22 September 2008
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.