When retail electricity was first brought into homes -- existing homes -- the common practice was to remove the base boards right at the floor line -- and BX it in.
Thanks for the write up. I get asked how this stuff was used when I am at old engine shows. the info will be useful. I have some Edison socket outlets with brass hinged covers. I am looking for the combination that was sometimes used of a Edison socket, a large red jewel and a switch, so the socket could be turned off. I am also looking for some of the competitors that didn't make it like this one https://www.electrical-contractor.n...e_Electrical_Plug_Identi.html#Post204771
A century ago, balloon construction was as common as dust. You'll still find the occasional old home -- still standing -- constructed in this manner.
It features no bottom or top plates as known in Platform Framing construction, the style that is almost universal today.
It took advantage of the extremely long, straight, virgin growth lumber so commonly available in that era -- and the drastic reduction in saw cuts required. Said saw cuts would have to be performed by hand -- in the field. It also used less lumber -- at least for the frame. (the missing plates) Without plywood, dimensional lumber was used at every turn -- else, shingles, which could be hatcheted and planed to fit.
Balloon construction left open stud bays from attic to the basement. (No fire stops! The exterior sheathing provided the lateral rigidity along with the floor joists.) So the usual drill was to drop down BX from the attic to the basement/ under floor cavity. (The latter would be typical in the South and where the water table made it impossible to have a proper basement.)
Again, it was extremely common for 19th Century homes to have absolutely no insulation of any kind. Even the idea of tar paper (to stop drafts) was recent -- ninety years ago! Until 1900, most homeowners expected to merely keep the rain and some of the wind out.
As ever, America was addicted to caffine. When electric coffee makers and hot plates arrived on the scene -- everyone had to have one. The alternative was to wait until the wood/ coal stove warmed up -- in a house that was as cold as all outdoors.
Old habits die hard: everyone was accustomed to walking away from a dying fire with a pot of coffee on it. It took more than a few house fires (coffee pots/ hot plates) for Americans to get the new drill: you must un-plug these appliances when you left... if you wanted to come back to your home.
(Appliance switches were VERY dodgy back then, they'd fail in a closed position all of the time. Some, el cheapo stuff had no switch at all -- plugging in turned it on.(!)
All of this explains why electric power was so rapidly adopted. Fast coffee in the morning -- drastically quicker than firing up the wood stove -- had everyone lining up.
Power rates, compared to today, were in ORBIT. You'd have to pay $ 1.15 per kWHr in todays money to scale up to the rates paid ninety-years ago. These rates plunged with each passing year as the industry scaled up and the Pocos stopped wasting so much coal. (Heat rates were four and five times what's considered normal, now. Edison's original generator was a fuel glutton. Steam turbines were the NEW thing ninety years ago.)
This epic drop in power rates caused an explosion in popular acceptance. We're seeing a repeat in our own time with digital products. And in the same manner, our low voltage cables are drapped all over the house -- until they can be integrated into the walls -- during retrofit / new construction.
Such dynamic growth is exactly what happened between 1921 and 1941 -- for the North American power grid.