first.
Was anything in the fan that could have caused this? Foreign objects, ice, anything that got stuck in there?
When the answer was “No, it didn’t get stuck.” I had to ask, “What do you mean it didn’t get STUCK?”
“Well, I got it out”.
“Got what out?”
“The broom I was using to chase the cat out of the fan”.
Guess what? Two items not covered under warranty are feline activity and witch’s transportation (it’s in the fine print).
Keep Your Boots On
Now, just so you don’t think I am exempt from bonehead moves; this one is something I did to myself. I had been working on setting up and testing a large multi-ration feed system all day. There was quite a bit of troubleshooting and fixes. There were wires in the wrong place, both inside the control panel and the field wiring. After over 10 hours, and countless miles of walking back and forth from the office to the feed room, my feet were starting to bother me. I figured, what the heck, it’s a new/clean barn, I don’t need to slip these rubber boots on and off anymore. I headed back to the feed panel, moved to another wire, when all of a sudden, I was doing the electric shock mambo. I stood there confused for a minute. How could this be happening? I had touched hundreds of those wires already throughout the day, never receiving a shock. Plus, the wire was a neutral on a low voltage system (24AC).
I couldn’t believe this was happening. I grabbed the wire again. As you would assume, I did another dance. As much as it pains me to admit this, I touched that same wire two more times before I took a step back and thought it through. Most of you are ahead of me on this, but it finally dawned on me.
I was no longer wearing rubber boots, which meant I was no longer insulated!!
Yet, I still had one question left. Why was I able to get such a shock from 24 volts? Especially by a neutral wire to boot! First lesson learned that day? When a transformer changes 120V to 24V it actually leaves the hot wire alone and brings the neutral up to 96 volts. Second lesson learned? When your mind is already fried, call it a day before you fry your body.