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Old 21st May 2019, 4:56 pm   #61
TonyDuell
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Default Re: Woolworths Electrical Counter

1/4" 'faston'/'lucar'/whatever you call them connectors will fit on the brass strips of the 3LR12/1289 battery. I saw that in some commercial device (it _might_ have been a battery-powered lamp in Woolworths!) and have used it myself several times. I also remember seeing in toy shops a plastc cover that fitted on top of such a battery and which had 3 or so small 2-pin sockets on it (connected in parallel, and connected to contacts to the battery in the obvious way) for doll's house lights.

As regards the 126, a friend of mine has what he calls a 'hot stick', a voltmeter for overhead power lines. In the case is a 'proving unit', a vibrator and transformer that generates a few kV to test this voltmeter before and after using it on a power line (basically, if it shows a voltage on the proving unit, says the line is dead, then shows a voltage on the proving unit again then is safe to say the line _is_ dead). Said proving unit runs from 3 126 batteries in series.
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Old 21st May 2019, 5:28 pm   #62
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Default Re: Woolworths Electrical Counter

When I was a kid the 1289 battery had longer brass strips. You had to be careful when breaking the seal that they didn't short together.
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Old 21st May 2019, 5:42 pm   #63
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Default Re: Woolworths Electrical Counter

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I've got one of those, too.

Not in use, but I've plugged it in to show it still works.
I had a couple of those Woolies Ward&Goldstone plastic plugs with the neon in the cover; one of them was fitted to a "Dee Gee" soldering-iron with a red flex (also bought from Woolies) I had as a student.

The iron worked OK, but the copper bit seized into the alloy element-holder and attempts to drill it out were catastrophically destructive.
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Old 21st May 2019, 7:26 pm   #64
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Default Re: Woolworths Electrical Counter

This was one of my presents for Christmas 1980. Sadly, I can't persuade it to work!

Anyone remember them?

I know it was bought from Woolworths - was the Ronco brand exclusive to Woolies?
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Old 21st May 2019, 7:37 pm   #65
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Default Re: Woolworths Electrical Counter

Ronco wasn't a Woolies exclusive; Ronco made a lot of cheap-n-cheerful stuff in the 70s and 80s, things like 12V-powered car vacuum-cleaners and kitchen-gadgets (the sort of thing you bought, used once, and then put in the back of the kitchen-cupboard).

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronco
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Old 21st May 2019, 7:38 pm   #66
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Default Re: Woolworths Electrical Counter

Re the flat 4 1/2 volta batteries. My first torch, an every ready, used one. I thought at one time I had a bike lamp that used one but cant be sure. I bought a couple a few months ago, for a low ohm insulation tester but haven't got it to operate as I'd expect yet.

I'm reminded of another thing. Most of us remember the bulb tester on the counters, but stuck in a dusty box in the stockroom was what I think was a basic valve tester. It's a very long time ago! Anyway whatever it was I commited sacrilege and turned it into a basic circuit tester (it had a meter built in) so that I could do a basic check on any luminaires I'd wired for display. Some of the other staff used to wire them and weren't very proficient. At least one of the wall lamp displays ended up with welded switch contacts as they powered up into a short circuit.
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Old 21st May 2019, 7:41 pm   #67
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Originally Posted by G6Tanuki View Post
Ronco wasn't a Woolies exclusive; Ronco made a lot of cheap-n-cheerful stuff in the 70s and 80s, things like 12V-powered car vacuum-cleaners and kitchen-gadgets (the sort of thing you bought, used once, and then put in the back of the kitchen-cupboard).

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronco
And some spoof TV programme or comedy program created a similar brand known as Bonco. Unfortunately I don't remember the spoof products.

K-Tel were a similar brand in music, I suspect closely related. Both advertised heavily on TV and in the print media. I suppose JML and others are the modern day equivalents.
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Old 21st May 2019, 7:44 pm   #68
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Default Re: Woolworths Electrical Counter

Man happy memories of the counters at Leytonstone High Road and Bakers Arms branches. The testing of every light bulb at purchase and all the batteries loose on the counter. Different low voltage bulbs that had to be “unscrewed” from their cardboard boards.
A lovely range of Ever-ready pocket torches. Still have several.
Nothing wrapped until bought.
Also remember the transition from the huge flat wooden counters with two staff each to the self service ones around 1966.

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Old 21st May 2019, 9:27 pm   #69
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Default Re: Woolworths Electrical Counter

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As regards the 126, a friend of mine has what he calls a 'hot stick', a voltmeter for overhead power lines. In the case is a 'proving unit', a vibrator and transformer that generates a few kV to test this voltmeter before and after using it on a power line (basically, if it shows a voltage on the proving unit, says the line is dead, then shows a voltage on the proving unit again then is safe to say the line _is_ dead). Said proving unit runs from 3 126 batteries in series.
One of these, I assume:
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Old 21st May 2019, 11:29 pm   #70
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And some spoof TV programme or comedy program created a similar brand known as Bonco. Unfortunately I don't remember the spoof products.
ISTR that was from Alas Smith and Jones and one of the products was the Bonco f*rt catcher. I've had a look through youtube but nothing has turned up so far.

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Old 22nd May 2019, 7:11 am   #71
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Default Re: Woolworths Electrical Counter

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See the Ladybird book 'Magnets, Bulbs and Batteries' for plenty of pictures of them.
I used to work with a chap who sat on international standard committees (for telecommunications) and he always took that book with him, he said he learnt everything from that book.
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Old 22nd May 2019, 1:38 pm   #72
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Default Re: Woolworths Electrical Counter

I think it was Jasper Carrott (probably on Carrott's Lib) who spoofed Ronco.
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Old 22nd May 2019, 1:46 pm   #73
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The gas lights in the Wimbledon store were in large opal shades shaped like a gooseberry.
they were covered in wire mesh to prevent glass shards slashing customers to bits should a blow back occur. They had chains with rings on the end to open and close the gas valves. I seem to remember a pilot light. They were very bright and only saw them lit once during the 70's power cuts.

The light fittings and shades were displayed from bright chromium rails that gave a very bright and welcoming feel to the electrical counters.
The Barmouth, North Wales branch had gas lights, again I remember them being used during power cuts. Early 1970's, the old building was demolished and a brand new one built, which didn't have gas lights.

Prior to that, the electrical counter was amazing. Wire by the yard, plugs, sockets (and that would include 5 and 15A, 2- and 3-pin), bulbs, switches (even 1/2" hole panel-mount toggle switches with solder terminals), torches, bells, bell transformers, pushes...
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Old 22nd May 2019, 2:31 pm   #74
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Default Re: Woolworths Electrical Counter

It isn't at all remarkable that Woolworths sold these things. They just supplied whatever there was a demand for.

The real change is in how many people were prepared to do things in those days.

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Old 22nd May 2019, 4:50 pm   #75
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Kenny Everett definitely did a f*rt catcher sketch. Others may have done so too. Kenny's exploded the nasty niffs.

I do now remember the plastic lampshades Woolworths used to sell. Dad bought one for the wall light he put up over my bed, powered via a double BC adaptor with pull switch of course. At that time, 60W was the biggest lamp you could use, as 100W bulbs were much bigger, about the size of a 1980's 150W bulb. We never had to buy any bulbs for our room lights as we had a pre-nationalisation maintenance contract that included free bulb replacement, but the bulbs for table lamps always came from Woolworths.
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Old 22nd May 2019, 7:36 pm   #76
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Default Re: Woolworths Electrical Counter

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At that time, 60W was the biggest lamp you could use, as 100W bulbs were much bigger, about the size of a 1980's 150W bulb.
That may well have been intentional to prevent the use of a bulb that could melt the shade.
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Old 22nd May 2019, 7:43 pm   #77
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Default Re: Woolworths Electrical Counter

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The real change is in how many people were prepared to do things in those days.David
Very true. People seemed to be much more practical then. I was at a friend's house recently and asked to use a screwdriver for something. He didn't own a single one.
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Old 22nd May 2019, 7:54 pm   #78
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That's terrible. I would be LOST without my screwdrivers!

Imagine not having at least one in the house
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Old 22nd May 2019, 8:00 pm   #79
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Away at present, but at home I have a 1960's book on electrical lighting ( a jumble sale find). It has a table of GLS bulb sizes taken from the relevant contemporaneous British Standard, and the 100W bulb was larger than those of smaller wattages.

Everyone needed a screwdriver before all appliances came fitted with a plug.
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Old 22nd May 2019, 8:13 pm   #80
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Default Re: Woolworths Electrical Counter

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I was at a friend's house recently and asked to use a screwdriver for something. He didn't own a single one.
A reflection of the upward spread of prosperity in modern society. Why do-it-yourself when you can pay what my aunt would describe as "my little man" 25 to come round for an hour and fix these nuisance-level domestic issues?
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