Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Splinter Group Meeting Tonight

I have I think 14 confirmed RSVPs which means I can expect 14 to 20 people. I’ve spent most of my free time yesterday and today cleaning and, well, saying the house is clean may be a stretch, so I’ll just say the house is cleaner.

There will be a cocktail hour and then a potluck dinner, after which the “meeting” will begin. It is all very informal. There is usually not much to talk about during the meeting portion but sometimes it can go on for a half hour or so if some one has made a cool find or a lively topic comes up. After that the floor will be turned over to me.

I will be talking about Victorian era plumbing, electrical, and gas lighting. I will focus mainly on production and distribution. Sort of behind the scenes stuff. It ties in well with my house because Mr. Petch ran both the coal gas plant and the electrical plant here in town. He was also an electrician himself, and ran a retail lighting store here in town for a while.

I had the idea for this discussion last year at another gathering. A member of the group talked about Victorian era linen when they hosted the group. It was informative and detailed, and for me, boring as hell. It’s just not what I’m in to at all. It was in some ways my worst fear come true.

When I first joined the group I didn’t think I would last that long. I envisioned hour long discussions on the strategic placement of doilies in the Victorian home and other such electrifying topics. It’s really not like that but that discussion on linen just seemed to go on and on and on. I was sitting on the couch between two woman who were really in to it and after a while it was like I disappeared as they ooohed and aaahed to each other as each piece of linen was passed around. After what seemed like an hour of that I made my way to the kitchen and drank wine until it was all over. Tonight is all about payback.

I’ll leave you with an image of the original 1895 Fuse Box for my house. The hot from the city came in across the top and the neutral ran across the bottom. Then the wires to feed the house came off the screws in the middle. Note the distinctive lack of fuses or even anyplace to put fuses. In fact, there were no fuses. I think this might really be called a bus and not a fuse box but I don’t think anyone would know what I was talking about if I called it a bus.

In a way they didn’t need fuses because the only thing there was were lights. There are three circuits there to feed eleven lights in the house. Even if you have every light on in the house you probably wouldn’t be able to over-heat the system. The house never burned down, so I guess it worked as it was designed to.


John said...

Cool. I've never seen anything like that before. The only trace of the original wiring in the Devil Queen is a few porcelain fittings to hold the old cloth wrapped wiring in the attic.

dave said...

The ceramic fuse blocks you show used "fuse wire" to open an overloaded circuit. Note the one last piece of silver colored wire in the upper part of the middle block. These wires came in various sizes to match the rated load for that circuit. With your fuse blocks, both the power and neutral wires are fused, a practice that was discontinued as unsafe in the early 1900's.

Greg said...


Thanks for the info. Very interesting. I always suspected "no fuse" was a questionable assumption on my part, but nothing else made sense when looking at it.