Monday, April 12, 2010

Good to have Full Power

It all started a couple of weeks ago when BC was bombarded with a few strong wind storms, coupled with torrential rains. They call it the pineapple express with humid air from Hawai'i . There were numerous power outages and downed trees everywhere in the greater Vancouver area. In fact one day when I rode to work I nearly got blown over in the wind gusts of only 50 km/hr. Later in the week when the wind built up to 95 km/hour I thought it safer to just take the car. It is hard to deal with gusts of wind which goes from a standstill to full power without warning. I have experienced strongs gusts of wind down in the Gorge but it is nearly blowing all the time except when you enter an underpass which can catch you off guard.

About the time of the wind we noticed the lights flickering and just assumed that there were power failures in the area, or else our power grid was being challenged. A few days later we were still getting the flickering lights and I was trying to figure out where the problem would be. Then the lights flickered and a second later the heat came out of the register to I made the assumption that our furnace fan motor needed to be replaced. I reasoned that anytime a motor draws more current than normal on startup it would be attributed to a warm armature. I called my friend who services furnaces and he was going to inspect the problem on the weekend and perhaps replace the motor. While I was staring at the Telly (Gary UK talk for the tube) I heard the fridge compressor cycle on (Ice box for UK talk), again the lights flickered. Then someone used the microwave and again the lights flickered and flashed as if there was a power surge. I now reasoned that I had a big problem and was experiencing "brownouts" . My first reaction was that the storms had caused a problem with one of the transformers in the area which was causing low power in our area. My next step was to contact my neighbours to see if they also had problems.

Long story short, here is what I noticed last Saturday when I went outside to inspect our power feed from the power pole


Hard to see in the bright sunshine against a white wall, but one of the wires supplying power is just dangling in mid air. My friend, the plumber electrician said that my 2 phase is working but single phase is only working through the ground. I called BC Hydro and because the dangling wire is less than 9 ft in the air they consider this an emergency repair and would dispatch a truck as soon as possible.

I had to go out and about a couple of hours later I returned home to find this coil of wire on the front lawn


The old wire had already been removed and coiled up ready to be taken away.


A ladder was leaning along the side of the house


and a new replacement wire had already been connected to my meter . I think that the repairman connected the wire to my meter, strung the wire to the pole and made the appropriate connections. As I arrived home I noticed his lift arm was up in the air, but before I could go out to speak to him, he had already lowered his hydraulic lift and was driving away


I received very fast service. The repair truck came in about an hour after my call and it took him 45 minutes to install the new wire. All in all it was all done within 2 hours and I am back to full power again. The first thing I did was put a glass of water into the microwave and set it for 60 sec. NO more dimming lights and I am thankful indeed for having this work done with NO cost to myself.


Our temperatures are still a little cool in the shadows, but warm in the sun. If this weekend is any indication of things to come then I am going to find myself time challenged. I am already backlogged with projects and postings. I went on a group ride on Saturday afternoon to Horseshoe Bay but I can't post anything until I get the video's edited and that will take another day or so. When the sun is shining I find that I prefer to be outdoors rather than inside typing way on a keyboard.

(Teaser photo: tulips in Horseshoe Bay, BC)

Unless I have something special prearranged I do not plan to ride on Sundays. I call it family day, as Mrs Skoot does not ride we spend our time together and go somewhere different for brunch, perhaps visit friends and in general roam the countryside snapping photos, esp now that the summer weather is near. That being said I broke tradition and met up with another group for breakfast .

(Teaser photo: De Dutch Restaurant, Langley, BC)

There were around a dozen bikes there, and all they do is ride around the country. I have noticed from their forum that they have lots of activities planned and I wanted to go to their Meet & Greet to make my initial contact and see what the members were like and to scope them out. More to say on a future post.


  1. I have this website its good.It cantains lots of information about work from home

  2. Nice that you got it fixed for free, and good, timely service from the power company.

  3. Hi Bobskoot,
    We had some weird semi-power outage many years ago. I don't know if it was the same, but it was something like the stovetop worked, but the oven didn't...or something like that. Anyway, it was also a wire that was damaged during a storm. Obviously I don't know anything about electrical stuff!

    Glad you got it all fixed and running again!

  4. Bob - I am glad that you got it fixed so quick. I wish that we had service that like in the UK. And thanks for the mini translations - I appreciated that! I have one question though relating to a word I didn't understand. What is a "brownout"? It sounds like something unpleasant you need to go see a doctor about.

  5. It sounds like you get the same kind of winds we do on the Oregon coast.

    Family day is a good thing. Too bad so many motorcycle events happen on the weekends.

  6. Greg:

    Wow, It would be great to work from home just like my buddy Jackie "r". Can you please send him info too, thanks


    Luckily it was on the supply side of the meter which is Hydro's responsibility. On the other side I have to hire an electrician and get it repaired myself, and if the power has to be turned off then I also have to pay a crew to turn it off, then later to turn it back on. So this time I was lucky. I had been worried the past week wondering if I had a short somewhere and also worried about being a fire hazard


    Most homes are 2 phase for your clothes dryer and stove. So you had 110v but not double phase 220 v. My problem was reversed, I had 220v for the dryer and stove, but my single phase was out and only connected through the ground connection. (Neutral wire, I believe) That was the original wire from when the house was built, so over the years wire becomes brittle due to swinging back and forth in the wind causing it to work harden and break.


    here is some info:

    I was more worried about damaging electronics, as you know when you are on reduced power, current draw increases exponentially, plus the resultant surge could spike electronic components. This had been going on for about a week.


    I'm going to have to make a point of visiting Brookings on my next trip to your area. I can't imagine a place with only 6 signal lights. Here in Vancouver we have a section on Broadway where this is a light at every block. So 6 blocks = 6 signal lights.

    I love your drawings. You must have a steady hand and lots of ideas floating in your mind. Thank you for visiting

  7. Dear BobSkoot:

    I think you got off more lightly than you imagined. I do not understand electricity and distreust anything that has no smell nor taste, but can jump through the air to kill you.

    I think you were very lucky not to develop the major kind of electrical problem that results in a fire. We live in a subdivision that has no stree lights nor poles of any kind... So all the wires are buried. This reduces the potential for wind damage, but makes other work for the phone company, the cable company, and the power company a real pain in the ass.

    When the cable TV/Computer/Comunications was upgraded a year ago, the idiot subcontractors severed a natural gas line in the garden next door. The smell of gas was unbelievably strong and I was glad there was no spark. I had a gas company tech come into the basement, which reeked of natural gas, to cherck that I did not have enough leak in to blow up the house.

    Informative post today.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  8. Glad to hear that your power problems were so easily fixed Bob and excellent service too. Our peninsula gets problems every time we have a winter storm.

    Stunning photo of the bay - you have a real eye for composition.

  9. yeah, full power is good :)
    im looking forward to hearing about your meet & greet.

  10. Nice post, Bob! Be careful around those downed power lines. They must have really strong power lines in the Gorge, eh!

  11. glad your power is fixed up. I am with you on the backlog situation. I think I have about six posts in draft at the moment. Adding video makes posts take an extra day or so with the editing.

  12. Sunshine in Canada. Sometimes I feel like I'm in North Korea with all the lies they tell us about you impoverished socialists riding around the country on expensive motorcycles in the rain with no fear of medical bankruptcy.
    Pretty soon your banks will go broke too and your housing bubble will burst and then we'll see who gets the last laugh.No more brunch for you!

  13. Hi Bob,

    Nice smooth editing on your latest video plus a glimpse of an old MG...Thought you had got that clicking noise sorted out, more sticky tape needed Bob!!



  14. Jackie:

    I was lucky indeed to have had at least some power for the past week. I knew something was not right but couldn't figure it out


    Thank you for your kind words. I am always looking for unusual angles and noticed the flowers with the boats in the background. there is also snow on the mountains. Not as warm as you are used to. Cool in the shade

    Ms M:

    It may still be a post or two away. I am backlogged because of the time it takes to do the video editing


    I think I was lucky, the break was on the house side and I think it was the neutral. The 2 phase was still connected, so I probably had full power to the dryer and stove, but limited power to anything that used 110v (single phase)


    My videos take 2-3 hours to edit, then another hour or more to upload, so my last video took around 4 hours from start to finish. I reduce the bitrate to around 5 Mbps and my files are upwards of 400 megs

    Mr Conchscooter:

    Our housing prices have escalated higher than before the downfall. There is a frenzy of buying and selling which has been created by the introduction of the HST which will take effect on July 1st, 2010. Everyone is trying to purchase before this date to avoid an additional 7% tax and before the Bank of Canada raises their interest rates


    the clicking noise on the videos are the mounts rattling. There was an orange thingy which came with the camera and Chris was going to show me how to install the thingy. So it's all his fault