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#132874 09/14/01 07:12 PM
Joined: Aug 2001
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pauluk Offline OP
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I reckon it's time to hit you with a few more oddities of British practice. Nothing big here; just a few more things off the top of my head that are different.

1. We do have Edison screw bulbs in some fixtures, but the majority of domestic light bulbs are a twin-contact bayonet fitting.

2. Electric ranges are hard-wired to the supply; no plug & socket disconnect. A switch to shut off power to the appliance is installed nearby (IEE specifies within 6 ft).

3. Fixed fans, wall heaters, etc. rated up to 3kW may be connected by a plug & adjacent outlet, but it is most usual for these to be hard-wired as well. When these are wired onto our standard ring, the outlet incorporates a suitable cartridge fuse (the same type as in our plugs) and may also include an isolation switch.

4. The main switch on a domestic panel opens the neutral as well as the "hot." Isolation switches for fixed appliances (as above) are also commonly double pole.

5. Cable sizes are measured differently. Old cables were specified by number & size of strands, e.g. a common size was 7/.029, or 7 seven strnds each 0.029 in. diameter. Metric cables introduced 1970 just specify the cross-sectional area in square millimeters, e.g. 1.5, 2.5, 4, 6, etc.

6. Aluminum is spelled ALUMINIUM, and pronounced al-u-MIN-ium rather than a-LU-mi-num.

That should keep you going a while.

Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 142
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Quote
Originally posted by pauluk:
I reckon it's time to hit you with a few more oddities of British practice. Nothing big here; just a few more things off the top of my head that are different.

1. We do have Edison screw bulbs in some fixtures, but the majority of domestic light bulbs are a twin-contact bayonet fitting.

2. Electric ranges are hard-wired to the supply; no plug & socket disconnect. A switch to shut off power to the appliance is installed nearby (IEE specifies within 6 ft).

3. Fixed fans, wall heaters, etc. rated up to 3kW may be connected by a plug & adjacent outlet, but it is most usual for these to be hard-wired as well. When these are wired onto our standard ring, the outlet incorporates a suitable cartridge fuse (the same type as in our plugs) and may also include an isolation switch.

4. The main switch on a domestic panel opens the neutral as well as the "hot." Isolation switches for fixed appliances (as above) are also commonly double pole.

5. Cable sizes are measured differently. Old cables were specified by number & size of strands, e.g. a common size was 7/.029, or 7 seven strnds each 0.029 in. diameter. Metric cables introduced 1970 just specify the cross-sectional area in square millimeters, e.g. 1.5, 2.5, 4, 6, etc.

6. Aluminum is spelled ALUMINIUM, and pronounced al-u-MIN-ium rather than a-LU-mi-num.

That should keep you going a while.

I did a revamp a few monthes ago. It was a 30 amp 120volt service, K & T, and the original service was all porcelein fuse blocks and a porcelein disconnect, whicch disconnected the neutral, this of course was before we went to a grounded system. after installing the new panel 20 spaces, 100 amp main breaker, I discovered that only half the circuits were hot because the meter was also 120 volts and only one side was hot. So it was every other space on the panel.
But we do not switch the neutral, havnt done that in gotta be 60 years. There was an old wireing system for 3-ways, called the Carter wiring system, or aka Lazy neutral system where the commons from each 3-way would go to the light, and what we use today as commons were tied to 120 volts, but it was discovered that in one off position both the pin and the shell were both hot, eventhough the light was off. This was written out of the NEC in the 1930's but I still find it quite a bit today in older homes.
Then in that same period, I have also found where the hot would be at the light and the Grounded conductor would be wired up in a 3-way configuration again Knob and Tube, its stuff like this that makes this job what it is challanging and also very rewarding, but most of all enjoyable.

Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 142
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Quote
Originally posted by bordew:
I did a revamp a few monthes ago. It was a 30 amp 120volt service, K & T, and the original service was all porcelein fuse blocks and a porcelein disconnect, whicch disconnected the neutral, this of course was before we went to a grounded system. after installing the new panel 20 spaces, 100 amp main breaker, I discovered that only half the circuits were hot because the meter was also 120 volts and only one side was hot. So it was every other space on the panel.
But we do not switch the neutral, havnt done that in gotta be 60 years. There was an old wireing system for 3-ways, called the Carter wiring system, or aka Lazy neutral system where the commons from each 3-way would go to the light, and what we use today as travellers were tied to 120 volts, but it was discovered that in one off position both the pin and the shell were both hot, eventhough the light was off. This was written out of the NEC in the 1930's but I still find it quite a bit today in older homes.
Then in that same period, I have also found where the hot would be at the light and the Grounded conductor would be wired up in a 3-way configuration again Knob and Tube, its stuff like this that makes this job what it is challanging and also very rewarding, but most of all enjoyable.

Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,520
P
pauluk Offline OP
Member
I guess with a common neutral/ground busbar tied to ground it would be pretty superfluous to switch the incoming neutral. It became standard for the main switch to open the neutral here because of our N/G isolation.

On 3-phase panels for commercial service, though, the main switch is only 3-pole, with a non-switched neutral.

There are still some old 1920s/1930s fuseboxes in older homes here as well, wood cases with porcelain fuse holders (and the crude rewireable carriers I've mentioned elsewhere). It was common practice to fuse both hot and neutral to each branch circuit during the 1920s.

We didn't have knob-&-tube wiring here, but very early systems used individual wires laid into grooves on a wooden backing, the whole lot then being covered by a wood front panel.

Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,520
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pauluk Offline OP
Member
Just another thought on Edison lamp holders:

Are bedside/table lamps on sale there now always fitted with a polrarized plug?

Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 151
D
Member
Heck, I had to get up and look if the lamps had polarized plugs [Linked Image] They are, the new ones at least.

Paul, I just gotta say that anybody that drink warm beer that strong, and with a head that you can stand a spoon up straight in, is fairly peculiar to start with. [Linked Image] Refrigeration is a good thing! [Linked Image]

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pauluk Offline OP
Member
I never acquired a taste for any beer - warm or cold!

You should try some of the coffee served over here. I took to drinking it black when I was in America, but as soon as I got back here I had to put milk in it to be able to drink it.

Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,520
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pauluk Offline OP
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P.S. You might be pleased to know that if you ever visit England you can get Budweiser over here now. We've even had the frogs on TV.....

Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 151
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Quote
Originally posted by pauluk:
I never acquired a taste for any beer - warm or cold!

You should try some of the coffee served over here. I took to drinking it black when I was in America, but as soon as I got back here I had to put milk in it to be able to drink it.

Sounds like that stuff my daughter brought back from college. Closer to syrup than standard coffee. They drink it like soda pop, too!

Joined: May 2002
Posts: 382
H
Member
Paul,

One peculiarity of British 3-pin plugs (both old 5A and 15A and new 13A) you did not mention here – though you may have done elsewhere – is the dual function of the earth (grounding) pin which, being slightly longer than the others opens the gates that normally cover the live and neutral holes in the wall socket (receptacle). I think this feature is a great safety feature as it prevents any exploration by small fingers of the live parts. Other systems around the world like the US and Australia/NZ seem to rely on their small size but it still makes me feel uncomfortable.

I remember a discussion I had with an American colleague over a plug in 9V transformer unit for a portable CD player. He wanted to know what the third pin was for at the top. I told him it was the earth pin.

“But it’s plastic!”, he says.

“Ah! Says I. That’s to open the gates on the live and neutral holes.”

He was quite fascinated and commented positively on the feature. It also stops a common US problem of breaking the grounding pin off – you’d never get the plug in the socket.

Cheers,

Hutch

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