Scott G (simbamco) wrote,
Scott G

Elliott's Previous Two Events

We had another fun, happenin' Elliott's Event last weekend that I don't remember much of 'cause it was busy, stress times for the me. Grandiose new things keep being added, which lends to a feeling of unpreparedness for the normal stuff. Granted, it's just a party, and it's free, so there should be zero expectations/quitcherbitchin' and all that, but I, personally, still like to have a few more ducks in a row than we've had for the last two events. For Elliott's Summer Celebration, a 5000sqft building was being built to house the party. That was grandiose addition #1 that got started about a month before the event was scheduled. I must say that a lot got finished before the day of the party, but because we didn't have the temporary power pole prepared enough for the power company's liking, electricity didn't get delivered. Since we were really focused on the building we didn't prepare things like... FOOD much ahead of time.

Electricity ended up being delivered via two, rental 25KW generators and a crapload of extension cords. That deviated from the plan the night before where Harik and I decided that we were going to wire the main lugs from one of the generators directly to the bus bar of a breaker panel in the building, and split lighting, dance, and the arcade equipment off of that. We were going to use the second generator for the air conditioner, since we knew that the cycling of the compressor for that would likely cause some major fluctuations. A lot of preparations for that plan were continuing on until about 5am the day of the party, when we finally went to our respective residences and crashed for a few hours of sleep. When we returned, we found that Yappy had commandeered one of the generators solely for the dance equipment because he didn't "trust" any wiring that we had done. Granted, neither of us are electricians, but to both Harik and I, that felt like a big "Fuck you". Meh, I adapted to his plan, 'cause the show must go on and all that. Yappy did help get the air conditioner wired and working, so I didn't have to punch him too hard. To his credit, yes, the mains wire we had chosen for the breaker panel was too small a gauge, but a quick trip to Lowes would have fixed that problem. The A/C cycled once during the whole party, and reset the arcade at the time. Hopefully, not too many people were racking up high scores when it happened. :p

Unfortunately, because of the wiring change, I had to replace all of the romex we had wired the night before with extension cords. That replaced the time I would have been spending just chilling and having fun as a guest, but oh well. It was a learning experience or something, I guess.

At this point, I don't remember much about the Summer Celebration beyond running extension cords. Portwolf was awesome and helped with that.

After that party ended, the contractor hired to do the interior work on the building turned out to not really be qualified to be doing what we were asking him to do and what he was letting on. The second story, as he was building it, wasn't going to be able to actually support itself. The people responsible for the project weren't satisfied with the work, but the contractor still wanted to be paid for the work that was done. As a result of this stalemate, the building process was put on hold about a week or so after the Summer Celebration, so not a lot got done, and most of what did get done now has to be re-done.

There was a volleyball net in the front yard of the house for previous events held on the property, so grandiose addition #2 was that a concrete-based sports court was being installed next to the building. Volleyball, and now a whole host of other sports, such as basketball, tennis, badminton, roller hockey, and some form of soccer could be kept near where the rest of the party is being held. Construction on that started two weeks before the Winter Carnival event. :/ Now we have two grandiose projects distracting us from regular party stuff! Wheeeeeee. I don't make these decisions. I just get sucker punched with them.

Oh, did I mention that the building was also no more finished than it was for the previous party - including power? Who would be clearing the trees, digging the ditches, running conduit, leveling the land, running the power, putting up drywall, fortifying the framing, and finishing the plumbing? Not qualified electricians and construction workers... oh no. People who had essentially not done any of that kind of work before - like me. One fun thing came out of it, though. I learned how to operate a front-end loader/backhoe! We had tried to tackle the trees and stumps with an underpowered chainsaw, a stump grinder and a wood chipper. The stump grinder was a joke because of the number of stumps we had, so we rented a backhoe, which, after getting over the learning curve, ended up seriously making a dent in it.

In order to put in a 5000sqft concrete slab, the land has to be cleared and level. There also needed to be three runs of piping under the slab, two for power and/or data conduit, and one for water. We didn't have any leveling instrumentation nor anyone who would know how to operate it, so I tried to eyeball it with the front-end loader. It was fairly level, and I was putting some of the finishing touches on it when I ran over the water pipe and broke it. Not only am I a backhoe operator, I'm a SEASONED one who has severed a water line. :p I did it with the wheels and not the bucket, though, so I think I get some kind of reprieve.

When the guy came to install the sport court, he balked at the leveling job and said it was horribly not level, and he'd have to call in backup before he could start pouring concrete. I can't say I was surprised.

Pouring the concrete was an all-day (from 7am to 3am) endeavor because 4 out of 5 concrete trucks got stuck in the sand; one of them in an epically horrible position that even a wrecker would have just turned around and ran away from. After watering the sand to help it become packable and putting things under the tires to help the them get traction, we managed to get them each un-stuck, but the day was grueling and full of much stress and fail for everyone involved, except Carmi, 'cause he wasn't there. In fact, he didn't arrive until less than 24 hours before the event was scheduled to start, which is a rant all to itself.

Meanwhile, I'm supposed to be working a full-time job, so the days that I was spending on the construction site were punctuated by nights at work. Needless to say, I didn't get much sleep during those two weeks.

I also had to weave into the schedule installing conduit in trenches and pulling 210 feet of 4 conductor, 4/0 aluminum, sheathed electrical mains cable through it. Did I mention that I'm not an electrician? My arms haven't hurt so bad since I started my workout routine, and even then, I don't think it was as bad. It was that overworked joint pain, even, not muscle strain pain. That cable is THICK and doesn't bend very easily. It would have been easier to do it with individual 4/0 cables, but that would have been more expensive cable, so we didn't get that. I suppose I could have cut the outer bundling sheath off of it, but meh... I didn't think about that until just now. Plus, there were some places inside the building where I wanted it to be bundled together, 'cause I didn't want to have to run conduit there. To top it all off, we also were using conduit that was about half as big as it should have been.

I made the mistake of connecting the wire to the meter box before we finished running the end into the building. Now, I knew to have the main breaker turned off, and it was, but apparently, something was causing a 120VAC potential from the METAL OF THE BUILDING to neutral at the power pole from the one 20A circuit we had on an extension cord coming from the house. We found out about this potential while feeding the cable in through a hole in the building to measure it out before running it in the conduit. That hole was rather sharp, and cut through the outer sheath of the cable, allowing the bare, safety ground wire to touch the building. The arcing that occurred was, of course, very scary for all who were involved, especially Tracken, 'cause he's terrified of electricity. Why this rogue voltage on the building hadn't killed or even lit up anyone prior to this, I don't know, but we tracked the potential back to being somehow related to the alarm system that had been installed in the building. If we disconnected the alarm system from the circuit coming from the house, a voltmeter showed no voltage to neutral from the building, so we continued with the alarm disconnected. My guess is that the circuit coming from the house has hot and neutral reversed or something. I don't know. It's still a mystery, and we didn't have time to figure it out, 'cause once the breaker box was hooked up, I could start running some temporary circuits from the building's power feed, and take that house circuit out of there.

I had two other near-death experiences when the outer sheathing of the metal clad wire (sometimes called BX) we were using to run the interior circuits ended up touching the main bus bar on the breaker panel while I was trying to strip it off. Once, it just hit one of the legs of the phase, and lit me up with 120V. I was isolated from ground, so it just buzzed me a bit. The second time, I dropped the cable, by mistake, and it swung down into the panel, arcing across both bus bars, making a sound akin to a shotgun going off, a flash like lightning, and blowing two neat holes into the clad cable where it touched the bars. BOOOM!! This occurred at about 7:30am, Saturday morning, the day of the party, 'cause Harik and I were up all night, still running wires. We both agreed that if Yappy had come and said he wasn't going to hook equipment up to it because he didn't trust it, we were going to put him in the breaker panel.

I crashed at the house for a couple of hours because I was parked in and couldn't drive home. People were already waking up when I was going to sleep, but when the doorbell started ringing because guests were arriving at about 11:45am, I got back up, and went out to try to find a way to get home, take a shower, and grab a few more necessary things. The gas installer was there, hooking up the grills and water heater and the truck with two new electric ranges/ovens had just arrived. I helped unload the ranges, and took off for home. I really just wanted to go to sleep and wake up after the party was over, but ended up just taking a shower and going right back over there.

We still needed some wiring done for the interior lighting, so I went to work on that and helping Recherei with wiring the ranges. At just about sundown, we had finished getting fluorescent lighting installed for everywhere that needed it, which freed up the 1300watt gigantic shop lights for use out on the sport court. There were a few more things running off of extension cords on temporary circuits, so I tried cleaning up those cords and balancing the load the best I could. Sweetums/Halvden/JR/Dan helped with most of what I needed done while I was there, and I thank him ever so kindly for being there for me.

Somewhere during all of that, the plumbing for the bathrooms was completed, the hot water was ran (thanks Paradox!), and privacy stalls were built around the commodes. Opaque drop cloth was used for the last party and boy, was that awkward. :p

I don't remember much beyond finishing the wiring. I think I just became rather zombified at that point, plus Portwolf had given me a rum and coke, which was probably a contributing factor. I do remember Mach cooking (burning) mini burgers on the grill and some of the neighbors arriving to check out the party; which was a hoot! :)

The moral of the story is that a lot of work gets put into these parties, so COME CHECK 'EM OUT. :) Maybe we'll actually start getting things prepared ahead of time for one of them. :p

Hopefully people had fun at this one.
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