Short Circuits

Short Circuits

Everyone makes mistakes. Some are just funnier than others.






Captain Ernie

One day my boss and a fellow electrician, “Captain Ernie,” set out to replace a 20-hp motor on the roof of a round cannery building. The pair ran a rope across the roof — ground to ground on each side of the building — and hooked one end to the new motor and the other to a forklift. They proceeded to raise the motor off the ground and up to the roof via the forklift.

All went well with the new motor installation until it was time to dispose of the previous motor. Before my boss could intervene, Ernie decided the best way to get the old motor off the roof was to tie a rope around it, and kick it over the edge.

As the motor shot to the ground, quickly gaining full velocity, Ernie held onto the rope for dear life. Although he was lucky enough to escape being pulled over the edge, he did suffer some pretty good rope burns before he was able to let go. After this little event, we heard he had trouble finding shirts with sleeves long enough to fit his extra long arms.

Johnny M. Jones
Albany, Ore.

Smokey the Electrician

I was a highly qualified shipboard Navy electrician who had just started my first shore assignment in Washington, D.C. My first wiring job was a simple ballast replacement project — naturally, right in front of our shop. I went to the shelf, grabbed a 120V ballast, and popped it in. It worked great for about 15 seconds, until the smoke eventually obscured the bright light. You see, the electrical menu on ships is pretty limited. Lighting is 120V, and motors are 450V. My initiation into the world of 277V lighting systems proved to be a very effective lesson. Plus, it took me almost six months to lose the nickname “Smokey”!

Timothy McGovern
Garwood, N.J.

Illustrations by Clint Metcalf

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