May 6, 2009

A work party was planned for Saturday and we were scheduled to meet at the gate at 9 am for the trip up the hill but just about everybody without exception was ahead of schedule. There were ten participants as follows: Ray Fletcher, KB7VMS; Ray McCaw, KB7OPQ (licensed electrician); Mike Reid, N7NEW; Kirk Reid with son Austin Reid (Mike & Kirk - Track hoe Operators); Bob Amos, WA7HTJ; John Hokenson, WA7NLD (in charge of food & cooking) ; Lee Dully, KD7WGN; Mark Hagestad, K7RZ; and Barry Simpson, WA7HJR.

We had marked the estimated route of the problem cable with a borrowed cable tracer, followed up by a trip last Thursday with the professional cable locator (from “Call Before You Dig Folks”) We had a previous TDR reading indicating the problem was likely 142 feet out from our service panel so that is where we started the digging. Very shortly after the digging began one of the hydraulic lines on Kirk's Track Hoe sprung a leak making a bit of a mess with hydraulic fluid catching a couple people by surprise! He was able to solve this problem by robbing a hose from a part of the machine that was not being used on this job. The repairs probably took about 30 minutes to perform. When we got down to the wires we did not find a problem there but moved about 6 feet to the plus side of that mark and did locate a previous wire repair where a short section of wire had been added in and there was a splice on each end of the added wire. This was likely where our cable had been dug up by a backhoe 20+ years ago and then patched. We ended up cutting a 6 foot section out on all three lines. We performed an autopsy on the cut out wire and the six splices and determined that there was no problem in this area! Ray (OPQ) and Ray (VMS) did some continuity and resistance checks on the remaining buried wire and determine the problem was still down the line somewhere.

It was decided to continue digging following the wire path heading towards our building. Approx. 30 feet towards our building from where the original mark (142 feet) was and the digging had begun the problem was found. As the dirt in that area was being removed one of the wires kind of popped up when the weight of the dirt was taken off of it. Further investigation by hand with a small shovel revealed there was another severed wire and also a slight bit of jacket damage to one of three wires for another site that shared the same ditch. The two severed wires were our two hot wires and our neutral wire was ok. It appeared a rock had damaged the jacket on the cables and probably the wire itself and allowed the corrosion process to begin and things deteriorated from there.
We contacted the other site owner to advise him of this damaged jacket on his neutral wire. He drove up to the site and looked over the damage to his wire. Since it was the weekend, he has to wait until the following Monday to make arrangements to have it repaired. We would have performed the repair had we been able to acquire the right size crimp slices, a few feet of the right size wire which was different than ours, and the proper heat-shrink tubing. The only damage to his wire was the fact the jacket was breached and allowed moisture to get in there and possibly start some corrosion, etc. The ditch is this area was left unfilled and covered up with logs until he is able to have it repaired probably in a few days.
Once the broken wires were located a new 40 ft section of the original wire was spliced in replacing all three wires. This process actually reduced our splice count by three due to the way it was done. The original 2-3 foot added in section was eliminated. Our temporary power line was shut down and the original wires in our service panel were re-terminated and power was then restored. Everything checked out with the two hot legs measuring 121.5 - 122 volts each. All systems were turned back on and we were back in business.
The overall length of the actual digging was probably about 50 feet or so. Approx. 1/3 of the length from the transformer vault to our building so it could have easily been a lot more work.
There was plenty of food available throughout the day beginning with morning coffee or hot chocolate and several varieties of pastries / cookies, and then on to Hot Dogs and Hamburgers with all the trimmings, numerous varieties of chips, sodas and water. We probably could have gone another whole day and not run short on anything!
The cost of this repair operation was about $750.00. We had already obtained most of the supplies needed for this repair for the previous work party but did have to acquire a few additional additional items.
In the photo's below left to right: (1) Bob Amos, WA7HTJ; Ray Fletcher, KB7VMS; Austin Reed, Kirk Reed, Mark Hagestad, K7RZ; Ray McCaw, KB7OPQ; John Hokenson, WA7NLD; and Mike Reid. N7NEW (2) John Hokenson, WA7NLD/Chef (3) Monty dog (owner Lee Dully) guarding the area (4) Ray Fletcher, KB7VMS; Lee Dully, KD7WGN; Monty dog.
Second Row: (1) Austin Reid, Kirk Reid (2) Mike Reid, N7NEW; John Hokenson, WA7NLD/Chef; Ray McCaw, KB7OPQ; Lee Dully, KD7WGN; Mark Hagestad, K7RZ; Ray Fletcher KB7VMS- (in ditch; Kirk Reid, Bob Amos, WA7HTJ); Austin Reid (3) Ray McCaw, KB7OPQ; Ray Fletcher, KB7VMS; Bob Amos, WA7HTJ; Mark Hagestad, K7RZ; Kirk Reid, Mike Reid, N7NEW; John Hokenson, WA7NLD/Chef; Lee Dully, KD7WGN. (4) Ray McCaw, KB7OPQ; Bob Amos, WA7HTJ; John Hokenson, WA7NLD/Chef; Mike Reid, N7NEW; Lee Dully, KD7WGN.
Third Row: (1) Ray Fletcher, KB7VMS; (front); Ray McCaw, KB7OPQ; (back) (2) Mike Reid, N7NEW; Ray McCaw.KB7OPQ; (3) (back) Kirk Reid, Mike Reid, N7NEW; Mark Hagestad, K7RZ; John Hokenson, WA7NLD/Chef; Lee Dully, KD7WGN; Ray McCaw, KB7OPQ; (front) Bob Amos, WA7HTJ; Ray Fletcher, KB7VMS; (4) Ray Fletcher, KB7VMS; Bob Amos, WA7HTJ; Mike Reid, N7NEW.
Fourth Row: (1) Overall area after fill in (2) John's kitchen & lunch area (3) wire end (4) wire end
Fifth Row: (1) wire end; (2) Splice Area; (3) Splice Area; (4) Mark Hagestad, K7RZ; Ray Fletcher, KB7VMS; Bob Amos, WA7HTJ (in ditch); Kirk Reid (in Track Hoe)[This photo by Lee Dully, KD7WGN].

Puget Sound RTTY Repeater Group