The Book - Bart Beck

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FALSE ECONOMY

A glaring example of the Corps misguided sense of economy was the size of the Primary Conductor Wire that was specified for the original installation at the K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base. Their Specs. called for #6 ACSR (Aluminum Conductor Steel Reinforced). I know of no Utility Company that would use wire that small for any type of installation operating at 7200/12500 volts. Before the bid letting I requested that the wire size be increased to, at least #4 and preferably #2 ACSR. The cost to install would be the same and the only increase in dollars would be the difference in the cost of the wire. I was told that #6 had ample current carrying capacity and they were going to stay with it.

It is true that #6 would more than carry the load but this voltage requires three Bell Insulators in a dead-end on a steel structure. Now, the manufacturers specified stringing tension for #6 wire is not enough to pull the dead-end bells out as they should be.

The Corps Engineers in Detroit persisted so we strung #6 and two years later we were given a contract to re-conductor the entire Base with #2 ACSR wire. How do you suppose the tax payers ever got their money out of those thousands of feet of #6 Aluminum wire that we took down? You might think that the cost for stringing #2 would still be only slightly more than the cost for #6. Not true, when the #6 was installed the system was dead, in fact there was no system; we were building it. There were no streets or buildings, no vehicular or pedestrian traffic and equipment could be driven any place that it was capable of going. Now the system is energized at 12,000 volts and service must be maintained, which means that all but a very small amount of the wire must be strung "hot". This procedure slows the process considerably and makes it much more hazardous, so the cost goes up and the tax payer gets the bill.

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