Southern Power (cont'd, Page 2)
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All this was quite a thrill, and we went right to work looking on the verges of the right-of-way for any Thomas 2-parts that had escaped the line maintenance crew. The more we looked, the less we found. There was only a couple of scraps of porcelain and nothing more. It seemed as if the line crews had gone to enormous trouble to manicure the right-of-way.
For a diversion from the main line, we checked out the connector to the Tugalo plant, next down the river from Tallulah Falls. Bingo, there were a bunch of OB suspension strings, just like the article said. But we didnít come all this way to find OBís. Oh well, at least we found something!
We worked the line up the steep hill from Tugalo and ended up finding 9 little Westinghouse 6in. suspensions Ė hook & eye Ė Barb LOVES them! We speculate that they were used on a distribution line to Tugalo during construction, and then discarded when the 100kV line went in.
We followed the main line all the way to Gainesville, getting on the right-of-way anywhere we could without trespassing. The entire area is developing, and many sections are off limits. We searched hard on the more rugged stretches in the National Forest, with no success whatsoever. We even tried the secondary lines to other small plants and substations, with no luck at all. After a week of this, we were both exhausted and discouraged. We talked about giving up and just driving up the Blue Ridge Parkway and taking photos of the fall colors. At least that wouldnít tear our clothes all up and leave scratches and insect bites all over us!
There was, however, one last possibility we hadnít explored. We had one old map that showed the line across the river connecting with the Southern Power system at Clemson College in South Carolina. That connection had been put in later, and it was highly unlikely that it had used the big Thomas 2-parts. On the other hand, if we didnít look, we would always wonder. We didnít have any topographic maps of the area, so we drew a line on a road map where we thought the line would be, and started looking for roads into the rather remote and rugged area. After a lot of KEEP OUT signs and false starts, we found a dirt road that went in the right general direction. By some miracle, we came up to a ridge, and there was a tower no more than 100 yards from the road. This section of line had not been cleared for at least 5 years, so the brush was high and the thorns especially vicious. After fighting our way to the tower, we were greeted with a huge mess of broken porcelain---all from the big 2-parts!
So this connector had used the Thomas 2-part suspensions. WOW! But where were all the metal parts? Had the crews broken off the porcelain to salvage that little bit of steel? Down hill from this tower, a long span crossed a stream to the next tower---it was on a steep side slope with heavy vegetation on the downhill slope. If there were going to be any that got away, that would be an ideal place to look. We worked our way into the high forest off the right-of-way where we could hike without constant thorns, and worked our way to the bottom of the creek. Up the other side we crawled under the thick growth toward the tower.
Then Barb said ďthereís something over there.Ē When we got there, the something was a cap and hook, with most of the porcelain broken off. At least they hadnít carried all the metal parts away. We crawled on up to the tower, and found a 2-part with complete inner skirt and about a quarter of the outer skirt. There were enough additional pieces to cut and fit a whole one if it came to that. These were all in the most wonderful Thomas yellow with burgundy swirls. In addition, there was another whole inner skirt. Finally, we had found a line that we could hunt! We had not brought our packs, so we spent the next hour lugging our find up the steep hill by hand.
The next day we followed a different dirt road and crossed the line on a different ridge. We went up and down several ridges and found a tower with a huge collection of big 2-parts---all broken. Barb hollowed out depressions in the dirt that just fit the convex side of the outer skirt, and cradled the broken pieces next to each other to see if they fit.
It looked like an insulator hospital there under the tower. She found all the pieces to one, and another, just to the right of center in the photo, had enough to it that we could cut and fit the missing segment even though we couldnít find the original missing piece.
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