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Stupid things we do as apprentices.

meplumber Member Posts: 678
I was bored this evening and was re-reading some of Dan's articles.  I read the one about the dumb things youngsters say.  It got me to thinking about the stupid things that I said and did as a young apprentice.

It is a miracle that I didn't kill myself and my co-workers.  Like the time that I looked for a leak on a propane water heater with a lighter.  Hey, I watched a guy do it on natural gas line.  What's the difference right?  Burnt eyelashes and arm hair later.  I learned the difference.  Not to mention the crazy pool heater adventures that I had those first few years.  Yikes.

Anyone care to share their near death mistakes as apprentices?

Stay thirsty my friends.


  • Brad White
    Brad White Member Posts: 2,393
    Well, OK....

    When I first started in the HVAC/mechanical design business in 1977, my responsibilities ranged from making blueprints (ammonia process), running errands/deliveries, getting coffee, taking out trash and drafting, learning as I went. The folks I worked with then are actually my co-workers now, some 34 years later.

    One day, I was sent to the MA Board of Plumbing Examiners to get a set of updated code books and drop off a set of plans for state review. At the time, there were several posters for the plumbing trade, including "Plumbers: Guardians of the Nations Health" amongst others.

    Roger, our in-house plumbing engineer (and practical joker, did I take the hint?),  asked me to pick up a copy of "the smiling turd poster", depicting a happy fellow pleased that his journey was within piping designed and installed by professional engineers and plumbers.  Naturally, I asked for the poster with a big smile.

    To this day, I do not believe there ever was such a poster.
    "If you do not know the answer, say, "I do not know the answer", and you will be correct!"

    -Ernie White, my Dad
  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997
    very first

    The very first week I started doing service calls was for a "popping sound" coming from a Heatmaker. Upon arrival the customer told me it does it on and off and sometime's pretty loud. Having never seen one before I was just slightly concerned as to what to do. So I stepped into the closet after removing the cover, flipped on the switch and waited for it to cycle...It seemed to light up as nice as can be and was purring along for about 5 minutes. As I was thinking maybe it wasnt to bad it then made a funny little rumble and proceded to blow the vent pipe and dome off the top of the boiler. I'm not sure who was more impressed, me or the tenant as to how fast I could get the switch off....I very quickly called in a more seasoned tech who red tagged the system..:) what a way to start..
  • jonny88
    jonny88 Member Posts: 1,139
    bucket of steam

    did anyone ever fall for the bucket of steam gag.
  • MikeyB
    MikeyB Member Posts: 696

    Bucket of Steam is a Classic among Building Engineers, a Sheetrock Spreader is a good one as well
  • bill nye_3
    bill nye_3 Member Posts: 307

    I was 16 and working for my Dad during the summer. He was the plumber for the builder who built most of the homes in the town I grew up in. We were running 4" CI from the house to the septic tank. The inspector was coming and they were anxious to back fill.

    I had to go to the supply house for a 10' length of 4". It was about a 30 mile round trip. I took the boss's pick up truck. It was new, V-8 , 4 spd. etc. I hurried to the supply house and back. I was with in an 1/8 mile from the job site when I rounded the last turn, I was going way to fast , the pipe was not tied down, the pipe landed in the street and broke. I put it back in the truck and knew they were going to be extremely mad at me. I drove up and prepared for the worst.............. I got my a#@ chewed up and down. Thing is the pipe fit exactly , they only needed 7 feet! and I lived to see another day.

    Oh, and I blew a house up once for the same builder. Rushing to meet a deadline I was soldering heat loops in the basement unaware that the floor sander just put down a coat of lacquer . It blew the windows out and popped all of the nails in the sheet rock. What saved the house was that there was going to be carpet in the hallway. Thank God no one was upstairs at the time. The floor sanders son was sneaking a cigarette so he was not in the house. Maybe it saved his life ?
  • rlaggren
    rlaggren Member Posts: 160
    darn Bill

    I've set one on fire but never blew one up!   Moved real fast and determined with a bucket of water that day...

    disclaimer - I'm a plumber, not a heating pro.
  • Glen
    Glen Member Posts: 855
    pipe stretcher anyone??

    another classic!  But I once had an apprentice that couldn't recognize work if it stood next to him; I sent him to the tool crib for a long weight (wait). Tool crib attendant did just that

    but that was a long time ago and hijinks like that are not approved anymore.
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