Posts Tagged ‘electrical switchgear’

Perfect Square D MA36500 Circuit Breaker an Ornamental Reminder

October 28th, 2011 1 comment
Square D MA36500 Circuit Breakers For Sale at

Square D MA36500 Circuit Breakers For Sale at

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.”

Circuit Breakers in Switchboard Buried in Sand

December 6th, 2010 Comments off

Sometimes MIDWEST runs into switchgear and circuit breakers in such harsh environments that you would wonder how they don’t blow up, much less work properly.  An example is some switchgear and old circuit breakers found in foundry environments. The condition of electrical equipment in foundries is 100 times better than 25 years ago. But there is still one thing that has not changed for some foundries and that is sand in electrical switchgear. Some foundries still have their main panel boards and some switchgear in open foundry areas, rather than in clean positive pressure rooms.


We recently were called in to repair a 2000 amp circuit breaker used in an open foundry environment. It turned out the old circuit breaker was not a breaker at all, but rather was a 2000 amp bolted pressure switch. The electrical switchboard had over 6 inches of sand in the bottom and 3 or 4 inches on top. The main horizontal bus feeding the risers for the circuit breakers, was partially buried in foundry sand. The service technicians said they actually scooped the sand out before even trying to use vacuum equipment. Fortunately the sand didn’t carry anything with it that acted as a conductor. This isn’t always true. In this case, the sand was just more insulation.


Maintaining the bolt lock switch and the circuit breakers was a nasty job. The covers had to be removed from every breaker to clean the operating mechanism and to get the sand out of the contact and arc chute area. And all our efforts were only temporary since the environment was unchanged. More serious was the fact that foundry dust would be inside the over current trip devices of the circuit breakers. Therefore the operation of the trip devices was unreliable, even unsafe. It wouldn’t make any difference whether these old circuit breakers were Square D, Westinghouse, GE General Electric or Cutler Hammer. Foundry dust and sand doesn’t care who the manufacture is. Even a brand new circuit breaker would be a victim to the sand.

The illusion was the circuit breakers were okay because they didn’t trip. It was only when the owner tried and failed to operate the main switch did they realize that maybe the panel board and breakers needed some attention. This was not the first, nor will it be the last, switchgear, panel board, or circuit breakers that we find basically buried in sand.