Mike Callihan's Dream Shop

Pre-wiring the shop of a lifetime.

BY: Mike Callihan
LOCATION: Asheville, NC

    Well, Thanksgiving arrived. It was the moment of truth for this amateur electrician. I had done my homework with regard to electrical code. I had consulted with my plant electrician so many times he tried to hide when he saw me coming. I even checked with the local inspectors to clear up some, in my mind at least, some ambiguous code issues. I even went out and tooled up, purchasing a selection of Klein electrician tools including an electrician's tool pouch. Boy, I was ready now.
Mike Callihan's Dream Shop

    The electrical drawings had been carefully prepared, and changed, and redone again. A material list had been sent out for bid, a supplier selected and after recovering from sticker shock, most supplies were purchased. At least I thought most supplies had been purchased; little did I know how much was yet to come.
    Armed with my new professional tools, an overwhelming stack of supplies I attack the wiring in my shop. My plan was to knock out the wiring the week I was off over Thanksgiving. That's what you call naiveté. I was fortunate enough to be able to employ a helper, a young man moving to the area and still looking for a job. Without him I wouldn't have gotten 20% of the job done, as it was I figured that I was about half done after the week of 10-12 hour days had passed. It was back to Wisconsin frustrated by the fact that I hadn't even approached my goal.
Mike Callihan's Dream Shop

    The main problem was that any further progress such as insulation, putting up ceiling and wall board, heating, and final plumbing hinged on completion of the wiring. I got yet another setback when talking to my plant electrician in Milwaukee, I had failed to take into account that 1/3 of the breaker positions in my load center were the high leg of the 3 phase power I was bring in. I had a number of 110 volt breakers positioned in 208 V slots. Moving the breakers to another position would be easy enough, the real problem was that I didn't have enough 110 volt breaker slots in the load center and now a sub panel would be required.

    I was fortunate that the owner of my company wanted to check out the new management we had put in place for my pending retirement. He suggested that I get out of Dodge for a couple of months after Christmas, he wanted me to be gone long enough that the plant would have to function without my inputs. I said no don't throw me in the briar patch. I arrived in NC the day after Christmas and stayed until mid February.
     During that time I installed a sub panel, finished all the rough wiring, got all the 110 and 220-v single-phase as well as the lighting circuits up and running. I pulled over a mile of 12/3 romex, installed 72 outlets, 19 8-foot fluorescent lighting fixtures, 500 feet of 14-gauge monster wire for speakers and volume controls in every room. Five home runs of telephone wire, a couple of 30-amp 220 volt circuits as well as a half dozen 3-phase circuits. It was a lot more work than I had expected, especially by myself, pulling long runs of wire alone is a lot of up and down the ladder. Every time I thought I was done I thought of something else to do. The clerks at Home Depot were starting to call me by my first name.Main Panel
    Wires Everywhere!

     After passing the electrical inspection the first time through, (hooray for me) the insulation crew came in and knocked out the walls in a single day. I had priced the materials to do it myself before having it quoted. I figured I could save less than $300 doing it myself. After careful consideration I decided that I really didn't want to spend a week or so playing with irritating glass wool. The actual consideration took all of about 1 millisecond.

...Mike Callihan




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