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  1. #27
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    Jun 2004
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    Richmond Virginia
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    I'll read through this thread later when I have some more time. There's still a lot of pneumatics in my area and a definate lack of people that know how to work on it. We were busy today and I ran a call myself at a building down the street. Another company had come in and bypassed all the summer/winter selector switches that controlled the outdoor air dampers. The note they left said this was done to "close" the dampers but sending air to them opens them. Then they went to the outdoor air dampers and saw they were open so they disconnected all the linkages and threw the dampers shut (well, some were open and some were shut). On one air handler, both the return and outdoor air dampers were shut so the duct was imploding. On another air handler they couldn't get the hot deck warm enough (because they had outside air wide open) so they jacked up the setpoint sky high. The building's simply a mess.

    Back on subject, pneumatics are great, and they don't lock in a sole source service provider but they do require constant calibration. Anyone that thinks DDC doesn't isn't living in the real world either though.

    The building I mention above is up for sale and could be remodeled or could be torn down. The air handlers(Westinghouse), chillers (Worthington), and boilers (came over on the Mayflower) are all in the sub-basement (that's right, two floors underground). This equipment doesn't lend itself to replacement because of it's location. What suggestions do you have? We've converted hot deck/cold deck pneumatic systems to DDC VVT or VAV systems before but not on this scale. Ever done anything like that?

  2. #28
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    Canada
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    1,813
    DELTA T the DDC / PNEUMATIC backup system is quite the deal , when originally installed I had the Pneumatics finished before the DDC was completed so we ran it on PNEUMATIC for a good test , worked great . DDC system uses pneumatic end devices and if it fails EP opens to all the PNEUMATIC control cabinets and the PNEUMATICS come alive. We have to simulate a DDC failure twice a year and verify the PNEUMATICS. Both buildings also have a COMPLETE backup for every mechanical system , 1 fails other kicks in handy for doing service / maint.

    Other neat thing is the DDC is in both ENGLISH & FRENCH , has to seperate front ends and a ENGLISH - FRENCH selector switch.

  3. #29
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    Nov 2001
    Location
    Seattle, WA
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    7,763

    Wink

    Control Man
    Sounds like you have a PDDC system. You may have started something new. It's the only way you can guarantee the operation of a DDC control system, cool.

    So how do you say pneumatics in French? La Workee-rightie.
    "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers it can bribe the public with the public's own money.
    - Alexis de Toqueville, 1835

  4. #30
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Ft Worth Tx ( North Richland Hills)
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    2,143

    I too am an old rheumatics fitter. 5 years with Johnson Controls and 3 1/2 with Honeywell. Being a fitter, Johnson and Honeywell were always careful to segregate fitters from the non-union automation techs. It didn't take a genius to see that pneumatics was on borrowed time and computerized bas systems were the future.

    It's also true that the computer geeks hired to install these systems didn't have a clue as far as knowing what control strategies to use or what an economizer cycle was, or mixed air or reset schedules etc. Before Belimo actuators arrived, I argued that electronic valve and damper operators were too expensive and unreliable to ever compete with a pneumatic actuator. I mean a pinhole in a diaphragm was the worst case scenario, parts and labor $100.00 max. $1,500 electronic actuators that lasted 2 seasons if lucky were common.

    I got a chance to dive into Tracer 10's 100's and L's in my 10 years with Trane. I LOVED being able to call up a building from my p.c. when on call and decide if I REALLY had to drive over there in the middle of the night. I loved pneumatics and I love my DDC, gotta change with the times or get left behind. I have no pneumatics here where I work now.

    How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?

  5. #31
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Minnesota
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    1,376
    Originally posted by ozone drone

    Being a fitter, Johnson and Honeywell were always careful to segregate fitters from the non-union automation techs. It didn't take a genius to see that pneumatics was on borrowed time and computerized bas systems were the future.
    Ahhhh. Perhaps this explains some of my confusion with not understanding the extent of the hard feelings some of the fellows have with DDC systems.

    I was not aware some companies were segregating automation from other sides of the house. Or using very many non-HVAC types for actual system installation, setup, commissioning and programming.

    My experience, and I thought it to be a common one (but it would seem maybe it's not), has been different. In the Navy, where besides pneumatics we mostly used PLC's, the "techs" were usually a mixed bag of electronics types with a lot of mechanical training, and mechanics with a fair bit of electrical and electronic controls training. Things were done as a team effort. The electronics types took the lead in electronic controls (PLC's), but didn't even think about doing anything without consulting the mechanics and both sides knocking their heads together. The mechanics types were also trained on the PLC's, just not as extensively.

    Then, when I worked for a phone company after retiring from the Navy, the particular one I worked for did much the same. Automation was done by a mixed team of mechanics and electricians, with a computer type thrown in here and there.

    Now, with the company for whom I work, as I've mentioned in other posts, the "automation techs" are about a 50/50 mix of electricians (with lots of HVAC background) and pipefitters. With the occassional computer type who has managed to learn something about HVAC systems. Not many of the last sort. Not in the field. Got a couple back in the office, who specialize in figuring out network issues, interfacing one protocol with another, do some special programming we require from time to time for special projects. ie Unusual trend log analysis programs, and specialty programs that mostly reside on the front end. Programs that actually control equipment are normally done by an experienced (with HVAC, fire systems, etc) automation tech. ALL programs must be approved by an automation tech who has proven knowledge of the systems being controlled.

    ie Even when the "back office" generates programs, they're not accepted and used, as is, without being thoroughly checked by an automation tech. Generally, almost always, back office generated programs end up being changed in the field so that they actually work right. Inevitably the back office overlooks something, didn't know something, had a brain fart, or whatever.

    In the kind of jobs we deal with most of the time, "canned" routines and ASC controllers see limited use, beyond VAV controllers, small heat pump serving a single room, hanging UH in a dock area, etc. If one discounts VAVs, I doubt if more than 10% of the controllers we install are ASC types, or general purpose controllers with "canned", off the shelf, routines running in them.

    Ohhh, the "back office" tries. And they're a bright enough bunch. And actually well educated in engineering and HVAC.

    But it's more a theoretical, or academic knowledge. And they're right, 90% of the time. Its the other 10% of the time that bites em in the ass. And the reason everything they put out; schematics, written sequences of operation, pre-made front end graphic screens, and actual programs in the controllers; are considered "tentative". A starting point. But before anything gets turned on and ran, a tech goes thru all, and fixes the major glitches. Then sits down and starts looking for the minor ones, finding them, and fixing them.

    And there are ALWAYS glitches. It's the tech's job to fix em and ensure final product both works correctly, AND that the customer is satisfied with it.

    It's also true that the computer geeks hired to install these systems didn't have a clue as far as knowing what control strategies to use or what an economizer cycle was, or mixed air or reset schedules etc.
    Hmmm. I've run across a couple computer geeks tossed into BAS, without grown-up supervision. But have only seen it a couple times. I'd not thought it so prevalent elsewhere.

    Interesting.

    I LOVED being able to call up a building from my p.c. when on call and decide if I REALLY had to drive over there in the middle of the night.
    Yep, there is that part of the biz that can be nice.

    Not all of em do it. But the vast majority of our customers are very cooperative about making sure we can access their system from outside if necessary. So many times when we get a complaint call, if it's normal business hours, somebody in the office will dial in to the customer's site to see if whatever can be fixed remotely. Or to at least see what the real problem is so that if a man is dispatched he has an idea of what he's getting into. And can figure out if he should stop and get some parts first. After hours, our service guys on call like to dial in and check it out before hitting the road. Many times can make temporary fix remotely, or determine it can wait for normal working hours. They like that. Most of em aren't all that hot over getting more overtime. Will usually be happy if they can write up an hour of labor, adjusting and/or troubleshooting from home in his boxers, then crawl back into a nice warm bed or wife, and do the real fix come next working day. Especially when it's minus 20 outside, and the snow's up over your knees.

  6. #32
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    Aug 2003
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    Ft Worth Tx ( North Richland Hills)
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    I'm talking 1979-1987 when BAS systems were just coming on line. Honeywell even had "Union" and "Non-Union" trucks!

    Union fitters would be lucky to get an am radio. The "techs" would get ac/cruise/ cassette player. Of course the techs were maybe getting 8-12 /hr and union scale was around 18/hr then. Honeywell was alot more openly antagonistic with their union help. We were a necessary evil that was shoved down their throats.

    Johnson was less overtly hostile, but still tried to keep the techs and fitters from mingling and sharing knowledge.
    How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?

  7. #33
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Location
    Seattle, WA
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    ozone
    You bring back some very bitter memeories for me with the fitter/tech thing. What we use to call EMS systems back then in the early 70's, which was the term used to replace central stations for large properties, came about because of the oil crisis in the early 70's.

    At that time I was designing/selling all types of controls for the commmercial division of Honeywell in and around the Washington DC area. Because of my field background, I fit into this crisis era really well and designed and sold control systems till they were coming out of my ears. Did a lot of big and famous projects and had a lot of fun.

    Then the affordable personal computer came out and I found myself faced with sales people coming out to the woodwork who had computer programming experience, especially IBM...yes, they were in our business. That's when the term "black box" came out cause that is literally what they sold.

    I ended up designing/selling the first leased line energy management systems in that area to some pretty big places, and some small too.

    That's when the problem started. Technicians were hired to install the EMS systems which were right next to and sometimes in place of the pneumatic controls which could only be touched (literally) by union steam fitters.

    The techs just wanted to go to work and learn. Most of them were pretty smart and made 1/3 of the steam fitters did, which was right. One of the original techs I am still friends with and he now owns his own HVAC & DDC control firm on the east coast with over 100 employees. Very smart guy.

    But the war started. I had 12 steam fitters, most of which were brillant but spoiled and 6 techs installing stuff. I had to schedule almost every day to make sure the two would not meet on the same job. Now I was for both of them because both were pretty good groups of people but I could have gotten rid of every steam fitter in a minute because of the way they acted. They would fight, I mean, fight about how many miles outside the beltway they could drive before they got an extra 15 cents per mile or something like that. Every day they would create arguements about something, usually to do with them getting more money, nickle and dime stuff.

    The oil crisis and the afforadable personal computer started this generation in the early 70's. I could see back then that the steam fitters attitude would do them in alone. And it was and still is a shame because they sure represent a lot of knowledge and skill. They are still around but haven't changed much. I still have lots of union friends but I know never to get them started or actually make them think about their own situation or effect.

    Ironically, shortly after we got some great leased line systems installed and up and running with some really good results the upgrade of the baud rate and the microzation of computre put me out of that sector of the business. In 2 years we were obsolete. But Honeywell built some pretty good systems back then.

    Those were very good days and very rough at the same time. Even back then I would watch as for every HVAC contol system we would design/install using proper control theory, there were tons of small computer oriented companies saturating the commercial market with everything from electronic time clocks in a box to electronics that showed every display you could imagine but basically did nothing except duty cycle and turn things on and off even if it was not good for the equipment. I can not tell you how many compressors would cycle on and off rapidly because the electronic guys looked at our machinery as light bulbs...you can just turn them on and off when you wanted too.
    "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers it can bribe the public with the public's own money.
    - Alexis de Toqueville, 1835

  8. #34
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    Aug 2003
    Location
    Ft Worth Tx ( North Richland Hills)
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    Delta T.

    Wasn't Honeywell's system called a Delta something or other?
    I think I remember a Johnson gag poster showing a Delta toilet in reference to Honeywell's system. Anyway I think Honeywell and Johnson saw computerized BAS systems as a convenient means to rid themselves of expensive and whiney
    union hands. They were spoiled and whiney like you said. I was in Wyoming back then.

    There was a provision in the National Contract between the UA and The Controls companies (Honeywell,Johnson, Powers etc.) that if the hall could not provide qualified people, the companies could go and hire whoever they deemed qualified. I accidently got caught up in this squabble.

    I was trained in HVAC in the Air Force. After getting out of the military was working residential,light commercial for a Mom and Pop shop. I was sick of the "MOM's PMS moments and was looking for another job. An interesting ad in the paper turned out to be an employment agency, who asked me how I felt about unions. They sent me to their client, who happened to be Honeywell, for an interview. At the interview Honeywell asked me how I felt about unions too. After Honeywell said they liked my schooling but didn't feel I had enough chiller/commercial experience.I left the interview wondering about the union which the employment agency and Honeywell had planted the seed of curiosity.....So I drove over to the UA hall went in and was asking how I go about joining...just then the BA walked by and asked if I had been talking to any employers. I said I had just left an interview with Honeywell. The BA grabbed me by my elbow took me into his office, picked up the phone and called Honeywell and asked "what did you think of (my name)?

    I was shocked, thinking this guy just blew my small chance of my getting on with Honeywell. I didn't hear anything from Honeywell and about 6 weeks later the UA calls my house asking how I'd like to go to work for Honeywell?
    How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?

  9. #35
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    Canada
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    Ah yes the DELTA 1000 , quite the MONSTER in its time.

    Up this way HW they did all kinds of BS to the fitters , put in a mileage clause , only so many mile radius of the centre of the city for taking the truck home. 1 guy found a parking spot dead on the fringe and would leave it there and drive an old beater from there to home. Then they changed it to token amount per mile for personal use , he just recieved a new van , took out the shelves put in a couple couchs and used the van for a cross country vacation , worked out to be rather CHEAP trip.

  10. #36
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Location
    Seattle, WA
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    7,763
    Originally posted by Control Man
    Ah yes the DELTA 1000 , quite the MONSTER in its time.
    Yep, that was my monster. We used it for leased line control and communication for commercial buildings. We had buildings 10 miles away and 500 miles away. It worked out really nice. We had an unbelievable 600 baud rate and then jumped to 1200.

    It was the mainframe of an IBM 3500 or something. That's when I first noticed how this form of electronics were introducing uncontrollable and nonsensiable situations into the HVAC field.

    One night we had the system go down and we had this retired Navy Chief watching over the system. He was pretty good. I asked him what was wrong, being use to having answers that were precise and on the mark, and he looked at me and shrugged his shoulders and said "I don't know." So I asked him how long will the system be down and he said "maybe 3 days, I don't know." Ends up all he could do was continue to replace the main frame boards until the thing started working right again. Hmmmm, sound famaliar?

    Then the Delta 2000 came out which was 1/10 the size and twice the power of the Delta 1000 and was for in-building use. That put us out of business almost overnight, well, the Delta 1000 it did. I kept on trucking selling renovations to a lot of those other systems such as the IBM installs and small computer oriented systems with no control theory background. It was a field day for me. Sometimes I would sell a new system back to the same customer 3 time in a year and 1/2 because someone else, building engineer or outside DDC (not a term used back then)firm would pretty much trash the existing & working controls to install their own brand.
    "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers it can bribe the public with the public's own money.
    - Alexis de Toqueville, 1835

  11. #37
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
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    Two short stories about union experiences.

    The man who got me involved in HVAC talked me into going to school for HVAC & said the Steam Fitters were the only way to go. So I go over to New Jersey Ave in DC to sign up for school & this gentleman behind the union hall counter laughs a little & tells me there is a 3 year waiting list to get into the "new" union air conditioning program.

    Discouraged I turn around to walk away & mumble why did Mr (the man who advised me to apply) would tell me to apply if there is a 3 year waiting list. The gentlemen over heard me speak this mans name & asked how I knew him. So I tell him he is the one who sent me over & he is like a father to me.


    So the union guy says something about "no problem, we'll get you into the next school session." That's when I learned that most of the union policies are centered around a good old boys white mans club. I said no thanks and left.

    At Honeywell I kept 3 steam fitters and a few techs pretty busy with my sales. I sold a control valve for a cooling tower for a large government chiller which kept shutting down on freeze protection. But the job could only get done over the weekend and the chiller had to be back on line Monday morning.

    So John, Dave (the shop steward) and Skip took on the job which was all overtime. We were all good friends. Skip was the apprentice and even kept his 32 Ford in my shop/garage to work on from time to time.

    Installing the valve in the line they forgot one of the flanges but they could not get to it as it took all 3 to hold the valve up -- big valve. So not wanting them to get hurt or have to go through the work of removing the valve and putting it down on the floor again, I picked up the flange handed it to John and he welded it in place. Good & normal thing to do right?

    They finished, Dave walked over got right in my face and started screaming at me that if I ever touch anything on their jobs again he is going to strike the whole shop. Man, I was shocked. Talk about a Dr Jeckle and Mr Hyde situation. Over the years I have had some of the same experiences so I have learned that I, for the most part, must treat union members more as kids then adults and that is a real shame.


    BTW, I still have my original T400 kit. Ever seen one of those?
    "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers it can bribe the public with the public's own money.
    - Alexis de Toqueville, 1835

  12. #38
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    Canada
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    I picked up a circular saw that someone left laying on a scaffold , wound up the extension cord nice and tidy like place everything out of the way " SAFETY REASON ".

    Looked around and watch the 20+ carpenters walk off the site as a result of a NON MEMBER of the CARPENTERS UNION touching a carpenters saw.

  13. #39
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    Nov 2001
    Location
    Seattle, WA
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    Control Man
    We could probably tell lots of these stories. Was at a Carrier dinner last year for the dealers and the table got talking about some of this.

    The couple across the table from me, his wife told me her office complex is totally controlled by the union although she and he workmates are not union. She said she and any of the employees can not uplug or plug in a lamp, computer or coffee pot into any electrical outlet anywhere in the complex without calling a union maintenance guy to do it.

    Wash State is being hit hard by the IBEW and they are driving lots of small shops out of business. I keep telling all the guys on this board but I don't think anyone is listening. It will be too late when they get into your states.

    Now I got to stop because I have to get a bid out for repair (no kiddin) of a pneumatic control system. Has old Honeywell one pipe stats. The air compressor is the original 1968 model and still working with the big Honeywell lettering on the tank.
    "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers it can bribe the public with the public's own money.
    - Alexis de Toqueville, 1835

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