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Mamo's New Power Pole

March 24
written March 26
Dear Friends and Families,

Sometimes we travel for excitement and sometimes excitement, such as it is, comes to us.  Pacific Gas and Electric had  been warning Mamo for weeks that they were coming to replace the 56-year-old pole in her backyard.  The potential for disturbance to her familiar scene had the family in all sorts of discussion with the power company and now we would see if they would live up to their promise of "we will do minimum damage".  How?  Here's how.

Because we had little else to do all day, I took a whole bunch of pictures, three-dozen of which follow.  For almost 12 hours we watched as fascinated as if it had been a major league baseball game, or maybe a cricket match, given the time it took.  Trust me, it was fun.

Almost as soon as the last lineman was off the pole, our power went back on, no problems.  PG&E had indeed done the work with minimum damage to Mamo's half-century-old back yard.  Thanks.

Stay in touch and look for excitement where you find it.

John and Marianne

The goal was to remove this pole and replace it.  How hard could that be?

Step one was to fill the street with trucks, a GIANT crane, friendly workers, and an audience.
Step two was to build the new power pole.  Surprisingly complex, but done quickly.

Step three was to go up on the old pole and remove the transformer and all the wires.  Sean, the lineman, made relatively quick work of this as well, aided by the crane that reached all the way from the street
This process was not without problems.  The wires hung on the projecting parts of the pole on the way up and, at one point, a wire slipped inside the crane hook.  When the hook-latch went "click", our calm work supervisor mumbled something not-for-a-general-audience.  But, eventually, the old pole flew away.

Step four was to create a hole for the new pole.  Plan A was to pull the old pole and use the old hole.  That didn't work, despite digging, hand jacks, a hydraulic jack, and tugs by the giant crane..  Plan B was to dig a hole next to the old pole.  That didn't work because the place was cramped and the ground was impenetrable.  Plan C was to move the pole next door.  That did work, but only after an extra hour of hand shoveling and jack hammers to break up the local dirt, called "hard pan" for a reason.  This whole step was supposed to take an hour or so, but required  five!

Step five was to fly in the new pole and set it vertical in the hole.  Easy enough, thanks to a low-tech plumb bob, and experienced eyeball, the same technique probably used on the pyramids and castles in Europe.

The last step was to reload the transformer and reconnect the wires.  For this, there were three linemen on the pole, each working with obvious skill.  The coordination, almost a dance, was very impressive,
The work was eventually finished, in the dark, six hours later than planned.


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