1920's wiring....

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Awl --
No real problem here, just some inneresting stuff, a general Q.
Of course, the wiring is old, cloth covered, but in BX, and super-high quality. The wire seems to be nickel or silver coated/tinned -- not just ends, but the whole wire. Curious as to what the purpose of that coating is. And today, in 2009, the cloth is STILL supple!!
The wire appears to be only 14 ga, but still more than ample for 15 A, AND each splice is wire nutted AND soldered!!
Imho, soldering adds a big safety factor to the splicing process, and I'm surprised they dispensed with the requirement -- esp. in a union trade, where the slower the better.
Most peculiar, tho, is the "circuitry strategy", which seems to be a kind of statistical shotgun approach, where one room is not wired on one or two or three breakers, but rather randomly throughout the house. So if a breaker trips, 4 different locations could be affected, all over the house. Really a pita, but it is what it is. Fortunately, there are many many circuits -- over 20.
Curious if other people in older houses have this wiring strategy. I don't think it's easily solvable.
The electrical wisdom seems to be, leave the old as is, just add new as you need it -- appliances, A/C, etc.
The Q is, to go through the trouble to run the new in the walls (a real pita), or use wire-mold?
--
EA



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I like to wire lighting circuits on separate breakers from outlets. Then if an outlet breaker trips, you still have lights to see!
And I like to wire each room's outlets on its own breaker. Much easier for troubleshooting and labeling of the breakers.
As to rewiring, if you are going to live there the rest of your life, I would run the wiring in the walls. Looks much nicer. Electricians know how to do this. You can always just do one room at a time.
"Existential Angst" wrote in message

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On Mon, 26 Oct 2009 11:38:56 -0400, "Existential Angst"

You answered your own question. They tinned the copper wire because it usually was going to be soldered.
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wrote:

So you mean the whole spool/reel of wire was tinned before the insulation was added, in anticipation of soldering? To avoid the local application of flux?
--
EA



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On Mon, 26 Oct 2009 15:02:23 -0400, "Existential Angst"

Yep, that is quite common even up to the early Romex. A lot of neophyte home inspectors report it as cloth covered aluminum wire. We all get a chuckle out of that.
BTW they usually dipped those connections in a pot of molten solder. The solder itself came in bars, not rolled up as wire.
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

>>

In the "good old days" soldering irons were probably heated with a blow torch. Makes a solder pot sound real good.
I think I read that tinning also protected the copper from rubber insulation, which could deteriorate it.
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On 10/26/2009 11:02 AM Existential Angst spake thus:

One would still need to use flux (most likely rosin, as in rosin-core solder), but the tinning would prevent corrosion to some extent, plus make soldering easier.
At least that's my understanding ...
By the way, I'm glad you expressed your appreciation of this antiquated wiring, which is often in much better condition than people give it credit for.
--
Found--the gene that causes belief in genetic determinism

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wrote:

Yeah, that wiring and the brass plumbing was a big part of the decision to buy. That and the incredible attic ladder -- I figgered anyone who took the trouble to install *that* quality ladder in a g-d attic had to have done the rest of the house right. I was mostly right. :)
I once expressed the opinion that some significant percentage of electrical fires *must* be due to wire nuts, because cross-sectional area of electron flow is greatly reduced, even on a properly twisted/nutted joint, while solder virtually completely eleminates this conductive bottleneck.
Ditto the spring-type clips on the backs of some outlets (which spell disaster, imo, having seen a number of these melt out). Wire nuts present the same problem, just not as egregious as these spring-contact outlets.
I was, however, sort of shouted down, but I still don't see wire nuts as anywhere near as effective or safe as soldering. The bottom line would be, I guess, to do IR drop samplings, under increasing I, see what happens. Or measure temps at the wire nut joint under high I, of various quality splices.
I believe it is NEC code that no wire-nutted joint -- and perhaps no joint at all -- can exist without access to it in some kind of box/panel. It was a NYC code.
--
EA


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wrote:

I don't believe there has ever been any issue with the integrity of wire nut splices. The real danger, and the reason that William Marr invented the wire nut in 1914, was tripping around people's houses with a hot pot of lead, while trying to dip the splices. The particular type of cable you have will last and remain in good condition provided it doesn't get overheated and dried out. Where you have it in ceiling lighting outlets, where very high wattage lamps were installed close to ceiling, is where it degrades especially badly.

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On Mon, 26 Oct 2009 16:47:00 -0400, Existential Angst wrote:

Sounds like we have similar wiring in our place (late 40s build) - the problem I've found is generally in the light fittings, where years of heat from bulbs has slowly cooked things and it's all turned a bit brittle (fittings which take multiple bulbs being the worst). Cut further back and it's stood the test of time pretty well.

Our place is interesting - it was all built by the old lady who used to own it, and it seems like she did a piece here and a piece there as and when she felt like it. Some of it's done extremely well, but then there are other bits where corners were obviously cut...

Y'know, I was amazed the first time I visited the US and discovered that typical wiring was held together with those things - I'd done plenty of wiring overseas and it was always with junction boxes / fittings that had proper insulated screw terminals inside. Using a wire nut would be a hanging offense ;-)

I've heard that soldered connections can melt if there's a serious overload - but by that point there are probably other things to be worrying about anyway. :-)
cheers
Jules
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wrote:

No problem with 'wire nuts' (i.e. wire connectors) since 1956 when I arrived in North America. tree residences since then two of which we built and wired ourselves. Like everything else if they are used properly no problems at all. There are an estimated at least one hundred or so in this typical all-electric house built in 1970 (some inside the connection space of baseboard electric heaters) and we have had no problems with overheating or bad connections on both lighting circuits (15 amp maximum) or duplex outlets circuits (20 amp). And in one case with a three wire heavier connection from the main panel to a secondary (pony) one.
One UK style wiring item do not miss is those fiddly (silly) little brass screws in so-called 'chocolate blocks' and/or certain lamp holders' often made of brass, a soft metal! Easy to strip or mar the small screw head (or drop one!); they require an additional small 'straight blade' screwdriver. Whereas much Canadian wiring can be done with one #2 Robertson (square) screwdriver and a pair of pliers.
Ring main circuits while maybe a good idea are either very uncommon or not used at all.
Having got used to it rather like the 115 - 0 - 115 volt single phase domestic service. Although if/when encounters a 3 kilowatt electric kettle it is till abit of a surprise how quilckly it boils. But how much boiling water does one need to make one pot of tea anyway! Including 'heating the pot'!
Also and not as one would suspect aerial service of both 13KV primary lines and secondary 115/230 volt wires from pole mounted transformers to homes results in very fast restore times. Our local utility company line crews are excellent. Seen them change out a transformer in the middle of a snow storm, at night, in a couple of hours from the time the 'Power has gone off" telephone call had been made.
Yes 'tinned' copper wire is easier to solder; and sometimes used in electronics and marine environments for that reason and to resist corrosion.
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On Mon, 26 Oct 2009 23:04:48 -0700, terry wrote:

I've had a few in our place that have been bad, but then maybe they were never fitted properly when first installed - some of the wiring in our place is very good, but some of it's a bit of a mess :-)

Yeah, I hear ya there. The ones used in "proper" fittings are robust enough (equivalent in strength to the terminals on US electrical outlets) but cheap lamps etc. can still have those and they're just nasty.

Seems so. Although it is more hassle to set up, and I'm never quite convinced of the loading benefits given that the ring could fail yet still appear to work; at least with a radial system if a connection goes bad it's pretty obvious that it's done so.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring_circuit for the curious)

:-) Not having 240V everywhere is one of those things that's taking some getting used to for me. Plus I've got various 240V things I want to ship over sometime, and it's going to be interesting planning all the necessary wiring (most of it's stuff that can live in the 'shop or basement, so thankfully I don't need to completely rewire the house or anything!)

I've not seen much of that here (yet) but I've certainly been impressed with how few power cuts & brownouts we've had - everywhere else I've been in the world cuts have been quite frequent and could easily last a few hours.
cheers
Jules
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That was VERY inneresting!!! Am I correct in observing that the diagram shows two "radial" connections to the ring?
It took me a while to grok the "point" of the schematic, and when I did, it left me with a very big Q:
How does a ring circuit SAVE copper? ? Yeah, I can see how you can use thinner gauge wire, but now you have to use twice as much of it! Current capacity (density) is directly proportional to cross-sectional area, so it seems to me this system is 6 of one, half a dozen of the other, mass-wise in copper. The article pointed out some potent disadvantages, as well -- somewhat dicey, eh?
Interestingly, NYC still has DC running to some older commercial buildings!
And, NYC's 3 phase is 208, not 220 or 240 V, like most of the rest of the country -- 208 is EXACTLY the rms voltage difference between two 120 V sine waves 120 deg out of phase, making it, I think, the "purest" type of 3 phase. Just across any city line, and yer up to 240 -- which bleeve me wreaks a lot of havoc, machine-wise.
But, I thought Europe was all 220, ie, two hot legs, residentially??
I think 220-240V is a **much better** system than single hot leg 120, as it is *inherently* balanced, and you don't have to worry about neutrals and grounds as much -- precisely because of this balance. AND, with lower I^2R losses, esp. when you consider that many grounds are really crappy, often using steel cables instead of copper.
g-dAmerica never quite gets it right, unless it comes to fleecing their public. Who needs a junta or a dictatorship when you have a Congress blowing Wall Street, using the Media as a condom?? Altho amazingly our vitamins are a lot more available, fwiu. Whazzup wit dat, over there???
--
EA



>
>> Having got used to it rather like the 115 - 0 - 115 volt single phase
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On Tue, 27 Oct 2009 15:38:12 -0400, "Existential Angst"

Huh?
The neutral conductor in triplex is the same 1350 alloy of aluminum as the phase conductors but it may be 2 sizes smaller assuming a fairly large line/line load will be present.
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wrote:

Here, the neutral AND ground wires in house cable are copper, but I was talking about from the weatherhead of the house out to the pole -- the house copper is attached to stranded steel support cable -- at least in my neck of the woods in NY. And then, from the pole to whereever, I don't know what the ground/neutral is, but I suspect it continues as the steel tension cable for the other hot copper wires.
I've asked linemen, but these guys don't know -- I get a different answer with each guy I ask.
--
EA



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wrote:

In "your" neck of the woods, in NY, you'd be pretty hard pressed to find a copper service entrance cable, conductors in conduit, yes, but cable no, not in the last thirty some odd years, and a ConEd service drop is aluminum, except for a steel strand in the bare messenger.

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Which is required in order to give the cable enough tensile strength to self support.
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On Tue, 27 Oct 2009 17:38:08 -0400, "Existential Angst"

I gave you the answer. The aerial drop triplex is alloy 1350 aluminum ... all 3 wires, along with virtually all aerial cable. That is what the alloy was designed for. It is also used in some aircraft construction.
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wrote:

Indeed, it does look like that twisted support/guy wire is aluminum!
So what is a 1350 alloy, visavis a 6061 alloy? Do you know the ohms per foot of each, vs. that of copper?
--
EA



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On Wed, 28 Oct 2009 12:08:17 -0400, "Existential Angst"

I am not sure what 6061 is but the 1350 is 99.5% aluminum.
According to table 8 in the NEC the resistance for #2 (typical residential service drop up to 200a) is .194 ohms per 1000 ft copper .319 ohms per 1000 ft aluminum
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