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Lighting Fixtures, Switch Panels and Meters

What was used Before K&T Wire?


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  #21  
Old 08-13-2018, 10:46:31 PM
turtmaster turtmaster is online now
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Default Re: What was used Before K&T Wire?

1st edition electrical code https://archive.org/stream/00701897/0070-1897#page/n0

I might have a PDF version somewhere.

Also my uncle, an electrician worked in a Kohler manufacturing plant here in Wisconsin, I can't remember if it was the generator plant or the plumbing plant, anyways, had bare knob and tube wiring in the plant!!!
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  #22  
Old 07-13-2019, 10:49:47 PM
Lyndon Strother Lyndon Strother is offline
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Default Re: What was used Before K&T Wire?

I've inspected and worked on Knob & Tube installations in: Mass, N.H. Vt, Maine, Georgia, Ohio, Ill, Texas, Montana, and a couple more states. The majority of the installations had Varnished Cambric over rubber. This was essentially rubber insulation with a cotton braided outer cover that had been soaked in Varnish. After 40 or 50 years the insulation becomes very brittle. However, due to the fact that the wires were usually separated by 18 inches to four feet, and being mounted on porcelain as well as passing thru porcelain made the installations somewhat "Bullet-proof". It was quite common to find penny's or buffalo nickels in the fuse box, so essentially NO Fuse, and to read with a clamp-on ammeter 40, and 50 amps on #14 AWG and the system still did not fail or initiate a fire.

---------- Post added at 09:19:23 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:05:13 PM ----------

What's more is that when reworking such structures is was common to find old newspaper wadded up and stuffed in the walls as insulation. That would be how I normally start a fire in my wood stove, yet the Knob & Tube still did not initiate a fire.
In the late 70's and early 80's I inspected up to 4 residences a day that had K & T before allowing cellulose insulation to be blown into the walls. We would make them swap out the fuse boxes for Circuit Breakers so that it was more difficult to overload the system or defeat the protection. In houses built during prohibition one found empty bottles in the walls, and occasionally an electrocuted squirrel, possum, or racoon. Still no fire. In 8 out of 9 houses in New England one would find a Pair of wood skis, and corner molding stored on top of the wires in the cellar. I also came across rows of coat hangers with clothes hanging from the wires. The insulation had long since flaked off the wire and they were bare. This was most common in Attics, and having wood floors the inhabitants had not been shocked.

---------- Post added at 09:31:35 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:19:23 PM ----------

One of the more impressive installations, an Industrial one, in Turners Falls Massachusetts that was still in operation, consisted of (3) 3/0 copper cables run way up high in the very center of a large buildings ceiling. It was 440 Volt Delta with no neutral or ground. Where ever there was a mill, lathe, press or piece of equipment requiring power they ran rigid conduit up to the K & T, put a weatherhead and had a fused disconnect at the bottom. The central circuit was protected at 600 AMPS. Not far down the road was a small Hydroelectric plant that had 4 one megawatt water wheels. Nikola Tesla had actually supervised the installation and construction of the hydro plant. It has been restored to fully operational status and had one of the largest knife switches I've ever seen.

---------- Post added at 09:45:12 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:31:35 PM ----------

The "Gran-daddy" K&T still in operation in Chicago into the 80's, was a plant that manufactured Kilns, Furnaces, Ovens, and Industrial Heat Treating equipment. They had their own sub-station outside and in several of the "Test Bays" where they would test steel mill rolling forges, and commercial china conveyor ovens, they had: 120/208/240/440/460/480/600/2400 all racked up above the crane ways vertically stacked on the walls. Voltages above that like 4160, 13.8 KV,.... were all in conduit or special lead jacketed cable. In order to get the full 4 hour test run to be considered "Continuous", they waited until night to do the test, Not because they were using so much power, but because they often used upwards of 60,000 gallons per hour of water to cool the process and Chicago's water system ha a hard time keeping up.

---------- Post added at 09:49:47 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:45:12 PM ----------

Finally, if one studies up on Edison's early efforts, before glass and porcelain, they use Wood as an insulator, and for Underground installations they filled pipes with tar and pulled single conductors into each conduit. This didn't work so well and resulted in Horses getting shocked on rainy days at intersections.
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  #23  
Old 07-14-2019, 09:47:52 PM
DustyBar DustyBar is offline
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Default Re: What was used Before K&T Wire?

Here is a porcelain cleat I picked up a few years ago, one I'd never seen before. It appears the wires were different height to facilitate a tap at a right angle to the wire.
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  #24  
Old 07-16-2019, 06:05:25 AM
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Default Re: What was used Before K&T Wire?

I saw a lot of K&T in my early days of construction, and saved some and used them for various things over the years. Out of curiosity about sizes, I checked my 1926 Graybar (Western Electric) catalogue. I was kind of surprised to see an entire page.
There are also seven pages of different types of porcelain insulators.
GUS
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Old 07-18-2019, 11:24:11 PM
Railroads Railroads is offline
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Default Re: What was used Before K&T Wire?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lyndon Strother View Post
I've inspected and worked on Knob & Tube installations in: Mass, N.H. Vt, Maine, Georgia, Ohio, Ill, Texas, Montana, and a couple more states. The majority of the installations had Varnished Cambric over rubber. This was essentially rubber insulation with a cotton braided outer cover that had been soaked in Varnish. After 40 or 50 years the insulation becomes very brittle. However, due to the fact that the wires were usually separated by 18 inches to four feet, and being mounted on porcelain as well as passing thru porcelain made the installations somewhat "Bullet-proof". It was quite common to find penny's or buffalo nickels in the fuse box, so essentially NO Fuse, and to read with a clamp-on ammeter 40, and 50 amps on #14 AWG and the system still did not fail or initiate a fire.

---------- Post added at 09:19:23 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:05:13 PM ----------

What's more is that when reworking such structures is was common to find old newspaper wadded up and stuffed in the walls as insulation. That would be how I normally start a fire in my wood stove, yet the Knob & Tube still did not initiate a fire.
In the late 70's and early 80's I inspected up to 4 residences a day that had K & T before allowing cellulose insulation to be blown into the walls. We would make them swap out the fuse boxes for Circuit Breakers so that it was more difficult to overload the system or defeat the protection. In houses built during prohibition one found empty bottles in the walls, and occasionally an electrocuted squirrel, possum, or racoon. Still no fire. In 8 out of 9 houses in New England one would find a Pair of wood skis, and corner molding stored on top of the wires in the cellar. I also came across rows of coat hangers with clothes hanging from the wires. The insulation had long since flaked off the wire and they were bare. This was most common in Attics, and having wood floors the inhabitants had not been shocked.

---------- Post added at 09:31:35 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:19:23 PM ----------

One of the more impressive installations, an Industrial one, in Turners Falls Massachusetts that was still in operation, consisted of (3) 3/0 copper cables run way up high in the very center of a large buildings ceiling. It was 440 Volt Delta with no neutral or ground. Where ever there was a mill, lathe, press or piece of equipment requiring power they ran rigid conduit up to the K & T, put a weatherhead and had a fused disconnect at the bottom. The central circuit was protected at 600 AMPS. Not far down the road was a small Hydroelectric plant that had 4 one megawatt water wheels. Nikola Tesla had actually supervised the installation and construction of the hydro plant. It has been restored to fully operational status and had one of the largest knife switches I've ever seen.

---------- Post added at 09:45:12 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:31:35 PM ----------

The "Gran-daddy" K&T still in operation in Chicago into the 80's, was a plant that manufactured Kilns, Furnaces, Ovens, and Industrial Heat Treating equipment. They had their own sub-station outside and in several of the "Test Bays" where they would test steel mill rolling forges, and commercial china conveyor ovens, they had: 120/208/240/440/460/480/600/2400 all racked up above the crane ways vertically stacked on the walls. Voltages above that like 4160, 13.8 KV,.... were all in conduit or special lead jacketed cable. In order to get the full 4 hour test run to be considered "Continuous", they waited until night to do the test, Not because they were using so much power, but because they often used upwards of 60,000 gallons per hour of water to cool the process and Chicago's water system ha a hard time keeping up.

---------- Post added at 09:49:47 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:45:12 PM ----------

Finally, if one studies up on Edison's early efforts, before glass and porcelain, they use Wood as an insulator, and for Underground installations they filled pipes with tar and pulled single conductors into each conduit. This didn't work so well and resulted in Horses getting shocked on rainy days at intersections.
Interesting stuff.

Robert

Last edited by Railroads; 07-19-2019 at 12:40:42 AM.
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  #26  
Old 07-19-2019, 12:19:10 AM
Vanman Vanman is offline
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Default Re: What was used Before K&T Wire?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pegasuspinto View Post
Actually I have the answer to the original question, what was used before K&T?

Candles
And Kerosene and Acetylene.
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  #27  
Old Yesterday, 01:04:30 PM
cornbinder89 cornbinder89 is online now
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Default Re: What was used Before K&T Wire?

coal gas!

My brother still has active K&T wiring in part of his house. right above the washer and drier, I am worried someone will hang wet clothes on a hanger off of it! I don't know how much remains in the rest of the house, but there is a fair bit in the basement.
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  #28  
Old Yesterday, 01:49:09 PM
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Default Re: What was used Before K&T Wire?

The home insurers around here have gone a bit.

They no longer insure structures with active K & T.
I complained about insurance going up. Agent told me there are less expensive companies, but if I want to change companies, and house wiring is over 12 years old, they require an inspection report from a licensed electrician before they will issue a policy! (Their choice of electrician at my expense)
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  #29  
Old Yesterday, 09:05:52 PM
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Default Re: What was used Before K&T Wire?

What NDmeter man said about significant rooms only having a single suspended socket for a light bulb. I have seen early electric (bread) toasters that had a threaded male plug like from a light bulb on the end of the cord rather that a normal male two prong plug. I guess you got either light or toast, not both for breakfast.

Joe B
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  #30  
Old Today, 06:35:46 AM
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Default Re: What was used Before K&T Wire?

Light , toast or anything else you could screw in before the fuse popped, or the wires melted.

These also came with six sockets.
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