Building a Motor Testing Tool Kit

Motor Talk

Today’s motor testers challenge the term “field portability,” in particular the de-energized test instruments.  The power supplies necessary to provide the high insulation test voltages are the main reason.  Expedient testing can be hampered by not carrying the necessary tools with you to handle the majority of the circuits and tests to be performed. 

So, let’s build the ultimate “Motor Testing Tool Kit.” The most important component of this kit is a means of carrying the test instrument(s), the necessary gear, and tools to support testing.  Utility carts are fine, but-limited in mobility. Moving them over rough surfaces and going up a set of stairs can be cumbersome at best. 

What I found, quite by accident, was a tool cart.  Years ago I was doing motor testing at a new customer site, a paper mill.  Their insurance company mandate was that there would be nothing in electrical equipment rooms except equipment.  Back in those days, I would carry an accessory bag and my tester.  When in an equipment room I would improvise and set my tester on a box, trash can, bucket….whatever I could find as a “desk-like” substitute to hold my tester.  Well, on this job I spent all of my time kneeling on a concrete floor, running my motor tests.  Needless to say, my first stop after returning home was a place to find a cart.  All I wanted was a two shelf cart on castors, preferably plastic, and narrow enough to lay under my Tonneau cover in my pickup bed for transport.  Simple enough, right?!

 I went everywhere and no one had what I needed.  On a whim I went into Lowes and asked a sales assistant where the utility carts where.  He guided me to an isle and I didn’t see what I wanted but what I did see revolutionized my testing methodology from that time on. It was a two-wheel tool cart made of heavy plastic with a hinged lid and a retractable handle to pull it with. It wasn’t what I wanted, but it was exactly what I needed! I immediately went about making modifications to enhance the cart’s usefulness.  It was the size of a large cooler and easily held all of my gear. However, it didn’t have dividers and when I would take my tester out; everything would fall to the bottom. I found some old arc shoots from a 4160V starter and box cut them so that I would have 4 compartments inside the cart. I used Velcro to hold them in place. I then cut up an old tool bag and riveted it to the dividers in sections.  The individual pouches gave me numerous storage slots. I added an extension cord reel carriage, bolted to the non-handle end and aligned with the cart hand grip, and I was almost there. I put Velcro on the top of the cart, and bottom of my tester, and Voila – a Motor Testing Tool Cart.

Now, what to put in there? 

(Besides the test instrument/s batteries, chargers, test leads, amp probes and PPE):

  • Multimeter and test leads
  • Spot Radiometer
  • Digital Level and/or Inclinometer – for shaft position indication
  • Machinist’s “V” Block magnetic base –for mounting inclinometer or level on motor shaft
  • Electrical tape -- for phase labeling
  • Wire labels – for lead removal identification
  • Soft Wire Brush – for cleaning leads and terminals
  • Strobe Tachometer
  • Lockout Tagout materials
  • Three to one jumper – for Wye Delta starters
  • Miscellaneous jumpers – as needed
  • Fuse pullers
  • Screwdrivers – Phillips and Standard, popular sizes or an “all in one.”
  • Sockets, Wrenches and Ratchets – for lead removal and re-installation as necessary
  • Diagonal, needle-nose pliers, channel locks
  • Solder and Soldering iron
  • Flashlight
  • Rags
  • Clipboard, paper, pens, pencils, discrepancy labels
  • Mili-Gauss meter – for flux measurement, particularly on Field Poles)
  • Reference Materials: NEMA Pocket Engineering Handbook, Ugly’s Electrical Reference, Torque Specification Chart, etc. I also carry a pocket Vibration reference manual.
  • Tie Wraps – various sizes
  • Extra batteries (for flashlight, spot radiometer, amp probes – as applicable
  • Folding Chair (sits nicely diagonally across the top of the box

What’s in your Motor Testing Tool Box?

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