Temporary Power: Cleaning the Box

Prepping my hand-me-down temporary power box.

As I wrote yesterday, I decided to do the installation of the temporary power at my building site in Malaga. This would not only teach me more about how electrical wiring is done, but it would save me about $300.

The decision was made easy, in part, by a friend’s offer of his old temporary power pole which was about 80% wired for my needs. He’d built a home in Wenatchee Heights and had the permanent power turned on last summer. He didn’t need the box and offered it to me in trade for a few trees he wanted to plant on his property. He also offered to supervise my wiring of the box and took me shopping at Home Depot and an electrical supply store to get the few parts I needed to make it work for my purposes.

Yesterday, I went to examine the pole and electric panel, which he’d dug out and laid on the ground. I tried to move it but couldn’t — the post is an 8-foot long 8×8 piece of lumber further weighted down with the electrical box and some heavy wires and conduit. (I should point out that if I had to move it, I know I could — probably by fastening it to my Jeep’s bumper and dragging it to a new position. And when it comes time to bring it to my future home, I know my friend will help me get it in my truck and wrestle it into place in the 36″ deep hole I dug on Saturday.) But even in its current location, I could open it up and check it out.

Electric Box Before
The electrical box was full of twigs, left behind by an industrious bird.

Sometime during the past few years, a bird had built a nest in the box. The meter side was absolutely full of twigs, feathers, and dirt. It would all need to be cleaned out before I could do any wiring. So I donned a pair of latex gloves and got to work.

While a lot of the twigs were easy to get to and remove, others weren’t. I had to get a tool — a flat-head screwdriver, in this case — to partially disassemble the box where the meter would go so I could reach the twigs. I also used a needle-nose pliers to reach and grab where my fingers wouldn’t.

I got a phone call from a friend while I was working and took a break. While we were chatting — about, among other things, the latest crazy talk from Arizona, if you can believe that — I went into my friend’s house to track down a ShopVac. I have one, but it’s in storage, and I know my little battery-powered DustBuster wouldn’t be able to do the job. I found a big ShopVac with an extension cord and carried down to the back door.

Power Box After
This is as clean as this box is going to be.

When my conversation was over, I plugged the vacuum in and ran the cord out to the backyard where the power pole lay open. Five minutes later the electrical box was as clean as it would get.

I reattached the panel over the area where the meter would go and closed the box back up. Then I returned the ShopVac to its place in the house and put away all my tools.

Taking care of the box must have put me in the mood to clean because I spent the rest of the afternoon clearing out the miscellaneous stuff that had accumulated under the helicopter’s seats, washing the helicopter bubble cover, and cleaning out the RV basement.

(Now if only I could get through this stack of paperwork that never seems to go away.)

My friend returns later today. With luck, we’ll get that electrical box wired this afternoon — and maybe even bring it to my future home and position it in its post hole. There’s a good chance I’ll have electricity there by the end of the week.

6 thoughts on “Temporary Power: Cleaning the Box

    • Thanks, Shirley. I love a challenge, an achievable goal. Every time I get another task done on this big project, I feel real pleasure. This project is the gift that keeps on giving.

      What I’ve learned throughout the years is that there’s only one person you can depend on all the time: yourself. Dealing with contractors — or trying to deal with them — just brings this point home again and again. I do have to mention again how fortunate I am to have such great friends. Without their support and encouragement, I wouldn’t be able to do so many of the things I do. You’re one of them, Shirley. Thanks!

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