Wire stringing operations used to require three groundsmen to pull mechanical buggies along a line span. Over the last six months, however, Powerline Services has used motorized carts called Linemen's Limos from Lineman 1 Manufacturing. These buggies offer two distinct benefits: they lessen the head count and ease the process of spacer replacement and wire stringing.

The vendor loaned the company a few of the carts in July, and then Powerline purchased three of its own Lineman's Limos two months later. Linemen now use the cart when working on spacer replacements on a bundled conductor. For example, the crews relied on these carts on a recent project for Lone Star Energy in Texas. The crews worked for three-and-a-half months on the double-circuit 345-kV line with 1590 bundled wire.

Cart in Action

When using the Lineman's Limo, the workers must first pinpoint a location, set up the crane and place the spacer buggie right under the wire. Next, the workers set up the crane to go above the wire where the buggie is placed on. Then they need to hook the rigging to the lot and then wince it up. During this process, the winch line needs to be between the bundled wire, and to make this happen, the linemen install line holders or line guards on the wire.

Once the crane hoists the spacer buggie up and places it on the wire securely, then a bucket truck lifts a lineman up into position in the cart.

After the workers dead-end the conductor and clip it in, Powerline's linemen start replacing spacers on a 2-mile to 4-mile double-circuit section. The crew members start at a dead-end, and then a crane picks up the spacer buggies one at a time, starting at the top, middle and bottom phase.

Saving Time in the Field

The Lineman's Limo is rated to handle 600 lb, which can handle one worker, his or her tools, and up to 24 spacers. When linemen are working in the cart and need more supplies, they can drop down a hand line. The groundsman will then restock a bucket with additional spacers.

The cart is equipped with a gas-powered, hydraulic motor with levels. In the event that the cart runs out of gas, the workers can set up a crane and use a controlled method of pouring gasoline into the motor while the cart is still up in the air.

The Lineman's Limo has a positive hydraulic four-wheel-drive system with four rollers that roll individually. As the buggie travels forward, the worker can move behind where the spacer needs to be replaced, and then continue on to the next spot on the line.

While the Lineman's Limo can move quickly down a span, it won't cross an angle greater than 12 degrees. In those situations, the linemen need to take the cart down, swing it across the structure, and then re-install it on the other side.

One distinct safety benefit of the cart is its unique transfer system. Linemen don't need to get out of the cart when they transfer around the wire. Instead, they can move through the structure and pass over insulators or spacers without leaving the interior of the Limo.

Training the Linemen

Prior to rolling the motorized carts out to the field, Powerline Services invited Lineman 1 Manufacturing to give a demonstration. The manufacturer offers both in-field training and instruction at its factory.

During the field training session, the vendor taught the linemen about the mechanical design of the cart as well as the safety features such as the two safety bars over the top of the cart. Lineman 1 Manufacturing also trained the linemen on what to do in case they got into a predicament while up in the air. The workers then tried out the cart on the ground.

The Lineman's Limo has proven to be easier to operate and improve the speed going down on the line. So far, the company has used the buggie on projects for American Electric Power, Oncor and Sharyland Utilities.

The next time the linemen encounter a wire stringing operation, they plan to use the Lineman's Limo to improve productivity and lessen manpower requirements when working on bundled wire with spacers.


Joe Solis (jsolis@powerlinesinc.com) is a superintendent with Powerline Services. He has been with the company for 12 years and works out of Silverton, Texas. Prior to this job, he worked for Sun Electric, another transmission line company.

Companies mentioned:

Lineman 1 Manufacturing | www.lineman1.com

Powerline Services | www.powerlinesinc.com