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MID

The Age of Aquarius, 1970

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The Age of Aquarius

Apollo 13: 40 years ago...

When the Moon is in the seventh house,

And Jupiter aligns with Mars,

Then peace will guide the planets,

And love will steer the stars.

This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius...

The familiar strains of that 5th Dimension song played on the radio frequently in 1970. Five golden voiced pop stars, talented beyond measure, had yet another hit. It was happy music, energetic music, and for me, as well as some other folks, their sound is associated with what we were doing in the space program (it still is...).

In Gene Kranz' Failure Is Not An Option, he mentioned listening to that song, and getting filled with energy and excitement as he headed to the space center for work every day...

"The song had temporarily replaced "The Stars and Stripes Forever" as my going to work music. The version sung by the group The 5th Dimension was picked up by the Apollo 13 crew and controllers as symbolic of the energy and momentum of the Apollo lunar program.

The song's signature words, "This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius," symbolized the first mission of the new decade as well as the challenge and excitement of the increasingly difficult and risky lunar missions. When the Apollo 13 crew named their LM "Aquarius", the song moved to the "top of the pops" for the controllers."

It was actually the real "top of the pops" as well...the song, curiously enough, hit #1 on the Billboard charts the day after Apollo 13 launched in April 1970. It would remain #1 for the following 6 weeks...

"The Age of Aquarius"...it fit. We were prepping for Apollo 13, and stowed in SA-508 at KSC were two spacecraft, the CSM, CM-109, call sign Odyssey, and below her, in the SLA, LM-7, call sign, Aquarius.

How appropriate for that song...

It was fun.

Apollo 13 was to be the third lunar landing mission, and the start of in-depth science on the surface of the Moon. The target was the Fra Mauro highland region, a hilly region which was assumed to have been formed from ejecta generated by the massive impact that had formed the Mare Imbrium (Sea of Rains), the large "Sea" that appears just above center and to the left in the northern hemisphere of the Moon as seen from Earth. The Fra Mauro region was actually south of Mare Imbrium, just below the equator by a few degrees, somewhat west of the Apollo 12 landing site. It was an exciting target geologically, and an exciting mission profile.

The mission emblem of Apollo 13 said it all...

S69-60662.jpg

EX LUNA, SCIENTIA: From the Moon, Knowledge.

That's what it was all about. And these three men were the prime crew for the Apollo 13 mission:

S69-62224.jpg

James Lovell, CDR (left): Navy Captain, test pilot, now training for his 4th flight, and the most experienced NASA astronaut in the corps, having served as backup PLT for GT-4, PLT of GT-7, where he spent two weeks in space, served as backup CDR of GT-9A, and then as CDR of GT-12 in 1966. He was originally the backup CMP for Apollo 9 (with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin), and then became the prime CMP for Apollo 9 when Mike Collins was removed due to the back surgery he required for a bone spur on his spine. After that, his assignment was swapped and he wound up as CMP for the Apollo 8 mission to the Moon in 1968. Jim was then backup CDR of Apollo 11, and was slated to command Apollo 14, but again, his crew swapped assignments for Apollo 13, because the recent re-instatement of Alan Shepard to flight status (and his assignment as CDR of Apollo 13) didn't leave him enough time to train for Apollo 13.

Thus, Jim was tossed all over the place, assignment-wise, during his astronaut career, serving on what would be his 4th prime flight crew, and having served on 4 backup crews for six different missions (and backup crews were trained with prime crews to assume all duties of the prime crew if replacement became necessary, so Jim had been constantly busy on the training grind for the past 6 years).

By the end of Apollo 13, Jim Lovell would hold the record for the most time in space of any astronaut until the Skylab program took place. He would be the first man to have traveled to the Moon twice, and the only one of the three men who did so not to have landed on it...

Ken Mattingly (center), was also a Navy pilot, and was on his first space flight assignment serving as CMP.

Fred Haise (right): served as LMP for the mission of Apollo 13, and would be landing on the Moon with Lovell. Haise was a Marine Corp test pilot, who had served as backup LMP for the Apollo 8, and Apollo 11 missions up to this point.

Their backups were John Young (Gemini 4, Gemini 10, and Apollo 10) as CDR, Jack Swigert , CMP on his first assignment, and Charles Duke (who folks might remember as CAPCOM for Apollo 11's lunar landing), on his first flight crew assignment as backup LMP.

Two very experienced Commanders were leading rookie crews, and nothing was different about this group and those who preceded them on other Apollo missions...save one thing; the prime crew of Apollo 13 was the backup crew for Apollo 11, and had received essentially parallel training with Armstrong, Collins and Aldrin, so as to be able to step in and fly the full mission should such a thing have been necessary.

The Apollo 13 crew was already fully trained to execute a lunar landing mission. These guys were really primed to go. Further, their training was now more intense than before because their mission would not only attempt a landing in a new region, with precision, but they would be doing multiple, longer term EVAs designed for scientific exploration and knowledge gathering, rather than shorter forays in the general vicinity of the LM.

So, the training grind was, and had been on full blast for months, and we saw similar concentrated activities at all centers during the 1st winter of the decade of the 1970s as we'deen through most of 1968 and all of 1969.

December, 1969: Lovell and Haise on a geology field trip in Hawaii...

s70-20253.jpg

January 1970, EVA training at MSC, Houston...

Fred Haise, hanging in 1/6 g...

s70-24009.jpg

s70-24012.jpg

The crew engaged in water egress training...

s70-24010.jpg

s70-24014.jpg

As I indicated before, training was all inclusive. Everything involved with the mission was practiced and simulated countless times, and in places all over the planet. Water egress training in the Gulf of Mexico and at Houston's water tank, EVA simulations both at Houston and outdoors at the Kennedy Space Center, CM simulations involving Ken Mattingly solo, and the entire crew together, integrated simulations of every phase of flight with the control teams in Houston...it went on and on, day in and day out.

And all the while, on pad 39A, the launch vehicle was being tested, and prepped for launch:

s70-32990.jpg

January, 1970; The Kansas City Chiefs won Super Bowl 4 over the Minnesota Vikings, a band called The Beatles was in the process of breaking up, the Viet Nam War was in full swing, and something called the My Lai Massacre would shortly occur, followed by the bombing of Cambodia, and tensions in the United States over this war were about to once again reach a fever pitch...culminating in shootings which would occur at Kent State University some months down the road..

It was a dynamic, violent, and very unpleasant time...and at NASA, well, they were in large part oblivious to the outside world, planning to return to the Moon...one of the few positive things happening around the world.

I don't think most people were paying any attention...but Aquarius was about to become a star.

Edited by MID
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Awesome thread MID!

I was only 5 years old at the time but I loved the time you speak of and grew up as a hippie so to speak. I also have always loved NASA and their heroic missions.

I hope you do not mind if I post the song.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYjbeGG_D4g&feature=related

Great thread! Did you write this all yourself? It was very enjoyable to click in and read.

All the best!

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Thanks for this MID. :tu:

Apparently Fred Haise, James Lovell and famed NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz will come together to commemorate the 40th Anniversary during a special event at the Kennedy Space Center on April 9, 2010.

It is interesting how Odyssey is on display at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson, Kansas.

Here is the 5th Dimension video, my favorite part comes when they start singing the "let the sunshine in" part at 2:16. :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LANwIgpha7k

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I hope you do not mind if I post the song.

Hehe TRUEYOUTRUEME, another great version. :)

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Hehe TRUEYOUTRUEME, another great version. :)

It is cool that we were both posting the song at the same time. Great song! :tu:

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It is cool that we were both posting the song at the same time. Great song! :tu:

Yup and yup. :D

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Oh how I remember this just like yesterday, MID another great thread, Heres to you man :tu:

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Always a pleasure, MID, thanks for posting.

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Awesome thread MID!

I was only 5 years old at the time but I loved the time you speak of and grew up as a hippie so to speak. I also have always loved NASA and their heroic missions.

I hope you do not mind if I post the song.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYjbeGG_D4g&feature=related

Great thread! Did you write this all yourself? It was very enjoyable to click in and read.

All the best!

Wow gang...

Those videos capture it so well. I am actually moved.

If you'd ever seen them live, they sounded just like that...amazing what five voices can do to a pop song. They were pristine, and Billy Davis literally kicked a**!

Thanks so much TRUE.

I'm really glad to hear your interest.

This one is THE one...to me. It's where NASA did the amazing in a completely different way, with alot of sweat, alot of tesnion, and even fear, and complete effort and confidence.

I want to try and convey what Apollo 13 was really like. My gut still sometimes churns thinking about it, and I can't help but get teary thinking about how it all worked out and how that incredibly complex solution happened.

To answer your question; yes, I did write that. I wrote all of the Year of Apollo thread as well. That's just me, trying to paint a picture of what's in my gut...without writing a damned novel ! ^_^

Thanks so much again.

I really appreciate it!

:tu:

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MID I certianly do remember the drama that went on in that flight, I was an 11 year old boy and ill tell ya I was glued to the tv and if anyone got between me and the tv there was hell to pay,lol, I am so looking forwards to reliving it all thru your eyes, :tu:

Regards;

TFF

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Thanks for this MID. :tu:

Your welcome Hugh...thanks so much!

Here is the 5th Dimension video, my favorite part comes when they start singing the "let the sunshine in" part at 2:16. :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LANwIgpha7k

Man, you guys got it all going with 5D there don't ya!

They were ear candy, and eye candy, don't ya think!

Apparently Fred Haise, James Lovell and famed NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz will come together to commemorate the 40th Anniversary during a special event at the Kennedy Space Center on April 9, 2010.

Yes they are, with a bunch of other guys as well.

It's not a really big event, people wise. VIP tickets are sold out and they've probably got about 100 tickets or so total to sell off. If you're in Florida in April, that's the place to be!

It is interesting how Odyssey is on display at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson, Kansas.

Yep, she sure is...the only spacecraft in the history of manned spaceflight to be completely shut down and powered up again...in flight.

She was a honey!

apollo13.jpg

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MID I certianly do remember the drama that went on in that flight, I was an 11 year old boy and ill tell ya I was glued to the tv and if anyone got between me and the tv there was hell to pay,lol, I am so looking forwards to reliving it all thru your eyes, :tu:

Regards;

TFF

Yes TFF...it was a real, real tense time.

Thanks so much for the kind comments my friend. I'll try to make this real. No movie dramatization here...the real story, trying to describe what was going on in the spirit, in the gut...the fear, the challenge, the devotion that went into making this thing happen.

There's very little to compare with three men's lives hanging by a thread 200,000 miles from the Earth...and not knowing what happened, nor how to fix it...if it even could be fixed.

Back in the day (God, that's a while ago isn't it?), there was hell to pay if anyone tried to talk to me about something other than the problem at hand!

;)

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Always a pleasure, MID, thanks for posting.

You're very welcome Hazz, and thanks to you too!

:tu:

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The fith dimension was an awsome band of the day,

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Good post MID. I remember watching the Apollo launches and listening to that song too. I can remember as an even younger child watching the Gemini launches on TV in school, back in the 60's. Do you remember the song 'Telstar'? It commemorated the launching of the first intercontinental communications satellite and now here we are on UM. The birth of NASA and their accomplishments. Amazing to think I experienced all that.

Edited by susieice

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Great post, MID. Brought back a lot of memories. :tu:

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Good post MID. I remember watching the Apollo launches and listening to that song too. I can remember as an even younger child watching the Gemini launches on TV in school, back in the 60's. Do you remember the song 'Telstar'? It commemorated the launching of the first intercontinental communications satellite and now here we are on UM. The birth of NASA and their accomplishments. Amazing to think I experienced all that.

Thanks sus!

Oh yea, I remember that little instrumental dittie "Telstar"...way back in the early 60's.

Yea, I think that's close to 50 years ago. My God, when you think about it that way!

.... :blink: whoo, we'z old!

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Great post, MID. Brought back a lot of memories. :tu:

Thank you m'aam.

I'll be back with the whole story...

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Thanks sus!

Oh yea, I remember that little instrumental dittie "Telstar"...way back in the early 60's.

Yea, I think that's close to 50 years ago. My God, when you think about it that way!

.... :blink: whoo, we'z old!

:lol: And getting better all the time :tu:

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:lol: And getting better all the time :tu:

;)

:yes:

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To Err Is Human

We all know what happened on Apollo 13's mission. At 22:07 EST on 14 April 1970, an explosion took place in the Service Module of the craft, jeopardizing the lives of the crew.

The following is a little background so as to understand how a situation like this was unwittingly set up.

Space flight is a dangerous business. Sometimes it a bit more dangerous than anyone anticipates.

Humans make mistakes.

This statement doesn't necessarily speak to a flaw of human nature. It speaks to a natural process of learning. We try something and we screw up and it doesn't work. What happens?

We look at what we did and analyze it. We discover what we did wrong and we learn what not to do. Then we try it again, and we succeed. This process is common, necessary, and human. We've all said, "I'll never do that again," many, many times. Such an understanding comes from making mistakes and learning from them. The best at anything has learned in that fashion, and he or she continues to learn in that fashion for their entire lifetime.

It's engineering--a process that is as human as anything in existence.

When involved in a process, the more complex it is, the more propensity exists for errors to occur.

Few things in human endeavor have been as complex and integrated as Apollo was. Hundreds of thousands of people worked on this project on thousands of systems and procedures. Hopefully (and by intent), this massive effort was integrated. Contractors worked in teams, reported to management, who in turn reported to NASA, who put the whole integrated process together to accomplish a goal.

2 million pieces of the Apollo/Saturn package were designed and integrated in this fashion, and mistakes were made, fixes were put in place, and further testing took place to assure a functional system.

Still, there was never a time when anyone thought everything was "right", or "perfect". Certainly, every step imaginable had been taken to assure adequate performance of everything imaginable, and the successes we'd attained pointed to the efficacy of that system. Yet, every mission flown to-date had resulted in anomalies, dozens of them, that appeared during flight. Each set of these was fleshed out and corrected for the next mission. They ranged from the mundane and merely inconvenient to the serious and potentially mission-threatening variety. We learned, we corrected, and we improved, every time.

Yet, in such a complex thing, and despite one's best efforts (and there was a lot of "best effort" involved in Apollo), something can exist that you never see. No one ever thinks of it. Something may get missed...something slips through the cracks. The complexity of the program naturally implies that there's more chance of that sort of little slip existing. If such a thing does bite you one day, the common result in the after-the-fact analysis is the comment, "How the hell could we not have seen that?"

Human nature. This existential phrase, which we've all certainly seen...

pb7020.gif

...while certainly not adequate from an engineering perspective, nonetheless seems to describe it adequately.

#

Something can exist that you never see, and you never think about.

I mentioned "guarded humble" in a post at the end of The Year of Apollo thread.

Despite your success, you maintained guarded humble, because you fully realized that it's what you never thought of, or what you somehow missed, that could kill you. I don't think there was ever a time when any person involved ever thought they'd attained perfection, despite the fact that we'd accomplished the goal of landing a man on the Moon, and had done it twice in the past year. The roughly 150 to 200 anomalies that presented themselves throughout the 6 manned Apollo missions that had taken place to date were certainly reminders of the maxim, "To err is human". Thus training was geared toward dealing with the unexpected. A nominal mission was only trained for initially. Most training was geared toward exposing the potential to err, and learning how to deal with it and correct it.

Still...despite 9 years of development, 6 successful manned missions, and years of training for each of them, the invisible could lurk, despite the best preparation. That is something that will never change, no matter what humanity engages in.

#

It was early 1970. Apollo 13 was on the pad at the Cape. Confidence was high, and we were in the process of starting the full Apollo/Saturn V systems testing. Training was in high gear for the April mission to the Moon.

I'd mentioned in the prior thread that 5 years earlier, designers decided to make a change. Spacecraft power would be changed from 28 volts to 56 volts. The power at the Cape was 56 volts, and re-designing the spacecraft to accommodate that load was certainly more cost-effective than converting the Kennedy Space center to 28 volt power.

Such a change of course involved hundreds of systems re-configurations in the Command/Service Module and Lunar Module systems. The process moved along efficiently with hundreds of things being converted, reported on, tested, and accomplished.

But one thing slipped through the massive paperwork/operational mountain. The circuits that powered the Service Module oxygen tank systems. How'd we miss that?

Human nature. It was one small piece of a massive set of reconfigurations. It never got done. I have no idea why. But I can certainly understand how something could slip through the huge mountain of tasks that needed to be accomplished across contractor centers all over the country, and how it could have been missed by NASA in the final analysis. It was a mistake, unseen and evidently one which had produced no evidence of ill effect.

An oddity about such things is that a missed fix may never show up in actual operations.

6 manned missions had flown with two of these 28 volt oxygen tanks aboard their SMs. All 12 of them operated nominally with 56 volts coursing through circuitry designed for half that load, and nothing ever indicated a problem. The reasons for that are understandable.

The tanks included a heater, and a fan which would "stir the cryos" (basically, destratify the contents by stirring up the icy slush of oxygen held within the tanks so as to distribute the contents evenly and assure good instrumentation readings). These items had very short duty cycles. In other words, they only ran for very short periods of times and periodically. With their short durations of operation, no effect had ever been seen in operation of the 56 volt current producing a fail in a circuit. You can run something like this with no ill effects, which of course produces no evidence of a problem...since there isn't one that has enough time to develop.

There was a third item in the tanks. It was a small temperature-sensitive safety switch. This switch would power up and open to break the circuit inside the tank systems if the temperature of the tank reached about 80 degrees F. But this switch, although previously tested when developed in the early days, was a safety with a lot of margin (the tank could get much warmer before a problem might develop). And the fact is, it never operated in flight, as short duty cycles of the heaters and fans had never increased the temperature inside the tanks close to the point where the switch would open. It was highly unlikely that it ever would. It was one of those things that one knew was there, but which was rather out of sight, out of mind.

So what we had were oxygen tanks in operation that were incorrectly wired for the power load they were exposed to, but which had never exhibited any ill effects because of short operational durations of those circuits in flight.

It's what you don't see that can bite you in the butt.

#

A while back, some reconfiguration to these Apollo SM oxygen tanks was put in place, and they were all removed from where they were for some re-fitting and re-installation.

Apollo 10's tanks were removed for this re-configuration, and during that process, around a year and some ago, one of them was dropped onto a test stand by mistake (a distance of approximately 1.5-2.0 inches). The tanks were rather fragile, thin-walled spherical assemblies, and this tank showed some signs of physical damage from that little drop.

It was sent back to the manufacturer for repairs, and another tank was installed in the SM of Apollo 10 in its place.

The damaged and subsequently repaired tank was installed in the SM of Apollo 13. That tank was now in the SM on the pad at KSC, being readied for launch.

What's that mean?

Nothing really. The tank was operational, and functional. It was just as good as any other tank that had flown in an Apollo SM.

But this tank would show an annoying problem.

Now, I don't know exactly when this happened, but I can say it occurred between late January and mid-March, 1970, when the systems testing was taking place on Apollo 13 out at Pad 39A.

Part of that testing was to load all tanks and perform pressure integrity checks, and full operational checks. The oxygen tanks in the SM were of course part of this testing. They were filled with oxygen, pressure tested, the heaters and fans were cycled, reading were obtained, flow was measured, valves were checked, the spacecraft oxygen system was tested, and the fuel cell operations were tested.

Those oxygen tanks provided O2 to the crew to breathe, and provided O2 to the fuel cells which generated the electrical power for the spacecraft as well as drinking water for the men aboard. A pretty critical component, eh?

The tanks worked perfectly. Everything checked out. When the tests were completed, the drain valve was opened and the oxygen was drained from the tank.

The problem arose during de-tanking.

The oxygen didn't want to come out of that particular tank through the valve. I don't know if the valve just had a flaw in it from the beginning, or if the valve might have had damage from the drop and it was never seen.

This was a problem, sure. It was discussed, and it was determined that it wasn't a flight critical issue. After all, the oxygen drain valve wasn't a flight critical item, removing the tank and installing a new one would've delayed the flight for at least a month, and the drain valve wasn't used in flight, it was used on the ground. The tank worked properly, the oxygen went where it was supposed to go, and so everyone signed off on a heater-drain procedure, including the flight crew.

Thus, the pad crew drained the tank by increasing the heat and pressure inside. They would run the heater in the tank to increase temperature and thereby pressure, forcing the oxygen out of the balky drain valve. The procedure took several hours, and it worked.

It's what you don't see that can bite you in the butt.

#

For several hours that heater ran at 56 volts. And, it worked.

However, recall that temperature sensitive switch, a rather tiny contact that would activate when temperature indicated 80 degrees F. This switch had never operated, let alone at 56 volts.

What no one noticed was that the temperature in the tank did reach 80 degrees F, and that for an instant, 56 volts of power in that little 28 volt circuit had caused an arc which welded the switch shut immediately. It never opened, and never gave any indication that it had even tried (if it did, even for an instant, no one noticed).

The tank temperature indicators didn't register much above 80 degrees F , so there was no instrument indication of anything higher than that value (the temperature indicator would show 80 degrees (maybe a little higher), which would be expected with the safety switch cycling periodically if the temperature peaked higher than that value. For all anyone knew, the temperature inside had never gone off scale high and triggered the safety switch. What no one realized was that the temperature increased a hell of a lot higher inside that tank, both during that de-tanking and during subsequent CSM power-ups on the pad. The heater would operate unprotected by a shut off.

It was subsequently revealed that internal tank temperatures exceeded 1000 degrees F during this period of time.

What that did was to produce significant damage to the Teflon insulation on the stir fan wiring inside the tank, leaving many exposed areas of bare wire.

What existed subsequent to that was exposed electrical wiring inside a tank designed to hold 100% oxygen under pressure. If you ran the heater, there was no protection to shut it off if temperatures exceeded limits, and if you ran the fan...well, with exposed wires, the possibility of a short existed. A short--a potential electrical arcing situation--in a 100% pressurized oxygen environment...

And no one knew.

This doesn't describe a single error. It describes a chain of them. The result of these cumulative errors was that aboard this SM...

ap13-KSC-70PC-68.jpg

...that silver cylinder sitting beneath that CM atop the Apollo 13 launch vehicle, was a bomb waiting to go off when filled with oxygen.

Humans make mistakes.

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Humans make mistakes...

And sometimes, it's a case of dyslexia!

I have to give kudos to Hugh, who pointed out to me that I wrote 56 volts ...(looks like everywhere I wrote about the voltage change in the post above, and in the prior post...).

He told me he'd read it was to 65 volts.

I was then confused...

Checking all my references, and some on line sites: yea, it is 65.

I have discovered that I have a propensity to transpose 5s and 6s... :blush:

So for all the electrical geeks out there...it seems to be 65 volts, not 56 (or is that 56 and not 65... :wacko: )...

Thanks for the correction Hugh!

:tu:

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Brings Back many Memorys Mid Thanks! :rolleyes:

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Thanks MID, Now we know the details of what was going on, :tu:

Regards;

TFF

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Thanks for the correction Hugh!

:tu:

No problem MID, thanks. :tu:

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