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BANG: why we use implosion sleeves

Sometimes you just have to make noise.

Implosion sleeves are often used to crimp two lines together. This time, they were used on dead-end terminals — basically a metal tab with bolt holes — that connect power lines to an insulator. Dead-end power lines might seem strange, but it’s just a workaround for changing directions. Since power lines can’t curve, dead-end structures like this one are how we get them to go another way. The line stops at an insulator, then a mid-air jumper line connects it to another line going a different direction.

A transmission line dead-end structure, with arrows pointing to where power lines come to a stop and the next direction they continue in.

A transmission line comes in one way, stops at an insulator connected to a pole, and a jumper line connects it to another line going in a different direction. All the lines are suspended and safely insulated from poles.

Enlarge image: A transmission line dead-end structure, with arrows pointing to where power lines come to a stop and the next direction they continue in.

This dead-end structure was being replaced as part of our Integrated Pole Maintenance program — a cataloguing, maintenance, and refurbishment program for the wood poles that hold up power lines across the province. Before the implosion sleeves were brought in, the landscaping and grading around the structure was corrected for better water flow, new poles were set next to the old ones, and the old poles were sawed apart bit-by-bit to get them out of the way. Once the old poles are small enough, the line can be attached to the new poles. And then it’s detonation time.

A close-up of implosion sleeves only moments before full detonation, with glowing fuses and orange sparks.

The moment before detonation on the transmission line.

Enlarge image: A close-up of implosion sleeves only moments before full detonation, with glowing fuses and orange sparks.

Two sets of implosion sleeves being detonated on the ground. Glowing fuses leading to a small orange sunburst and more glowing fuses headed to the next set of detonations.

The moment before detonation on the jumper line.

Enlarge image: Two sets of implosion sleeves being detonated on the ground. Glowing fuses leading to a small orange sunburst and more glowing fuses headed to the next set of detonations.

Whenever we use implosion sleeves, everyone around gets a warning. They make a loud bang and a flash like a firework, so it can be quite a shock if you’re not expecting it (during the filming process, our communications team learned it can also be a shock if you are expecting it). To make sure customers knew before we detonated these, we posted on social media, knocked on doors, and sent a media advisory to all the outlets in Brandon well in advance of the day we were using them.

In the end, there were three total detonations: six dead-end terminals on transmission lines, six jumper terminals for the jumper line, and a third blast to get rid of the remaining “fuse,” called shock tube, which is also explosive. For safety purposes, the implosion sleeves are stored in a secure facility elsewhere and are only brought in the day they’re needed. When the work is done, excess shock tube is detonated and its remains burned. Nothing is left behind but solid, permanent connections to power lines.