In 1976 I was appointed to the A17 Editorial Committee with Al Land (Chair), William "Bill" Crager (A17 Chair), and Manuel Gutierrez (ASME Secretary). At the time, the A17 Editorial Committee was charged with a total editorial review of the A17.1 Code for the 1978 edition. Every Rule was scrutinized and editorially revised for clarification when appropriate.
The Committee met weekly for this massive project. To avoid unintentionally changing the content of a Rule, it was essential that the Committee members had a clear understanding of the technical requirements and their intent. Bill Crager had a long history as a member of the A17 Committee, including 15 years as Committee Chairman. At the meetings, the members would look to Bill for his recollection of why a Rulewas in the Code. Bill possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of the history of A17 requirements. His typical response would start by stating, "At the (date) A17 Meeting, the Committee approved the Rule for the following reason." At our next meeting, Bill would arrive with documents from his home file backing up his recollection — including the meeting dates.
I quickly came to the conclusion that the "Bill Cragers" on the A17 Committee were mostly retired or would be retiring from Committee activities over the next few years. Their expansive knowledge of the past committee work and the rationale for the A17.1 Rules would no longer be available. This would be a loss not only to the A17 Committee but also to the users of the Code.
I concluded that a Handbook for A17.1 would be an invaluable addition to the A17.1 Code, as the NEC® Handbook was an invaluable supporting document for the NEC®. I approached Mel Green, then director of ASME Codes and Standards, with a proposal to write an ASME A17.1 Handbook. He thought the idea had merit, and the first edition of the A17.1 Handbook was published at the time of publication of the 1981 edition of the A17.1 Code. A new edition of the Handbook was published thereafter with each new edition of the A17.1 Code and later the A17.1/B44 Code, with this being the 11th edition of the ASME A17.1/CSA B44 Handbook.
As I gaze into my crystal ball at my future, it looks like this may be the last edition of the Handbook I will author. Time will tell, but if I decide to completely retire, I trust ASME will continue to publish new editions of the Handbook with each new edition of the ASME A17.1/ CSA B44 Code.