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Attached is a picture of the first edition of the American Electricians Handbook 1913. Looking through the book I found a section on how to make device boxes from wood. I never new that was allowed.

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Joe
AKA mountainman
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[This message has been edited by Webmaster (edited 03-09-2004).]

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wood boxes sound kind of like a fire hazard. don't worry though, they're perfectly safe because they are lined with asbestos [Linked Image]

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Always interesting to read old stuff like this.

Wooden panelboards, with glass panels in the larger sizes, were quite common in England right up to the 1930s, although they weren't usually asbestos lined. Each plug-in porcelain fuse carrier (rewireable type) typically had a small asbestos insert.

Wooden patresses for light switches were also the norm, and in later years some people even constructed "back boxes" for the newer-style switches using any old scraps of wood.

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Great stuff, Joe!

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Hi Paul,

The wooden pattress, in my experience, has always been used when mounting a surface mount switch or socket, like the one shown in the picture, to a plaster or masonry wall.

[Linked Image from ts.smoothcorp.com]

The reasoning is that you would use larger and longer screws (or nails) to anchor the block to the wall and then use the tiny wood screws that normally come with the switch or socket to fasten it to the pattress.

It makes for a much more secure installation than just using small wood screws to directly anchor the switch to the plaster wall. That way the device won't pull away from the wall when used.

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Hey that's really neat!
I remember my grandmother's house when I was young. The fuse panel was in a wooden enclosure with a glass front, just like the one pictured.

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Sven,
Yes, that was the typical application of the pattress block in Britain as well, and seeing as the majority of old houses had masonry walls, they were used by the dozen.

By the way, what holds the cover of that switch in place? The equivalent "tumbler" switches here had either a round threaded boss in the middle so you just tightened the cover onto it, or they had two small screws above and below the toggle to secure it.

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Here wooden patresses were usually plastered in flush with the wall to provide something to screw into. If done right definitely much more solid than todays plastic wallplugs.
Weird, our toggle switches always had the cover screws to the left and the right of the toggle, except for the doubles. Some German retro toggles just have _one_ screw. Looks pretty weird.

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Paul & Ragnar,

The plastic cover snaps onto two metal clips on the base. You have to be careful when replacing the cover because the phenolic plastic breaks easily.

It used to be that the base was made out of glazed ceramic (porcelain). However all the surface-mount made within the past 20 years have been entirely made of thermoset plastic (Urea or Bakelite).

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The older tumbler switches here had a procelain base as well. I'll see if I can dig one or two out of my junk box and post some pics later.

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