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Author Topic: Smoky Saturday night and who pays the bill?  (Read 525 times)

John Sabine

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Smoky Saturday night and who pays the bill?
« on: May 21, 2014, 06:02:32 pm »

Disclaimer: This was not my rig, distro, feed line, or stage. I was mixing the second band of the event but it all went down on my shift so I got the headache.
 We had gotten the stage set and were setting monitors when someone noticed that the Dj's laptop and mixer were power cycling. While he was checking his connections the singer noticed that the monitors were cutting in and out. I notified the tech in charge of the rig that we were having issues and he started checking stage power. About that time I noticed that the lead guitarists amp was GLOWING BRIGHTLY and SMOKING! Lots of panicked disconnecting ensued. I went and got my meter and started checking power and some outlets were at 120v with others at 202v! Not good. Start checking from the distro back and discovered that the feed line was about 100' of 8/3 (not a good sign). There was a 50a twist lock connector that connected it to the distro and on the distro side of the connector there were issues causing neutral to half the outlets to lift. Problem gets fixed, provisions are made for the guitar amps, and the show goes on. Now in the aftermath the company providing PA is agreeing to repair the amplifiers that were damaged. The owners of the amplifiers want them replaced because they say that even if the amps are repaired there is no way to tell if the lifespan of the amps has been shortened. Has anyone else dealt with this situation? Even though this wasn't my rig or my gig (gear wise anyway) I'd like to know how others have handled this type of situation.
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Ray Aberle

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Re: Smoky Saturday night and who pays the bill?
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2014, 06:31:24 pm »

Start checking from the distro back and discovered that the feed line was about 100' of 8/3 (not a good sign). There was a 50a twist lock connector that connected it to the distro and on the distro side of the connector there were issues causing neutral to half the outlets to lift.

Man, when will people learn about proper sizing of power feeders!! Ugh.

Now in the aftermath the company providing PA is agreeing to repair the amplifiers that were damaged. The owners of the amplifiers want them replaced because they say that even if the amps are repaired there is no way to tell if the lifespan of the amps has been shortened. Has anyone else dealt with this situation? Even though this wasn't my rig or my gig (gear wise anyway) I'd like to know how others have handled this type of situation.

If it's an insurance company paying out then yes, by all means, have them pay for the whole works. However, if it's the system owner writing a check, then I'd expect to be reasonable about it-- repair job by manufacturer, who can inspect and replace any parts adversely affected by the power situation. They're going to know where the power goes once it hits their amp, of course, and so they will know better what should be checked out as opposed to, say, your local repair shop.

-Ray
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Mike Sokol

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Re: Smoky Saturday night and who pays the bill?
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2014, 06:59:56 pm »

If it's an insurance company paying out then yes, by all means, have them pay for the whole works. However, if it's the system owner writing a check, then I'd expect to be reasonable about it-

If these are tube amps I would be comfortable with a repair that tested and replaced PS caps, all the tubes, and check transformers for high-pot leakage, etc...

However, if these are DSP transistor amps, they're basically a computer hung on a speaker. I would insist they replace the entire "motherboard" rather than do any parts swap. And if it's a switching power supply that should be swapped out, as well. Of course, the box and speaker itself should be fine, as well as the other hardware. So a main board swap and maybe power supply swap should correct any future issues, I would think.

Tom Bourke

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Re: Smoky Saturday night and who pays the bill?
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2014, 03:28:44 am »

The owners of the amps need to be "made whole."  What that involves "depends."  Were they brand new high end amps or pawn shop junk on the way out already?  If it were my amp I would offer to sell them the now damaged amp at the pre-damage or replacement value.
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: Smoky Saturday night and who pays the bill?
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2014, 07:17:10 am »

This is a good reminder that distribution components need maintenance. Screw terminal cable clamps can loosen due to the strands flattening out over time, as well as thermal cycling. It's a worthwhile project to bring your cords in front of the TV once every year or two and disassemble and re-torque while watching the game.

This is particularly an issue for multi-leg devices, as the voltage can go up with loose connections, as was the issue here. 

Most of my distribution is simple Edison, so any loose connections will decrease the voltage, however it is still dangerous. I had one cable powering a lighting dimmer pack that was loose that ended up getting so hot that it deformed the plastic around the screw terminals.  After this I took apart all of my cables and found several more that were alarmingly loose.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2014, 11:21:34 am by TJ (Tom) Cornish »
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Steve M Smith

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Re: Smoky Saturday night and who pays the bill?
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2014, 08:38:19 am »

It's a worthwhile project to bring your cords in front of the TV once every year or two and disassemble and re-torque while watching the game.

It's probably a better idea to do it without any distraction!


Steve.
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Smoky Saturday night and who pays the bill?
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2014, 10:46:29 am »

This is a good reminder that distribution components need maintenance. Screw terminal cable clamps can loosen due to the strands flattening out over time, as well as thermal cycling. It's a worthwhile project to bring your cords in front of the TV once every year or two and disassemble and re-torque while watching the game.

This is particularly an issue for multi-leg devices, as the voltage can go up with loose connections, as was the issue here. 

Most of my distribution is simple Edison, so any loose connections will decrease the voltage, however it is still dangerous. I had one cable powering a lighting dimmer pack that was loose that ended up getting so hot that it deformed the plastic around the screw terminals.  After this  I took apart all of my cables and found several more that we're alarmingly loose.

We do that once a year, usually in January.  We open up EVERY electrical plug, cap, receptacle, quad box, rack pack, distro, etc and tighten screws and check for evidence of overloading, arcing, etc.  With our full crew it takes us a couple of days just for the audio side of our shop, the lampy stuff goes faster.
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: Smoky Saturday night and who pays the bill?
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2014, 11:23:37 am »


Most of my distribution is simple Edison, so any loose connections will decrease the voltage, however it is still dangerous. I had one cable powering a lighting dimmer pack that was loose that ended up getting so hot that it deformed the plastic around the screw terminals.

This is pretty common-especially with heavy loads.  Was just checking a home yesterday-they had a power surge Sunday night, due to a car accident, that destroyed (as in burned in two and filled the house with smoke) a Monster cable "surge protector".  A restoration company had placed an air purifier in the house to scrub the smoke smell.  The plug on their 12-3 extension cord was missing a ground prong and it was very hot to the touch-not far from melting the plastic and creating more smoke!
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