Editor’s Note—April 2015

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Distributors: Sometimes Your Servicepeople Go Through A Lot

by Gary Weidner, Editor / Published April 2015


Yes, the same title you saw in the February issue. Here are several more examples of happenings servicepeople can encounter.

Bacon is greasy—A no-heat service call was for an oil-fired machine used for cleanup in a bacon frying plant. This machine had the old, glass-bowl type of fuel filter, but the bowl appeared to contain only fuel; no filter element. (Some customers deal with a clogged fuel filter by simply removing the filter element.) Regardless of what the burner problem turned out to be, I’d have to replace the missing filter element, so I set about to do that. Pulling the bowl means getting one hand wet with fuel. As I assembled a new element, my wetted hand started to hurt. The burning pain escalated while I ran for water. Whatever got onto my hand certainly wasn’t kerosene or diesel fuel. After a lot of rinsing, the stuff finally seemed to be off my skin.

    Back in the work area, none of the troops spoke English. Via sign language and gestures, I learned what “fuel” they had put into the machine. The 55-gal. drum was labelled “concentrated sodium hydroxide.” Ah, but of course; it was intended for cleaning up bacon grease. It bored holes into my hand that took a long time to cure.

A scary situation—Another no-heat service call, for a new propane-fired machine was located in a huge factory. Walking up to the machine, I found flames emerging from the top area of the gas control valve, with the plastic knob burned up. Some pressure-checking revealed that the installer had omitted the second stage fuel pressure regulator, so the incoming propane pressure was high enough to partly blow the guts out of the gas valve.

Poor mice—This no-heat service call was for an oil-fired machine in a baking plant, no problem. But a couple of days later came the dreaded call-back; no heat again. I went back, and got my chuckles by showing the embarrassed maintenance foreman the remains of a mouse that had the misfortune of crawling into the burner.

Inner city life—On periodic service calls to an inner city manufacturer, I was greeted by the maintenance foreman who wore a classic .45 six-shooter in a cowboy-style holster.

Please kindly lend a sympathetic ear when your servicepeople tell of coping with something unusual.


Gary Weidner
(800) 525-7038