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Old 30th Apr 2021, 8:34 am   #21
paulsherwin
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Default Re: When were ring mains introduced in domestic housing?

Many houses were rewired in a fairly basic manner in the 1960s, with the wiring routed behind skirting boards and sockets in patresses mounted on the front. Little or no plaster work was involved. Most of the disruption came from the need to lift floorboards.

My current house (1935) seems to have been rewired in the late 70s, and does have proper sockets mounted into the walls (though not enough), so it appears the expected standard had risen by then.
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Old 30th Apr 2021, 11:56 am   #22
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Arrow Re: When were ring mains introduced in domestic housing.

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Originally Posted by stevehertz View Post
I always worked on basis that red and brown are the closest colours out of the four.
Ditto. And, of course, blue is 'close' to black.
That colour 'alliance': red to brown; black to blue, I always suspected for being the reason brown and blue were chosen in the first place.

Al. / Apr. 30
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Old 30th Apr 2021, 12:46 pm   #23
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Default Re: When were ring mains introduced in domestic housing?

Re #16, floor-mounted sockets appear in the GEC catalogues for 1893 and 1911, along with surface-mounted ones.
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Old 30th Apr 2021, 12:54 pm   #24
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Default Re: When were ring mains introduced in domestic housing?

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Re #16, floor-mounted sockets appear in the GEC catalogues for 1893 and 1911, along with surface-mounted ones.
They are standard in the theatre lighting world, where they are known as 'dips' or 'stage dips'.
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Old 30th Apr 2021, 12:58 pm   #25
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Default Re: When were ring mains introduced in domestic housing?

My parents house in Thatcham near Newbury was rewired in about 1981 after a similar house just up the road caught fire and the electricity board said the wiring was perished and thats what caused it so the council had the whole estate rewired we went from 5 and 15 amp round sockets on rewritable fuses to 30 amp ring mains on a 30 amp MCB. and if course 5 amp for lights I remember the whole house was served by one ring main I got in trouble cos I managed to trip the MCB while dad was watching the news he was cross with me for weeks! As an aside the estate was converted to PME earthing shortly after that I remember there being a LOT of green yellow cable run down poles and a rats nest of them in our meter cupboard
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Old 30th Apr 2021, 2:05 pm   #26
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Default Re: When were ring mains introduced in domestic housing?

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That colour 'alliance': red to brown; black to blue, I always suspected for being the reason brown and blue were chosen in the first place
The choice of colours for a European standard was complicated by the variety of different systems in use at the time. Red, for example, meant live in the UK, neutral in Holland and earth in Germany. Black was almost universally used as live except in UK- derived systems where it was neutral. Therefore neither of these colours was a good contender for standardisation. Where already in use, brown and blue had generally consistent meanings, were easy to implement as stable pigments, and were not generally rendered indistinguishable by colour-blindness. Brown had been earth in pre-war UK but long since superseded by green.
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Old 30th Apr 2021, 2:17 pm   #27
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Default Re: When were ring mains introduced in domestic housing?

Whe my Aunt's post-war council house , originally provided with 13A D&S sockets, was rewired in the 1970's, they used surface-mounted MI cables clipped to the plaster and surface-mounted BS 1363 13A sockets.



My 1950's Odhams "Radio Television and Electrical Repairs" shows how to install a new socket using TRS cable run down the wall to the skirting board and clipped to a plaster surface using strap-type clips, wooden capping being used where appearance was important. It mentions that saddle clips (metal staples with a pad of insulation) could be used on wooden surfaces. The electrician who checked and passed the wiring I had installed in our new extension, happened to mention that he was doing a job for someone where they wanted the cable to match the existing one that was surface- fixed using strap clips but he had been unable to find any, partly down to not knowing what they were called. As it turned out, the original lighting cable in the garage which I was replacing at the same time, had been attached by strap clips, so rather than just wrenching them off, I carefully removed and straightened them and gave them to him.

PS. Odhams initially only mentions 3A and 13A fuses. 7A seems to have been added by a later revision.

Last edited by emeritus; 30th Apr 2021 at 2:47 pm. Reason: typos, ps note.
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Old 30th Apr 2021, 3:35 pm   #28
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Default Re: When were ring mains introduced in domestic housing?

'Stranded in Prescot,' the BI infomercial film from the mid-1930s, advocates surface cabling when first wiring existing occupied housing. At the time, lead-sheathed cables with both paper and rubber insulation were available, as well as TRS.

One might suppose that BI stood to make more money per point selling sheathed cables than singles for conduit installations; first on account of the higher price of the cable and second due to the longer routes usually needed to follow architectural edges (compared to concealed conduit, which due to its labour-intensive nature typically took short, straight routes.)

By the time rings made an appearance, conduit was obsolete for low-rise domestic work and 7/.029 TRS, soon followed by PE/PVC, was the cable of choice.
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Old 30th Apr 2021, 5:18 pm   #29
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Default Re: When were ring mains introduced in domestic housing?

Hi!

My friend's semi, built in 1958, was wired ring–mains but only one single socket–outlet was provided in each room!

Trouble is improving it now would be a massive upheaval because we're cram–jam in every room now!

With regards to lighting circuits, the modern system, generally referred to as "loop–in", was introduced in 1966 along with requirements for a continuous p.e. conductor (then referred to as "earth–continuity–conductor" in those days) – this allowed the modern style of low profile four–terminal ceiling rose to be used instead of the old–fashioned bulbous type.

The remaining types of circuits have been unchanged for many decades, the main differences between old and new circuits are the colour–coding, use of modern mcbs, and relaxations on regulations regarding "diversity" (a calculation that allows lower–rated circuits to be installed based on consuming appliances and loads only being part used at any one time!)

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Old 30th Apr 2021, 5:59 pm   #30
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Default Re: When were ring mains introduced in domestic housing?

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Originally Posted by Lucien Nunes View Post
Where already in use, brown and blue had generally consistent meanings...
Except of course in the UK, where blue, along with red and yellow, were used for the three phases.

So with "harmonisation" blue went from phase to neutral, while black went from neutral to phase (along with brown and grey).
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Old 30th Apr 2021, 9:03 pm   #31
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Default Re: When were ring mains introduced in domestic housing?

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Except of course in the UK, where blue, along with red and yellow, were used for the three phases.
I liked it when the phase colours were red, white and blue: my initials! When I was an apprentice in the '70s we still came across red, white and blue wiring. When we had Marconi BD272 and B6122 HF senders at Skelton, the voltmeter switches were marked R-W-B.

I believe Green was once used as a live phase colour too!
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Old 3rd May 2021, 9:28 pm   #32
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Default Re: When were ring mains introduced in domestic housing?

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Except of course in the UK, where blue, along with red and yellow, were used for the three phases.
Yes, but as usual we were the odd one out. Although the adoption of blue as neutral in the flexible cords of single-phase appliances predated harmonisation of fixed wiring by 34 years, no conflict would arise in a single-phase installation, and in a three-phase one the meaning of each core colour would be clear from context.

Historically, green was used as a line conductor, and I have a meter board with a green 'G' waterslide transfer over one cutout. Russia and China still use green as L2.

Returning to the subject of rings, in this thread we are using the archaic term 'ring main' synonymously with 'ring final circuit' but it is frowned upon in the electrical installation world today. 'Ring circuit' is OK but 'ring main' is now definitely reserved for distribution cables belonging to the DNO. Younger, recently-qualified electricians know that 'ring main' is a deprecated term in the context of installation work, but are often unaware that it was once accepted usage. When the older term slips out in conversation with older hands, the discussion sometimes jumps back 40 years from RCBOs to 7/.029 and buckle clips.

This thread also highlights the inconsistent use amongst people-with-an-interest-in-electricity-who-are-not-practicing-electricians of the words 'line', 'live' and 'phase.' All have been used at times to refer to the 'brown wire' that is not near earth potential. The correct term is now 'line'; together the line and neutral conductors are called the 'live' conductors i.e. the ones that deliver energy and are not protective conductors. I like to be historically consistent but it causes confusion. If I talk on an electrical forum about 'connecting two 7/.029 live conductors to the L terminal in a socket-outlet on a ring main' I will immediately trigger some keyboard warrior responses correcting me to 'line' and 'ring circuit' despite these terms not being applicable in the days of installing 7/.029.
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Old 3rd May 2021, 9:58 pm   #33
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Default Re: When were ring mains introduced in domestic housing?

After Sir John Reith was ejected from his cabinet post by Sir Winston Churchill in 1942, he commmenced his years in the wilderness by chairing the IEE committee which, among other things, promulgated the ring main.
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Old 3rd May 2021, 11:33 pm   #34
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Default Re: When were ring mains introduced in domestic housing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skywave View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by stevehertz View Post
I always worked on basis that red and brown are the closest colours out of the four.
Ditto. And, of course, blue is 'close' to black.
That colour 'alliance': red to brown; black to blue, I always suspected for being the reason brown and blue were chosen in the first place.
Maybe, but not in the Netherlands, where green was live, red was neutral and gray was earth.
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Old 4th May 2021, 3:36 pm   #35
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Default Re: When were ring mains introduced in domestic housing?

When my parents had their house built in 1955 it was fitted with a mix of both ring and radial circuits.

There were two rings - one upstairs, one downstairs. Only the master-bedroom was graced with two 13A sockets; the other bedrooms had one each and there was one on the top landing.

Downstairs, the lounge had four 13A sockets - one was a double! - the living-room got one, there was one in the hall, and two in the kitchen [one mounted down-low and intended for the fridge].

All these were unswitched.

There were also some 15A round-pin sockets. One on the intermediate-landing [where the stairs turned the corner], and one in the kitchen [intended to power washing-machine/Burco-boiler]. The cooker-point likewise had a 15A socket. Another 15A socket - big metal-clad Clang-type with screw-on cover - was on an outside wall for garden power-tools, greenhouse-heater, vacuum-cleaner when cleaning the car etc.

The upstairs and downstairs rings were wired strangely: yes they were rings done in 7/029" rubber-covered T&E but they each terminated in a metal-cased junction-box, from which a length of 1-inch conduit containing rather thick 'singles' ran back to the [metal cased] fusebox under the stairs.

I never understood the logic of this particular way of doing things.
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Old 4th May 2021, 4:44 pm   #36
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Default Re: When were ring mains introduced in domestic housing?

Quote:
I never understood the logic of this particular way of doing things.
It sounds as though whoever did that wiring was struggling a bit with the "new" way of doing things.

I know that the property next door to me was built in 1960 and that had, until updated, all radials and one or two 15amp sockets per room. I understand the wiring was done by the then village electrician-cum-agricultureal-enginer - the work was good but the idea of enough outlets to be useful can't have reached him
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Old 4th May 2021, 5:23 pm   #37
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Default Re: When were ring mains introduced in domestic housing?

Low socket count was quite common, even later in the sixties. My parents house had one ring for sockets, all single unswitched. It was common to get a single to double adaptor, which essentially was a surface mount double pattress that had a frame to fit it over a recessed single. A standard double socket was then fitted.

I was reminded of this, as when my parents moved out of their house, they reported a problem with one of these sockets. A quick check showed that the actual problem was an open fuse in the extension plugged in, but also that my Dad had wired the socket with L/N reversed, back in the early seventies, and it had never been noticed. That's a worry, given that they had a 'professionally' fitted new consumer unit a good twenty years earlier. Maybe I'm expecting too much that each socket would have been checked after an upgrade like this?
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Old 4th May 2021, 5:36 pm   #38
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Default Re: When were ring mains introduced in domestic housing?

I remember those conversion-frames for instaling a 2-way 13A socket where there was originally just a single-outlet.

There were similar frames available to transition between the old 1950s/60s pattress-boxes with the fixing screws vertical and newer sockets with the fixing-screws horizontal - so removing the need to chisel-out the old pattress, instal a new one - then replaster and redecorate!

All the 13A outlets in my parents' house were unswitched. The only socket-with-a-switch was the round-pin 15A one on the cooker-control (which also had natty red neons to show when the cooker or socket were switched on).

When did switched-sockets become the norm?
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Old 4th May 2021, 6:45 pm   #39
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Default Re: When were ring mains introduced in domestic housing?

I am not being flippant (honestly) but what does "deprecated" mean? In the same vein as "redacted" meaning blanked out, just to confuse mere mortals.
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Old 4th May 2021, 6:54 pm   #40
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Default Re: When were ring mains introduced in domestic housing?

The question of disruption, destruction, cost and upheaval might actually be more problematic in more recent days than "back in the day". Others have pointed out that surface wiring and cables behind door architraves etc was often used to "modernise". Even in more recent days I've seen properties "ringed" with surface mount sockets , switches etc and cables in matching trunking although I'm not a particular fan of those unless it's [say] a Workshop.

I had a Victorian house in the mid eighties which was [effectively] one quarter of the original building. Just a large "three up" and two down really but containing the original staircase for the whole building, high ceilings, mouldings etc. I got some [high] quotes for a re-wire but the only people really prepared to consider the job would clearly have also cut and chased the period details to death .

After some exploration under floors etc, I decided that I would have a go myself by finding concealed routes in the structure [you could do DIY electrics then]. I was very pleased with the final result as there was little evidence of a re-wire. All it took really was some thought, patience and the deployment of a few longer cable runs "behind the scenery" instead of ugly chases and breaking through decorative plasterwork. I finished up with a couple of "rings" to serve the total floor area.
It was a very satisfying exercise! In the overall context, the extra cabling cost was fairly irrelevant.

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