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Wooden Knob and tube "conduit", and a gas light.

1936JDB

Registered
Someone here once asked about wooden "conduit" used for knob and tube wiring. I went through me old threads and can't seem to find it. I once worked at a house that had a short run of it. Well today I was back for a remodel and was able to salvage the pieces intact. So whoever it was, I hope you see this.




There was also this converted gas light if it means anything to anyone.


 

dalmatiangirl61

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
07/10/2019
It might have been me, I don't remember. I have concrete room that I'm trying to figure out how to run power in, choice is cut concrete so I can bury it in the wall, or plain conduit on surface. I wonder what building inspector would think of a modern version that I could run romex in?
 

1936JDB

Registered
Well. If the wire was either 1 1/2" from the wall face, or protected with a metal nail guard he'd have a hard time failing it.

However, properly done Emt looks pretty darn good IMHO.
 
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Turbo

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
07/12/2019
pretty cool! I have never seen that before. Pretty much the old time version of wire mold.
 

Power

Registered
It might have been me, I don't remember. I have concrete room that I'm trying to figure out how to run power in, choice is cut concrete so I can bury it in the wall, or plain conduit on surface. I wonder what building inspector would think of a modern version that I could run romex in?
If you use BX instead of romex, inspector should be happy.
 

Andrew Mackey

Moderator
Last Subscription Date
05/14/2017
Most of the knob and tube wiring I have seen was just run in individual wires about 6" apart. Where it penetrated joists or beams, porcelean tubes with a knob on one end were used. For parallel runs, an 8 penney nail with porcelean isolaters were nailed into the sides of the beams

If you are wiring a new pour in concrete, electrical conduit can be buried within the pour. Either individual wires or romex can then be installed in the conduit. If you are wiring an existing concrete surface, romex can be installed within plastic shielding that attached to the painted surface with adhesive, and plastic boxes mounted on the wall face at heights determined by local codec. This includes light switches and outlets. The plactic shielding and outlets are made for surface mounting (finished surfaces) once the wiring gets above the ceiling, regular mounting is the rule.

Wood encasement is nor recommended for knob and tube - if the wires get hot from overloading, the wood could char or catch fore! The isolation mounting allowed heat to disapate, and kept adjascent wires from touching, thus preventing fires.

In my 25 years experience as a fire fighter, I never saw a fire caused by knob and tube, except where it was altered or cut during construction (often illegal)! I have seen many fires where aluminum wiring was used, as well as plastic outlets.

The second photo is a bit if interesting history! looks like gas fittings from a carbide gas lighting system. Some of these were used when natural gas was introduced, but most were abandoned when electric lighting came out! believe it or not, our firehouse (built in 1909-11) still has some of the original gas lamp piping in the walls!
 
According to my 1920's "Electricity for the Handy Man" it's called a raceway.

By the way, that gas lamp is NOT converted. They were made that way to take advantage of either gas or electric. I used to have a couple hooked up in my family room and we'd use the gas portion for "atmosphere" when shooting pool. Those were fun days.............
 

Power

Registered
Some of these were used when natural gas was introduced, but most were abandoned when electric lighting came out! believe it or not, our firehouse (built in 1909-11) still has some of the original gas lamp piping in the walls!
Andrew, Jersey City, Union City and some of NYC still have it in walls. It was supposed to be disconnected, with feeds capped, but some of it is still pressurized, with just a cap where lamp used to be.

A few years ago, one of our electricians was in Jersey City on the 4th floor doing an apartment renovation. He was fishing a line, and the tape got stuck. He gave it a good yank, and soon everyone smelled gas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He opened up the hole and saw aluminum tubing going up - to either the apartment above or perhaps a long ago ceiling fixture. He could not figure out where to shut it off, so an emergency call went out to our plumbers. One of the guys busted the wall in below the leak and squeezed the tubing flat with his channel locks, stopping the leak.

A whole crew of guys had responded, and eventually found a big manifold with a lot of aluminum tubing branch lines above the sheetrock in the basement ceiling. The manifold and piping had been sheet rocked over years ago! All the tubing petcocks were frozen in the open position. The building owners did not care and did not want to pay to have the gas lines properly disconnected. Our company notified the fire dept. and building dept. They had the gas turned off, and found a bunch of violations to boot. Building owner paid to have gas lines properly disconnected and capped.

That is one of many reasons why I specialized in "new construction" and did not want "old work".
 

Graycenphil

Registered
Last Subscription Date
02/16/2012
Many times, in older buildings in New York City, I have found "live" gas lines in the wall or ceiling with nothing but a plug in the end.

I am continually amazed at how rare gas explosions are. I guess that smelly stuff really does a great job of alerting people to a leak.
 

len k

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
12/12/2018
I know a masonary garage where they wanted to install ~ 2-3 inch gas main for heat, but it was winter and ground was froze. So gas company tapped off line in cellar of neighbor's building next door that was 3 inches away, and waited till summer to dig up the ground to to street for a "real" gas line. They just capped off the line from next door about 4 inches above our cement floor. Building next door eventually burned down, was leveled, and cellar filled with sand. Fast forward about 10 years I get a call from new owner that he was poking around figuring out what pipes were what and found the live gas when he removed the pipe's cap. The gas co never killed the tap, I had no idea. Could have had free heat for decades, it was before the meter.
 
I know a masonary garage where they wanted to install ~ 2-3 inch gas main for heat, but it was winter and ground was froze. So gas company tapped off line in cellar of neighbor's building next door that was 3 inches away, and waited till summer to dig up the ground to to street for a "real" gas line. They just capped off the line from next door about 4 inches above our cement floor. Building next door eventually burned down, was leveled, and cellar filled with sand. Fast forward about 10 years I get a call from new owner that he was poking around figuring out what pipes were what and found the live gas when he removed the pipe's cap. The gas co never killed the tap, I had no idea. Could have had free heat for decades, it was before the meter.
.........or run a stationary engine and generator for free lights!
 

NDmeterman

Registered
I actually have one of the insulating joints as shown with the lamp - it's been kicking around my "oddball" parts box for a LONG time.
 

Ronald E. McClellan

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
01/05/2020
I have a pair of these hall lights. They are original combination gas and electric. They are the nicest I've seen with the lions heads holding the drop light. The gas is not connected. Ron
 

Attachments

Archaeometrist

Registered
Most of the knob and tube wiring I have seen was just run in individual wires about 6" apart. Where it penetrated joists or beams, porcelean tubes with a knob on one end were used. For parallel runs, an 8 penney nail with porcelean isolaters were nailed into the sides of the beams
My grandma's house has that wiring in the attic. Most of it has been discontinued and modern wiring installed - maybe all of it no longer functions. The wires, insulators, porcelain tubes, and so on is still up there, the last time I was in the place (many years ago).

The house dated to the early 1900s (maybe around 1930 or so), and was built in Agricola Florida (company town, no longer in existence). It was moved to the present location long before I was born, by the company. It's a perfect example of a big old (company-built) cracker house, one made for someone more important than usual. I think it might have even had gas lighting at one time as well, but that I'm not sure about. High ceilings, big porches, and made so it wasn't as hot as other more modern places in the Florida summer. I always found it comfortable when I was a kid, with only a small room AC in the bedroom where I slept. The kitchen was the only place that REALLY needed AC - it was a later addition and did get hot during the day.

You don't see them like that very often!
 

Noyes

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
01/26/2020
Was the tube and knob type of wiring used for 32 Volt DC or 110 Volt AC ?
 

Archaeometrist

Registered
For my Grandma's house - 110 AC.

There was a time when I was a kid that we were warned to avoid one part of the attic, where the wires were hot and still in use - I think powering the light in my grandma's bedroom.
 

Graycenphil

Registered
Last Subscription Date
02/16/2012
It was definitely used for 110 volts - still is, in many cases. There are lots of houses that still have it, and will until someone chooses or is forced to upgrade it.

I suppose it could have been used for 32 volt wiring too, but I don't know.
 
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