The above Ad will no longer appear after you Sign Up for Free!

Scary Wiring in Pageantland

Discussion in 'Stage Management and Facility Operations' started by cdub260, Mar 10, 2009.

  1. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

    Messages:
    1,304
    Likes Received:
    150
    Location:
    Southern California
    Recently I've been working on an upgrade to the Pageant's back stage work lights. I just finished phase two of the project. I'll tackle phase three next season. For this project I used a combination of new and existing conduit runs, ran all new wire, all the way back to the breaker panel and I replaced all the work light breakers. This, of course meant that I had to open up the panel and get inside. I had hoped that the only issue I would run into with this was having to wear my arc flash PPE.

    No such luck.:rolleyes:

    When I opened up the 60 year old panel, I found a wholly unorganized spaghetti mess of wires. In this mess were several green hots and one white wire used as a jumper to connect a green wire and a black wire to a breaker. Two breakers were cracked and I found the one and only legitimate branch circuit ground wire connected to a neutral buss.:wall:

    I ended up taking a couple of hours to neaten up the wiring and fix what issues I could. Obviously there's not a whole lot I can do about the green hots without starting another major rewiring project, as I'm not sure where they end up once they leave the panel. I'll save that one for another season, maybe make it a part of my off season maintenance this fall.

    The single most dangerous issue, I discovered completely by accident. I had a portable work light plugged into a wall receptacle near the panel. As I was redressing a bundle of wires my light went out. I figured I had simply blown a lamp, but as I was pulling my hand out of the panel, my light came back on. So I took a second look at that portion of the breaker panel. Thats when I discovered that the hot wire for that circuit was not actually connected to a breaker. It was merely touching the screw of a random circuit. This also enlightened me as to the cause of an equipment problem we've been having recently. We had been blowing a lot of lamps on our slide projectors. I'm not at liberty to say what we use them for, but they just happen to get plugged into the receptacle powered by this free roaming hot. Cause and effect maybe?

    Fortunately, with the reworking and cleaning up I had already done in the panel, I had an unused breaker that I was able to connect this wire to. The free roaming hot was a newer wire than most of the wiring in that panel, so it was obviously added by someone, and not recently, as I have held the ME position at the Pageant for close to a decade. The only reason I found it was that I was working on the panel and happened to stumble across it. That it went undiscovered for at least 10 years is troubling to me, though I had no way of knowing that there was a problem. I had only been informed of our projectors going through lamps a few days before I did my work on the electrical panel and had no reason to even suspect I had a problem. This was a problem that was costing the company money in blown lamps, but could very easily have cost much more, potentially resulting in a fire or even possibly killing someone, all because someone was too lazy to double check their work when making an addition to the building's electrical system.

    Now I would be curious to hear what kinds of issues other CB members have found in their venues, especially older venues, and what, if anything was done to address those issues.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2009
  2. DaveySimps

    DaveySimps CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

    Messages:
    2,815
    Likes Received:
    222
    Occupation:
    Performing Arts Center Manager
    Location:
    Macomb, MI
    Our building is only about 5 ½ years old, and we have had all kinds of electrical issues. The electrical contractor ran the feeder to our dimmer racks in the same conduits as the CAT 5 cable to our PathPort Nodes going to our FOH Catwalk. They used a normal household dimmer for the index strip lights used as work lights by our fly rail. I found that by attempting to dim it during our first tech, thus burning the palm of my hand. I am glad I found it that way, as opposed to in flames, as I did with our battery back up system last month, which was found to be under rated and mis-wired. Caused over $30,000 in damage. They also ran several empty6”conduits from the stage to the FOH mix position and to the control room for temporary cable and future installs. All 6 conduits had so many (unnecessary) elbows and bends that I could barely get a cat 5 and coax cable into a single 6” conduit 150’ long.

    Entertainment Technology literally had people out over 30 times for several days (and at times weeks) over the first 4 years of our operation. They reinstalled two new and different head ends to all of our raceways, and countless new nodes and firmware. I finally just found another problem with our raceways. All 6 different techs that they sent over the years to install new head ends on our raceways did not hook up the DMX convenience ports (a simple jumper cable once you know what to look for). When I tried for over a month to trouble shoot the issue with their tech support, they were useless. At several points, they even told me there was no way it could work like that. They did not even know their gear!

    We eventually had to sue both the electrical contractor, and our construction management company. Thankfully for others out there, the electrical contractor is now out of business. The Project Superintendent from our management company also lost his job (after working for the company for 25 years). What makes me VERY frustrated is that all of this passed inspection by the electrical inspector, our theatrical consultants (a very large and reputable national firm), and the vendors on site that commissioned out lighting system. Very frustrating!

    The list goes on, but I will stop my ranting here.

    ~Dave
     
  3. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

    Messages:
    1,304
    Likes Received:
    150
    Location:
    Southern California
    No, don't stop. This is exactly the sort of feedback I'm looking for in this thread.

    It sounds like you've been having worse issues with your relatively new facility than I have with my 60 or so year old venue. Your issues seem to be the result of incompetence and/or shoddy workmanship on the part of the contractors who built the space. Mine stem from the age of the structure and the sheer number of different people who have had their fingers in my systems over several decades.

    Keep posting these stories folks.
     
  4. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,159
    Likes Received:
    43
    Occupation:
    Teacher
    Location:
    Central Wisconsin
    It goes to show that finding a good, competent theatrical consultant and contractor to help you find good, competent contractors/sub contractors is important!!! And being cheap in the beginning will cost you more in the long run!
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice