Thursday, April 28, 2011

Electric Service - 1906 Style

So here's a rare look at what state of the art house wiring was over a hundred years ago. There was no real box that was installed. The sides are the studs and the top and bottom formed by nailing in cross pieces. This was the lined with asbestos material to make it fire resistant. 3/4 square trim was added for a plaster edge, and then a chestnut door and casing trim used as a cover.

The service was only 120 volt and looks like it was only 30 amps. This came through the exterior wall through porcelain tubes, and mounted onto porcelain knobs. Then through the top of the "box" and would have connected to a porcelain knife switch with 30 amp fuses mounted inside. You can see the ghost of where this was mounted. This would be what is your main breaker today.

This would have then been wired to a pair of ceramic fuse holders which would feed the house circuits. Looks like there were 3 fused circuits for the house. Of course back then this was for lighting only. There would have been a few "outlets" in the house, but back then the plug as we know it was not developed yet and the outlet would have looked like a bulb socket. Early appliances had a socket adapter rather than a plug to get power.

Apparently from what I've read this was a high end installation. Many times the disconnect was mounted in the open, but high enough to keep out of reach either on a porch on in a basement. The next question that I'm stumped on is where was a meter? Or was there a meter??

I'm happy to say that this panel is officially retired now... 105 years later! I plan on leaving it here and find an early disconnect and fuse holders to reintall for show. The asbestos will obviously go, but I'll paint up some tar paper with white paint to give the effect. It's too neat and too rare that it should be preserved.

Monday, April 25, 2011

And I Thought There Was Nothing Left To Find?!

Well I was NOT expecting to find anything today when I was removing the panelling in the closet of the recently retired upstairs kitchen.... but look what I uncovered?!

What is it you ask?? Well it's the ORIGINAL fuse box for the house. I've only come across one other in my electrician days. Back then the box was built on site with material laying around. The inside was then lined with asbestos and porcelain fuse holders installed inside. This one is actually made of chestnut.

The porcelain fuse blocks are gone, but there's still some wires in there and looks like the wonderful gang that tore this place up in the 70's decided to splice into this box and then cover it over with wall panelling!?!

It also looks like the electrician who built the box signed it.

I'm not sure what's scarier about this find.... the asbestos lining... or that there's still some live wires in there!! And the adventure continues....

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A History Channel documentary on the Dust Bowl??

Nah... just another night at the Hall House!

Here's the latest progress as work my way around the two rooms. I forgot just how much fun plaster and lathe removal was! Bleh...

I'd say more, but the pics pretty much say it all.... ok, break over, now where's my dust mask?!

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Taste of Plaster Dust In the Morning...

The demo continues in the front bedrooms. The original closets are now gone and I'm down to the studs of the bearing wall. Next will be building two new walls to form the new closets for each bedroom and then I can remove the old studs. I was gonna do 2 closets in the master bedroom and 1 in the other.... but have now decided to do one larger closet for the master.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Joy of Plaster Dust

Just when I had finally rid this place of plaster dust from all the demo four years ago.... I'm creating more! I started demo on the partition wall between the 2 front bedrooms. The plan is to tear this out first and rebuild with all the new closets. Then I'll continue to demo the rest of the rooms. This way I can ge the closet doors built, installed, and out of my way. I've been burning the lathe in the stove while I can too. Nothing like a self heating house... well, at least until you're out of house to throw in the stove!