Reminder: Never connect a generator to home wiring without transfer switch

Chris Boyd cboyd at
Wed Aug 25 21:52:02 UTC 2021

> On Aug 25, 2021, at 1:30 PM, bzs at wrote:
> Except maybe that one guy at Harvard who came to replace what turned
> out to be a 100+ year old, home made, "breaker" which fed our machine
> room which was hidden in a narrow dark hallway winding around our
> machine room behind an unmarked metal, locked doorway. I had no idea
> it existed but we had no power so I called for help.
> It was just a single copper bar about the size of a small candy bar
> tensioned into hot clips. Probably 400A but who remembers.
> He removed the old one confidently enough, grabbed the new one with
> rubber-handled pliers and gloves and...
>  Him: Have you ever played football?
>  Me: Actually, yes, I have, why?
>  Him: If something doesn't look right when I put this thing in just
>  tackle me clear of it as hard and as fast as you can.
>  Me: Um, ok.
> It all worked out fine and I wrote a memo that maybe Harvard could
> spring for a proper $500 breaker box?

When I was working at the MCI training facility in 1994, I went into the power facility classroom where they had battery strings, rectifiers, transfer switches, etc for students to learn on. I noticed that every 8-10 feet there was an 8 foot long 3/4 inch PVC pipe with about 16 feet of rope threaded through it. When I asked what those were for, the instructor said “We will use those to pull people off the electricity in case anyone gets shocked.”

I never heard that they were used, so that’s good.


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