Mine's a good one..to start with, for those who didn't know, my primary trade is in cinema service..projectors, sound systems, etc. although I have worked as an electrician for about 5-7 years total.
A particular drive-in theatre (remember those?) in Riverside County was home to some of the the most bizarre equipment and the most horrible projectionist. This projectionist was an old-school ham radio guy, which of course meant that he knew everything about everything.
Two horror stories of repairs stand out:
First was the sound system. Five screens, all with the old "speaker on a pole" setup. The radio craze for drive-ins hadn't peaked yet (and the early systems were all AM, a great idea around lots of arc lamps and spark-producing equipment.) This theater had some very unique (and robust, if treated properly) audio amplifiers. Those amps had integrated circuit pre-amps, transistor drivers, and tubes (!) for the output stage. Each weighed in at 45lbs. and was rated for 300 watts of audio power out mono. (My tests revealed that output rating was conservative. I got over 450 watts at 1khz into 4 ohms. Burned up my dummy loads in the process.) Each screen had three of these amps.
The only real problem with them was they needed fresh tubes to work properly. If you let the tubes go bad, the magic smoke would be released from a strange part referred to as the "scorch guard" which was proprietary to that amp's maker and hard to get.
Well ham boy never threw anything away, and I would get frequent calls to come fix a bad amp. The problem was always the tubes, and they NEVER bought new ones. So we kept rotating the old ones around, randomly stumbling onto a set that would allow the amp to sort-of work for a few weeks or days.
Finally my boss ordered me to pull all the bad amps (five of them) and bring them to the shop for repair. I managed to fix four of them (one had a shorted output transformer and went up in flames during testing.) I called the theatre and told them to go to Radio Shack and order sixteen new tubes for the four I had fixed, and to call me when the tubes came in, then I would re-install the amps. I got the call a few days later, grilled the projectionist to make sure the new tubes were there..yes they were he said.
I go there, lugged those monsters up the stairs into the booth, wired them back in and asked where the tubes were. He said "let's just go over to the cabinet..." Groan. Out comes the used tubes again. No new ones. I called my boss and told him the warranty was now void on the repairs. Anyone care to guess what happened to the four amps I repaired?
The other horror story is something y'all can relate better to: each projector console had a self-contained subpanel for the motor, lamp, etc. and was fed with a 2p 50amp breaker from the booth panel. Our service contract covered those breakers in the booth panel as well as the subpanel.
Got a call that the breaker to the #3 machine was bad, and that our intrepid projectionist tried to fix it...he got the power back up, but had an issue he needed me to look at.
I get to the booth to find the booth panel deadfront off, and battery jumper cables!!! hanging out of the panel. I noticed that the projector in question was running o.k., so I asked what the problem was..other than the obvious deathtrap hanging from that panel.
Seems that ham boy had hooked up the jumper cables and got things going ok earlier, but had trapped the cables behind the deadfront leaning on the wall in front of him. So he unclamps the cable from the live bus to move them, and the cables pull the deadfront forward to slam into his knees. His reaction jams the cable clamps into the live bus, shorting them and burning the bus so badly the breaker can't be replaced (GE bolt-ons.) I still can't figure how he got those clamps to stay on the bus.
I told him to call an electrician to replace the panel, and told my boss to void their service contract before we got sued.
I'll add a few more gems to this thread later...