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The Prettiest Blue Arc I Ever Saw

Three of us took our 100’ bucket to help the crew from Leland do a project in north central N.C.

The job was to replace polymer dead-end insulators of a certain brand with a different brand. The company had experienced several catastrophic failures due to corona issues on 230kv dead ends. This line was all steel poles and a double circuit, both of which were hot.

The poles were self-supporting, and the dead ends were on arms. We had four buckets, an 85-footer, two 100-footers, and a rented 125-footer. All were LLBH rated. We barehanded the wire and had one bucket work the pole, “dead” side. There was quite a bit of static on the “dead” side. 

Emmanuel went up in our bucket to catch the pole side on the top phase. He had to go up between the two circuits due to the topography. I would usually slap the steel with my bare hand (no gloves, safety violation) to alleviate getting bit by static. Emmanuel decided to reach out cautiously to the steel arm to put the sling around it.

You heard the arc from the ground, I was watching because that was my job. He drew an arc at least fifteen inches long. It was a thin, brilliant blue color straight to his finger. Thats why I always worked hot transmission structures without gloves if I could. It didn’t get you as much. 

We completed the project on time with no injuries or issues, except for the back glass in the supervisor’s pickup truck. My other coworker took it out on the first day by throwing an insulator into the truck, a little too hard.

Dick Weaver – Retired Lineman


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