1985 - 1987

Occidental was my first job after graduation and it rounded out my education.   When I first arrived at the plant it was known as Diamond Shamrock.  While I was there, Diamond busted up into several independent operating units and our group was sold to Occidental Petroleum.

At Diamond I experienced a wide spectrum of engineering.  I worked on anything from personal computers and phone systems to 161kV switchgear.

I installed the first LAN in Muscle Shoals using the old IBM PC LAN version 1.0.   My IBM AT computer was the server and we used an Epson LQ printer as the network printer.  I assigned 10MB of my hard drive to my personal use and 10MB to the network.  We thought we were hot stuff.

Also at Diamond I first experienced AutoCAD.  We bought an EGA card for an IBM AT and were running AutoCAD at a blazing 6 mhz.

One of my biggest projects was the installation of an AT&T System 75 PBX.  I actually connected the hardware and had the switch running in a test configuration before any training classes.  I do remember we had a beta version of the software that through us a couple of curves, but we made it!

Some of my other projects included providing power to the new Capital Warehouse, redesigning the Cell Room turnaround bus, and installing an emergency communication system for the dock.  I also got to work with a customized DEC computer used to monitor the cell voltage.  Later, I actually purchased much of the hardware from the control room in the R&D area that we dismantled.  I still have some of that equipment in my basement!

While at Diamond I thoroughly enjoyed working with the Maintenance Electicians and Mechanics.  I filled in for Henry as a Maintenance Foreman and boy was that a learning experience.  We performed P/Ms on high voltage (161kV and 13.8kV) switchgear and retuned control loops (4-20ma).  I never will forget seeing the teakwood on the inside of the 161kV oil circuit breakers, nor the look of the lightning in the sky as we polished bushings on the old Maloney transformers after a lightning strike.

Since we were manufacturing chlorine, caustic soda, and caustic potash the job to me was extremely hazardous.  Although I made many friends at Diamond, I yearned to work on more modern controls (PLCs) and to get away from the danger.  Thus, I moved on to Mobil.

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