Wear your safety glasses, ya never know and it really stings


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Life in the big leagues of lighting shops, or an exciting day in the industry.

Fun 16 hour day at work today. Kind of day that you know you are doing something good but a little more planning would with you involved would also be nice.

Completed 17 three circuit rope light to stage pin each adaptors today with vulcanized line splices that was a mind game in which wire to which yesterday. Seems that the black wire on rope light cords is neutral. Blue White and Grey are hots. Figured that out 5 fanouts into the project. Than it was a game because the cords coming off the splice was 15mm Euro Cable. So I had to adapt from 18ga 4-Wire to 14ga three wire given the grounds became a strain relief inside the splice. Brown on the Euro cable to white, gray, blue on the rope light cable. Blue on the Euro tied into the Black of the rope light. Not hard? That’s after being interrupted to get stuff or answer questions every 15 minutes all day long. Considering the project was announced yesterday afternoon, a 11 hour turn around for two people was not that bad. I’m now out of #8 cap splices, rubberized electrical tape, friction tape and adhesive lined shrink tube, 14ga nylon butt splices, half way out of 12 to 14ga adapting butt splices and about out of Slip plugs, but hopefully I won’t need any for the rest of the week. (Fingers crossed and awaiting the other shoe to drop.) The 51 plugs at least I knew about and wire in stock and ready. Completed them just as the tour truck was getting ready to close it’s doors. Unfortunately the rest of the rope light plugs and end caps are missing... They are going to have to catch up with the tour.

Than this afternoon for another show leaving today which I did not know about, 84 Color Blast fixtures showed up with 6 controllers for them. None of them had XLR plugs nor the controllers had receptacles, power cords or any holes punched for them. Gee, this show is leaving today and the person that bought the fixtures comes a looking to see what I have in stock after the fixtures arrive. Luckily between the electronics department and mine we had enough XLR plugs given some were used. The electronics department had to use the new style of Neutrik XLR which they hate and made me laugh at them very much until I was pulled into the project to help punch the controller panels for the female receptacles. “Brian, what are you doing?” The Executive in charge of the screwed up show asked? “I’m showing the electronics department how to solder”. Was my response that received rave grumbles amongst the tech people. I’m the barbarian electrician when I visit that room, they call me in for stuck screws on Whole Hogs when all else fails or to extract stripped set screws from dichroic filters, and nothing else. The electrical repair and electronic repair departments don’t cross each others doorway without suspicion. Seeing me in the electronics room is a really bad sign but I had to train the soldering people how to use the new XLR Plugs than get into the hole punching. Turns out that for 16 gauge three wire cable feeding the fixtures, the new style XLR plug is superior to the old style which would not grip the jacket well at all. It was also faster to install them they learned when they ran out of the new style. Once I got back to my world and 16 panel mount XLR per unit on very cheap and hard to to drill frames for the controllers, due to the fact that none of the walls in the 12" control box were welded or bracketed, 288 holes later that parts complete. Drill into one side of the thin walled panel and it bends out of shape and it was too large to clamp well into the vise but with a quick jig it was complete.. Found out my dad’s tri-square was also peed on by my cat when he marked his territory in my tool bag over the weekend. Made aligning the panel mount plugs interesting. Cat pee rusts steel really fast. 84 male XLR Plugs and 90 panel mount female plugs later, I’m about out of stock and was lucky to have that many without notice. You bet this show is paying for them, what kind of crap is that to get fixtures without mentioning that by the way we might need plugs. Luckily with 90 fluorescents - see below looming over my head, two shows worth of spares to pull and a few grand worth of lamps and parts to buy yet before shipping hours closed for the afternoon, I did not have to help wire the fixtures. They snagged up my assistant for the rest of the day however between that and the moving lights and Leko departments in need of her.

So oh’ by the way, these 84 Color Blasts also need safety cables. I keep at least 100 safety cables in stock for emergencies and resale but that’s a bit stretching the idea that “what’ you bought all these fixtures and did not bother also buying clamps or safety cables for them?” If they were not LED I wonder if they would have thought of lamps also. Them little details in life and I’m going to strangle the buyer that did it to me in the morning. Because also for that same leaving tonight at 12:30 AM show, they needed 54 S-4 PAR fixtures that were individual and taken off lamp bars. All the rest of the around 800 or 1,200 S-4 Par fixtures are already on shows so they had to strip lamp bars for them. Means they all need C-Clamps and safety cables also, and gee I did not have any reserve stock left in safety cables to give them. We mount the safety cable loop thru the yoke of fixtures thus they had to not only take off clamps from other lights but had to take apart the yoke to get the safety cable. 1/6 of the cans have the lamp bar’s safety cable but after that it’s a challenge considering all the rest of the gear in the shop is out on shows or leaving before the end of the week. Swiping clamps and safety cables where ever they lurked became a challenge at the end for the entire shop. All the half cheeseboroughs were already taken up by the Color Blasts - the Leko department had to de-clamp Mole Lights and other fixtures to acquire enough, now they also had to strip C-Clamps off every other fixture left in the shop to make the PAR fixtures work when I was not given permission to give up my two case of 24 C-Clamp emergency stock. At least there is one less thing to restock. Worth it compared to the manhours involved in steeling parts? Good question.

There is a rheumier around Lighting Network that Mac 2000 Osram HMI 1200W/s lamps are not going to be shipped out of Europe until at best March. This means a run on the lamps early next year. I had 30 in stock that are new and decided to buy 30 more at $120.00 each to hopefully cover what’s needed. Blew thru 10 today and expect to blow thru another 10 next week when a tour comes back. In the morning I’ll have to buy another 20 to hopefully cover me for the next 3 or four months - just in case. GE/Dow Corning once decided to stop making PAR 64 lamps for a while at a time before the ETC S-4 Par came on the market to the extent it is now. Doesn’t matter the brand, Corning makes the glass part of the bulb for all but I think Ushio so there was a run on PAR 64 lamps that lasted about 6 months a few years back and prices for remaining stocks went up 50%. I can’t afford to have Mac 2K fixtures not up and running considering Koto the other manufacturer for the lamps was bought out by GE now and who knows if it’s producing the same lamp anymore, and the new Philips Mac 2K lamp sucks. Going to have to extra secret lock up the Mac 2K lamps to ensure no sales people sell them off if there is a run thus effectively screwing over the companies use of them. They would and if there is a shortage we would be screwed. I would be calling around to ma and pop dealers and paying list price for what’s left as I did with PAR 64 lamps...

Anyway, seems we also somehow ran out of 1Kw cyc light lamps so I had to buy a fresh case of 50, than 72 Pinspot lamps went out the door in resale. Than I also had to restock ten 1Kw BLZ/DZX Moonlight brand cyc light lamps, 20 of 375w HPL lamps, 575w HMI follow spot lamps, Kraft paper packaging tape which by minimum order required me to also restock gaffers tape for $1,200.00 in tape I did not plan to buy, and new style Socopex grounding rings at three bucks each for a hundred today. Spent overall about $10,000.00 in one hour and not even one of the orders was my otherwise daily McMaster Carr order. That comes in the morning when I figure out what other parts I’m short after a run to Menards for 90 hole plugs and 180 two screw cord strain reliefs for the main project of the week - still below. Plus hopefully I’ll be able to restock 100 Stage Pin plugs at about $3.00 each, and XLR plugs and panel mount receptacles at about $3.50 each for the same amount.

Plus I’m going to have to make a overnight AM delivery of 250 safety cables considering the emergency stock as of yesterday was mine much less I did not know about the needs for the PAR fixtures or even existence of a Color Blast fixture much less our impending delivery of them. Seems that the 90 fluorescent fixture project I’m working on, really I was today as it was my goal, at least after I was done buying things, anyway, it is now in need of safety cables also. Let’s see 90 fixtures that were bought and are to be mounted to truss instead of the ceiling as was mentioned to me about how to mount them when I made like 6 companies bid them out. Oh’ wait a minute, I had them rush out the bid for 6 fixtures that we might go with given a certain amount of lack of information about the bulb type, but than they changed to a completely different style of fixture and made four hours of doing bidding on fixtures a waste of time.

Does that mean now that there are new fixtures, perhaps you might also need to get some safety cables for them much less more J-Clamps to mount them given they are now truss not ceiling mounted? Nope. Mind you out of the 100 safety cables in stock, 150% of them went out with the other screwed up shows that left today, but there is no need to perhaps buy as many parts for a fixture as you need to get it usable now is there? Did I mention that the buyer for the fixtures is dead meat? Nobody bothered to tell me that the fluorescent fixtures might be needing safety cables or clamps yesterday when it became apparent

Luckily the 20 new Omni Light fixtures did not absolutely need a new lamp for them, I was able to convince the same mind you Executive that came asking for some really short and very odd 500w GX 9.5 based lamps I have never even heard of much less bid for or stock if I had any in stock - just today as they were getting ready for a show, that he could use another lamp. You would think, but than again I guess they also came without slip plugs, clamps and safety cables. 20 fixtures I can deal with needing that stuff, somewhere around 300 fixtures all needing stuff is a wee but stressing me out. Seems the 600w DYS lamp used on ray lights is only about 3/16" different in length and for a open faced flood fixture, that’s about acceptable. Ray light lamps we have by the hundred - too many old classic rock bands wanting their trusses full of ray lights not to have bins and bins full of the lamps waiting for their next use. That at least was a success considering this was the first time I had ever heard that the fixtures were coming in much less that they might need lamps needed for a show leaving today.

Speaking of notice, last I knew, I was waiting for an address to ship the lamp to be used for house fixtures also for the event as part of the 375 fluorescent lamps I’m buying. It was thus thought as of Friday I had all kinds of time to make the order yet, no rush. There was two weeks before the install, no worry or stress about getting the lamp order that was pending in too fast according to that same Executive person so busy on other things today. That was Friday. Got a really cool price, $0.99 for Ushio which are actually Sylvania lamps. Ushio it would seem sells but does not make their own fluorescent lamps yet, but for a 5,000°K T-8 lamp, that’s a good price no matter what the brand. They even held that price after the amount they bid was dropped in half given the more realistic count of what was needed and budget. Explain that to a vendor, yea you bidded out this price for this amount, can I still have that same price even though I’m only buying half of it? Happens all the time for me. Gets really frustrating, sort of like buying 1,800 feet of rope light than having to return it after the job is suddenly canceled. (Last Year about this time of year. What is it about the holidays for me at work? Does the world go insane?)
Monday, I found out that 90 fluorescent lighting fixtures arrived and they needed to be lamped, wired and leave by Friday. Instead of waiting for an address to ship the house lamps to we would deliver them with the rest of the gear and there would be a week on site to install all gear I now had to get ready on short notice instead of two weeks in the shop to work on it. On the fixtures that suddenly showed up, they now also being mounted to truss which was news to me since I needed to rig and safety them somehow at least. 90 pcs of 12x48" fixtureHmm, on Tomcat 12" x 10' truss end to end for 18 fixtures per row. Yea, this will be a challenge given at least Lekoland is now stealing all J-clamps from all fixtures to come up with 360 clamps for the fixtures that also now need to be painted silver by someone since I don’t have an assistant available.
Back to Monday, 375 lamps, that’s about a pallet of lamps, and you want it how soon so the fixtures are wired, rigged and lamped before Friday afternoon? Did I not early on specify that I needed three people and five days to wire the given fixtures? My sales rep was in New York, I’m in Chicago, hope it’s not too expensive or my rear will be the one reamed as usual for speedy shipping on heavy items in covering for someone else’s mistakes. 250 safety cables overnight, AM Delivery, na, I’m not going to hear about that now am I? 90 for the fluorescents that I did not know about, 50 to cover the Lekos that will be going out on last minute shows but had their safety cables removed, and another 100 for restock of emergency or idiot stock.

Here it is now that I opened my first box of fluorescent fixtures on Tuesday and they leave Friday. Mind you I spent the night working on them alone since my assistant was stripping PAR cans off lamp bars or getting other things ready for the show that was finally ready after midnight. Did I mention that there was 2 hours wasted in a full shop class today on truss ground support methods? Luckily both me and my assistant were able to finish working on our rope light project during it but that’s three hours of around 30 people that could have been stripping lamp bars for PAR cans, and I will have known about a dire need for safety cables and they would be available for my fluorescent fixture use in the morning instead of waiting a day to be able to assemble the fixtures otherwise ready. Lamps luckily arrived today - Ushio in buying them from Osram found a local Chicago hub with them in stock and they were here overnight considering the dire need. She, my assistant, and only other person helping in theory on the florescent lamp project also is crew chiefing her own show next week and won’t be around much Wed. Either because there are things she needs to do for it like do a take off from the lighting plot on what she needs to bring in gear to make it happen. 90 fluorescent lighting fixtures to drill for rigging, wire, lamp than pelletize alone yea, this aint going to happen in a standard day now is it?

After buying lamps in an attempt to keep one step ahead, I drilled mounting, safety holes and installed the strain reliefs for 36 lighting fixtures tonight until I ran out of time and parts. In the morning I’m headed to Menards for more strain reliefs than will continue. Me only having around 60 strain reliefs and the unknown 30 hole plugs that were also needed was my own fault. I knew I would be needing them, but given two weeks until I would be working on them, did not get any yet. Silly me, I should have expected that this week and not next week I would need to have them ready and in stock. Don’t know where I’m going to get 4 clamps per fixture from but I have a day. Safety cables for the fixtures won’t arrive until Thursday so I have an entire day to rape and pillage plus drill out and wire the fixtures. Can anyone imagine what my work area is going to be like with lots of road boxes full of stuff to repair plus 90 fluorescent fixtures that measure about 6"x14"x48" in size? 90 fixtures all lined up, wired and waiting for safety cables before they can be closed up and lamped. 90 fluorescent fixtures, it’s just not the type of thing I can even imagine at least until I do somewhere well over 100 architectural style drop lights at 18" each in the next coming weeks. I unloaded two pallets of fixtures tonight and there is something like 4 left to unload still sitting on the dock next to the lamps for me to grab.

Anyway, that’s what life in the pro world becomes at some point. No, you might not be shop ME and buyer, but it’s the same story everywhere. Imagine those days that are most fun and most of the hassle than multiply that by just about every day of the year. Unbelievable the pain in the rear and lack of planning on the part of the people that make the money, but for a job it’s an honest thing when you say “tech people are most happy when they are complaining.” Or you can gauge the happiness level by the volume of grumbling. Dagnamit, I must be really happy and suppose I am. I could have been one of the masses in pulling PAR cans off a lamp bar, instead I spent the day doing my own thing, spending someone else’s money - enough to buy a car, and figuring out how to than doing stuff that only I was qualified to be doing.

Or in theory qualified to do. I wear my safety glasses when using the saw but drilling with them on always seems a waste of time. My eyes are no closer than 36" from the project and well far enough away. Out of about 7 past eye injuries in the past 10 years, each with a sliver of steel going deep into the eye ball than rusting, never once was it from using the drill. I have what’s known as dry eyes, the eye balls are not moistened enough to clear away debree. Because of this I’m more prone to eye injuries in spite of 20/20 vision. I got lazy. You know that little note on all drill and drill bit packages about wearing safety glasses when drilling. I knew about them but never thought about it for a second. These fluorescent fixtures however required me to lean over just a bit too much while drilling a hole for a clamp. Them step type Uni-Bits even with cutting oil get really hot - stuff coming off them is even hotter than that from a normal drill bit thus the blue/brown color to the cuts, and for some reason some part of the frame for the light went flying. Hit me dead center in the left eye. A 1/16" x 1/8" scrap of it that I later plucked out from the eye ball. The more eye injuries you get, the less pain the eye ball feels. Hmm, is this something Halloween in nature? Way back when, I would feel the debree in the eye ball an it stung like you would not believe. Now after at least 6 hospital type incidents with such a thing I have already with tweezers plucked out my own sliver of metal from the eye ball just last year. This time the sliver did not dig in, it was easy to remove. That is after it burned a first degree burn into the center of the pupal. Usually, I’m hit on the iris and it’s cool enough not to burn in, just sharp enough to penetrate. This chunk of steel burned into the eye ball however. Even after removed a similar shape from under the lid, a white burnt eye ball flesh area was left at the center of the eye in a clear outline and shadow. Talking about that same left eye making it hard to find what’s scar tissue and what’s the actual sliver of meta as noticed by past emergency room people, that scar my eye is going to have in it’s center could be really bad. To the point of a small spot on it’s center that my eye focuses around and not a heck of a lot I can do about it. Safety glasses when drilling, who needs them. I now have a piece of gaffers tape over the entire eye. Was feeling fine for a long time as long as I now wore safety glasses to keep the wind out of the eye, but once I got home, what a stinging to it. Anyone have an eye injury? Ever have at least 7 of them in 10 years and even with safety glasses on at the time?

90 Fluorescent lighting fixtures to either finish wiring, much less take out of the boxes and drill than wire. All by the end of Thursday, and I’m wearing a gaffers tape patch over one eye now. Could go to the hospital, but besides the anti-fungal meds, there is not much they will be able to do, and I won’t be able to get the stuff done once on light duty and missing at least an hour while at the doctor. Besides it’s a burn not the rust from a sliver that will need the anit-fungel meds, there is not a lot that can be done anyway.

So there is a summing up of this week so far, what a way to start the week. An unbelievably huge amount of work yet to do, and either safety glasses on all day to keep wind from even walking from touching the burn, or gaffers tape covering one eye. What a week! Got to love this calling. When I think of the desk job I could have pushing papers for six figures a year verses having fun tinkering with things in the shop I just have to step back and say to myself, what a world. Wear them safety glasses by the way. Mine were hanging about 5 feet away from me and should have been on had I thought.

Now, that eye ball is just going to sting until it heals say a week from now. What a waste of time and pain for being stupid. Will it teach this old dog new tricks? Probably not. Safety glasses no matter how far away you are used to being from the drill is habit just as wearing ear plugs is a habit. Yea, it's really loud this jigsaw on steel plate, but I have only got 3 plates left to do... I'm one of them bone headed stupid types that frequently just holds his breath while in the paint booth, train yourself to wear proper protection if you want to take care of yourself. 10 years of eye injuries and every single doctor has commented that I was lucky that pin sized sliver of metal rusting in the eye ball did not destroy my vision. Play smart, even I might at this pint as long as I remember how much it stings and how stupid I feel with gaffers tape over an eye. Yar there!
Before I even start to read your post Ship, I just wanted to take the time to say Holy Crap. That's a friggin lot of writing.
I am pretty sure ship has the ability to hook up his brain to the keyboard and sin't telling anybody yet becasue he still has patents pending :)
It was a long night and I just typed some for about a half hour in Word Perfect than copie clicked it. Remember that over the past 10 years I have been typing data on lamps and their specs. In other words, for the last 10 years I have been practicing typing. When I'm awake and thinking as I write it's a blindingly fast streme of contiousness type typing.

Sorry about the long post. One of them posts that should have had a time limit on it because by today I don't know why I sat down and wrote any much less all of it. Just tired and winding down from a long day. Now I'm too tired to type much less be awake. Only correction is that Ushio does make their own fluorescent lamps. The shop manager in his mockup was using the wrong lamps. Something about 40w T-12 48" lamps in 32w T-8 fixtures. "Gee is that a bad thing?"

Anyway, I had a five person crew at times today and am now 1/3 of the way done. With any luck by late Friday night they will be all done. It's still just a mental blocking thing. I just can't figure or see myself wiring up 90 fixtures - six pallets of lighting fixtures. Just does not compute. Time for bed anyway the eye stings.

Good night.
We have a sign posted in our shop that say's: " You can walk with a wooden leg, you can chew with wooden teeth, but you cant see with a wooden eye." It's always a reminder for us to try our best to be safe. Unfortunatly there are sstill the boneheads, myself included, who dont always listen.
Good post right up until the eye stuff...I had to stop reading...I have sympathetic eyes as I call them ... reading about eye injuries makes my eyes tear up...*shudders*

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