Sometimes the Project Picks You

I had quickly pulled all of the receptacles to tackle later, but stumbled into this little gem just before I left for the week.

<sarcasm> Gosh, I have no idea why electrical at this end of the house is wonky. </sarcasm>

Count the number electrical issues this single modern receptacle:

  • That corroded (1) wire is meant to be the ground wire for the 14/2 cable.
  • It’s connected to the push-in neutral (2) side of the receptacle.
  • It’s aluminum, into a modern copper-receptacle (3).
  • There’s a neutral wire not connected (4).
  • There’s a hot (black) wire that’s connected to the grounding bus (5) for the receptacle.

At least the wires that I can see are routed the correct way round the terminals.

I think I have my Friday project selected.

AMT – The Program So Far

I’ve found that, apart from lectures which include the entire class and comprise two to three hours per day, that all lab-time is effectively self-guided. Well, it’s not self-guided, per se, but guided by you and your lab partner, which is critical to learning. You can’t do it alone, you can’t do anything alone in life, but I digress.

Back to lab partners for a moment — it would be nice if we had more than just a single lab partner, but in the present scenario we find ourselves in, it’s not possible to have learning groups of three or four students sharing knowledge and learnings.

Right, so self-directed labs: Yes, there are certain things that you’ll need to do and demonstrate understanding of concepts, and the instructors do have a general roadmap for learning, but I’ve found that it seems very much self-guided.

No, you won’t be mucking about on airframes or in engines or turbines* until you obtain the exposure to basic concepts. As your experience grows, additional opportunities for learning will present themselves.

So, no, there aren’t any collective labs that need to be accomplished by the class as a whole, but individually, you’ll be exploring each of the labs.

I have found that after I’d spent what must have been a few hours trying to interpret a particular chart — to which we didn’t have any exposure or understanding of (the concept seems to have been to challenge the learner to see how they may interpret it, not knowing how it’s used, nor what it’s called), things rather clicked into place when I realized that I was horribly over-interpreting its enormous amount of information, but that we only needed one tiny bit of its figures.

Also, in another diagram, the question presented was, “How many miles per gallon will the plane get at 7500′, an RPM of 2600, and a ground speed of 172 MPH?” It seemed a non sequitur — asking for miles per gallon? And ground speed? For an airplane? Obviously I was painfully over-analyzing it.

Look at the basics! I have a lifetime of knowledge and experience that seems to be something of an impediment. But they haven’t described in lectures for learners new to the concept of aviation that we use airspeed for aircraft, not ground speed. What do new students know? Ground speed. MPH and KPH.

* I’m rather looking forward to getting some hands-on with both radials and turbines to run them, tear them down and rebuild them, and run them some more.

Electrical-fire waiting to happen…

Turned on the power to all of the circuits in the house and was seeing some strange behavior in a couple of places.

Porch light didn’t work. Wasn’t just a burnt-out bulb. Lower priority. I’ll get to it when I can.

The yard lamp (flood lamp) didn’t work. No idea if it’s a failed sodium bulb, which I’ll eventually replace with an LED. Its receptacle at the base of the pole was a GFI-variety that had no power to it. Hmm… higher priorities, but seeing both lights out suggests that the switches to each of them may be an issue.

Higher priority, though, is to get power to the outlets in the house. Spot-checked a few outlets in the house and discovered that all of the receptacles in the main living room were, uh, rather odd.

Typically, in North America, you’d see about 120VAC on a household receptacle. And I did see the expected 120VAC… on one outlet, then its other outlet in the same receptacle was rather representative of the rest of the receptacles in the living space.

Instead of the expected 120VAC, it was… 8VAC. Huh?

Another receptacle registered about 15VAC.

Okay, now it’s getting damned odd…

Seven or eight receptacles in the main living room were horribly (dangerously) under-voltage. After I threw all the breakers then removed all of the outlet and switch covers in the living room, I discovered an omen… a bad omen…

Hmm… that’s a red wire-nut… which would be rated for use on up to four 10-gauge wires on a 20-amp circuit. And it’s binding together only three (!) 14-gauge (!!) aluminum (!!!) wires. And it’s over-effing heated to the point that it’s melted.

The only way to overheat a circuit is to draw more than 80% of its rated capacity for a prolonged period of time — more than a few minutes. I’d wager that the previous owner (occupants?) had multiple electric space heaters plugged in round the room that they ran constantly. And, seeing the kludge of cobbled-together electrical add-ons, they were probably chasing problems that were entirely of their own creation.

I’ll just plan on putting in new receptacles and just replace the wiring with some proper 12/2 cable to all of the points known to be bad.

Dear God, I just had a realization — knowing that the previous owners cobbled things together, it’s occurred to me that the entire circuit is very possibly not connected to a breaker at all. I certainly hope it’s not as bad as I image it to be.

It’ll have to wait until next Friday when I can get out there again and dig into it.

Son of a…

Reminds me of something that I saw in one of the data centers I managed several years ago where teams expected a 20A circuit to have 20A of load all the time. This is what happens when you run a 20A circuit regularly between 16 and 20A.