Power outage

A 27 hour power outage follows a violent 5 minute storm where severe winds cut a swath just down the road from us and take the tops of two hydro poles. Where are those candles again?

We’re just getting ready to start dinner and this storm blows through and takes out the power. Nothing too unusual for lake life, but little did we know at the time that this would be one of the bigger outages in our experience of 30+ years.  Dinner was to be salmon with hollandaise so we switched to something simpler, mainly because the hollandaise sauce requires the blender, which requires electricity.

We call Hydro One which has a fantastic phone service for tracking power outages and providing updates. 400+ customers in our area without power and an estimated restoration of 8:30pm, then 11:30, then 2:30 am then… we went to bed.

The next morning, still no power. Off to town for some coffee and breakfast. On the way back, there are multiple crews of 6-8 guys each working in our area, yay!

Time for some investigation, I’ve never seen power line repairs up close. It’s 12:45 and the truck below is working on Thunder Ridge Road a short distance from the cottage.

Working the line
Working the line

This is one of the trees that went down. Being on the Canadian shield these big trees have very shallow roots due to the rocks, and are quite susceptible to being knocked down in a storm.

Downed Giant - The tree on our road that took out a power pole further up the road.
Downed Giant – The tree on our road that took out a power pole further up the road.

Trees get snapped like match sticks but surprisingly the phone lines stayed intact in spite  of being dragged all over the place and phone service was never interrupted.

Wood and Wires - One of the snapped trees and the telephone line, 3 feet off the ground.
Wood and Wires – One of the snapped trees and the telephone line, 3 feet off the ground.

 

Here one of the bucket trucks is working to get things straightened out before replacing some poles further down the road.

Line Work from the Bucket
Line Work from the Bucket

 

Here is the culprit for our roads outage. Lines are down to the right (our cottages direction) and straight back to another pole up behind Smith Camps.

Snapped - the pole on our road and in the distance the 2nd snapped pole.
Snapped – the pole on our road and in the distance the 2nd snapped pole.

 

A closer shot. The poles are almost 40 years old. First installed when the road was put in and 6 years before we started to build our cottage.

Snapped Close-Up - line down in two directions from this "T" intersection
Snapped Close-Up – line down in two directions from this “T” intersection

 

I continue down the road and over to Smiths Camps and up a steep hill to where the 2nd crew is working to set a new pole.

Pole Placement - lifting the new pole into place alongside the old.
Pole Placement – lifting the new pole into place alongside the old.

They have a very cool machine or tracks that can drill hole as well as lift and position the pole. Here its getting the new pole into position to drop into a hole that the backhoe has prepped. But there is a catch, literally. The arm on the machine is at its limit and it’s not quite clearing the old pole. To avoid the delay and hassle of repositioning the machine, the crew boss is up the pole and pushes it over the top.

Up and Over - The machine was at it's limit and the pole needed a helping hand to get over the top to save having to reposition the machine.
Up and Over – The machine was at it’s limit and the pole needed a helping hand to get over the top to save having to reposition the machine.

 

It’s in the hole and they are jockeying it around to get it nice and straight.

Positioning the pole with the very cool machine.
Positioning the pole with the very cool machine.

 

With the pole in place he’s moving on.

Pole #1 is done and the Terrex is getting ready to go. Fallen tree in background.
Pole #1 is done and the Terrex is getting ready to go. Fallen tree in background.

 

Moving to the Next Pole - driving by the pole that has just been placed while the lines are finished up.
Moving to the Next Pole – driving by the pole that has just been placed while the lines are finished up.

 

It’s down a steel hill but no problem for this beast.

Like a tank this thing just motors down a very steep incline back to the road.
Like a tank this thing just motors down a very steep incline back to the road.

From this pole, looking back towards our Thunder Ridge Road you can see the phone line in the air but the hot & neutral power lines are on the ground as well as caught up in the trees across the span to the other pole.

Phone but no Power - That line is the phone line but the two power cables are down on the ground. 300+ yard span to the other snapped pole.
Phone but no Power – That line is the phone line but the two power cables are down on the ground. 300+ yard span to the other snapped pole.

 

A little zoom shot back to the other pole shows the lines clearer. The black one is the phone line and the two low hanging silver ones are the power.

Looking Back - From the pole behind Smiths back to the pole on our Thunder Ridge Road.
Looking Back – From the pole behind Smiths back to the pole on our Thunder Ridge Road.

The backhoe is finished his work and is carefully going down the steep hill to drive over to pole #2.

Driver Skill - To get down a steep section the driver is using the bucket as a skid to prevent a forward rollover
Driver Skill – To get down a steep section the driver is using the bucket as a skid to prevent a forward rollover

 

Mean while “the boss” is hooking up the wires. All the hardware on the pole is setup and attached on the ground prior to lifting it into place.

Line Boss - This guy was running the show and he kept the guys on the ground hopping with passing up stuff and positioning the gear etc.
Line Boss – This guy was running the show and he kept the guys on the ground hopping with passing up stuff and positioning the gear etc.

 

Splicing the wires together is quite in interesting procedure. There is a connector device that is a tube into which the wires are inserted by hand. No crimping, no nothing and once inserted into these tube connectors the line is capable of being pulled tight to get the proper sag between poles.

Making Connections - Doing the top "hot" wire 1st
Making Connections – Doing the top “hot” wire 1st

Over at the other site on thunder Ridge Road, a pole is waiting.

 

Bringing in the new lumber.
Bringing in the new lumber.

Once again the pole is lifted into place and the backhoe fills in the hole and guy wires are attached and tensioned. This time they have the luxury of a bucket touch and the guys working up to don’t have to put on the spurs and climb the pole.

 

Working the Wire. Two boom trucks required to free the 300+ yard span from some trees
Working the Wire. Two boom trucks required to free the 300+ yard span from some trees

 

Equipment at work. The track vehicle on the left holding the new pole in place while the backhoe on the right continues to fill in the base around the pole.
Equipment at work. The track vehicle on the left holding the new pole in place while the backhoe on the right continues to fill in the base around the pole.

 

The “hot” wire is attached and they are just removing the clamp device that allowed them to winch the cable up. To lift this very long span they attached a bully to the top of the pole and then ran it down to another pull on the back of the boom touch, hooking it onto the trailer hitch. Then they ran the rope over to another truck on the road and used the truck to tension the cable.

Lots of messing around here as when they were lifting the cable, it was caught in some trees down by Smiths parking lot. They sent the other boom truck and had to work quite hard at pulling the cable free before they could finalize the tensioning.

Removing the cable clamp used to pull the wire into place
Removing the cable clamp used to pull the wire into place

 

With everything reattached a decision was made to cut off the part of the broken pole that was now being suspended soley by the telephone cable. Interestingly enough, these guys were only concerned about the power. It was clearly someone else job to come along afterwards and transfer the telephone cables to the new poles. Bell did that the following day.

Up goes the chain saw…

Chain saw hand up
Chain saw hand up

… and off comes most of the old pole.

Off with the old pole
Off with the old pole

It’s now 6:30pm and the crews are cleaning up and moving on. They were remarkably tidy as no leftover bits of wire snips were left behind. They had to check a few things, remove some grounding wires and do something a short distance away that apparently would not take too long. At around 8:30 the power is on! Yahoo! Good job Hydro One!

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