Cable Aisle Notes Outline

A) Doing Great, Really Depend on You.

B) Rental Cable:

a) Doesn’t look like ours, worse looking, all different brands, not marked as well.

1)     Quality and neatness of ours.

2)     Good markings on ours.


3)     3) Easier to figure out length of ours.    (In spite of our own internal marking problems.)\

b) Need for it to go back to who owns it.

1)     Big union guys pissed off when they see our tape on their cable

2)     They steel ours if we steel theirs; we send their’s back, hopefully they send ours back.

3)     We put their’s into inventory and Tony counts it.  I see it and take it out of stock.  Tony sees it on his computer and lets it be called for on a list.  It goes on a list but is not there, and you waste your time trying to find it.

4)     Putting our markings on someone else’s cable is theft.  If we are going to steel it let me do it, I know better what we have a fair chance of sending back. And have less of a chance of getting in trouble.  I will also mark it properly.

c) Put all rental cable by my table or bring it to Tony or my attention so we can ensure it goes back to who owns it as soon as possible to save money.   We are renting the stuff so anything which does not go back right away or is stolen comes out of the same profits which go into our raises.

C) Multi-Cable “I Want To See List”:

a) Posted all over the cable aisle are lists with numbers on them, and highlighted areas.These correspond to cable which is stored near the list.

b) When emptying cable from a show box, kindly check each Motor or Socopex cable to see if I want to see the cable before putting it away.

1)     If you do not feel like taking the cable to me, at least take me to the cable, most of the time I can correct the problem right away.

2)     If there is an * near the number listed, it means there is supposed to be a duplicate of that cable and I need to give it a new number.  If there is a date next to that * and it matches the date on the cable however, I do not have to see that cable again, it is good.  If that date is different however, I really do need to see that cable.  If there is no date near the * number, I can simply write the date on the sheet without needing to pull the cable from stock.   Do not write in your own date on the sheet, there might be additional reasons for me needing to see the cable.

3)     You will note that the cable with out an * probably does not have a grey tape stripe on it, or a white female end.  That is because this is the list of what I have not seen yet.  Send it to me so I can put it on the inventory.

4)     Do not, unless I specifically tell you to put grey tape on the cable, whiten out the female face or scratch out the numbers.  You will screw up the entire inventory process and we will start over.  Eventually this will be over and you no longer will have to check the cable for these things.   I will try to return this cable as soon as I can, but if you need it right away, tell me and I might be able to work on it while you wait or teach you how to fix the problem.

D) Look at all cable when it comes into and leaves the shop:

a) Multi-Cable mentioned above, will be marked with the paint and tape.  If it does not have it, I probably need to see it, that is why they are marked.

b) All cable has a limited life in the business we are in, If it is really shiny and warn, the white writing on it can no longer be seen, it is probably really old (about three years) and could be in need of a trip to the dumpster.  Ask me or any other older crew member for their advise on its future with the company.  If bad send it to me so I can take it off the inventory and re-use its connectors. 

1)     Warn cable has a rubber jacket which is probably stretched out, or warn away, at least as much as is needed to remove the writing.  This thinner jacket can dry rot, crack, or break without much warning, and is not safe to use under any circumstances.  The thinner jacket also allows oxygen into the wire which oxidizes the copper.  This oxidized copper can no longer carry the current of new cable and as such can under load even burn thru the cable and start a fire, especially if it is near our drape which is not flame proofed.

2)     The National Electric Code which is the primary ruling for our industry, says that in addition to our not being allowed to use SJ cable in lengths longer than three feet for our purposes, that all cable must be marked by the manufacturer every foot of its length or it cannot be used.

c) Check all cables new and old for cuts and abrasions to them.   It there is either or a green stick effect to the cable, bend the cable at the cut and look to see if the wire inside is showing.  If it is, or the cut on any cable is really deep, mark it in any color of tape besides black, and especially in red when possible, and send it to me.

1)      Do not try to fix the problem with tape or any other means.  This is hiding the problem, and if there is a serious cut someone can die because of it if they touch a problem area under load. 

2)      Fixing cuts on cable with tape is a temporally quick fix which will only last as long as the tape does not come off.  When possible, even this should be marked over the repair with red tape so I can see it.  (Do not however use colored tape to repair cable as it is not UL listed and will not perform like electrical tape.  Gaffers tape works even worse to repair cable as it will burn when it gets hot enough.  When in the shop any cable with cuts should be either cut at the problem, and given to me to either throw out, or to make into usable lengths.  Or, if the cut is not bad, and the cable is expensive, I might choose to repair the cut.  If there is shrink tape on a cable over a cut, it is good as long as the shrink tape is in good condition, but be especially cautious of that cable as I could have missed a cut or more could have developed since I repaired the cable.

3)      Cable with a bunch of gooey tape all over it or cuts and abrasions on it, looks bad and is a mess.  This company has a lot of pride in its equipment and gets allot of work because we have the best, and most well maintained equipment of all our competition, if we keep it that way, there will always be a demand for our equipment.  Also if a cable looks bad it will not be treated with as much respect and will be subject to more abuse.  It also will tend to scare the people using it and scare the users into not using our cable again.

d) Look at the markings on all cable before it leaves the shop.  Given all the cable which is not ours has already been pulled from stock, all but the big multi-cables will have both a Velcro tie for it, and colored tape on it usually even with clear shrink tube over it. 

1)     If the cable does not have velcro over it, verify it is our cable.  If there are no shrink tube markings or Upstaging stickers on it, it is not yet ours and send it to me.  If it is otherwise well marked, check to see if there is that color in stock.  Only if there is no velcro in that color and size is it acceptable to use tie line to band the cable.  No other rope or string is acceptable.  If there is velcro for it, make sure the holes will work otherwise, make new ones.  Always use the new product “Velcro Adhesive” on all cable which you put on.  It will make that velcro stay together longer, and withstand more abuse.  The reason why we are out of stock in much of the velcro now is because we have lost a lot of velcro in the past year and the boss will not let us buy any more for a while.  With the velcro adhesive, in theory at least the velcro will stay on the cable.

2)     Do not just add velcro to a cable and call it a day, and do not accept cable with just velcro on it.  All cable should also have shrink tubing on it incase the velcro is lost in the field.  It also lessens the chance the cable is not the length the velcro color designates. 

3)     Shrink tubing at a minimum is required on all cables in our inventory.  It tells the length, who and where we are incase it is lost, and looks better than a bunch of electrical tape all over the cable.  If it does not have it on each end, it is possible that cable is no longer the length it is supposed to be and should be sent to me for checking and labeling.  If the tubing is old or wearing away, for instance has a (708) area code, it should also be sent to me to change it so that if it gets lost, there is a better chance we will get it back.  That is the primary reason we spend a lot of money on printing those things every year.

4)     Cable with a serial number on it, or any cable that says something under clear shrink tubing needs to also be sent to me if it is not in good shape.  When this tube becomes old, it yellows and becomes brittle.  Bad tubing is hard to read and as such, can lead to mis-interpretations of its number see below, it also looks bad and will not be cared for or can loose its numbers and cause it to become one of our lost or missing cables.  This can cost us money.

5)     If the serial number on a piece of cable is not easy to read, send it to me and I will replace it.  Cable with numbers which are not easy to read might be signed off as another cable this is a bad thing and the primary reason we have so many cables on the list that I want to see.  When a cable is put on a sheet wrong, Tony gets a red flag on his computer because the one with the real number on it is already accounted for.  That means this cable which is supposed to be in stock becomes missing, and is either entered on the computer as a new cable under this number which we do not have and thus also becomes missing, or becomes a duplicate number to the one which is out on the road.  It then becomes very hard to tell how much cable we actually have in stock, and thus compounds into the computer showing more cable than we have and you guys wasting time searching around for more cable or making up pieces with shorter lengths.  All cable must be noted on the sheet accurately and neatly or this will continue to be a problem.  If he catches the problem cable in time, you will have to dump the cable out of the show box to find that cable causing the problem, so you might as well not put cable with wrong numbers on it or not easily readable cable into the box in the first place.

e) Look at the cable and how it is wrapped:

1)      If the cable is not wrapped tight enough or is too tight, it will not feed out right from the bundle which will piss off the people using it and that might get back to you.  It also will get caught on anything near it possibly destroying the cable.  Keep bundles tight and neat and it will save the cables from some abuse, be able to be laid out without knotting, and look good.  It will also let it be known that you are professionals and do a quality job.  Good work is one of the things which leads to promotion and gets you out of the aisle and on to more fun things.

2)      When wrapping cable, do not force it to wrap in one direction if it does not want to coil that way neatly.  Doing this will force twists into the cable which is discussed below.  Under coiling, Over-Undering the cable, or what ever it is called is the best way to give a good coil and not destroy the cable.  It when done right should un-coil easier than any other way of wrapping the cable.  A cable wound in all the same direction, even if it wants to is more likely to tangle because as it is un-coiled, it will always pull tighter, and if there is any loop inside its circle, it will get tangled.  Usually a well coiled cable will want to have every other coil to be over-under.  It can however want as much as one out of four wraps to have this.  The key is for the person doing it to wrap the cable how it wants to be wrapped.  If it is too twisted, stretch out the cable and un-twist it before it becomes too much of a problem.  The smaller the wire the more important it is to coil it right.  On data wire, under-coiling it every time might be needed with some pieces.  Do this where needed or this cable will become a big knot of cable which will come back probably with more knots tied into it which you will have to un-do.  If it comes back from the road and the cable is too big, or wound badly re-wind it or you will look bad not the people who screwed it up.

3)      Cable with twists is a bad thing, and can become unsafe or dangerous if bad enough.  When stretched, a twisted cable will have some inside wires shorter than others and thus break at its weakest link - either the connector or near or at the twist.  These breaks do not always mean the cable will not work when tested, it just means the same amount of current will be pushed thru less wires at that point, and there the cable will get really hot and possibly explode or start a fire or cause a shock.  Even if the twist does not make wires inside of it break from stretching, any area where the wire twists within the jacket causes a log jam in the energy circulating thru the wire and thus heats up the wire at the twist with the same possible outcome as with broken wires.  Twisted cable will also have more wires taking up space within the jacket than normal thus either a hump in the jacket or even a single wire off doing its own thing.  A jacket when stretched will cause allot of damage to the wires in these areas because the wires will be squeezed thru their insulation and possibly cause a short.  In either case, wire with bad twists in it should be sent to me it is unsafe.  If you are in question of a wire, again ask the advise of anyone with more experience with such things or send it to me.  Especially do not accept any of the Slip, Edison, or Twist cables to have this condition.  The primary reason a twist develops in a cable is because the cable is coiled wrong.  Over time, the wires within a cable will twist within its jacket if they are forced to go in a direction they do not want to go while winding them up.  That is the most important  reason for coiling the way the cable wants to be wound. 

f) Look at the connector and its strain relief. 

1)     If the jacket of the cable has come out of the strain relief, either cut the connector off the cable immediately, or send it to me, do not fix it unless you really know what you are doing.  Even if the jacket is only half way in the strain relief, do the above because a strain relief will quickly cut into the coating on a cables wires and cause a short which could at least destroy the cable and its connector, and at worst kill someone.  A bad fix will not repair the problem so it is best to cut the wire and start again.  This is why I cut most cable a little long.  Over time, the jacket on most cables will shrink a little.  There is nothing you can do about it, and short of clamping down on the strain relief so tight it will pinch and damage the wire, there is little to be done about it.  A well made cable will have its jacket stripped shorter with this in mind, and a quick fix on the cable especially with tape will not solve this problem. 

2)     If the connector is loose and spins within its shell, or has screws sticking up, or any part of its body moves when it is not supposed to do not send it out on the road anyway.  It will not last the tour.  Instead either tighten it, fix it given you absolutely know how, or send it to me.  I will be more than happy to show you how to fix it if you want to learn how to fix a connector.  Most of the Veam, Motor and Socopex cable connectors however require special tools to fix them, do not ever twist them tight if they are loose or you will pull the wires right out of the connector.  First you must remove the strain relief.  It is best to send it to me in the case of all of these cables when loose.  Many times loose screws require adhesive to keep them tight, or a screw will be loose because it is stripped.  Do not send it out on the road or it probably will break while there.

3)     Look to see if the connector is broken, pins are charred, rings are bent or anything else.  Those connectors are no good to anyone and it looks bad if you send them out anyway.  Sometimes a multi-cable will be missing a pin.  Send it to me unless the cable is so-marked that the pin is missing and it is okay.  Many times people will pull the ground off an Edison plug, this is not okay ever, send the cable to me or ask how to replace the plug if you want to learn.  There is a type of molded store-bought extension cord which has no grounding pin, only a sort of knock -out hole which looks like a pin might go there.  This cable supposedly is grounded because in the case of a fault, the current will jump thru the knockout into the ground of the receptacle.  Do not trust this cable send all cable without grounds to me so I can fix it.

4)     When possible test all cable, if you are not busy, come and see me, I will teach you how to use an Edison or Slip cable tester, you can test the cable to make sure someone did not screw it up - I can guarantee there is some bad cable in stock, and that is not good.  A tester which will test all cable is on the way soon and you will have to test all anyway.   Many items need to receive their power in just such a way so crossed wires (reversed polarity) in a cable is not acceptable.  If you replace a connector on a cable, you must test the cable afterwards because the other end might not be wired the same.  Even if you replace both ends, whenever you work on used cable you should make sure it is good.

5)     Look at the jackets of twofers.  Even the store bought molded ones can suffer from the jacket shrinking.  If you can see wires thru the strain relief on either the plug end or the “Y” end, send it to me right away, I have already found one with this problem and it is possible that we had gotten a bad lot of cable at one time which we can get credit for.  There is no other way to fix the cable.  Look carefully at the sleeves of the fabric like twofers.  If they are cut and showing wires thru them send them to me and I will either replace the sleeve or fix it.  It is never safe or a good idea to send out cable with their wires showing thru, the coating on such wires will withstand no abuse and short out at the first opportunity.  If we have any twofers made out of extension cord or SJ wire, even if in good condition and well marked, send them to me anyway as we do not use this method and they probably do not belong to us.  The strain relief on the male end will not hold this type of wire and is thus not something we want to send out on the road.

6)     Like with twofers, cube taps for Edison cable or Cam loc cable needs a slight looking at.  If on any Cam loc connector, the jacket around the female is starting to be cut around the metal part of the female end of the connector, the connector is no good it can cause the current to jump to a person holding it and kill him.  This should be a good reason to watch such a thing.  On a Cube tap, look especially if the ground pin is bent over.  This problem is common on all 15 amp twist and Edison cables, which is why they are not recommended for use in what we do.  At least bend all bent pins back into shape, but if the connector shows stress like it is about to break, or does break, send it to me and I will replace it or throw it out.

7)     Finally watch when possible the wire gauge of cable you are about to pull.  At this point I do not want to see any more 14/3 cable being used for slip plugs.  It is too old, and even when new was never rated for what the connector could handle.  We can easily pull a full 20 amps thru the cable and it thus is not really safe to use this gauge of cable anymore, especially in the longer lengths where 12/3 cable still is not big enough to carry the full 20 amp load.  Voltage drop and multi-cable Amperage capacities are a subject of their own.  It is easy to tell a 14/3 cable, both SO and SJ cable will be smaller than their larger AWG brothers.  Even if the markings are gone from the cable, it is still easy to see a difference.  14/3 SJ but not the thick SO cable should also be pulled from stock from the Edison cable collection.  It is simply too old, and thin a jacket too thin to continue use with as much as we use the cable.  It is however okay for use on the 208 V. cable and the Hubble type cable as long as it is in good shape, though the 208 V. cable is also starting to change to 12/3 cable.

E) Checks on rigging Equipment:

  a) Spansets are not to be used if they are cut or have bad abrasions on them.  Send them to me or ask the advise of almost any project manager or boss before you use them because if we send out and they break and kill someone, we could be in big trouble.  Any cut or hole in them as large as a pencil should be checked out especially if they are fuzzing up around the hole.  They all must have a plastic tag on them showing its brand and maximum weight allowance.  If not, they are bad and should not be sent out.  It is very important to check all spansets and rigging hardware, they mean life or death in spite of any rush to get them out the door. 

  1)     While checking the tag, also make sure it has Upstaging written on it neatly, if not write it on it.  They are expensive and we want them back.

2)     The duct tape length on the spanset is not the best way of marking the length, but at this time is the only way to do it.  Any better ideas for doing this would be good, but to speed putting them away, kindly make sure all have their length marked tape that is not all ratty looking.  Any without tape or markings is probably not ours and should be sent to me if possible with what show it came off of. 

  b) Steel, Safety Cable or Sundays as they can be called, should be checked for many of the same things as spansets.  They cannot be kinked or twisted oddly in their wires, or have bends in them which will not straighten out.  Also look for wires which have been pulled out and are doing their own things, or have broken and frayed.  They also should not have been scraped flat on any side.  This is all most common within the first 12" of the cable or the middle of it.  The cable at the bend or the thimble should not have any of these problems either, and that wire must not be pulling out of the crimp.  If any of these provisions are there send it to me, do not use it as even if it seems not serious, it might be.

  c) Shackles, Quick Links and other rigging hardware items must also be looked at to ensure they are safe before they are used.  The below is true for chain also. 

1)     The screw must be able to screw all the way into the nut without tools or a large amount of effort or it is not safe to use. 

2)     Bent, beaten or mis-shaped rigging items are of no use to anyone.  Send them to me so I can throw them out.  If it looks like someone took a hammer to the hardware, it is no good.  A Pear or ring which is bent is no good it has been over-stressed and will no longer hold its rated load.

3)     Look for hairline cracks on the shackle when possible, or bad casting lines is what they will seem to look like. 

4)     All deck chain should have a little tag on it, this tag should also have our sticker on it.  If it does not have this tag, more are available.  Put the chain aside and please put a tag on it as soon as possible.

F) Road Boxes:

a) Road boxes, ladders, fans, and all other equipment must not block any exit door.  It is not safe from a fire standpoint, and we could we a fine from it by the fire marshal. 

b) All road boxes need to roll easily, lock without bending the case, and have no major damage to them.  If any of these conditions exist, especially if the casters make noise, do not spin well or thump allot when being pushed, they need to go to Derrick or his chosen carpenter for the day to be fixed.  Try not to use bad boxes, it does nobody a good service, and they can break worse if they are continued to be used.  If it will not lock, there is probably a problem with the latch, it should click locked.  Check also the hinge on the lid.  Loose screws or rivets here are easy to correct only before the box has been abused.  Once the hinge is abused it is allot harder to fix the box.

c) If the tag will no longer come clean, has paint all over it, or is peeling up, replace the tag.  New tags for boxes are in stock in “Leko-Land” or in the wood shop.  It is easy to change them so there is no excuse for not when it is needed. 

The safety of the people who use our equipment or see it being used depends on our making sure it is in good condition and safe to use.  One law suit due to our negligence can not only mean the end of this company and our jobs, but it can also mean each of us responsible for the equipment being sued also.    I am liable for building the stuff, Tony for being overall in charged of it, Hud for being in charged of him, and Bush for being in charged of overseeing the training and construction standards and quality of each piece of equipment.  In addition to all of us responsible for both the rigging equipment and electric equipment, each of you are also liable for loading the cable you load and should be inspecting.  Lawyers will try to get all the money off of any of us that they can.  Keep this in mind when you sign off as having pulled stuff or throw a bunch of things into a box and call it done.  This is not meant to scare you, simply to get you to realize the gravity of the importance of what you do here.  With this in the back of your head, it should be allot easier to look at the details I have mentioned above when pulling things, and make sure that what you pull is good and the right stuff.   When I was the Technical Director of a small theater, or the Master Rigger at a large theater, this was always on my mind, and you can bet my equipment was always as safe as possible, and it helped to encourage me to learn more about what was good and not good to do.  This might also help you to realize the importance of learning everything about what you do here, even if it for the moment is just pulling cable.  You should know everything you can about that cable and be able to make, fix it, and know without much time or effort what is wrong with it.  You should know and understand the differences and uses of each piece, and know everything it is used for and the uses of each adaptor for it.