Well... There is the problem...

in The Man Cave2 years ago

A week or so back we had complaints from a handful of people saying their power was blinking. We spent 2 days looking for that needle in the haystack, yet during those two days we had no blinks. The first day we spent looking for obvious stuff and the second was getting that fin tooth comb out and seeing what we could find. Then we found the issue... or should I say issues


We ended up finding a 3 poles in a farmer’s freshly planted field that had 15 of these dead-end insulators that need changed in a bad way. Up close it is easy to identify, but with a freshly disced and planted field plus a good amount of rain... getting out to these poles wasn’t in the cards the first day. We look for the obvious first. This is the quickest way to solve the problem. Then we go to every pole and glass them over, (use binoculars) this is still faster than climbing or flying a bucket up to every pole.


The weirdest thing is, after finding these 15 failed insulators (they looked very bad and were assumed to have failed) we didn’t have any complaints since then.... and it had rained and the wind had blown but the lights didn’t blink... I guess the recipe wasn’t exactly right for the power to blink... weird... just weird?!?!? But... that is a good thing because due to other outages and jobs we weren’t able to get to it for a week or so. Granted if we would have got any calls those jobs would have been pushed back. With the silence, we were really confused... Trying to get big trucks into the soaked, freshly disced and planted field, not fun. We could have climbed the poles and done it out of the hooks but nobody was calling in and complaining about the lights blinking. So...


Sorry no actions picks this time. My hand were full of various hotsticks and didn’t have the time to sneak some shots in. Plus it was freezing and I had gloves on, gloves and smartphones don’t really work. I was able to snap these few photos when we first got in the air and got to looking at things. Getting a plan of attack

Just to compare, here is a photo of a good insulator and a bad insulator... Some of the ones we have ran across done have any skirts on them at all. It’s just a fiberglass rod.


We have another handful of them to change but we can open and close the line in a few different places and de-energize this pole that has 6 insulators on it. That way the apprentice can spend some time in the hooks. The other 2 poles will be hot on the back side so ya, Journeyman Lineman are gonna have to handle those.

This isn’t a photo from this day but I figured I would share it anyway just to give an idea of how these insulators are changed. A sling around the pole or arm, An insulating link stick, a hoist, and a hot stick to operate the handle of the hoist. Getting the cotter keys and pins out is always fun... especially at the end of an 8 foot hot stick. Well that just gave me an idea for my next post. A tool of the trade post is coming soon!!



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Is that some kind of corrosion that is eating away at the insulator?

We have been chasing this brand of insulator all over our system. We believe it had something to do with the type of polymer they used. They don't last like the others. I think it's a combo of UV, dirt, mist from chemicals sprayed on the fields... or just a poorly made product.

We had guys document a few poles with these insulators on them and they were in good shape. The next year an outage happened and those insulators were worse than the ones pictured.

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The insulators you show here look as though they have been there for many years.
I read your answer to why this occurs and I hope the condition they are in is due to the poor quality of the product and not the other reasons you mention. If those other factors are the reason for the poor condition of the insulator, can you imagine what these factors are doing to people?

I am right there with ya, I hope it just a piss poor product. Here take a look at these we just got down yesterday. The one looks like it got super hot and started melting.


It must be covid... if not then it’s aliens. 🤔🤔

That cornavirus thing, as I like to call it, sure does have widespread effects. Many folks are out of work because of it. Just the opposite seems to be happening in your case, as the virus melts the insulators and need a lineman to fix them.

LOL! Funny thing is, there is a form of corona that does destroy insulators. Corona Discharge Guys I worked with spent a couple months changing out glass insulators for these new polymer insulators. This was done on a 500,000 volt line... lets just say they didn't hold up to the intense amount of corona discharge that happens on the 500,000 line. When I was cool and did helicopter work, I saw first had what that stuff can do to steel. Linking the 2 insulators together is a steel "ball and socket" style joint. I saw the steel shaft with the ball on the end shrink to the diameter of less than my pinky. The original size was bigger than my thumb. It was NUTS!!!

The power of high voltage lines is scary. Thanks for the link. After taking a look and reading this. {. A corona occurs at locations where the strength of the electric field (potential gradient) around a conductor exceeds the dielectric strength of the air. It is often seen as a bluish glow in the air adjacent to pointed metal conductors carrying high voltages, and emits light by the same property as a gas discharge lamp.

Now I totally understand, NOT. 😁🤷‍♂️

LOL - It should say "an electric arc occurs" It jumps from one conductive material to another. The insulating properties of the air can no longer stop it and it transfers to the other object.

I have always wanted to build a tesla coil... they look fun 😉

That was a crazy video. Your idea of fun is a hell of a lot different than mine.

Even when the nut job jumped, the electricity traveled from his feet to the ground.

That looks about as fun as hitting my thumb with a hammer.
Each to their own, and if you ever do build one of those death-defying contraptions, don't let the wife see you playing around with it.