Friday, February 25, 2011

KA-BOOM

Well, February has shaped up to be the "workin'est" month in quite a while!

The twelve weeks that started at Thanksgiving week saw a full EIGHT of them as lay-off weeks.

Yeesh.

But, with the exception of 02/07 - 02/11, The plant has been open.

During that first week, my boss mentioned that "some visitors" might be paying us a visit and that I should make it a priority to clean up the joint.

There are no custodians on staff, so the place can get pretty messy.

My first pass was to pick up piles of used gloves, filthy shop rags, soft drink cans, papers and assorted trash.

Next, I did some push broom pushing.

Then, I decided to use the electric floor sweeper. The one we have is very similar to the one shown above.

The sweeper is powered by two 12-volt car batteries, wired in series.

The sweeper was hooked up to the battery charger. What the maintenance men do is disconnect the the batteries from the sweeper and then connect the 24 volt charger across the series pair.

I needed the sweeper, so I unplugged the charger and disconnected it from the battery terminals. I attached the negative sweeper wire to the negative terminal on the one battery. When I touched the positive terminal to the post, however, the sweeper started running.

I pulled the cable away and flipped the unit's on/off switch. It felt kinda spongy; there was no hard "click" sound. I made sure the switch was in the off position, anyway.

Then I once again touched the cable to positive battery terminal.

What happened next?

I heard a loud BOOM like a truck tire exploding.

I saw the caps fly off the battery.

I felt something spray on me.

Yes, the battery blew up in my face!

Luckily, I was near the men's room. I peeled off my sweatshirt and gloves, yanked off my glasses and proceeded to throw lots and lots of water at my face.

Amazingly, I walked away from this blast with not so much as a scratch!



When I finally got back to the shop floor, I saw that the sides had blown out of the battery! This is probably where most of the battery acid blew. I imagine anyone who might have been standing on either side of the sweeper would not have been as "lucky" as I was, since I was positioned in front of the bomb when it went off.

The conclusion is that the mushy switch must have shorted the positive cable to the ground on the sweeper and caused a dead short which made the battery go "boom."

I thank God that I was spared from permanent disfiguring, or worse.

In reflecting on this incident some days later, I figured that maybe since I've had so many things blow up in my face lately, perhaps I've finally developed an natural immunity to it.

All for the love of dish racks...

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