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Thread: Forbidden, dark secret magic - using a witching stick on plastic gas facilities!

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    Senior Member FailedSafetyAudit's Avatar
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    Default Forbidden, dark secret magic - using a witching stick on plastic gas facilities!

    Let's get a discussion started on one of the most coveted techniques of locating, the witching stick! Personally I think this strategy is most useful for double checking the presense of something in the ground, namely plastic gas facilities as they themselves are basically invisible to electromagnetic locating equipment, a tracer wire is needed to locate them precisely.

    However, there is the occasional problem with tracer wire. It needs to be installed competently by the utility company which is a far stretch of the imagination with some of these corporations *cough Columbia Gas cough*. I once heard a gas foreman tell me that one of his crews buried a plastic gas main and said in thier report that they couldn't put any tracer wire with it because "they ran out of wire on the spool". Kinky.

    Sometimes the wire can get corroded which hinders the signal - this happens if there is a cut or knick in the protective plastic sheathing of the wire and water gets inside, and damages the copper metal wire by oxidizing it, which is kind of like a mild form of erosion. This really sucks because the signal usually drops after this point in the wire, and if the corrosion is bad enough and in several spots for a long enough length of distance then you could lose your signal all together, depending on your equipment, power output, and grounding. It also sucks if the part of the wire that you are direct connecting to is corroded itself.

    Also the wire could simply be cut. There are sharp enough rocks that can fall back into the trench when no one is looking that could sever a tracer wire - and this would require a seperate direct connection point to try and bring the signal back to the point where it was cut. A major pain in the ass in most cases.

    So there you have it, so many odds stacked against you on these plastic facilities. But there is a small silver lining in the works. Basically what's happening here is the movement of the gas flowing throughout the plastic pipe causes a fair amount of friction that causes a small disturbence in the magnetic field of the area, and you can try to take advantage of this.

    You want to take one of your metal flags that you use for marking your utility lines. Rip the nylon flag part of it off and you should have a simple metal stick about 2 or 3 feet long. Then you want to make just barely enough room to hold the stick in your hand, usually resting it on last crevice of your palm, and then bend the rest of the stick at a 90 degree angle to get it looking like a capital L. You want to hold the small part of the L and have the longer part of the L swinging in the breeze. Roughly speaking you want 80% of the stick to be the needle and the remaining 20% to be the handle. Plastic flags won't work here, they simply arn't manly enough. Sorry to those who are burdened with those lame plastic flags.

    Now, seperate yourself from where your measurement puts you for the plastic gas facility by about 10 feet or so. Lower the L witching stick to about your waist height and slowly walk over the plastic gas facility at a perpendicular angle. Your speed shouldn't be more than 0.5 MPH... you want to walk as slow as possible.

    If the stars are aligned in the correct order and the polar ice caps on mars have decided to smile upon you in this year of the great chinese dragon, the elongated part of the witching stick should be attracted to the magnetic disturbance of the friction of the gas and it should swing out towards the plastic gas facility before you walk over it. As you walk over it, the elongated needle part of the L witching stick should cross back over and then point towards the facility, so really it should be pointed towards your stomach. This also works on metallic gas mains like steel or cast iron, but you should be using drop box general induction on those anyway, silly boob.

    Protip: To increase the chance of a response from the witching stick, make sure you twirl the stick around in a circle for about 5 seconds before you attempt to get a reading with it. This will dispel any current magnetic attraction the stick might have left over on itself. Watch the circle as you twirl it, if the needle seems to be favoring one side or the other, you want to rebend the stick until you get as close as possible to a perfect 90 degree angle.

    You shouldn't ever put paint down based on witching alone, because so many factors can screw with the results. It could be a windy day and it would affect accuracy. The art of witching is just that, an art form, and as such it can be off by a few feet just naturally. It could be a certain condition of the soil sediments that interact with the magnetic part of the witching, Sometimes it just doesn't work. But if you have a measurement from the maps on the plastic gas facility, and you have no signal with your equipment, the dark magic of witching can at least offer a suggestion that the plastic gas facility is really there and needs a soft vacuum excavation to further verify. Supposedly this witching artcraft can also work on other utilities, like water, and possibly other lines as well but I've only seen it done on plastic gas facilities.


    Or, if you have the man peaches to do so, you could mark it anyway *giggle*

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    Senior Member locator00566's Avatar
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    Default Re: Forbidden, dark secret magic - using a witching stick on plastic gas facilities!

    Witching stick will work better if you cut a straw into and hold the straw in your hand with the flag inside the straw. This way it guarantees you don't hold the flag too tight in your hand

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    Senior Member sprayandpray's Avatar
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    Default Re: Forbidden, dark secret magic - using a witching stick on plastic gas facilities!

    I'm going to submit this to Mythbusters!
    I might not be as good as I once was, but I'm as good once as I ever was !


    It's better to be Pissed Off than Pissed On or Stood On and Pissed Off Of !


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    Junior Member groundpainter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Forbidden, dark secret magic - using a witching stick on plastic gas facilities!

    Witching is very usefull in extreme cases. The problem with it is if you dont where the water main or service are you may not like the end result.

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    Senior Member [HAF]Foxtrot's Avatar
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    Default Re: Forbidden, dark secret magic - using a witching stick on plastic gas facilities!

    The dark side is strong with this one yes. Thought it was an old wives tale until I witnessed it with my own eyes. Sure enough there sat what that guy was looking for.

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    Senior Member headcipher's Avatar
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    Default Re: Forbidden, dark secret magic - using a witching stick on plastic gas facilities!

    I've seen all different "unlocatable" utilities found this way. Everything from deenergised electric to concrete h20, has been found using witching.

    That said, remember these very important tips:

    Never admit to witching anything.

    Witching doesn't work for everyone.

    Being found out to locate by witching, even if successful, can be hazardous to your job.

    Confirm whatever is possible to confirm.

    Always add disclaimers to whomever you do it for, like: "I was never even here" or "you may want to pot hole for SOMETHING right over here, I don't really know why...".

    Putting any paint other than black on witching could end up biting you in the @$$.



    Not that I do, or ever have witched anything.

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    Member 4x4jw87's Avatar
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    Default Re: Forbidden, dark secret magic - using a witching stick on plastic gas facilities!

    We always witched at the power company inside the substations. Always worked for us.

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    Senior Member AULupstate's Avatar
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    Default Re: Forbidden, dark secret magic - using a witching stick on plastic gas facilities!

    Witching does NOT WORK ALL THE TIME in every place. Congested areas ? NO. Rocky sub strata ? NO.

    And let's clear something up here because there is a TON OF DISINFORMATION on this subject.

    1. You spin the rods prior to using TO MAGNETIZE them NOT to de-magnetize them. Your creating a charge (by static electricity) when you spin them.
    2. They are NOT picking up pipe, or pvc or ANYTHING OTHER than the cut/trench in the earths top soil. That disturbance in the earths natural magnetic covering creates a depression. When the sticks are 'charged' they pick up this disturbance and indicate the areas of travel of said depression. Kinda like a disfunctional compass.

    In a pinch as a last ditch effort, sure, use whatever you can to get the job done RIGHT. As a primary back up to your REAL equipment, NOT A CHANCE (at least in this locators mind).

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    Senior Member yahoo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Forbidden, dark secret magic - using a witching stick on plastic gas facilities!

    LUKE>>>>>>>>>>LUKE>>>>>>>>>>>> I feel a disturbance in the force!!!!!!!
    wise men talk because they have something to say and fools because they have to say something....plato

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    Senior Member ProfessionalLocator's Avatar
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    Default Re: Forbidden, dark secret magic - using a witching stick on plastic gas facilities!

    Quote Originally Posted by FailedSafetyAudit View Post
    Let's get a discussion started on one of the most coveted techniques of locating, the witching stick! Personally I think this strategy is most useful for double checking the presense of something in the ground, namely plastic gas facilities as they themselves are basically invisible to electromagnetic locating equipment, a tracer wire is needed to locate them precisely.
    Another problem with "exact" marking of plastic gas with tracer wire is you are not marking the gas pipe, only where the tracer wire is. I have seen gas pipes installed with the pipe on one side of the trench and the tracer wire on the other side. I have also heard people insist that the maximum width of the backhoe bucket is 18 inches but I know I have been in two foot or more wide trenches. I never consider a mark in a tracer wire as pinpoint accurate.

    Another installation problem is how they tie together two lengths of tracer wire one one runs out and they need to add more. I have seem them do this with simple wire nuts which pull apart when the trench is back filled. Even if they do not pull apart water corrodes the connection at the wire nut.

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    Senior Member ProfessionalLocator's Avatar
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    Default Re: Forbidden, dark secret magic - using a witching stick on plastic gas facilities!

    Anybody ever try witching un-locatable fiber optic?

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    Default Re: Forbidden, dark secret magic - using a witching stick on plastic gas facilities!

    "2. They are NOT picking up pipe, or pvc or ANYTHING OTHER than the cut/trench in the earths top soil. That disturbance in the earths natural magnetic covering creates a depression. When the sticks are 'charged' they pick up this disturbance and indicate the areas of travel of said depression. Kinda like a disfunctional compass."



    Amen...... I got a kick out of the statement that the "flow" of gas causes friction which is what the witching sticks are picking up. Some people are absolute ****ing morons...

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    Default Re: Forbidden, dark secret magic - using a witching stick on plastic gas facilities!

    I have been witching for over 30 years.Got started down in Florida witching to drill shallow wells for irrigation systems.Over 250 wells done in 10 years and only 3 dry holes.That said would NEVER use this for locating anything other than facilities involving fluids.Maybe i have trained my talent just to fluids because i never detect anything other than fluids facilities.This comes in very handy when you have a water line in the area of locate and want to have a check on bleedover but it is a learned talent and i have found that only about 40% of people have the patience and ability to use it with confidence.BEWARE WITCHING as a locator!It will get you fired!

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    Default Re: Forbidden, dark secret magic - using a witching stick on plastic gas facilities!

    Oh.And to the subject of non tonable foc.This falls under the category of non identifiable,non locatable facilities. I'd e directly kick it back to the facility owner to correct the problem.Taking a chance and putting paint down is a big no no in my book.Learned this the hard way.LOL

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    Senior Member Turk182's Avatar
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    Default Re: Forbidden, dark secret magic - using a witching stick on plastic gas facilities!

    I have used the method on locates where a freindly contractor was on site, sometimes you find lines that can't be connected to, sometimes you find a beer bottle that got buried on the side of the original ditch, it helps when you have a contractor willing to pothole on your advice. I work in an area that has a ton of old phone lines that are difficult to tone out, and I am fortunate to have contractors that understand that,and are willing to do what needs to be done to verify cables.

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