Union Pacific is modernizing its communications equipment and in early June IBEW 1245 members helped keep the project on track with a transformer change-out on the outskirts of Reno.
The railroad’s new equipment will require more power, says NV Energy Foreman Paul Wiles, a 23-year member of IBEW 1245. “The transformer wasn’t large enough so we have to change it, from a 5 kv to a 25 kv.”
Checking the equipment is an important part of the job. They “ring out” the transformer at the warehouse to make sure it’s in good condition, then check the voltage again in the field to make sure it hasn’t been damaged during transportation to the jobsite. “We just need to make sure the transformer is good before energizing it for the customer,” explains Wiles.
Safety is the top priority, even when performing routine work like this. Besides the usual electrical and falling hazards, there are rattlesnakes to consider in terrain like this. And of course, you have to keep an eye out for passing trains.
“We have our tailboard. We discuss the known safety issues we see, what circuit we’re on. We discuss about covering (energized conductors) so we can encroach a little closer to the line,” says Wiles. And a second tailboard might be conducted if the crew encounters something unexpected in the course of the work.
Working with Wiles on the change-out are Lineman Jared Dillard, a 9-year IBEW member, and Apprentice Lineman Jonathan Ramsdell, a 5-year IBEW member.
(Photos by John Storey.)