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Electrician Wanted
22 September 2008


Outlet I need an electrician.  That's not surprising because electrical work is usually not considered do-it-yourself type work.  Most electrical work requires a permit and a licensed electrician.  If you know what you're doing though, and you get an electrician that is willing to work with you, then there's a lot you can do yourself.

I can do most household wiring myself.  When wiring the barn I hired an electrician to pull the permit, inspect all my work and do the parts I wasn't comfortable with.  Between a couple good reference manuals, having seen it all done before and asking the electrician a zillion questions, I managed to do most of the work myself.  All I did is pull the wires and install all the outlets and switches but that was easily 90% of the work.

Even something seemingly simple like pulling the wires through the walls can be surprisingly difficult.  Not only is it actually hard, physical labor, there are also a million little code items you have to be aware of.  For example, how many outlets can go on a single 20 amp breaker?  What gauge wire should be used?  When drilling through a stud, how large can the hole be before it has to be reinforced?  When is it necessary to use a GFCI outlet?  How about an AFCI outlet?  With a subpanel, is it necessary to separate the ground and neutral wires?  Is it really necessary to shut off the power even if just making some minor adjustments?

Ok, that last one I was smart enough to do on my own.  Actually I managed to figure out answers to all of my questions.  Some parts were a little more difficult than others but whenever I couldn't find answers in my book or online, a quick call or visit from the electrician always provided a solution.

The barn has been wired and working great for quite some time now.  There are plenty of outlets for all my tools and I still enjoy turning on the lights at night just because I can.  I even planned ahead and pulled the wires for my new coffee pulper (kind of).  I thought that all I'd have to do is plug in the pulper and I'd be ready to go.  Unfortunately I have realized that I once again need the help of an electrician.

These are the spec plates for the coffee pulper's two electric motors.

Apparently I don't need just any old electrician, I need some kind of fancy, super smart, wizard-like electrical engineer with expertise in Kona coffee pulpers.  The coffee pulper is run by two large electric motors.  Large electric motors like that use separate electromagnetic protection to start them up and shut them down if they're overloaded.  It's all fairly standard but, apparently, none of the electricians on the island have a clue.

I've spoken with five different electricians so far, including the local Siemens distributor, but none of them could help.  The modification I need to make is fairly straight forward.  I think I know how to do it myself, I just want to make sure.  When I explain the changes I want to make, the electricians admit ignorance and refuse to offer any advice.  The only advice I've received so far is "talk to the guy down the road, he might know how to do this."

There are a ton of coffee farms, machine shops and industrial buildings on the island with all sorts of large electric motors.  Surely there must be someone on the island that knows how to wire these things.  I just can't find that person.

Below is a picture of the control box in question.  All I really need is a pinout diagram of the Siemens gizmos.  The local electricians couldn't even tell me what the gizmos are officially called.  We can't even find a model number anywhere.  I don't need vague ideas of how the box works, I need specific details of what wires go where.  So if you're a super brilliant electrician and you have all the answers, I'd appreciate an email.

If you're not an electrician then just sit tight and don't worry, we still have plenty of fresh Kona coffee ready to be shipped.  I've borrowed the neighbor's pulper once already and I can again if necessary.  Hopefully that won't be necessary though, I'll get this thing figured out eventually.

UPDATE:  Thanks to the help of a friend, I think I have my electrical issues all figured out.  See next week's post for more info.


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