Ted Barrett                                                   - Training, Consultancy and Technical Services

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Blog for January

Well howdy-doody folks, I hope you are all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I’m sure you have leapt into the new year with great alacrity and are all pumped up with enthusiasm! If you are, then please take my advice and sit back a spell and relax. You can work yourself to a frazzle and still not get anywhere.

Sometimes we really do need to do that; just stop and think.

Christ, that’s bloody good advice coming from me, judging by the poor choices I have made in the past! I justify this by saying this is what has made me the person I am today.

However (Cough, cough, serious head on now) when fault-finding in electrical engineering we sometimes do need to stop, think, and consider. I must say straight away that many electricians are just not cut out for fault-finding. Putting it politely, as long as they have an aperture in their derriere, they will never be a fault-finder. They just aren’t suitable for the task. It takes skill, patience and a special talent.

I can train you to fault-find but you must have the basic skills needed and you must want to be a fault-finder as it is an art and you also need to have “people skills”.

The role of fault-finder is that of both Detective and Doctor: As a detective you need to look for clues and collect evidence. In your capacity as Doctor, you are looking at test results and symptoms and considering how best to treat the patient.

AND, sometimes, in either role we can get trapped in a blind alley. Going round in circles because we have got “Blinkers” on and are not open to all possible solutions. It’s at times like this we need to stop and have a breather to break out of that loop. I suggest go and have cup of coffee, go to toilet, have a walk round the block, anything, but nine times out of ten, it will be when you do this that you have that “Eureka” moment. Give it a try. It’s not a bad philosophy for life either.

This month I have, according to schedule, been to Melton Mowbray, Poole and Bognor Regis on training assignments (when my agent said “Can you pick up Bognor after Poole, its all on the South Coast”, I didn’t realise it’s the best part of 80 miles between!) then on to Havant to work with Delonghi , knocked out a 18 Edition course at Witney, Oxfordshire and finalised the details of an Advanced Fault-Finding course I have been developing.

Thinking about the electrical regulations and if you have done an 18 Edition course recently or not. If you manage to get caught in an argument about the “regs” do remember there is a single regulation that is almost straight out of “Lord of the Rings”. You might remember that line about the ring: “One ring to find them, and in the darkness bind them”. Well, there is a regulation very much like that (134.1.1) that says “Good workmanship and materials shall be used in the erection of the electrical installation”. So there you have it, that is great ammunition to shoot that smarmy architect down who trying to argue regulations with you.

With regard to the 18 Edition, I must also pay tribute to my wife Joanne, for her help in typing up so many practice exam question papers. Without her help I would have really struggled. So thank you sweetie, I am really grateful. And not just with the 18th Edition either, she has done a great deal over the years for me and I am eternally grateful. Her experience is such that I suspect she could now sit the 18th Edition exam and pass. You must realise she also typed up loads of 17th edition material as well so she may well know more than the average sparky.

Thinking about help, have you ever come across any strange electrical phenomena or events? I am thinking about writing a book on the subject and would welcome anything you may have to offer. If used in the book, I will credit, reference and mention any contributions given. As an example of the sort of thing I am looking for is have you ever seen a meter running backwards? Or Ball Lightning? I gain a great deal of perverse pleasure from disproving myths and showing how science can explain most of these strange events. But what really interests me is the 1% that can not be logically explained. That is where we are at the frontier of new or different science. So if you do have anything of this nature to relate please drop me a line, even if it sounds really whacky.

In closing this month’s report, make sure you all drive safe, practice Safe Isolation and don’t spend more than you earn, to paraphrase Mr Micawber, that is the way to “true happiness”. (wish I had taken that on board a few decades ago).

Oh and some more of “Ted’s Rules” before I close.

#6 Don’t bullshit in front of me. My BS detector will pick you up straight away.

#8 Don’t lie to me, I have a very long memory and will catch you out.

#10 See Rule #8 – I have a very long memory.

Oh well, time to saddle up and ride off into the sunset.

Adios por ahora (farewell for now).

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