Low Tech High Tech

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We have been having fits with our 80KVA generator for a long time. It would start (sometimes), run a few seconds and then shut off. That’s not much help when you’re on PNG Power and you desperately need a generator several times a day. (I’ going to write an absolutely poisonous post about that subject soon.)

I thought it might be amusing for you to see the type of technology repair that is available to us here in Madang. You readers in PNG will, of course, have little interest in this, since you see it every day. It’s business as usual. Go have another cup of coffee (we do have great coffee here) and wait for tomorrow’s post.

When the technicians arrived, there was the usual head scratching and shuffling of steel toed boots. It was decided that the control box needed to come to pieces. As usual, though no holes in the case seemed likely entry points, there were plenty of mouse turds and other unlikely items inside.

The next step was proclaimed to be a thorough optical examination. The technicians retired to their laboratory on the back sidewalk of our office. A few moments of observing them observing the circuitry with their naked, uncalibrated eyeballs unnerved me to the point of making the suggestion that a little magnification might go a long way. They agreed enthusiastically.

I went inside to procure a couple of the many old camera lenses that I keep for just such occasions. I go through a lot of cameras. The technicians claimed that they were now able to see much better:

Repair technicians in their laborotory

Having found nothing amiss optically, they reassembled the unit, started the generator, and began ‘tapping’ on it to try to make it fail. Sure enough, a single spot on the panel produced the (un)desired result – it coughed and died.

“It’s a relay” was the decision. (I felt like shouting, “Halleluiah! IT’S A RELAY!”) “Can you put another relay in?” was my query. Most of my readers are way ahead of me. “Oh, no” they said, laughing. “They only sell the whole unit.”

Did you ever want to scream?

You know what I wanted to ask. Why, oh why, sweet earth below my feet did they need to spend countless hours in the blazing hot sun to find a microscopic fault that they knew was meaningless because they could not replace a circuit board. They had to replace the entire unit fer cryin’ out loud!


So, it’s now several days later and it’s still not fixed.

I don’t honestly know if it ever will be.

NOTE: I used up some of my poetic license points on the story above. It didn’t happen exactly that way. But it easily could have. I’ve also blurred out faces and the name of the contractor on their uniforms. Nothing here is intended to demean the workers. These guys work hard for low pay and do the best they can with what their given. I say God bless ‘em.

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