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PEARL Monster Saves U.S. Declaration of Independence

A few days prior to the 4th of July Independence Day holiday, 11-inches of rain fell in the Washington D.C., area, flooding the basement of the U.S. National Archives. The flooding had shorted out the electrical system that kept power flowing to the building's dehumidification system, a key piece of the building's rare document and artifact protection system.

The thousands of rare documents — including the Declaration of Independence — stored in the National Archives were safe from the rising tide, but for how long? The flooding had shorted out the electrical system that kept power flowing to the building's dehumidification system, a key piece of the building's rare document and artifact protection system.

Driven by fears of molding documents and historical catastrophes, curators called electrical testing specialist Potomac Testing Inc., Bowie, Md., to test and repair the electrical system, which included locating high voltage fuses, and get the dehumidification system up and running. Potomac Testing, a member of the Professional Electrical Apparatus Recyclers League (PEARL), reached out to the PEARL network, calling Brian Corekin at Monster Fuses Inc., Portland, Ore., owner of the largest inventory of surplus, new, used and reconditioned industrial fuses in the U.S. Although calls had been made to the manufacturer of the required fuses, nobody was available at its warehouse to locate and pull orders because of the holiday.

The National Archives call came in the morning of Monday, July 3. By that afternoon, technicians at Monster Fuses were pulling 44 replacement fuses from their inventory of 80,000, and beginning the process of testing the 5kV and 15kV surplus fuses according to guidelines found in PEARL's 3100 series Inspect & Test (I&T) standards for industrial fuses.

“Because of the time crunch, we couldn't do a full reconditioning of the fuses, which typically includes sandblasting the ferrule ends to remove tarnish and flaking silver-plate and applying a new silver layer when necessary,” said Monster Fuse's Corekin. “Unlike most electrical apparatus reconditioned under PEARL standards, fuses don't have moving parts — at least, they're not supposed to.”

Following the I&T process as a guideline, Corekin's technicians buffed the ends of the fuses and tested each using a 10A ductor resistance tester. “We performed cold resistance tests on each of the fuses using the ductor, which gives you readings down into the micro ohms. PEARL's I&T standard requires you to test the device, compare it against OEM specifications, and document those test results,” Corekin said. “We keep copies of the test results here for every fuse, as well as print the test results on labels that we apply to the fuse itself so there's no confusion about the fuse being ready for installation.”

A few hours after receiving the first call from Potomac, Corekin carried the fuses to Portland International Airport for the next plane to Washington, D.C. By Tuesday, the fuses were installed and the Declaration of Independence was once again safe and dry.

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