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What are these old wires?

Does what it says on the tin
jfgw
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What are these old wires?

#387459

Postby jfgw » February 17th, 2021, 1:13 pm

Can anyone suggest what these old single wires were for please? The house is reasonably large (originally 5 bedroom I think), early 19th century.

Image


Julian F. G. W.

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Re: What are these old wires?

#387461

Postby bungeejumper » February 17th, 2021, 1:16 pm

Disconnected, I hope? :)

BJ

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Re: What are these old wires?

#387464

Postby bungeejumper » February 17th, 2021, 1:25 pm

Our house (late 19th century) had been rewired in the 1960s but it had all sorts of dead leftover wiring under the floorboards - rubber, cloth-insulated, you name it. I do wonder, though, whether these might just have been for servants' bells? Or, indeed, telephones?

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Re: What are these old wires?

#387467

Postby jfgw » February 17th, 2021, 1:34 pm

bungeejumper wrote:I do wonder, though, whether these might just have been for servants' bells? Or, indeed, telephones?


I did wonder about both of those.

Even if they are in use (unlikely I think) they would probably be much safer than some of the more recent (but still old) rubber.


Julian F. G. W.

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Re: What are these old wires?

#387469

Postby bungeejumper » February 17th, 2021, 1:43 pm

I've told this story before, so apologies, but our electrician reported being called out to quote for a rewire on a large family hotel which had been completely refitted a couple of years previously. When he took the shiny new sockets off the walls, the rubber wiring was still doing all the work. They hadn't renewed the ring main cabling at all. God knows what the insurance would have said if there'd been a disaster?

BJ

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Re: What are these old wires?

#387523

Postby 88V8 » February 17th, 2021, 5:11 pm

They look like my dad's pipe cleaners.

Not all newer wiring is good... in our previous house the downstairs ring was PVC but with stranded alloy conductors, perhaps from the 60s.
We left it be, but in a couple of places where there was damp under the (suspended) floor due to inadequate air bricks, I did notice some corrosion on the wires at the sockets, and the strandidness had a tendency to compact and result in loose connections.

V8

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Re: What are these old wires?

#387677

Postby quelquod » February 18th, 2021, 11:17 am

88V8 wrote:
...the strandidness had a tendency to compact and result in loose connections.

V8


Copper does this too of course. It’s commonplace for screw terminals to loosen as the copper ‘creeps’ under pressure over time. It’s a common reason for sockets and even fuse boxes getting hot and I’ve long lost count of the number of sockets I’ve seen which just pulled away from the cables when unscrewed from the back box. Screw fittings are required to be accessible for inspection.

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Re: What are these old wires?

#387933

Postby 88V8 » February 19th, 2021, 11:37 am

quelquod wrote:
88V8 wrote:...the strandidness had a tendency to compact and result in loose connections.

Copper does this too of course. It’s commonplace for screw terminals to loosen as the copper ‘creeps’ under pressure over time. It’s a common reason for sockets and even fuse boxes getting hot and I’ve long lost count of the number of sockets I’ve seen which just pulled away from the cables when unscrewed from the back box. Screw fittings are required to be accessible for inspection.

Mmm, so I should go round the sockets every few years and tighten them.
And then there's the junction boxes some of which I know are buried behind or under this n'that, and those in the attic....

I think the stranded was definitely worse than the solid. Does anyone make stranded domestic cable any more?
But of course even with solid, when the socket is on a ring with multiple cables in the back, compaction can become an issue there as well.

V8

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Re: What are these old wires?

#387944

Postby Itsallaguess » February 19th, 2021, 12:32 pm

88V8 wrote:
quelquod wrote:
88V8 wrote:...the strandidness had a tendency to compact and result in loose connections.


Copper does this too of course. It’s commonplace for screw terminals to loosen as the copper ‘creeps’ under pressure over time. It’s a common reason for sockets and even fuse boxes getting hot and I’ve long lost count of the number of sockets I’ve seen which just pulled away from the cables when unscrewed from the back box. Screw fittings are required to be accessible for inspection.


Mmm, so I should go round the sockets every few years and tighten them.
And then there's the junction boxes some of which I know are buried behind or under this n'that, and those in the attic....

I think the stranded was definitely worse than the solid. Does anyone make stranded domestic cable any more?

But of course even with solid, when the socket is on a ring with multiple cables in the back, compaction can become an issue there as well.


We'd teach all of our electrical apprentices that when wiring anything that needed a face-plate pushing back where some amount of cable-compaction was necessary, which is the case in nearly all domestic socket-wiring, that the terminals should all be tightened, the socket face screwed fully back against the wall and back-box, and then the socket face removed from the wall just enough to gain secondary access to the rear terminals, where a final tightening check should be carried out before screwing the socket back onto the back-box for a final time.

A couple of centimetres is usually all that's needed for that final tightening check to be carried out on the rear of domestic sockets.

Much of the loose wiring found at the rear of domestic sockets will be due to that secondary tightness check not being carried out after the initial cable-compaction....

Cheers,

Itsallaguess

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Re: What are these old wires?

#387986

Postby csearle » February 19th, 2021, 3:02 pm

jfgw wrote:Can anyone suggest what these old single wires were for please?
I think they are old mains double-insulated singles (cf. meter tails). I did an electrical installation condition report of a house on an estate a short while ago and discovered modern versions of these for all the lighting circuits. Yours look like the outer insulation layer is cloth rather than PVC. Just a guess.

Chris

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Re: What are these old wires?

#388114

Postby MyNameIsUrl » February 20th, 2021, 8:43 am

I was more interested in the modern cables - a single clip holding down two cables. A useful money-saving tip.

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Re: What are these old wires?

#388119

Postby bungeejumper » February 20th, 2021, 9:10 am

MyNameIsUrl wrote:I was more interested in the modern cables - a single clip holding down two cables. A useful money-saving tip.

Yes, I noticed that. Classy, wasn't it? But it's debatable whether it was worse than driving a staple nail though the other six cores?

BJ

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Re: What are these old wires?

#388126

Postby Mike4 » February 20th, 2021, 9:49 am

jfgw wrote:Can anyone suggest what these old single wires were for please? The house is reasonably large (originally 5 bedroom I think), early 19th century.

Image


Julian F. G. W.


I commonly used to see cables like this under floorboards and in lofts of older houses, back in the day when I installed stuff and renovated houses. Typically housed older than about 1920. Most of the time they are snipped off and go nowhere but occasionally they would lead to a redundant 'dolly' style light switch or servant bell button.

My guess is that in the early days of electrical installation the fabric wires were used for lighting and dumb waiters, and twin core rubber insulated cable was used for power sockets. The only time I've encountered this type of fabric-insulated cabling live and in use was in the 1920 house I bought in 2001 and lived in for 20 years. The house was built to a very good standard but never maintained, and these wires were installed inside steel conduit leading to every light switch and ceiling rose.

I re-wired the house immediately on moving in. The fabric-insulated lighting cabling in this house was in far better condition than the rubber insulated twin core cable supplying the single power socket in each room.

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Re: What are these old wires?

#388143

Postby 88V8 » February 20th, 2021, 10:28 am

Mike4 wrote:My guess is that in the early days of electrical installation the fabric wires were used for lighting ....

In some of my DIY books of the 20s/30s it shows how useful electrical apparata such as electric irons and electric fires and electric kettles can be plugged into a lighting pendant with a suitable adaptor.

And of course if the fuse blows, so easy to 'upgrade' the circuit with some thicker fusewire or silver paper. Eek.

I do have a BC plug adaptor and the 2-pin plug to go with it, but have never had cause to use them.

V8

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Re: What are these old wires?

#388611

Postby csearle » February 22nd, 2021, 8:40 am

88V8 wrote:I do have a BC plug adaptor and the 2-pin plug to go with it, but have never had cause to use them.
Sell it on eBay. Electricians have a use for them: to connect their Earth Fault Loop Tester to the line conductor without having to hold a probe onto the sprung terminal.

Chris


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