1998 Maintenance Tips Of The Year

By Staff March 1, 1999

Our readers have spoken! Winners in Plant Engineering magazine’s tenth annual “Tips & Tricks” contest have been determined! Ralph Dewey, Solvay Polymers, Deer Park, TX, submitted the top vote getter among the entries presented in the September 1998 issue. His “Maintenance Tip of the Year” explained and illustrated how to repair a stuck-open valve on a tank, without losing the contents. Mr. Dewey received $1000 for submitting the winning entry. Runners-up were Philip J. Soliday, Knox, IN; and Gary Bulgrien, Patriot Sensors, Peck, MI. Mr. Soliday showed how to remove a broken dowel pin, and Mr. Bulgrien provided a simple answer to locating which breaker is serving an outlet. The runners-up each received $250 for their suggestions.

Keep thinking

“Tips & Tricks” is an ongoing editorial project that relies on the input of readers for its success. If you come up with a maintenance idea that meets the time-conserving, money-saving, aggravation-avoiding criteria, send it along immediately, while the thought and intent to share information are still fresh. Remember that drawings or photographs of the maintenance tip add a great deal to the understanding of the suggestion.

New ideas submitted, along with all other suggestions received for the 1998 contest, but not making it to the finals, will be considered for the 1999 edition of “Tips & Tricks” or “Simple Solutions” articles. The 1999 “Tips & Tricks” article will be published in the September issue.

Please send your tips to Gary Weidner, Senior Editor, Plant Engineering magazine, 2000 Clearwater Dr., Oak Brook, IL 60523; 630-320-7143; gweidner@cahners.com.

Tip Of The Year

Inflating plug

Problem: When a valve on an open tank doesn’t shut-off, the entire inventory must be dumped to repair the problem. Can this expense be saved?

Solution: Install an inflatable pipe plug. Select a piece of pipe just slightly smaller than the section to be plugged. Weld the end shut and drill a 1/4-in. hole in the side. Cut a piece of tire inner tube to fit over the outside pipe. Use wire to seal the ends of the rubber inner tube. From the top of the tank, insert the plug into the pipe opening. Apply about 5 psig of air to inflate the plug. The valve can be replaced without losing the contents.

Contributor: Ralph Dewey, Solvay Polymers, Deer Park, TX; 713-307-3784


Pulling pins

Problem: Removing a dowel pin broken below the surface in a blind hole can be a real chore (1). Is there an easy way to pull it out?

Solution: Just 10 min. can do the job. Use a hand grinder to put a small center in the broken pin (2). Drill through the center of the dowel until you break into the area behind the pin (3). Take some of your kid’s Silly Putty and push it in the hole with a slip fit pin (4). Hammer in more putty, and as you do the pocket fills and starts to slide the broken dowel out (5).

Contributor: Philip J. Soliday, Knox, IN


Locating feeds

Problem: How can I locate which breaker is feeding a 120-V outlet?

Solution: Plug a troublelite with a flasher button installed in the socket. Check the current at the breakers. The sought circuit has a fluctuating current.


Gary Bulgrien, Patriot Sensors, Peck, MI