Barrel of Scrap Circuit Breakers
This is another blog on MIDWEST’s barrels of junk circuit breakers. More specifically it is about the difficulty of not believing something you can’t see. This human factor can frequently be a challenge in our world when a customer has a perfectly good looking circuit breaker and we tell them it is no good and they need a replacement circuit breaker that will cost $3500.00. They understand the words, but their emotional pocket book says “But it looks okay.” Even after being presented with the test results or pictures of the inside of the breaker that reveal the deficiency or damage, they find it hard to believe what their brain is telling them isn’t true, “Because it looks okay.” In our world of reconditioning circuit breakers and remanufacturing circuit breakers, we frequently scrap out equipment that looks in perfectly good condition. Usually the reason for tossing out, say a Square D NA361200circuit breaker, involves deficiencies that can not
Square D NA361200 Circuit Breaker
be seen physically, unless you remove the cover or thoroughly test the circuit breaker. Whether a reconditioned GE General Electric, Square D, Cutler Hammer or Siemens circuit breaker, if the inspection or test results say junk, out it goes. And keep in mind, some circuit breakers are not built to be happy if you remove the cover. You need to know what you’re doing. Recently we had an electrical contractor stop to pick up several reconditioned Cutler Hammer circuit breakers. He walked by the barrels labeled “Scrap Breakers” and he looked like he saw a little gold mine. He really didn’t like the idea that all those breakers were actually junk and were being scrapped. The contractor in him told him these breakers were worth a fortune. Even after showing him some of the new looking circuit breakers that had the covers off revealing visible deficiencies, all he could say was a skeptical “Hmmm.” Even we sometimes grunt a little “Hmmm” when we toss out a $3000.00 piece of junk.
Categories: Uncategorized circuit breakers, Cutler Hammer, GE, general electric, Junk Circuit Breakers, Reconditioned Breakers, Remanufactured Breakers, replacement circuit breakers, Scrap Breakers, Siemens, Square D NA361200
1600 Amp General Electric Air Circuit Breaker – Catalog No. AK-2A-50-1 Available at www.swgr.com
A customer called MIDWEST to ask why we did something called a “Reset Test” on his circuit breaker. He said he has had circuit breakers tested by switchgear service companies for nearly 30 years and never ever saw something called a circuit breaker “Reset Test.” He has Square D circuit breakers, Westinghouse circuit breakers, General Electrical circuit breakers and newer Cutler Hammer circuit breakers. He checked some of his old test reports and found no “reset tests.” He had never used MIDWEST before, so he was pretty interested when we explained the reason and procedure for the reset test. The reason was a very pleasant surprise because it gave him greater confidence in the proper performance of his circuit breakers. MIDWEST started using the circuit breaker “reset test” many years ago. It’s not a standard test procedure. You won’t find it in the text books or instruction manuals. You will find it in MIDWEST’s Training Manual under ‘Scars,’ meaning experience. It’s a carry over procedure from testing old dashpot type air circuit breakers and insulated case circuit breakers and molded case circuit breakers. The reason for the test is that occasionally, seldom but occasionally, a circuit breaker will nuisance trip when put back into service after it has been high current tested. For example, a 1600 amp air circuit breaker, after high current testing, might nuisance trip instantly at 500 amps. Basically the over current device failed during the high current testing. This was far more common with older “non electronic” over current devices. New electronic over current devices are more reliable, but not perfect. Strange things happen. We are not talking about the service technician forgetting to put the settings back to the correct positions. We are talking about an actual defective device. The test only takes moments. In the interest of quality control, the reset test addresses the “consequences of failure” as opposed to the “probability of failure.”
Yes, we are paranoid about safety and quality.
Categories: Uncategorized air circuit breakers, circuit breaker, Cutler Hammer, GE, general electric, High Current Test, Insulated Case Breaker, molded case circuit breakers, Nuisance Trip, Over Current Device, Reset Test, square d, Westinghouse
Arc Damaged Westinghouse PC32000 Circuit Breaker
If you want to see a good picture of a large circuit breaker that has been damaged by an arc blast, look at the pictures with this blog. The breaker was a Westinghouse PC32000 molded case circuit breaker. It was a 2000 amp circuit breaker that failed to interrupt a fault and blasted the inside of the breaker until it actually blew a hole through the side of the circuit breaker frame. If you look closely, you will see where a MIDWESTswitchgear service technician actually stuck a screwdriver through the hole. The close up picture shows the hole and shows the extensive arcing damage to the moveable arcing and main contacts. The phase barriers, arc chutes, pretty much the whole Westinghouse PC32000 circuit breaker, was arc blasted beyond repair. One picture shows the destroyed circuit breaker next to a MIDWEST inventory stock PC32000 circuit breaker. This is a tough Westinghouse molded case circuit breaker. It wouldn’t make any difference whether the breaker was Square D or GE General Electric. If the breaker contacts begin to open, but fail to interrupt the current, arc damage will quickly occur. If the breaker is trying to interrupt fault current, extensive arc damage occurs very fast and will quickly expand into a phase to phase fault with catastrophic destruction. The arcing fault may explode outside the case of the circuit breaker. This is one of the reasons for wearing protective clothing and following safe work practices when operation circuit breakers. Bad things can happen very fast. Too fast for you to get out of the way. We suggest being paranoid about safety when working around electrical power equipment.
Another View of a Arc Damanged Westinghouse PC32000 Circuit Breaker
Categories: Uncategorized 2000 amp circuit breaker, arc blast, arc chutes, arc damage, arcing damage, Damaged Circuit Breaker, Electrical Power Equipment, Extensive Arcing Damage, GE Circuit Breaker, General Electric Circuit Breakers, PC32000 Circuit Breaker, Phase Barriers, Phase to Phase Fault, Protective Clothing, square d circuit breaker, Westinghouse Circuit Breaker, Westinghouse PC32000 Circuit Breaker
Square D MA36500 Circuit Breakers For Sale at www.swgr.com
On one of MIDWEST’s Switchgear Service Desks is a Square D molded case circuit breaker in mint condition. It just sits there, in a place of honor, as a reminder that appearances may outright lie. It has nothing to do with whether or not the circuit breaker is Square D or a Cutler Hammer HLCG3400 or a GE General Electric TJK436400WL or any other manufacture. It is there as a reminder that you can’t tell the condition of the inside of the breaker, the operating condition, based on the outside appearances. We see breakers that look like junk, but test out perfectly. And, as in this case, we see breakers that look mint and are junk. We used this circuit breaker because it looks like it is in such great condition. Looks great, opening and closing sounds right and feels right. But, when we removed the cover, the contacts were what we call, and this is a technical term, fried. Moveable and stationary, main and operating contacts were burned, brown, and blasted. The inside of the arc dividers were charred. The breaker was fatally damaged and could not be used. But it looked in mint condition. This is a great training aid and we kept it just for that reason. There is a tendency to make technical judgments based on appearances. This is human nature. But is does not apply to the technical world and it certainly does not apply to the electrical switchgear world. We’ll call this, “Breaker fallacy number one.”
For an Electrical Power Engineer, it may seem strange to see someone tearing apart a 15 Kv GE magna blast circuit breaker for scrap. They are one of many work horse high voltage air circuit breakers used successfully for decades in manufacturing plants across the Country. But they have been replaced with 15 kv vacuum circuit breakers. Vacuum breakers are reliable, fast acting, low maintenance devices. Many air circuit breakers have been retrofitted with vacuum circuit breakers. The old air circuit breakers are being scrapped because there are just so many on the secondary market and many are not in good condition. They might look great, be in good mechanical condition, but the arc chutes may have serious damage or dielectric deterioration. These things are not noticeable to most people, but MIDWEST tests high voltage circuit breakers and looks can be extremely deceiving. In addition, the cost to recondition an air circuit breaker is very high. It’s not just the mechanics of the circuit breaker, but the dielectrics can be far more costly. The old GE General Electric and Westinghouse high voltage air circuit breakers are everywhere in the secondary market and they sit for years on the storage shelves. If we have 40 GE General Electric 1200 amp magna blast circuit breakers and we sell 5 a year and we can buy as many more as we need, at little cost, then their value today may be greatest as scrap. This is especially true with the value of scrap metal, like copper, being so high. It’s not 1970 any more.