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Sunday 16 September 2012


I’ve just got back from the eldest daughter’s house (Again) and on arriving there I was tasked with fitting a couple of dimmer switches. A simple task not really requiring much brainpower. Isolate the circuit, unwire the existing switch, replace with the dimmer switch, and reinstate the circuit. Job done.

Of course some would have it that I should, at vast expense have called in a qualified electrician. They would be wrong in their thinking. I actually hold a high voltage certificate that allows me to work with voltages over 1,000 volts. I had to obtain this in order to enter spaces and work upon machinery operating at 6.6 kV. (6,600V for the non technically minded).

The other qualification I had was that I’d worked on a class of ship that was not complemented for an Electrical Officer. I became that man. Alongside my other duties of looking after the main diesel generators, and the refrigeration plant. Being somewhat suspicious of a killing energy that can’t be seen I took extreme care to make sure that I followed the rules of “Isolate, test, test again, and work on it”. (Once I disobeyed my rules and touched a live circuit with 440V. Never again. It threw me six feet and I was probably unconscious for a minute or two).

Now to the crux of this post. Familiarity, adverse conditions, and sheer bad luck come into play. My outfit started to man the ships with electrical officers. Of course, us amateur electricians were told by these electrical officers that we had done a piss poor job. This pissed off most of us that had done the job, whilst holding down at least two other jobs (See above).

There was a problem with the control panel for the refrigeration rooms. The only way of sorting this out was for the electrical officer to switch of the power, open the door, and fiddle the door interlock controlling the main power switch to reinstate the power to enable fault finding to begin.

The sad part was that the ship  was rolling, the deck was oily, and oh dear, the lecky pitched headfast into the cubicle, striking his head on the 440V bus bars. And sadly that was the end of him..

Now you may say that I’m being disrespectful of the dead with the next part of the post.

After the body was removed from the vicinity it was realised that the body would have to be preserved until a post mortem could be carried out. That was the excuse for all the engineers to collectively define the initial problem and rectify it. The body needs to be preserved in a cool room. (Bye the way, never store the body in the deep freeze. Coroners will crucify you for that).

However I heard through the grapevine that the real cause for concern was that one of the refrigeration chambers was exceeding it’s set temperature. This was the “Beer Room”. Engineers can’t abide warm beer.

OK I’ll rot in hell if you wish. But I’ve heard this from multiple sources that I trust.

Moral of the story: You might be the expert, but circumstances can kick you up the backside without warning.