Having doubts working as a Motor Winder

Thread Starter

Amped_86

Joined Jun 28, 2018
20
I decided to apprentice as a motor winder (euphemistically known as an electric motor service technician). I have some previous electrical training. I received an electrical engineering technologist diploma. I guess my knowledge base from this diploma would be somewhere in between an electrical engineer and an electrician.

I'm not a super confident person so the idea of working on the engineering side of things (design etc) intimidated me as things can get quite complex. My math isn't terrible. I can do algebra, trig, and basic calculus, but I'm by no means a 'mathlete.' The climate where I live is very cold and so the idea of working as an electrician did not appeal to me either.

Henceforth a motor winder seemed like a good fit. It's shop-based, hands-on, and I assumed there would be a lot of technical troubleshooting, measuring, and testing.

I've only been at the motor winder position for about a week now. But I'm starting to have my doubts. The area I'm at has a lot of industrial plants and so most of the equipment we work on is large industrialized three phase motors. (Ex. 4000 volt 700-1000 HP).

Most of the motors have to be completely overhauled. I'm not completely knowledgeable of the entire process yet, but most of the work seems to involve stripping down and disassembling the motor, cleaning it, and then inserting new coils into the stator, reassembling, and then testing it.

It seems like the majority of the time is spent placing the new coils back into the stator. I find it to be tough on the hands as it takes quite a bit of effort to maneuver the coils into the stair slots. I found that my hands and arms get pretty cut up from this. It's definitely not the most physically demanding job ever, but I fear that over the years issues such as carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis are very likely.

It seems I assumed, incorrectly, that there would be more of a technical component to the job. For example, doing circuit analysis, troubleshooting motor systems (starters, overload protection, relays), and using software to diagnose issues.

It seems like the only time we work on anything live is when the motor is tested, and this involves nothing more than hooking it up and pressing a couple of buttons.

Wondering if I made a mistake choosing this trade. The shop is multidisciplinary; we have mechanics, welders, millwrights, and machinists. In particular, The machinist work seems more interesting than what the winders do.
 

shortbus

Joined Sep 30, 2009
7,938
These cheap compressors claim 2.5 HP.
I've only been at the motor winder position for about a week now.
Most of the motors have to be completely overhauled. I'm not completely knowledgeable of the entire process yet, but most of the work seems to involve stripping down and disassembling the motor, cleaning it, and then inserting new coils into the stator, reassembling, and then testing it.
It seems like the majority of the time is spent placing the new coils back into the stator.
Let me see if I have this correct. You came into an apprenticeship, with no background of the job. You've been doing it for a week now, and aren't satisfied that your not the foreman or CEO of the company yet?

The machinist work seems more interesting than what the winders do.
So what do you really expect from changing trades? Running the hardest jobs with no training after the first week?

Don't think you understand how an apprenticeship training works. Many places you start out cleaning things and sweeping floors while also doing small things. As you prove yourself capable you will get better "jobs". Pretty sure if you stick with motor winding it will work that way. And by the way I speak from experience, I'm a master/journeyman tool and die maker.
 

MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
21,415
I went through the motor winding shop as part of my training as an industrial electrician, later to Industrial Electronics Technician.
And yes, there is nothing very technical about motor re-winding, after a while, not very challenging.
If you were to decide to pursue this, I would recommend the book by Robert Rosenberg on Motor Winding from the '50's.
Learning about the physical side of motors is an asset if you do intend to pursue some other interest in the electrical field that takes your fancy.
Max.
 

Reloadron

Joined Jan 15, 2015
5,646
Wondering if I made a mistake choosing this trade. The shop is multidisciplinary; we have mechanics, welders, millwrights, and machinists. In particular, The machinist work seems more interesting than what the winders do.
That is something only you can decide. My career was pretty much test engineering and while every day was not a holiday nor every meal a feast I enjoyed my work so it is nice doing something you like and getting paid for it. I can't imagine having devoted 40 years of my life doing something I didn't enjoy in a place I didn't enjoy. I can share this much, build your career doing something you like doing or face a miserable life career. Those who figure out what they like young normally have a happy life. Additionally consider earning potential if you plan to eat during your career. :)

Ron
 

Thread Starter

Amped_86

Joined Jun 28, 2018
20
Let me see if I have this correct. You came into an apprenticeship, with no background of the job. You've been doing it for a week now, and aren't satisfied that your not the foreman or CEO of the company yet?



So what do you really expect from changing trades? Running the hardest jobs with no training after the first week?

Don't think you understand how an apprenticeship training works. Many places you start out cleaning things and sweeping floors while also doing small things. As you prove yourself capable you will get better "jobs". Pretty sure if you stick with motor winding it will work that way. And by the way I speak from experience, I'm a master/journeyman tool and die maker.
Thanks for the feedback you're exactly right I can't judge an entire trade based on the first week of work. But we were sitting in the lunchroom and it was actually a machinist who said and I paraphrase this: "I'm not sure why anyone would want to become a motor winder. Your hands get all cut up and garbled working the coils into place. And that's about all you do."
Fair enough. I think a lot of it is relative and comes down to what you enjoy doing. But what he said just got me doubting.
And I guess what you're saying is that when you started out you weren't immediately making the most intricate and complicated components. I guess my fear is that with motor rewinding you don't have that growth and cultivation and I might be doing the exact same thing in 30 years that I'm doing right now.
 

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
7,588
I'd say you're in the new guy testing period. We intentionally give newbies crap jobs in the beginning to test work attitudes, it's an old tradition in some shops and trades. Be a good Motor Rewinder for at least a respectable period (or at least until the next newbie is hired), I suspect it will lead to better things.
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
2,574
Big heavy motors and as the New Guy guess who gets the dirty work. From the plant side it is "bad motor, send it to the shop". In the shop, the first thing is teardown and cleaning and painting. Guess who gets the dirtiest jobs, yep, the New Guy. Shops don't do the onsite analysis. A field engineer/technician my do an onsite inspection but all the shop does is rebuild, Meg it for shorts, and maybe do an initial run-in/balance and document. There is also the fitting/repair of shafts and bearings to the frame. Look at the plate on the motor and rebuild it to plate specs. The challenge comes from all the old stuff out there that gets sent to the shop for repair because they don't make that motor anymore. It is a very essential job and there are a lot of motor shops because it is.
 

Reloadron

Joined Jan 15, 2015
5,646
A little more about motors. When we had a specific motor beginning manufacture we need a certain supply to test a porotype. Monarch Motors of Cleveland was a solution so we set up a deal and myself and another engineer went to Monarch. Some motors are really incredible beast of burden like the electric motors in a locomotive. Monarch had motors you could walk in. Nice testing section too. Bigger motors than I was ever up close and personal with. :) We ran a few test and were on our way. Working big motors is a challenge and hard labor work getting coils in a stator. They did have a wide variety of test, measurement and diagnostic equipment.

Comes down to what you want to do in the long haul? You are the person who needs to make you happy. Take a look at the trades around you? They happy? They getting a decent buck?

Ron
 

DickCappels

Joined Aug 21, 2008
6,590
It seems that you have identified your doubts. Is there somebody with whom you can talk about your job, like an experienced motor winder or even your boss.

That way you can get answers
-will you be able to move around in the company as you get more experience?
-How do other motor winders avoid injury?
etc.
 

shortbus

Joined Sep 30, 2009
7,938
And I guess what you're saying is that when you started out you weren't immediately making the most intricate and complicated components. I guess my fear is that with motor rewinding you don't have that growth and cultivation and I might be doing the exact same thing in 30 years that I'm doing right now.
"I'm not sure why anyone would want to become a motor winder. Your hands get all cut up and garbled
You got my meaning exactly. Your machinist friend wasn't being real truthful about his job either. I've got plenty of scars on my hands an arms from the chip cuts, burrs on parts and burns from hot chips. I have next to no finger nails on my right hand from some of the chemicals used in machining, nail beds are dead.

But all of that said, I loved my job! I have a small but pretty well equipped machine shop in my barn. And at 72 1/2 I'm still machining and making things today. Chose something you are passionate about for a career and go for it, you won't regret it.
 

MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
21,415
Looking back, I realized I never worked a day in my life, if it did turn into work, I tended to move on!
I ended up at the finish, being my own boss.
The bottom line is, in the end, you have to enjoy it.
Max.
 

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
7,588
Reading this thread about jobs, work and satisfaction shows how much selective memory is a factor when we remember life experiences. The ability of humans to filter out the undesirable is remarkable.
 

tindel

Joined Sep 16, 2012
730
One week, and you're upset? Come on... give it some more time. I wouldn't say a word to your boss. Keep your mouth shut and your head down... better work will come.

Have you got gloves? I've found mechanic gloves are good for keeping dexterity while keeping from getting my hands beat to hell when working on my truck. If I'm doing more detailed work, I'll use blue nitrile gloves. I have found that they provide some protection from sharp edges too.

My experience has been that without a BS, you will likely never do circuit analysis, troubleshooting circuits, or work much with software. That's what they pay engineers to do. If you truly want to do these things, then you may need to modify your career path. I've worked with two techs in my 15 year career that worked at that level, and they were badasses. Most built harnessing, electronic racks, machined things, made repairs or modifications to existing hardware, built circuit boards (placing components), modified circuit boards (with engineering instruction), built simple test fixtures, etc. After a while (5+ years), a smart engineer will come to you with questions for suggestions when designing something, but you have to prove yourself, and the engineer will still do most of the design work and will likely take some of your recommendations and discard some of them.

It also sounds like you are in a more industrial field than technology, that's something to consider. I suspect technology field will offer more opportunities like you seek, but be very competitive.
 

tindel

Joined Sep 16, 2012
730
I'll also say, if you do decide to modify your career path and work on a BS then you will likely also have crappy jobs for the first few years. Typically you'll work in test, running paperwork, and learning the systems that are used at your company. You have to prove yourself at those levels as well.

Going up the ladder further, If you really want to skip the grunt work then decide to obtain an MS or PhD. At these levels things can be different, because you've already proven yourself publicly through research. Most of the time with an MS or PhD you are recruited because you have a particular skill set that is valuable for technological advancement and your current knowledge is needed.
 
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