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#70035 - 09/28/06 07:01 PM widow makers  
synergy1  Offline
Junior Member
Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 1
los angeles, ca, usa
I recently heard some of the old timers discussing panels known as widow makers or suicide panels, any idea whaat type they were reffering to? I assume i might nfind one in older building that have not been retrfitted! thnks

Work Gear for Electricians and the Trades

#70036 - 09/28/06 07:45 PM Re: widow makers  
LK  Offline
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,429
New Jersey
Many of the older electrical panels, had open bus bars on the back, and open wiring, and knife switches on the front.

#70037 - 09/28/06 10:53 PM Re: widow makers  
jraef  Offline
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 101
San francisco, CA, USA
I once replaced some 1908 vintage 1000HP motor controls at a pumping station with solid state soft starters. The old stuff was indeed open knife switches on thick slabs of slate with holes drilled through so the conductors went in back. The room behind the slate was called the "suicide room" because all of the busbars were bare copper, 2300V! There was a path down the middle between the busbars and a set of open resistor banks (wound rotor motors) on the opposite wall. If you stood sideways, it was less than 1 foot from your shoulders to any live surface. One sneeze and it was all over.

Somewhere I have pictures of a salesman I convinced to stand in the suicide room while I snapped it. He kept his hands at his sides like a tin soldier, I guess I somehow neglected to tell him I had cut the power... heh. I need to find them, scan them and post them here, you guys would get a kick out of it.


#70038 - 09/29/06 02:19 AM Re: widow makers  
skipr  Offline
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 39
Huntington Beach, Ca.
1908? was AC electricity even around then?

#70039 - 09/29/06 12:10 PM Re: widow makers  
LK  Offline
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,429
New Jersey
"1908? was AC electricity even around then?"

Check out the time line.

#70040 - 10/08/06 04:45 PM Re: widow makers  
tajoch  Offline
Joined: Feb 2001
Posts: 54
Quinlan texas, usa
One contractor I worked for, had an old 3ph industrial fuze panel with edison fuzes and the knife switches, I don't know where they pulled it out of, but they had removed it from the panel, and polished up all the copper and had it in the reception area of the shop, was neat to look at, don't know that I would have wanted to work w/ a system like that though

#70041 - 10/08/06 08:51 PM Re: widow makers  
Dave T  Offline
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 155
Waukesha, WI, USA
I have a light bulb manufactured by the T-H Elec. Co., Lynn Mass. USA with patent dates of Jan 7, 1879 and May 12, 1885.
The Thomson-Houston Company,
It's a carbon filiment is intact and it has a strange base that is held down via a female thread in the center of the botton of the base.
However, one source says the company was formed in 1883 to product dynamos and arc lighting which makes that 1879 patent date interesting.
I believe it's value would be around $175.

#70042 - 10/08/06 08:57 PM Re: widow makers  
Sixer  Offline
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 265
1908? was AC electricity even around then?

Interesting link Les. Here's one for British Columbia:


"Will it be cheaper if I drill the holes for you?"

#70043 - 10/08/06 09:21 PM Re: widow makers  
Dave T  Offline
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 155
Waukesha, WI, USA
This is a description of the T-H light bulb. I haven't taken a picture of mine yet.

#70044 - 10/08/06 10:03 PM Re: widow makers  
Almost Fried  Offline
Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 98
Madison County, Ark. USA
You need to read up on Nikola Tesla, Barnes & Noble has a neat book in print about him. Most of the patents for the Tesla/Westinghouse system were granted in the early 1880's and the stories of the "Current Wars", the feud between Tesla/Westinghouse and the Edison/GE proponents of DC make fascinating reading. Tesla got the contract to light the 1892 Chicago World's Fair over Edison basically because Tesla's ac system took tons less copper wire.

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