Tri-Stater’s invention boosts safety, reduces fatigue for maintenance crews

Inventor, Bill DePue, displays two Tri-Clamp devices alongside the Boo-Sher Socket.

Inventor, Bill DePue, displays two Tri-Clamp devices alongside the Boo-Sher Socket.

As any of Tri-State’s transmission maintenance crew members will tell you there are a significant number of potential hazards associated with working on energized, high voltage equipment. But, these days live-line maintenance is often a necessary part of the job and thanks to Bill DePue’s inventions, some of those required maintenance procedures are now more efficient, faster and, most importantly, safer with the use of his innovative Tri-Clamp and Boo-Sher Socket.

“On transmission lines, installing energized jumpers (electrical connections between two points in a circuit) can be one of the more difficult and potentially dangerous jobs that we do,” explained Tri-State’s inventor and line maintenance superintendent, Bill DePue. “I knew there had to be a better way to do it,” he added.

With the Tri-Clamp Web site displayed on his computer, Bill DePue explains how his innovations are used on the job.

With the Tri-Clamp Web site displayed on his computer, Bill DePue explains how his innovations are used on the job.

Indeed, the 40-year veteran of the electric industry did find a better way to do it. DePue introduced the Tri-Clamp and the accompanying Boo-Sher Socket (named for his wife and daughter) to Tri-State’s maintenance crews about two years ago and his fellow co-workers have nothing but praise for their many on-the-job uses.

In a nutshell, the Tri-Clamp makes arduous tasks more manageable and safer by introducing a more refined method for installing jumper connections by using a multi-plane clamp that cradles and secures bolts. The Boo-Sher Socket is a starter socket that holds a nut, lock washer and washer in alignment simultaneously enabling linemen to safely seat all three pieces of hardware onto their corresponding bolt in one motion.

“These tools are ideal for our crews performing maintenance on switches, breakers, transformers and essentially any equipment that has compression connectors,” explained Mac Fellin, west-side transmission maintenance manager. “These devices are a real time saver and a huge benefit from a safety perspective,” he added.

Lineman, Joe Travizo, discusses how DePue’s inventions have reduced project time and increased on-the-job safety.

Lineman, Joe Travizo, discusses how DePue’s inventions have reduced project time and increased on-the-job safety.

“These tools are very useful for performing maintenance inside our substations,” said Brad Hauger, line maintenance supervisor. “It really eases the ‘fatigue factor’ in that we used to be holding a hot stick (fiberglass pole for safely working on energized equipment) out there for up to 20 minutes to perform the work and now with these devices the procedure takes only 4 or 5 minutes,” he explained.

“We first used Bill’s Tri-Clamp and Boo-Sher Socket about two years ago on a job north of Meeker, Colo., where we needed to move some energized jumpers,” recalled Joe Travizo, journey level lineman.” Using the socket and the Tri-Clamp on the end of our hot sticks made that job a lot faster, easier and safer,” he added.

Bill DePue demonstrates how his devices fit on the end of a shotgun hot stick.

Bill DePue demonstrates how his devices fit on the end of a shotgun hot stick.

Today, all of Tri-State’s transmission maintenance crews are equipped with DePue’s unique inventions. If all goes as planned, the patented Tri-Clamp and Boo-Sher Socket will soon find a much larger customer base throughout the electric utility industry. Earlier this spring, a Delta, Colo., – based firm, Jobsite, started ramping up marketing and manufacturing of the Tri-Clamp and Boo-Cher Socket.

Jobsite is served electrically by Tri-State member, Delta-Montrose Electric Association.

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