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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.
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