Bill ‘Botronics‘ Sherman said he was reading a sample page from “Unscrewed” on Google Play Books. There was a note about the Phillips screw. Long ago, a guy once told me that it would be torture to change the screws and screwdrivers on their assembly line from Phillips back to blade screws.
But every telephone and piece of equipment in the ‘Bell System’ used blade screws. I believe that they solved this problem on the production lines by using blades that were recessed inside of a sleeve, to keep the blade centered in the slot.
The techs in the field used a regular blade screwdriver. It used to be that the telephone wiring was terminated with blade screws. Ma Bell was known for doing work efficiency studies, so it seems odd that the Phillips driver was not used sooner. However they developed the IDC connectors, insulation displacement where the wire is not stripped, but the tool forces the wire into a slot that cuts though the insulation and terminates the wire in a gas-tight connection.
And one of the biggest labor saving and frustrating additions to the telephone wiring was invented by Ma Bell. The modular connector started out as a larger connector, then became what it is today. And everyone has had the experience of dealing aith its inherent weakness, that little clicker that breaks off and lets the plug slip out of the jack. Recently I saw a telephone with a dozen layers of adhesive tape over the jack where the coiled cord went into the handset. It’s really frustrating to have to listen to someone when there are constant interruptions caused by an intermittent connection in a modular plug.
What I find frustrating is when someone breaks the clicker off a plug and then plugs it back into a patch panel or switch port. I do some work on an unrelated connection in the patch panel or switch, and we later get a complaint of another outage in the same panel. Well, all one has to do is move the wiring a little bit and that other broken plug wiggles out of its jack, all because someone was lazy and didn’t fix the patch cord with the broken plug.
Then there is this contractor that installed a 48 port patch panel. The patch panel was made by CDT, which has unique connectors on the back of their jacks. Some companies put snap-on covers over the connectors, but this company went to ridiculous lengths. Each of the four pairs of the cat5 cable must be threaded through four holes in a red termination bar, which is then snapped into the connector before the wires are terminated. This takes considerably longer than it would for the connectors from other manufacturers.
Well, the installer put one of the connectors in with the red termination bar, and seeing that it was going to take a long time, went and did the remaining 47 without the red bar. A year or less later, we get a complaint that one workstation was down, unable to get on the network. I go into the patch panel to fix the loose wire and find that the problem was on one of the 47 that were terminated without the red bar. I talked to my boss about it, and I recommended he get the contractor out and fix all 46 remaining ports; he sounded unsympathetic.
Less than a year later, we get another complaint about a workstation in the same location that can’t get on the network. I again go into the patch panel and find that the loose wire is again caused by another one of the same 47 that were missing the red bar. By this time I’m really angry because the problem was caused by someone else’s poor workmanship and more of the same problems are going to happen in the future. I had to go on the warpath and email the contractor more than once to get them to send out a tech, who spent the better part of a day replacing all of the connections with the red termination bars. We haven’t had another problem since. And my boss complained that I was “always complaining about the contractor.” That boss is no longer a boss.
Back to the screwdrivers. I found this completely amusing.