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Saturday, November 19, 2011

More electrical adventures

My buddy, Paracynic and I changed out his old electrical entry panel for a new one. His house had cutting edge technology -of the 1960s. Let’s just say he got tired of trying to find old glass and cartridge fuses. He hated that system ever since he bought the house.

The entry panel is where the main power feed to the house gets split off to all the other electrical circuits. Changing one over isn’t a small job and my friend didn’t want to attempt it alone. It took a couple hours just to figure out what all the old circuits did and where all the wires went. Once we understood how everything was laid out, we went to the the building supply store to find modern replacements. Circuit breakers are a heck of a lot more convenient than glass fuses. When they do trip, all you have to so is flip them back. Finding glass fuses in a junk draw, while in the dark, is no fun at all.

We killed the main power to the house, tested to see that everything was truly off, then set to work. It’s a bit tedious. There are a lot of wires to keep track of, but with a bit labeling, it’s not all that hard. I’m a big fan of cordless bit drivers for all the screws involved. I’ve a nice Bosh bit driver that is small, powerful, and even has a built in LED light. We wore LED headlamps and that helped a lot. The work is well lit up and your hands are free.

We buttoned up the job in a little under 3 hours -not bad for a couple of amateurs. The wives showed up just as we were finished. My buddy’s wife was wondering if we finished the job or hadn’t started yet.

Too bad we didn’t a bit more time before the ladies showed up. We’d have turned all the lights off and lit the woodstove. Our wives would have found us sitting in the dark, drinking beer, and mumbling about waiting for parts to come from Pakistan.

Maybe it’s a good thing we didn’t get a chance to pull our little prank.



  1. Sixbear you may have this link but its right up your alley. lots of cool stuff.yesterdays post made me think of it.

  2. When I lived in Pennsylvania, I changed my box out and also ran new wires to the meter. Some day get me to tell you about pulling the meter and installing new wires in the rain. Sparks did fly and my screwdriver got shortened a bit.

  3. Gary: thanks for the link. I've seen it before but lost the bookmark.

    Dizzy: I'm happy to say, no sparks flew during this little adventure. (not that I haven't shortened a screwdriver in the past . . . )

  4. Once changed the meter base without letting the power company know. Meter reader asked what happened to the tag ? Told him that obviously someone must have cut it, couldn't have been me cuz I know's that there lectricity is dangerous stuff.
    He should have been there when I cut the incoming wires loose while they were live...
    Hooking them back up while live was a bit more time consuming and caution inducing though. If ya know the rules, ya can play da game.

  5. Spud: I noticed a lot of the times around here they don't even bother with putting new tags on anymore, so the meter guys have no way of knowing if you've bent the rules a bit.

    Thankfully, my buddy's house had a nice shutoff right where the power came in. No tag on that box either.