Author Topic: Photo of century-old electric panel  (Read 1562 times)

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Offline soldarTopic starter

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Photo of century-old electric panel
« on: May 19, 2024, 03:23:56 pm »
I took this photo at the monastery Saint-Paul-de-Mausole, near Saint-Rémy, Provence, where Vincent Van Gogh committed himself for a time. It is now mostly a museum and kept like it was many decades ago.

It looks to me like a knife switch actuated by the wooden lever on the right and which simultaneously interrupts three phases. Just below each knife switch is a fuse. All this is mounted on a marble base or slab. I find the thick, open, general fuses interesting.

Below that some more smaller circuit fuses in ceramic holders and outlets, cables, etc.

Wires are cloth insulated.

I would have expected to see a neutral but it may have been a star configuration.

The monastery was an asylum but now is mostly a tourist museum. They still have an adjacent building as asylum and I found it somewhat disturbing and upsetting to hear shouting and shrieking and realize it was people in serious mental pain.
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Online nctnico

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Re: Photo of century-old electric panel
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2024, 04:02:08 pm »
They still have an adjacent building as asylum and I found it somewhat disturbing and upsetting to hear shouting and shrieking and realize it was people in serious mental pain.
Side note:
I wouldn't consider shouting or making noises a sign of mental pain. Maybe just lack of 'control' where you can also ask yourself if 'sane' people would feel better if it was socially acceptable to make noise. Last week I was in a swimming pool and there was also a small group of mentally impaired people going for a swim. One of them was making sounds like a high-pitched Chewbacca but this person was having a good time in the pool though.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2024, 04:04:08 pm by nctnico »
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline m k

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Re: Photo of century-old electric panel
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2024, 04:57:42 pm »
Maybe neutral is "local" to other end, though it would be generally quite difficult.
And there is something extra also, maybe a lightning rod connection.

For shouting, it can release stress, common knowledge.
Shouting into a glass jar can shrink the area increasing stress of others.
Advance-Aneng-Appa-AVO-Beckman-Danbridge-Data Tech-Fluke-General Radio-H. W. Sullivan-Heathkit-HP-Kaise-Kyoritsu-Leeds & Northrup-Mastech-REO-Simpson-Sinclair-Tektronix-Tokyo Rikosha-Topward-Triplett-YFE
(plus lesser brands from the work shop of the world)
 

Offline jitter

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Re: Photo of century-old electric panel
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2024, 09:21:00 pm »
It could also be something like the 3 x 230 V system I once came across in the historical centre of Mechelen, Belgium. This system supplies 230 V without a neutral conductor.

At first I was confused because I measured 230 V between line and neutral on the socket, but about 135 V between line and earth and also 135 V between neutral and earth (odd values as this is NOT a split phase system). In the system I am used to, neutral and earth are connected together in several places (so have about 0 V across them), but over there, this was clearly not the case.
Since this system does not have a neutral conductor, sockets must be wired between the phases, hence the same voltage on the supposedly neutral conductor with respect to earth (and that is the reason why you must always regard both line and neutral conductors as live).

Once I multiplied 135 V by √3 I got about 230 V and I understood what was happening.



« Last Edit: May 19, 2024, 09:26:53 pm by jitter »
 

Offline harerod

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Re: Photo of century-old electric panel
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2024, 07:24:57 pm »
Looks like fire waiting to happen...
 

Online nctnico

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Re: Photo of century-old electric panel
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2024, 07:36:22 pm »
It could also be something like the 3 x 230 V system I once came across in the historical centre of Mechelen, Belgium. This system supplies 230 V without a neutral conductor.

At first I was confused because I measured 230 V between line and neutral on the socket, but about 135 V between line and earth and also 135 V between neutral and earth (odd values as this is NOT a split phase system). In the system I am used to, neutral and earth are connected together in several places (so have about 0 V across them), but over there, this was clearly not the case.
The 3x 220V system used to be rather common in the Netherlands as well. In some areas of Amsterdam you could still find this setup in the early 90's. If it ain't broken, don't fix it.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline schmitt trigger

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Re: Photo of century-old electric panel
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2024, 08:25:43 pm »
It is safe to assume, that UL or VDE safety standards were still a distant dream when this “load center” was installed.
 

Offline janoc

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Re: Photo of century-old electric panel
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2024, 08:42:51 pm »
It is safe to assume, that UL or VDE safety standards were still a distant dream when this “load center” was installed.

True - and pretty much the only electrical loads used back then were some light bulbs.
 

Online EPAIII

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Re: Photo of century-old electric panel
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2024, 05:41:29 am »
Gee, you think?

I guess I am dating myself, but I have seen houses with similar panels. My grandparents had an older home in New Orleans and even as a child in the 50s I was scared of it. Yes, everything in the panel was exposed. It had a knife switch for the main disconnect. You didn't want to be changing a fuse in the dark.

The house I grew up in had a more modern fuse box where things were behind the panel. But in the attic you could get up close and personal with the knob and tube wiring.



It is safe to assume, that UL or VDE safety standards were still a distant dream when this “load center” was installed.
Paul A.  -   SE Texas
And if you look REAL close at an analog signal,
You will find that it has discrete steps.
 

Offline schmitt trigger

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Re: Photo of century-old electric panel
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2024, 06:11:53 pm »
In the early 1960s, My parents had a citrus ranch. The electrical panel was protected with screw fuses, and the disconnect was also an exposed knife switch. Although not as scary looking as the OP’s photo.

Being a remote rural area, electric failures would occur mostly during thunderstorms, whereas the unpaved access road would become flooded and impassable, sometimes for a couple of days.
Thus the temptation was very great to replace the fuse with an old Mexican 20 cent copper coin if no replacement fuses were on hand.

We were beyond lucky that no accidental overloads happened!


 
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Offline harerod

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Re: Photo of century-old electric panel
« Reply #10 on: May 24, 2024, 09:56:19 am »
In the early 1960s, My parents had a citrus ranch.
...

That must have been a beautiful place to grew up. First thought that crossed my mind was:

It was a moonlit night in old Mexico
I walked alone between some old adobe haciendas
Suddenly, I heard the plaintive cry of a young Mexican girl...

Say - did your mice actually wear sombreros?  ^-^

 

Offline m k

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Re: Photo of century-old electric panel
« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2024, 01:28:21 pm »
When time was different, a legend says that before certain gigs a roudie goes to the fuse box and plugs in a famous slow ten.
(lathed brass)
Advance-Aneng-Appa-AVO-Beckman-Danbridge-Data Tech-Fluke-General Radio-H. W. Sullivan-Heathkit-HP-Kaise-Kyoritsu-Leeds & Northrup-Mastech-REO-Simpson-Sinclair-Tektronix-Tokyo Rikosha-Topward-Triplett-YFE
(plus lesser brands from the work shop of the world)
 

Online tom66

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Re: Photo of century-old electric panel
« Reply #12 on: May 24, 2024, 01:43:31 pm »
It could also be something like the 3 x 230 V system I once came across in the historical centre of Mechelen, Belgium. This system supplies 230 V without a neutral conductor.

At first I was confused because I measured 230 V between line and neutral on the socket, but about 135 V between line and earth and also 135 V between neutral and earth (odd values as this is NOT a split phase system). In the system I am used to, neutral and earth are connected together in several places (so have about 0 V across them), but over there, this was clearly not the case.
Since this system does not have a neutral conductor, sockets must be wired between the phases, hence the same voltage on the supposedly neutral conductor with respect to earth (and that is the reason why you must always regard both line and neutral conductors as live).

Once I multiplied 135 V by √3 I got about 230 V and I understood what was happening.

This system is still common in rural Belgium.

I have heard it has caused some issues with people getting electric cars there, since some car designers assumed there would always be a neutral available and it would be close to PE.  It causes the electronics to detect a fault (missing PE/floating neutral) and refuse to charge even in single phase mode.  Has led to many people having to reject that specific model (Stellantis vehicles) and choose someone else who can design a proper on board charger.

Just goes to show you need to thoroughly test your product in the markets you intend to sell it in, or you might discover problems like this after you have sold some 30k euro car to someone and they are quite upset they can't use it.
 

Offline DiodeDipShit

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Re: Photo of century-old electric panel
« Reply #13 on: May 24, 2024, 02:59:07 pm »
At least they upgraded to newer wires. This unit may be backed up by a modern breaker box, lending some safety to its design.
I grew up in a turn of the century Victorian house with the original system. The main shut off were knife switches and wires were all single strand with cloth insulation. The whole panel looked like Edison himself jury rigged it together. There were separated pairs leading out of this menagerie held in place with early single pole insulators every 6 feet or so. A sight to behold in the cellar. Near lightening strikes always caused problems and one time, half the light bulbs in the house exploded ! This was certainly an inspiration for me, as I had the whole octopus figured out at an early age with Dads help. "Only use one hand" He told me 'and always wear sneakers.'  I never feared electricity going so far as drawing arcs off old TV's picture tubes with my finger and challenging neighborhood punks to take the lawn mower shock test, me first. Small engines give the best jolt ! Electronics is no joke, but early electricity is funnier. ( Don't try this at home )
Any five fifty five will do ......
 

Offline schmitt trigger

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Re: Photo of century-old electric panel
« Reply #14 on: May 24, 2024, 03:15:01 pm »


We still do…..

« Last Edit: May 24, 2024, 03:17:21 pm by schmitt trigger »
 
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Offline soldarTopic starter

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Re: Photo of century-old electric panel
« Reply #15 on: May 24, 2024, 04:03:04 pm »
In the late 1950s, in rural Spain, my family would spend the summer in a large agricultural farm where irrigation was from well water. The well was not a vertical shaft but a narrow spiral stairway dug down into the ground, maybe 10 or 15 m. The narrow, low ceiling, stairway down was damp and slippery and the walls were wet and dim light-bulbs lit the way down. Along the upper edge of the wall bare electric wires on porcelain holders and they powered the pumps at the bottom.

Outside, by the well, there was a very big water reservoir which we used as a swimming pool and went there almost daily.

Going down that stairway was dangerous and as a kid I had been warned repeatedly to never go down there. But I was just a kid and being told not to do something just fueled my curiosity. One day, I asked one of the workers or laborers if he would take me down and he did, obviously not knowing I had been told not to do it. I never would have dared to go on my own. We went down, I saw the electric cables which I had been told were extremely dangerous, diverse knife switches and fuses, the noise of the pumps, etc and then climbed back out alive and well.

I walked directly home and by some mystery that I have not deciphered to this day my mother already knew I had been down there and she viciously beat the crap out of me. Because in those days it was acceptable and because she was a very mean person. I never figured out how she found out. It could be that my sisters went home while I was down there and told her but I do not remember that part. Only that my mother was waiting for me.

That was my first experience with electricity. Very painful.

Funny how so many decades later I can remember it all with photographic precision.

I guess if I learned anything is that authorities can be more dangerous and painful than electricity. Beware of both.

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Offline harerod

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Re: Photo of century-old electric panel
« Reply #16 on: May 24, 2024, 04:32:38 pm »
...
I walked directly home and by some mystery that I have not deciphered to this day my mother already knew I had been down there and she viciously beat the crap out of me. ...

Legendary. Slipper or wooden spoon?
 

Offline soldarTopic starter

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Re: Photo of century-old electric panel
« Reply #17 on: May 24, 2024, 04:52:17 pm »
Legendary. Slipper or wooden spoon?
My mother used to ride horses and had at hand a leather crop with engraved motifs. She hit me so hard across the legs that the patterns were marked on my skin. (I was only wearing a swim trunk.)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crop_(implement)

I just do not understand adults who think you can tell a 6 or 7 year old child "don't do that" and the child will know not to do it. A child that age lives in the present and needs to be constantly supervised, reminded, taught and over many years they will begin to understand responsibility, etc.

Getting back to the knife switches, which were common when I was a kid, I was fascinated by the ones with springs (to stop the arc) which would snap off suddenly.

It was a world before plastics (BP) and insulation materials were ceramic or stone... sometimes Bakelite. If something was not in touch directly with voltage then wood was good enough.
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Offline harerod

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Re: Photo of century-old electric panel
« Reply #18 on: May 24, 2024, 05:46:01 pm »
What a precious memory.  :(
 I am about one generation younger than you. That kind of electrical installation was already being replaced in 1970's West Germany.
 
One item that I would love to see again are Bakelite based rotary switches. Those things engaged/disengaged twice per revolution, with a rather satisfactory "tchak". That was in my grandparents' home, built back in the late 1940's. Sadly, that property was sold a long time ago.

 Wow - there seems to be a market for that stuff:
https://www.thpg.de/en/switch-systems/surface-mounted-switches-high-humidity/ These are exactly what I had in mind...
 
« Last Edit: May 24, 2024, 05:51:31 pm by harerod »
 


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