I suppose that I should not be telling tales about Sam, the way that I do, but he was such a character that he provided choice material for all kinds of stories. The one that I am about to relate, took place in the equipment storage yard, behind the Clifton Engineering Company office.
Our warehouse man had left a reel of bare, stranded copper wire on a flat bed truck so that it would be all ready for the crew, the next morning. During the night someone came in the yard, started up one of our winch trucks and loaded that thousand pounds of copper wire on to their truck and took off with it.
When it was discovered that the load of wire was missing, Sam, a couple of others, and I went out there to look for some kind of evidence concerning who the thieves might have been. There were foot prints in the loose sand, so many of them, in fact, that Sam commented, “It shouldn’t be any problem to identify the culprit, look at these NIKE foot prints”. Sure enough, there were tennis shoe foot prints all over the area. The problem was, the more we searched the more NIKE foot prints we found. Finally we got Sam cornered and made him show us the bottoms of his shoes, which solved the source of the prints, but not the identity of the thieves.
During the later years of Sam’s life he operated an Oil Cleaning Machine for the company. This machine was nothing more than a Cream Separator, the same as the ones used by dairymen to separate the cream from the fresh milk. The device was installed in an International Van whose engine was also connected, through a power-take off, to an alternating current generator.
Sam would take this machine to the customer’s property and filter their transformer or steam turbine oil without taking the equipment out of service. The system worked real well and did a good job of removing water and dirt from the oil. The filtering operation went along real well until, one Saturday forenoon Sam was filtering the oil from a large Substation Transformer that was in operation. He, for some unknown reason, climbed to the top of the transformer, removed the manhole cover and pushed a steel pipe down into the tank.
That pipe was normally used to siphon oil from a tank that was, otherwise inaccessible. No one could understand why a person would do such a thing, but then, no one else thought like Sam did. That pipe contacted the transformer’s tap changer which was energized at 132,000 volts and killed Sam instantly.