Bus Plugs: We’ve got what you need – All Manufacturer’s

February 23rd, 2015 No comments

Bus Plugs:  We’ve got what you need.  MIDWEST sells reconditioned, used and new Bus Plugs.   All manufacturer’s available – Square D, ITE, General Electric, Westinghouse, Cutler Hammer, Bull Dog, Continental, Federal Pacific, Gould, Siemens, etc.  Call today 800.803.9256!  http://www.swgr.com/store/Bus-Plug-Home.aspx

Crazy Arc Blasted Bus Plug

July 25th, 2012 1 comment

MIDWEST was in a manufacturing facility collecting data for an Arc Flash Hazard Analysis project.  While reviewing one of two main 1600 amp bus ducts through the facility, we came across something our Engineering Technicians thought was pretty crazy.  Crazy, but interesting.  One of the bus ducts had a bus plug with black soot on the side from an apparent internal fault.  It was an ITE BOS14353 bus plug and the soot had been blasted out of the seams of the cover and conduit box connectors and between the bus plug and bus duct.  The cover didn’t look like it was bent, but there was a lot of black stuff on the sides of the ITE bus plug.  We asked the maintenance man if he saw that and he said “Oh, ya,” they had a fault at the bus plug, but it didn’t trip the main breaker for the bus duct so they refed the machine from a different bus plug.  They couldn’t turn off half of production for one machine.  They didn’t touch the blasted bus plug, which was wise since they wouldn’t turn off the bus duct.  The feeder from the bus plug fed a fused disconnect mounted separately from the machine.  So they just turned off the disconnect switch, attached the LOTO, and refed the machine from a different BOS14353 bus plug to a new separate fused disconnect.  MIDWEST reconditions ITE BOS14353, General Electric FVK363, Square D PFA36100, ITE UV363, or Westinghouse ITAP363 bus plugs every day.  We know from shop experience and field service experience that the blasted bus plug was a ticking time bomb.  Sooner or later, it was just a matter of time, there was going to be another fault at that bus plug.  Probably at the connection to the bus duct.  Sooner could be an hour and later could be a couple years.  But the big concern was not for the bus plug, it was for a fault in the bus duct itself.  The black soot gets everywhere and the bus duct is very vulnerable.  If it faults, half their plant could be down for possibly days.  By shifting the attention from the bus plug to the bus duct, maintenance got an outage within days to remove the bus plug and clean up the bus duct.  A wise and safe decision.

Bus Plugs – Where are they used

May 23rd, 2012 No comments
PFA34100GN Square D 100 Amp Bus Plug For Sale by MIDWEST

PFA34100GN Square D 100 Amp Bus Plug For Sale by MIDWEST

MIDWEST is frequently asked where and how bus duct and bus plugs are used. Often the person asking works at a commercial facility, office, or processing company where the electrical power is distributed using just pipe and wire.  There may be no large open manufacturing areas. Here are a couple examples of facilities that use bus duct and bus plugs to distribute power around the facility. A metal fabricating plant may use Square 800 amp bus duct to distribute power throughout an open manufacturing area where they have machines they move around from time to time.  Part or the whole process may be rearranged depending on the product at the time. A Square D 100 amp bus plug,  PFA34100GN, may feed a 100 amp welding plug or the power and control compartment of a milling machine. There might be 25 or more bus plugs on the bus duct. And they could easily add new bus duct and new bus plugs to accommodate expansion.  Another example might be a very large open area or high bay facility for heavy manufacturing using a 2000 amp Square D bus duct with over a hundred bus plugs on it.  The bus plugs provide building power to power panels and lighting panels and to production equipment and process equipment. Bus duct is a very efficient way to get a lot of power to a large area where the power distribution keeps changing. Unlike office and commercial facilities, manufacturing plants have a need to put a lot of power to different areas that sometimes require additions and changes. Unlike fixed pipe and wire, the power capacity and flexibility of Square D or GE General Electric, Siemens, or Cutler Hammer bus plugs and bus duct is perfect for these environments.

Urgent Bus Plugs, PBQ3640 and PBQ3660

December 20th, 2011 No comments
Square D PBQ3660 Bus Plugs For Sale by MIDWEST

Square D PBQ3660 Bus Plugs For Sale by MIDWEST

MIDWEST’s Switchgear Shop had an urgent request for twelve bus plugs, including a large Square D PBQ3640 and Square D PBQ3660, 400 amp and 600 amp bus plugs. It’s not unusual to get urgent requests for bus plugs, but it was a little news worthy to get an emergency request for twelve bus plugs, including a 400 amp and a 600 amp bus plug. As it turned out, the bus plugs were for a former manufacturing plant that had been sold. The new owners were trying to get heat into the building before the Northern winter froze all the water pipes and who knows what else.  But they ran into a big problem.  Copper thieves had stolen a bunch of the electrical equipment, including large bus plugs. They left the really small bus plugs. The owners thought they got lucky because the thievery looked like a project in progress just when the owners began their restoration work. It looked like the thieves had just started taking the electrical stuff closest to the rear loading dock doors. In the process of removing the bus plugs, they damaged the bus duct. It looked like they just unbolted the plugs and let them fall. A lot of work for not much copper.  Thieves sometimes will just cut down the whole bus duct with the plugs attached.  But that’s dangerous and very loud. It is so unfortunate that the theft of a small amount of copper can be so expensive to repair and replace.

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Customers Don’t Know About the Bus Plug Secondary Market

October 18th, 2011 No comments
Replacement Square D 100 Amp Bus Plugs, Catalog No. PQ4610 - Available at www.swgr.com

Replacement Square D 100 Amp Bus Plugs, Catalog No. PQ4610 – Available at www.swgr.com

MIDWEST had a customer who used MIDWEST’s field services for over 20 years and did not realize there was a secondary market for electrical bus plugs and other electrical switchgear that no longer is manufactured. He was speaking to a MIDWEST Field Service Engineering Technician and was complaining that he might have to replace a 1600 amp bus duct run because the bus plugs were obsolete. He was not an electrician or the electrical supervisor. His job was in purchasing. The electricians asked him to get a replacement Square D 100 amp bus plug because the handle broke on one of theirs.  It is strange how many handles get broken on electrical equipment. It is understandable on some of the older stuff that has been in service for 40 plus years. Gets old, tired, and finally breaks.  Our Electrical Technician told him MIDWEST deals in the secondary market for obsolete electrical equipment and we would have completely reconditioned bus plugs to replace his obsolete defective stuff. He was extremely happy and looked forward to telling his boss he could save 1000s of dollars. On top of it all, they also ordered GE General Electric FVK425R bus plugs to boot. MIDWEST’s Switchgear Division said they run into this a lot. Frequently they get emergency calls to repair an obsolete piece of equipment as fast as possible and end up just replacing the defective equipment with a reconditioned direct replacement. The secondary switchgear market at its best.

Square D PQ3603G Bus Plug Is It New or Used

September 21st, 2011 2 comments

Every day MIDWEST’s Switchgear Division receives interesting calls, mostly about technical stuff. Often just plain old problem solving. And sometimes an emergency request for a replacement bus plug. Every once in a while we are asked whether the bus plug we sold was new or used. They couldn’t tell the difference. An example is a call about a Square D PQ3603G bus plug. The customer thought we made a mistake and sent them a new bus plug instead of a used PQ3603G. He was a bit surprised when we told him it was used, but had been reconditioned by MIDWEST. The reconditioning process is a full detailed disassembly, reconditioning of components, reassembly and final quality control testing and inspection. Thirty years ago, the common practice for some companies may have been to just wipe a used bus plug off and send it out the door. Those days should be long gone. Unfortunately there are suppliers that still don’t do much more than cosmetics. MIDWEST has a huge advantage.  We are a full service electrical testing and switchgear maintenance company and have been for over 30 year. In addition to high current and high voltage test equipment, we have test stations to simulate normal installation and operation of electrical equipment. Reconditioning a used Square D PQ3603G bus plug to look like new is routine work at MIDWEST.  But it is always nice to get a compliment from our customers.  We passed it on to the Switchgear Services Shop.  We have received similar compliments about other equipment, such as fused panel board switches, circuit breakers, transformers, etc.

Bus Plug Blog – Overheating Bus Plug with too Many Feeders

August 10th, 2011 No comments


PBQ3640G Square D Bus Plug - Buy at www.swgr.com

PBQ3640G Square D Bus Plug – Available at www.swgr.com

During a routine Infrared Scan of a large manufacturing facility, our Thermographer found an interesting, but not uncommon, problem. A 400 amp Square D bus plug, PBQ3640G, was lit up like a dim light bulb. That means the entire bus plug looked warm, not just one area of the bus plug. Note, when viewed with infrared, it does not take much of a temperature difference for an object to look dramatically warmer than the area around it. But this was hot enough to indicate there was a problem, an overheating problem that was not localized inside the bus plug. While trying to angle for another view of the bus plug, our Thermographer discovered three different feeder conduits coming out of the 400 amp bus plug. One went to a 400 amp panel board, one went to a 225 amp lighting panel, and one went to a molding machine.  As it turned out, there was a lot of load diversity, but the electric heaters on the molding machine were just too much. There was not a problem yet. There were no poor connections causing the heat. But the total load on the 400 amp bus plug was high enough to make the entire bus plug look warm under Infrared. If they continued to add load to the panel board or to the lighting panel, the fuses in the bus plug would have blown. Ignoring the fact not all the individual feeders out of the bus plug were protected, sooner or later they were going to have a problem with the PBQ3640G bus plug. Their solution was to put the molding machine on a new separate bus plug.



400 Amp Bus Plug Blocked by 2″ Pipe

May 23rd, 2011 No comments

During an Infrared Scan, or Thermographic Scan, of the electrical distribution system of a new account, MIDWEST’s Thermographer noted in his report a strange bus plug set up. A 200 amp Cutler Hammer bus plug had a 2 inch pipe installed right in front of the cover. The pipe was 3 inches from the bus plug cover and right near the operating mechanism. The pipe was just kind of hanging there. It didn’t have much support. It went to a huge molding machine near the Square D bus duct. So you couldn’t switch this 200 amp Square D bus plug from the floor and you couldn’t open the cover of the bus plug, if you had to, because of the pipe.  Who in their right mind would do this?  As it turns out, they had an emergency and had to get a temporary line to the molding machine as fast as possible. Apparently the line carried plastic used in the molding machine and this machine was their main money maker. So they just installed pipe temporarily as quickly as possible. And six years later, the temporary pipe was still there. It more or less had become permanent.  Temporary installations evolving into permanent, is not an unusual occurrence. In the real world, production rules.  And like it or not, the same rules that caused a temporary pipe installation, also prevent the permanent installation. In the electrical equipment world, this is somewhat self correcting when the equipment gets unhappy with a bang.  Bus plugs do fail if they are ignored too long.  Whether a GE General Electric, Square D or Cutler Hammer bus plug, it will eventually fail if ignored long enough. When these things happen, those temporary fixes come back to bite you.  

Rust, Old Bus Plugs Biggest Challenge

May 5th, 2011 No comments


Cutler Hammer Bus Plugs For Sale - Cat. #CP2HD465

Cutler Hammer Bus Plugs For Sale – Cat. #CP2HD465

Sometimes the biggest challenge MIDWEST runs into, when reconditioning old bus plugs and obsolete bus plugs, is rust. Ironically this biggest challenge usually has the easiest solution, scrap out the bus plug. Sometimes healthy parts can be harvested from the rusted bus plugs, but care has to be taken to assure the recovered parts have not also been damaged by rust. The problem with rust is that it can be very insidious. Let’s say we want to recondition a Square D bus plug, Siemens Bus Plug or Cutler Hammer bus plug. It doesn’t make any difference. The rust doesn’t care. The problem is, we frequently don’t know the extent of the rusting until we have disassembled the bus plug and started the metal refinishing. The surface preparation may reveal severe structural rusting that was not fully apparent cosmetically. Now we’re not talking about full blown metal failure where you could push your finger through the metal. That’s obvious. We are referring to non cosmetic deterioration that prevents professional surface reconditioning. And this is not always visually apparent. It might not even be discovered if a company just repaints on old ITE or Westinghouse bus plug, for example. MIDWEST is very carful of equipment from facilities that have been out of service and unheated for any period of time. Extensive moisture damage can occur and not be visible until MIDWEST begins the full reconditioning process. This is another reason we recondition and test our equipment. There can be hidden defects. Some structural, some functional, some electrical, and any of them could turn a bus plug into a piece of scrap metal.



Bus Plug Becomes Rat Hotel

April 25th, 2011 No comments


Cutler Hammer 400 Amp Bus Plug

Cutler Hammer 400 Amp Bus Plug

It would be more accurate to say the Square D bus plug became a mouse hotel, but Rat Hotel sounds more dramatic. MIDWEST field services runs into some pretty bizarre circumstances. Some funny, some tragic, and some a little of both. In this case MIDWEST was called to replace a Cutler Hammer 400 amp bus plug that had smoked, code for faulted with some arcing and smoking action. The location was a storage warehouse, damp, with minimum heat. It was easy to spot the damaged bus plug because it was partially discolored, or maybe the dust all over it was just toasted. When MIDWEST opened the bus plug to see how much damage there was and to get the exact catalog number, they discovered the remains of a mouse hotel, or colony, or habitat. A smelly little mess. Apparently mice got into the bus plug through an unplugged knockout on the top side of the old bus plug. It wouldn’t make any difference if this was a 400 amp Squared D bus plug or 400 GE General Electric Bus plug, the problem was caused by the missing knockout closure. A few cents cost a couple thousand dollars before the job was all done. The mice got in through the knockout opening, built nests, and seemed to be doing okay until one of them “crossed the phases,” so to speak. There was one toasted mouse, plus other fatalities, and burnt up debris in the bus plug. The guys removed the bus plug, installed a replacement from MIDWEST’s Switchgear Services, and then brought the damaged bus plug back to the shop. The only remaining problem was finding a volunteer to cleanup and check out the damaged bus plug to see if it was worth full reconditioning.  It wasn’t. Rats