This was from my photo album it was a nice 120 volt 2 wire 30 amp. service, until they added a circuit for a new garage to mess it up.
( When I started many years ago there were over 150 of these old services. With the help of the utility company we've tracked them down and only 10 are still in service. In a city of 50,000 )
The wood molding for the surface mounted switch is grooved on the underside and protected the K & T wire. It was the fore runner of WireMold(c)
A year after they messed it up they rewired to 200 amps. I saw one that had leaded glass for the door cover. Another the meter and disconnect were in a finished wooden box mounted above the french doors in the dinning room.
I love seeing pics like that of old services and installs. I have recently been re-wiring a house in the UK with some very old wiring. Similar to that wooden channelling in your pic, except the whole house was wired with it, even under the floors and loft space. I guess it was our equivalent to K&T. The house in question was wired around 1910 for a D.C. generator supply, before getting connected to the mains around 1930. All the wiring has been in use until now as I am taking it out. It has been a wonderful glimpse of "how it used to be done". Talking of fuseboards with glass doors - I have one of those in my home, from a 1926 installation. I now use it for a 12volt D.C. from my water-powered supply.
There's an abandoned house a mile from my home that had 120v service. the cables were run ALONG the side of the house on brown porcelain wireholder insulators, one wire hangs off the 2nd insulator, the other wire continues onto a third single insulator on the front of the porch. My guess is the pole used to be in front of the house. (there isn't one there now).
Imagine if someone swapped the hot and the neutral feed before the meter (say at the main fuses) and elsewhere in the house someone placed a load from the now hot neutral to a grounded water pipe, it wouldn't show on the meter? Normally connected loads would still show on the meter, so the power company would think the customer is using his usual amount of power...
My grandma's house had a service that looked like this. No, she didn't cheat on the electric bill... She had 15 amp fuses for the main and 30 amp fuses on the branch circuits...
[This message has been edited by wa2ise (edited 07-26-2006).]
I saw a similarly old service in an abandoned house in Austria recently. I guess the feed was underground until the house was abandoned, since that area had underground power at least since after WWII, probably much earlier. In the kitchen, close to the ceiling there was a wooden board for the meter (about 1/3 wider and lower than post WWII meter boards). Above, there was what I can only imagine to be the only rewireable fuses I've ever seen in Austria.
A wooden board with four porcelaine cylinders, consisting of a base and a top, screwed together with a long rusty bolt sticking out in the center.
An outdoor light was wired with what looked exactly like US knob & tube but run exposed on the stucco facade!
Swapping line and neutral on the service happens from time to time by the utility when running a new drop to an old installation because the two are likely not identified (or look identical after 60+ years in the weather). If the neutral is grounded in the building something will burn. Hopefully it will burn clear or be caught before the building goes.
First fire I ever investigated was a 120 V two wire system in a vacant house. The neutral leg was grounded inside the house. It was all piped in old black iron rigid pipe. The service drop went to a Tee condulet with one leg to the meter and back and the other to the panel. The insulation failed at the Tee and energized the pipe all the way through the house. Chared every stud it was attached to. Fire Dept. was called when the drop melted and fell into the yard causing sparks and arcs. Fire Dept claimed the arcing in the yard caused the house to burn. Meter had been pulled for six months. After I detailed how it really happened they started calling me to help them with fire investigations. Only good news was that on all two wire services after that the utility would pull the meter and cut it at the pole. Alan-- "Only thing I don't understand about electricity is why more people don't die each year." Hogan, Chief Inspector, City of Chicago 1982, IAEI meeting.