View Full Version : Scrounging Successes and Nice People

10-09-2014, 11:33 PM
This will be a bit of a ramble, but bear with me-there is a point!:)
Our subdivision is about a hundred years old, and has evolved with time. The power lines are of varying age, and this spring our utility, Quebec Hydro, marked a lot of poles for replacement due to age. Nothing happened for months, then about six weeks ago, a contractor showed up with a trailer-load of poles and a pair of the slickest pole planting trucks I have ever seen. We are on a limestone plain and backhoes just dont work very well. These rigs had an air-rotary drill mounted on a boom, complete with a 17.5" button bit. It took about five minutes to drill a hole, and the poles were 14" to 16" on the butt, so they dropped in easily, and a bit of 3/4" minus crusher-run stone, packed with a vibrator, and the job was done. These guys were around for a few days, then nothing. About three weeks ago, a Quebec Hydro crew showed up, (two boom trucks,) told us the power would be off for up to two hours, and started replacing the 14,400 volt line on my street. Being nosey, I talked with the crew and it turns out that the policy of Q H is not to work on utility systems with old copper high voltage lines. They were pulling out #6 copper solid wire and replacing it with ACSR. I asked one of the linemen if I could get a bit of the scrap, since it made excellent stay rods in small copper boilers. Well he couldnt give me any, but I MIGHT find a bit in the ditch after they were gone. I found a neat coil of about 25 feet. He also told me that the old secondary feeds used #4 solid wire.
Today there was a "circus" in the next block-ten boom trucks and a special pulling unit. This time, they were replacing three blocks of HV and moving all the transformers to the new poles. I learned that the poles were as much as 53 years old, although they did not look too shabby. The lineman that I talked to also confirmed that all the secondary feeds were being replaced since they were solid copper. Again I made my request for a "bit" of #4 scrap for boiler stays, and again I might find something in the ditch, (not the same man, by the way.) This evening I recover a neat coil of 30 feet of #4 hanging on a friend's mail box. For the non-electricals, #6 is about 4mm and #4 is about 5mm, near as dammit.
My point is, these guys could have told me to take a hike because I was interrupting their work, but they didnt. Most people like to talk about, and explain, their work, and they are naturally friendly folk. The scroung was GREAT, since I have absolutely NO IDEA where I could buy copper of that size. Granted, I may die before I use the quantity that each of them gave me!

10-09-2014, 11:55 PM
Nice story, nice guys. I always like to talk to the tradesmen because I learn about areas other than my own and they're quite often interesting guys. When we moved into our present house (in Oklahoma) the gas company replaced the meter just because the old one was old. (Unfortunately nothing useful he could leave behind) But in talking about the state we'd just moved to and traditional rivalries with neighboring states he passed on a joke. Now around here the Texans like to think of themselves as better than Oklahomans, and the Okies, looking around only find the Arkansans to look down on.

So the story is the regional welding contest and it's come down to the two finalists from Arkansas and Oklahoma. The Oklahoman wins the contest handily but his competitor is a brave sport about it. After things have died down he comes up to his rival and asks for any bid of advice he might give. The Oklahoman says, "Well, I guess there was one thing I saw. I did notice that you dropped the arc when you changed rods."

Bob Fisher
10-10-2014, 01:39 PM
Our local city workers came by one day and pulled the street signs on the corner of my lot. I was informed upon asking that they do not meet reflectivity standards. The replacement signs look no different. They are Aluminum, about .090 thick, about 10in by 36in.i was told they are scrap, so I asked for them and found them on the lawn after they left. One of them has already been turn into the base for a clock dial.nice guys also and they appreciate someone taking an interest in Thier work it seems. Bob

Jon Heron
10-10-2014, 03:11 PM
Hi Duffy,
Excuse my ignorance but what does this mean?

it made excellent stay rods in small copper boilers.

10-10-2014, 03:31 PM
"Well, I guess there was one thing I saw. I did notice that you dropped the arc when you changed rods."

Not having done any welding, I don't understand the humor in this. My guess is that it's something like the lumberjack who won the felling contest by changing blades while the saw was still running?

10-10-2014, 05:40 PM
Not having done any welding, I don't understand the humor in this. My guess is that it's something like the lumberjack who won the felling contest by changing blades while the saw was still running?

Same joke, different trade. Funny thing, I was telling a joke to a group of mixed nationalities and a Chinese girl in the group said there was the same joke in China only set on a Chinese junk. That's a sailboat, not the same as that Grizzly lathe thread.

10-10-2014, 06:57 PM
Jon, stays are the bracing pins that are (usually,) silver soldered between the two sides of the water wall of a locomotive fire box, and/or between the flat ends of a boiler. It is considered best if they are the same metal as the boiler shell. Silicon bronze is often substituted as it is difficult to find copper rod of the required diameter and it is a bugger to machine. With copper, one method is to anneal it and form a rivet head on one end, (for the fire box side,) and thread the other end, (the cool, insulated side,) to accept a brass nut. When all assembled, the rivet head and nut end are either silver soldered, (considered best,) or "caulked" using ordinary soft solder, which acts to seal any leaks. This can be quite a job, since in a good-size locomotive there may be well over a hundred short stays in the sides, crown, and backhead of the fire box and, if the fire tubes are rolled into the heads of the boiler rather than silver soldered, there will be a bunch of longitudinal stays running the length of the boiler shell.
When this is all "done and dusted," then the boiler is hydraulically tested at twice intended working pressure, before it is allowed to be fired.

10-11-2014, 06:27 AM
Lucky you, Duffy.

About 20 years ago I was wiring an old building (originally a townhouse, converted to offices) for computer networking. One of the final tasks was to get the new digital telephone exchange wired in too. That required an upgrade to the incoming POTS telephone lines - we needed enough lines to run a hunting group. The upgrade was ordered, and the telephone compnay techs carried it out as requested. While they were doing it, we got to chatting, and I remarked that the 50-pair cable they were laying looked handy, with all those easily-identifiable pairs. Lo and behold, when they had finished, there was a 10m "offcut" of it left behind on the premises. I gave it to my father-in-law, who has used the wires for powering his model railway landscape ever since, and he still has some left!

Jon Heron
10-11-2014, 08:33 AM
Thanks for the explanation Duffy.

10-11-2014, 08:52 AM
Duffy: They sound like nice guys, typical Canadians.


10-11-2014, 05:15 PM
It can go wrong, the water company were putting a new 4" blue poly water pipe down the lane past my house, they were parking their excavators and stuff in my back yard, talked to one of the guys who saw me running a trench to my shop for a new cable to power my new secondhand plasma (gone now), said do you want some pipe to sleeve the cable, ok I said, went out, when I came back they had finished up and left, there was a bloody great heap of pipe in my garden, about 500 meters of the stuff!
I thought they had left it to be picked up later, it's still there
Mind, they abandoned a couple of excavator buckets under the pile that fit my old 3 ton Nissan so I suppose I did ok

10-13-2014, 08:44 AM
I found a four way traffic light(2 red/2 yellow flashers), to hang in my garage, but was missing one lens and gasket. I talked to the guys I know form the city but all of those type lights are on state trunk lines so the next time I saw someone I knew from the DOT I asked about those items. The explained that they used to be able to give stuff away but that policy changed and what was usable was stored and what was damged was to be scrapped. One day I found a brown paper bag with "Happy Birthday" written on it......to my surprise there were two lenses and some gaskets.
I try and help folks in similar ways when I can.

10-13-2014, 09:00 AM
It's great when stuff like that happens. By and large most people are OK, just regular stiffs trying to get through to the next day, no different than the rest of us. Many will bend the rules a bit in a harmless way if you ask nicely.

I once half jokingly commented to an acquaintance who worked for the public works department that one of those square cast steel storm drain covers with the square holes would make an awesome mini welding table. About two weeks later my phone rang and it was him telling me he was dropping by to visit. Showed up at my door with one of those covers that he grabbed from the scrap pile at the city dump.

It does, in fact, make a nice mini welding table!