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Old 25th Oct 2014, 12:33 pm   #1
dave walsh
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Default Wiring The Mains Plug-A Forgotten Art?

The Radio 4 program named [in this case ironically] Saturday "Live" was discussing the decline of DIY into a Vintage activity this morning. This is being put forward in the media generally as a possible reason for shrinkage in the DIY Store Chains. it could also just be a lack of money generally-have a look at the price of a tin of paint these days. Another factor put forward, was a lack of the basic practical skills [which are often the focus of this Forum] being passed on ie fathers not teaching sons/daughters etc. It morphed into an actor declaring he had been assured by his handyman that you had to get the green earth lead in the correct terminal but it didn't really matter which way round the other two went. The handyman was apparently not a British national so he might [perhaps] have had some excuse. Whether a local might have known any better is probaly open to question in itself.

Of course people rang in to correct this advice. I don't think anyone mentioned though, that E N and L are actually inscribed on the plug itself!
To my ears there was a lot of nervous laughter going on in that slightly embarrassed middle class mannerism that translates (for me at least] as preferring to be being proud of one's ignorance rather than having to acknowledge it-even though it might leave one helpless and at the mercy of others. Downton Syndrome!
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Sorry about the "Forgotten" spelling in the title-perhaps a Mod can correct it for me?

Last edited by dave walsh; 25th Oct 2014 at 12:40 pm. Reason: non lethal mistake
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Old 25th Oct 2014, 1:24 pm   #2
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Default Re: Wiring The Mains Plug-A Forgoton Art?

Let us hope that people assembling moulded-on plugs in far-away places, in order to protect us from our own ignorance, have more knowledge than the handyman. Having said that, I always treat Neutral as being potentially live anyway.
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Old 25th Oct 2014, 2:06 pm   #3
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Default Re: Wiring The Mains Plug-A Forgotten Art?

A high proportion never did know, and still don't want to. It's easy to see the World from our perspective, but we're in the minority.
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Old 25th Oct 2014, 2:11 pm   #4
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Default Re: Wiring The Mains Plug-A Forgotten Art?

I don't think it is so much a forgotten 'art' but a basic need to know as long as you can get rewireable plugs on the high street. People will continue to laugh at 'us' 'nerds' until they get it wrong and kill someone.

Replying to Dave, I did once get a moulded IEC lead with live and earth swapped, all I got was a bang. I used it on a bit of HiFi that was connected via the signal leads, lucky me.
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Old 25th Oct 2014, 3:31 pm   #5
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Default Re: Wiring The Mains Plug-A Forgotten Art?

Plug wiring seems to be a peculiar no go area for many people, including those that are otherwise practically competent! I know blokes that will tackle anything on a car etc but simply cannot wire a mains plug! Even when they actually watch me do it in a few minutes they still express a lack of comprehension!
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Old 25th Oct 2014, 4:09 pm   #6
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Default Re: Wiring The Mains Plug-A Forgotten Art?

As most things these days only need L&N (a very good thing this double insulation) is there a 'self fit' three pin UK plug (BS 1363) with the earth pin in plastic? If they exist they must cost less.
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Old 25th Oct 2014, 4:14 pm   #7
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Default Re: Wiring The Mains Plug-A Forgotten Art?

I don't think so. Anyway, it would be a Bad Idea. You might get somebody trying to use an earthed appliance with one of those plugs, leaving the earth lead disconnected with possible nasty, delayed-action consequences..
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Old 25th Oct 2014, 4:23 pm   #8
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Default Re: Wiring The Mains Plug-A Forgotten Art?

Quote:
Anyway, it would be a Bad Idea
Just as bad as selling three pin ones to the uneducated. I suppose it is a good thing (short term) that people don't want to wire up plugs, long term we're losing practical skills left, right, and centre.
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Old 25th Oct 2014, 4:30 pm   #9
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Default Re: Wiring The Mains Plug-A Forgotten Art?

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Originally Posted by AC/HL View Post
A high proportion never did know - and still don't want to.
Quite: not knowing is forgivable; not wanting to know isn't.

Outside of our circle, a lot of people have a healthy built-in fear of anything electrical which involves the mains supply. But to use that fear as a justification for not bothering to make the effort to learn the very basics - such as how to wire a 13-amp plug correctly; why it needs to be wired a certain way; what rating of fuse to fit, etc. is simply inexcusable - after all, those basics are not exactly rocket science!

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Old 25th Oct 2014, 4:41 pm   #10
dave walsh
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Default Re: Wiring The Mains Plug-A Forgotten Art?

I agree with the safety factor concerns but [actually] I have a "Work Zone"
3-in One 12v Torch Radio at each address [for emergency use]. They have a charger plugged in to a switched socket and the earth pin on the moulded mains plug IS black plastic. I was peeved to find that the one in Rammy had been unplugged and lost its earth pin, I was able to remedy this by modifying one of those white plastic safety mouldings that are used to stop children inserting anything into a 13 amp socket so that the earth pin part alone is used to open the shutter allowing the active pins access. It works, it's neat and when it's on [rarely] is also being supervised. The other advantage is that it can still be moved and plugged back in without anyone being tempted to put something dodgy in the earth socket!
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Old 25th Oct 2014, 5:12 pm   #11
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Default Re: Wiring The Mains Plug-A Forgotten Art?

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one of those white plastic safety mouldings
At the risk of being a bit OT those things are dangerous, see http://www.fatallyflawed.org.uk/ I bet more people think these are safe than people that can wire plugs up.
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Old 25th Oct 2014, 5:55 pm   #12
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Default Re: Wiring The Mains Plug-A Forgotten Art?

I interviewed four young lads (most were attending a 'mechatronics' college course at the time) for the position of electrical installer (apprentice) some years ago and as part of my interview I asked them to wire a standard 3-pin plug whilst we spoke informally.

Not a single one of them did it correctly. And each plug was supplied to them as NEW and still with the card attached that actually showed how to connect one! Three lads didn't even remove/look at the card, the other one took the card off (and I held my breath) as he threw it away without looking at it.....

I lost most of my faith in education at that point.
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Old 25th Oct 2014, 6:01 pm   #13
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Default Re: Wiring The Mains Plug-A Forgotten Art?

Hello,

My late mum had a great fear of electricity. She had a microwave oven for 25 years and never once switched it on - someone else had to do it.

Michael
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Old 25th Oct 2014, 6:12 pm   #14
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Default Re: Wiring The Mains Plug-A Forgotten Art?

My wife is a science technician at the local comprehensive. Apparently 14/15 year olds are taught how to wire a plug in science.
You can take a horse to water.......
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Old 25th Oct 2014, 9:27 pm   #15
dave walsh
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Default Re: Wiring The Mains Plug-A Forgotten Art?

Depressing about the young lads kelly but my experience is that you have to start further back ie show them and then see if they can copy it! Deducting a few years from the apparent chronological age seems to help as well. There will be genuinely interested youngsters but not necessarily the ones that turn up!

Merlin's link was very interesting but different to my "one off" fix. The torch socket is above a shelf four foot from the floor so not accessible to infants.

You learn something every day [or at least that used to be the case]. I'd really never imagined that socket covers represented a danger as

a. I've never used them on a general household basis-mainly because
b. The few that I've ever had to remove were a pain to extract anyway.
c. I'd always assumed they represented an over anxious attitude.
d. Supervision is better than a false sense of security.

According to that site though, distributing blanks is the worst thing to do.
Some of the examples are worrying but if the kids are that active they can half pull out a hoover plug and get to the pins or into anything at all if there's no one around at that moment! Keeping a constant eye is hard work but probaly the best option hard as it is sometimes. I hope kids aren't getting electrocuted. The very few examples I can recall didn't involve covers being prised off but I'm willing to be convinced.

Er just looking at the two pin shaver/electric toothbrush 120/240v sockets in the bathroom they are well above floor level but accessible to pointed objects perhaps? Sorry to go off at a tangent with all this but the overall emphasis on safety here is to the credit of the site management and it's members.
Dave W

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Old 26th Oct 2014, 2:02 am   #16
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Default Re: Wiring The Mains Plug-A Forgotten Art?

Dave W - modern 3-pin plugs have the bottom part of the pin insulated such that by the time you get to the brass bit (as you pull it out) the pins have disconnected from the supply.

Similarly with shaver sockets the supply is via an isolation transformer so it would take both pins to be touched before you could be electrocuted.

Modern safety methods and techniques are a whole league above and beyond the systems we grew up with.
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Old 26th Oct 2014, 8:38 am   #17
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Default Re: Wiring The Mains Plug-A Forgotten Art?

At least the new colours are safer. In the '50s when I started work they were red black and green, being the quite common red/green blind I had to go and ask someone which lead was red, it was OK if I was only fitting a plug as I could check it with a meter but when I had to fit a new lead it was a problem.

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Old 26th Oct 2014, 8:59 am   #18
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Default Re: Wiring The Mains Plug-A Forgotten Art?

Remember the leads when the red was an earth - German I think.
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Old 26th Oct 2014, 9:01 am   #19
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Default Re: Wiring The Mains Plug-A Forgotten Art?

I still make the earth wire longer than the live and neutral wires (as I was taught at British Steel and the BBC) so that if somone trips over the cable (say) and pulls it from the plug, the earth is always the last to be disconnected.

We were taught how to wire plugs at school, aged 14, but I knew anyway, being 'that way out'.
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Old 26th Oct 2014, 9:14 am   #20
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Default Re: Wiring The Mains Plug-A Forgotten Art?

I am quite surprised that this thread got to post 19 before anyone mentioned leaving the earth wire longer to make sure it's the last one to disconnect.......is it only people trained at institutions with 'British' as the first word in their name that are taught this?

However, since we have a system which now regards the removal of risk as being the easiest means to ensure safety I imagine that the number of people who need to wire a 3-pin plug will diminish exponentially.
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