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Sherlock Ohms

Case of the Powerless Pump

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Tim
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Platinum
Looks can be deceiving
Tim   12/16/2011 6:29:20 AM
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Good job double checking something that your eyes and ears were telling you.  Sometimes it is good to take a step back and ask if what you are seeing is the whole situation.

Jennifer Campbell
User Rank
Gold
Re: Looks can be deceiving
Jennifer Campbell   12/16/2011 2:54:47 PM
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That's good advice Tim, and is generally the case on many of our Sherlock Ohms stories.

Noswad
User Rank
Gold
Re: Looks can be deceiving
Noswad   12/16/2011 4:16:57 PM
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Elementary my dear Watson.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Looks can be deceiving
Rob Spiegel   12/16/2011 5:14:46 PM
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Yes, good observation, Tim. Jennifer is right about how these Sherlock postings show some excellent deductive logic. It's not named "Sherlock" for nothing. What I find most impressive is that many of the solutions arise when the Sherlock involved refuses to make any assumptions.

Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Weird
Charles Murray   12/16/2011 5:21:27 PM
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My first reaction would have been that the breaker had gone haywire. Pump running backwards? It woudn't have crossed my mind.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Weird
Rob Spiegel   12/16/2011 5:24:38 PM
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I agree, Chuck. That's what makes these Sherlock so much fun. And it's always the super simple answer that wins -- like the magnet that isn’t magnetized or the resistor what was marked incorrectly.


William K.
User Rank
Platinum
The powerless pump
William K.   12/17/2011 8:19:48 AM
Actually, the pump being driven by flow was my initial guess. Of course, I have a bit of experience with controls for pumping systems.

I had an interesting diagnostics challenge a while back that involved a large pump driven by a large motor. It was in a hydraulic power unit that we had loaned a customer while we were repairing their failed power unit.

The complaint was simple: the pump will not start. Because the customer was an hours drive away, I first asked a few questions, then asked them to have their electricial check the 3 100 amp fuses in the 480 volt power feed circuit. He reported that one 100 amp fuse had failed, I suggested that he replace it and try starting the system again, He replaced the fuse and the replacement fuse failed as soon as they tried to start the motor. So now I had to head over to the customers site and find the problem. My approach was first to do a complete inspection, since that sort of short circuit shaould provide some evidence of itself. But all of the visible wiring looked good. Next, I did a resistance check at the motor terminals of the starter-overload assembly, which showed an open circuit in one phase. That was a good clue. I opened the connection box on the side of the motor and found that, because it had been assembled with the splice pressing against the cover of the box, the one connection had slowly cold-flow, penetrated the tape wrapping and contacted the box cover, short circuiting the phase to ground and evaporating part of the connection. The repair was simple, which was to cut off the damaged end, install a split-bolt splice instead of the lug and bolt splice, and tape the new connection. Then I was careful to position the wires in the splice box so that they did not press against the cover, and replaced the cover. After installing a new 100 Amp fuse, the systm started and ran correctly.

Note that I did switch off the service to the system before I started working on it.

TJ McDermott
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Weird
TJ McDermott   12/18/2011 5:11:03 PM
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Man, the weird can be dangerous too.  A pump that reports shorted, yet still runs make you begin wondering if the wiring is correct.  If not, then all bets are off as to where that high voltage comes from.

Tool_maker
User Rank
Platinum
A clock running in reverse
Tool_maker   12/19/2011 6:56:32 AM
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A million years ago we had a wedding present electric clock hanging on the wall, which I knocked to the floor. I rehung it, but it refused to run, so I took the usual first trouble shooting step and violently shook it. The second hand started moving, but it was going backwards. I unplugged the clock and retried it with the same results. The clock kept perfect time, in reverse. It was kind of cool and drove visitors nuts when I could tell time, by reading upside down.

It ran that way for about a year when I plugged DC converter for a tape recorder in the same outlet. The clock made some kind of weird noise, stopped and then restarted going the right direction. I have no idea as to what happened or how to explain it, but that is what happened.

After 10 or so years the clock died a painless death and went to the big appliance store in the sky.

jim01
User Rank
Iron
3 phase problem
jim01   12/19/2011 11:13:10 AM
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I had to pass on my experience a few years ago with a 3 phase problem. Our family owned a Baskins Robins Ice cream store and my problem. It was a very warm August day and we had an order for an ice cream wedding cake to serve 200 people.  This is a task that requires it to be assembled in the walkin freezer.  The freezer is 8 x 10' and powered by a 220v 3 phase unit.  The temperature is kept at -5 F.  This was three days after an ice cream delivery and the freezer was quite full, not leaving much room to work.  Made a table out of stacked up ice cream 3 gal. tubs.  At this temperature even with my Nan Nook of the north furry coat on you can't stay in more than 7 or 8 minutes with the blower blasting away on you.  When you go in and out of the freezer the temperature rises 8 to 10 degrees and takes a few minutes to recover. (observing the freezer thermometer).  I noticed that the temp. was not recovering and it was getting up to about 20 F.  The blower fan was working OK, but the compresson on top of the freezer didn't sound right.  Checking the fuses found one of them blown.  Replacing it, it blew right away.  There are two boxed on each side of the blower unit inside of the freezer, the one by the door had the low voltage circuitry.  Everything looked OK there.  The one in the back was just the power in connections.  Opening that one up I found that one of the connections on the terminal strip had broken away from the strip and the two wires still screwed together had fallen away from the strip and shorted out against the box cover with a blackmark from the short.  Some electrical tape and tying up the wires solver the problem.  Powered up with a new fuse and tha compressor sounded like it's old self.  Finished the cake on time.

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