Scream and scream again

English: Electronic converter for 12V halogen ...

Electronic converter for 12V halogen lamps

Wasn’t much happening on Wednesday morning. I had one very small job to do for a guy who lives about two hundred metres away, that is if I were a bird (of the feathered variety…LOL) but about four hundred by road, the way I have to go. He has a twin spotlight over his bed and he wanted me to replace the 12v transformer with an LED Driver so that he could at the same time remove the halogen lamps and fit LED lamps instead. Basically a ten minute job which got done within that time. I would have returned home except that I wanted to drive into town to purchase some toiletries and also visit the Salvation Army Citadel to conduct some business there. I usually only buy toiletries twice a year and buy them in bulk accordingly. I buy them there because they are less expensive. I was back home just after eleven o’clock. I had no other work scheduled for the day so I locked the van away in the garage. It was around twelve-thirty and I was thinking about lunch and what to have when my mobile phone rang. It was a lady I have worked for on a couple of previous occasions who lives just on the other side of town. She asked if I could do a quick job for her. She had a twin dimmer lighting switch, that is a plate on which were two dimmer switches and one of them had ceased working. It would be simple enough to replace the whole plate but I had to see it first in case it wasn’t the switch that was faulty. I was there in ten minutes. I discovered that indeed one of the switches was faulty but she had installed energy-saving lamps (miniature fluorescent) which cannot be dimmed and it was possibly that reason the switch gave up the ghost. I drove her to the supplier to buy a replacement switch but one having a dimmer switch and an ordinary on-off switch on the plate instead. The supplier told me that a ‘dummy dimmer’ switch was available to replace the faulty one instead of buying a complete unit. It looked exactly like the dimmer switch but simply switches on and off instead. We drove back to the house and I set about doing the ‘ten minute’ job. That is when the problems started. I had difficulty in removing the faulty switch and the wires connected to it. Fitting the replacement was straightforward but connecting the wires to it was not.

Small scream

Small scream (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the first instance they were too short to make it easy and secondly I had difficulty in opening the connectors which were so tight I finally had to remove the switch from the plate and attempt to open them that way. In doing so however I had to exert a lot of pressure on the terminal screws and they disappeared inside the unit. I had to dismantle the switch to set things right again. Totally a design fault as the only thing stopping the terminals from disappearing were the three solid wires behind them and they didn’t take much pressure to bend them. A more solid terminal block is required in the switches’ design. I put everything back in place and connected the switch only to find that the lights didn’t work! I had inadvertently connected one of the wires to a wrong terminal. Two wires, three terminals and working in the dark didn’t help and although I had a flashlight with someone to hold it for me it had made little difference. All I had to do was move one of the wires to the spare terminal to put it right but I had to remove the switch again in order to do it! The main problem was the lack of length in the wires but as there was little space in the wall box I couldn’t lengthen them. I informed the lady that to put things right would need the wall box being set further back in the wall to enable the wires to be extended but that in the meantime I had to do the best I could in the time I had to do it. She had an appointment and would be away from home for a long time. Eventually I got everything working correctly and she was happy with that. She asked me if at some point in the near future I could replace a faulty floodlight outside and above her rear door. I had a quick look and agreed I would do it for her. I might get the opportunity to redo that twin lighting switch too in the way it should have been done in the first place by the original installer. I get so annoyed when I see the poor work done by some electricians, especially when I have to put things right and designers who design problems into their designs!

So the job took far longer than it should have done had all things been right but I didn’t push up the price. It was by now two-thirty so I drove to the pub and treated myself to a hearty lunch.

Shirley Anne


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