UK Vintage Radio Repair and Restoration Powered By Google Custom Search Vintage Radio Service Data

Go Back   UK Vintage Radio Repair and Restoration Discussion Forum > General Vintage Technology > General Vintage Technology Discussions

Notices

General Vintage Technology Discussions For general discussions about vintage radio and other vintage electronics etc.

Closed Thread
 
Thread Tools
Old 22nd Nov 2018, 10:20 pm   #1
Scott37
Tetrode
 
Join Date: Aug 2018
Location: Glasgow, Scotland, UK.
Posts: 54
Default Voltage standardisation

I recall a thread on AC and DC some time ago. Out of curiosity, I am wondering what voltage and current form were used when my flat was first wired, probably in 1909. I believe the flat originally had electricity at the front and gas in the other rooms (and the common stairs). I know that systems proliferated until the 1960s. There is no wiring to look at but I wondered what archives might exist?
Scott37 is offline  
Old 22nd Nov 2018, 10:30 pm   #2
G6Tanuki
Dekatron
 
G6Tanuki's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Wiltshire, UK.
Posts: 7,786
Default Re: Voltage standardisation

You'd first need to find out what electricity-company supplied your area. There may be some info available from your local museum's archives or archives of local newspapers (electricity-companies liked the publicity of a 'splash' in the local paper when they'd cabled-up a new area and the local civic dignatories would usually be invited along for a 'switching-on' photo-opportunity).
G6Tanuki is online now  
Old 23rd Nov 2018, 3:21 pm   #3
terrykc
Heptode
 
terrykc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: North Hykeham, Lincolnshire, UK.
Posts: 509
Default Re: Voltage standardisation

Try the local reference library or museum - the supply was almost certainly generated by the local council. I can remember when I was young , coming across some old electricity bills from the local council.

When I was at secondary school, all the streets around it - mainly the pavements - were being dug up because West Ham council had opted for 215V AC and the distribution network was being upgraded for a move to the national standard 240V. Boys who lived in the Ilford area still had 200V DC supplies because Ilford Town Council's power station's primary purpose was to generate 600V DC for the trams!

Fortunately, by the time that I moved to the area about 15 years later, it was 240V AC!

It must have been a minefield for dealers of electrical and electronic equipment in built up areas where housing crossed local town and borough boundaries without a break or the boundary ran down the centre of the road. Selling an AC radio to a customer who just happened to live half a mile away across the Ilford boundary could rebound with a bang!

Although nationalisation transferred all of these individual electricity boards to the Central Electricity Generating Board and the various regional boards in 1948, it took quite a while for the whole country to have 240V AC supplies. The West Ham upgrade was in the late 50s and Ilford was still 200V DC when I left school in 1960!
__________________
Terry
When all else fails, read the instructions.
terrykc is offline  
Old 23rd Nov 2018, 3:39 pm   #4
Paul_RK
Nonode
 
Paul_RK's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Fakenham, Norfolk, UK.
Posts: 2,773
Default Re: Voltage standardisation

I've nothing going back to 1909, but in 1933 (my earliest Broadcaster Trade Annual) Glasgow Corporation was supplying a mixture of AC and DC, both at 250 volts. Also mentioned, and unique to Glasgow, is a 6500 volt DC supply, presumably for some specialised application rather than for certain bold or unfortunate householders.

There's much background information at

https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Electr...he_early_years .

Paul
Paul_RK is online now  
Old 23rd Nov 2018, 6:33 pm   #5
Hartley118
Octode
 
Hartley118's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Cambridge, Cambs. UK.
Posts: 1,413
Default Re: Voltage standardisation

The 6500 VDC supply may have been a legacy from the day when carbon arc street lamps were connected in series rather than parallel. Surprisingly, and contrary to one's instinct, this arrangement was generally more reliable than parallel connection. Each arc would typically have a 50V potential difference and current in the string might be around 6A. So a 6500V dynamo would supply around 120 lamps. Each lamp would have a sophisticated electromagnetic mechanism to maintain the arc and, I guess, to short-circuit a faulty lamp in order to maintain the supply to the rest of the chain.

Frank Andrews, researcher on lighting history, describes arc lamp regulation on his website http://www.debook.com/Bulbs/lightbulbs.htm :

"Charles Francis Brush born in the USA in 1849 designed and marketed a dynamo and arc lamp in 1876. A drawback of the Foucault gap regulating system was that if more than one lamp was connected in series the current of each would affect the others and the strongest carbon would cause the weakest to be burnt at a different rate. While only single battery powered arcs were used this was not a problem but with the advent of cheap mains power it became desirable to connect several lamps in series.

To overcome this problem Brush developed a new regulator system in 1879. This used solenoids, electro-magnetic devices that give a push or pull in one direction, to maintain the gap. One would be driven by the current passing through the arcs and was used to pull the rods apart. The other was driven by a current that is proportional to the voltage difference across the arcs pushing them together. When the arcs were at the correct distance the effect of these two solenoids was equal and the illumination remained constant. This arrangement also caused the rods to come together when power was first connected to the circuit thus making the operation of the arc lamp fully automatic until the rods were consumed. Eventually a magazine was devised that automatically replaced the rods as they got used up. He formed the Brush Electric Company which became one of the largest generator manufacturers. He died in 1929."


Martin
__________________
BVWS Member
Hartley118 is online now  
Old 23rd Nov 2018, 7:14 pm   #6
russell_w_b
Dekatron
 
russell_w_b's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Penrith, Cumbria, UK.
Posts: 3,194
Default Re: Voltage standardisation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott37 View Post
'but I wondered what archives might exist?'
There's a good chance they'll exist. The Whitehaven archive shows that Workington Borough Council had an act passed in 1919 by Royal Assent to obtain electricity from 'the steel works' (there were several at that time) but by 1924 power (a.c. between 2750V and 3300V bulk supply) was provided by the St. Helen's Colliery and Brickworks Company at Siddick pit, who provided the Workington Electric Power Company with surplus steam. This supply was sold on to the Corporation for distribution to consumers.


My late grandmother told me that electricity got to their house in 1926, they being some of the first people in the street to be connected - but they would only get connected if enough people signed up for it!

Try the National Archive of Scotland in Edinburgh or the Glasgow City Archive. I'd be very surprised if judicious googling doesn't throw up a paragraph or two with a record ident number.
__________________
Regds,

Russell W. B.
G4YLI.
russell_w_b is offline  
Old 23rd Nov 2018, 9:28 pm   #7
hannahs radios
Hexode
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Weymouth, Dorset, UK.
Posts: 394
Default Re: Voltage standardisation

Weymouth used to have dual supplies from the Sunnybank power station it was 230/460 DC and 230/400 AC at 50 cycles. The DC was finally discontinued in 1966 when the last customer which was the Weymouth water board closed down its last DC pumping station. The powerstation was shut down in 1971 with Weymouth getting its supply from Poole power station, then we got our own grid substation
hannahs radios is offline  
Old 23rd Nov 2018, 9:56 pm   #8
Heatercathodeshort
Dekatron
 
Heatercathodeshort's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Warnham, West Sussex. 10 miles south of DORKING.
Posts: 6,904
Default Re: Voltage standardisation

This may be of interest. From 'The Practical Electrician's Pocket Book' for 1925.
It lists all the power stations in England, Wales and Scotland.

Glasgow Station owned by CORPORATION. Superintendents name:R.B. Mitchell. Supply DC 250/500v.
440v 3 phase available.

Regards, John.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	PEPB.jpg
Views:	65
Size:	74.5 KB
ID:	173297  
Heatercathodeshort is online now  
Old 23rd Nov 2018, 10:12 pm   #9
Scott37
Tetrode
 
Join Date: Aug 2018
Location: Glasgow, Scotland, UK.
Posts: 54
Default Re: Voltage standardisation

If three phase was available, does this mean domestic premises were likely to be fed with a single phase of the three phase supply, as at present? Would individual householders be given the choice or would there be a single mode of supply for each area? Would AC be cheaper than DC to reflect lower distribution costs?
Scott37 is offline  
Old 23rd Nov 2018, 10:36 pm   #10
hannahs radios
Hexode
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Weymouth, Dorset, UK.
Posts: 394
Default Re: Voltage standardisation

Scott37 you are correct, if was a 3 phase supply then the distribution arrangements would be the same as used now. Many of the basic ways of doing things date back to those times. It's just that things are so much safer now.
hannahs radios is offline  
Old 24th Nov 2018, 8:45 am   #11
mark_in_manc
Octode
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Manchester, UK.
Posts: 1,097
Default Re: Voltage standardisation

Quote:
Originally Posted by terrykc View Post
...Ilford was still 200V DC when I left school in 1960!
Thanks for this Terry. My Dad only left Ilford in '69 in his late 20s - I'll have to ask him about that.
mark_in_manc is offline  
Old 24th Nov 2018, 10:50 am   #12
Heatercathodeshort
Dekatron
 
Heatercathodeshort's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Warnham, West Sussex. 10 miles south of DORKING.
Posts: 6,904
Default Re: Voltage standardisation

I doubt if a domestic AC supply was available in Glasgow at that time. The separate listing for 3 phase shows this as 440V presumably for factories and heavy industry as 'available'.

Only Mr Mitchell could confirm this. I bet he was very proud of his 'Power Station'.

All domestic supplies are listed for every area including both AC and DC. It Must have taken a long time to compile this lot!

Many domestic DC areas involved with coal mining, steel production and heavy industry were supplied with DC from the companies generating plant. It was only the 'electric light' and as no home appliances were available let alone affordable, it did not matter what voltage or type of supply.

To increase revenue with little expenditure, most traction/tram companies supplied current at 200V DC to private properties 'beside the track.'

Reading the listings it is amazing how many generating stations supplied DC. My own area, Horsham W. Sussex was a DC area supplied by the Borough Council! Interesting times those 1920's!
John.
Heatercathodeshort is online now  
Old 24th Nov 2018, 11:37 am   #13
turretslug
Nonode
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Surrey, UK.
Posts: 2,910
Default Re: Voltage standardisation

It may be off-topic, but I found post 5 fascinating- thanks for that Martin. That electro-mechanical feedback set-up is particularly interesting, yet anther example of something involving skilled design ad set-up that is now eclipsed and fading into history.

It did make me wonder about the public safety/insulation and protection/weather aspects of a series 6500V system on the streets, though! A whole escalation of the dogs-and-lamp-posts scenario....

Colin
turretslug is offline  
Old 24th Nov 2018, 11:45 am   #14
David Simpson
Octode
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Aberdeen, UK.
Posts: 1,966
Default Re: Voltage standardisation

Scott, back in 1948, Scotland had two electricity suppliers - the SSEB - South of Scotland Electricity Board, and NOSHEB - North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board(my former employers). As other folk have advised, prior to'48, town & city councils & private companies provided a variety of AC & DC supplies.
Glasgow would have come under SSEB, and whoever now own the former SSEB should have an archive somewhere. I know that NOSHEB's archives are held by Scottish & Southern in Perth.

Regards, David
David Simpson is online now  
Old 24th Nov 2018, 12:52 pm   #15
terrykc
Heptode
 
terrykc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: North Hykeham, Lincolnshire, UK.
Posts: 509
Default Re: Voltage standardisation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hartley118 View Post
This used solenoids, electro-magnetic devices that give a push or pull in one direction, to maintain the gap.
Also used in cinema projectors, as I and a colleague discovered when we got the 'half-crown tour' of the projection booth on top of the State cinema in Grays in the mid 60s.

We also found a BSR UA8 auto-changer on a crude plywood plinth, which had presumably replaced the original 78rpm deck used to play records during the intervals.

The projectors themselves were 'vintage' and almost certainly second hand when the cinema opened in 1938 because there was a spigot on the back to drive the, by then, obsolete 'sound on disc' system which used 33⅓rpm shellac discs played from the inside out.

Of course, nobody could possibly have envisaged CinemaScope back in the 1930s. This presented a problem because the focal length of the original lens and the anamorphic lens required for wide screen films was completely different. The problem arose when switching from one format to the other but we were proudly shown the solution they'd devised - a piece of " alloy sheet with notches filed into the ends. When the lens was changed, the appropriate end of the plate would be held up in front of the projector housing and the lens moved back until it engaged with the notch. This got the focus more or less right and only a slight tweak was required when the reel started to get it spot on!
__________________
Terry
When all else fails, read the instructions.
terrykc is offline  
Old 24th Nov 2018, 1:29 pm   #16
Heatercathodeshort
Dekatron
 
Heatercathodeshort's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Warnham, West Sussex. 10 miles south of DORKING.
Posts: 6,904
Default Re: Voltage standardisation

I have been reading the detail of the book mentioned. It is incredible to learn of the many differing voltage, AC/DC, frequency of the many generating stations.

The Glasgow Corporation supplied the 3 phase 440V at 25c/s 'for bulk users only.'

Some suppliers even provided a 1250V supply for series arc circuits. What fun! John.
Heatercathodeshort is online now  
Old 24th Nov 2018, 2:02 pm   #17
Scott37
Tetrode
 
Join Date: Aug 2018
Location: Glasgow, Scotland, UK.
Posts: 54
Default Re: Voltage standardisation

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Simpson View Post
Glasgow would have come under SSEB, and whoever now own the former SSEB should have an archive somewhere. I know that NOSHEB's archives are held by Scottish & Southern in Perth.
Are pre-privatisation documents treated as public records and does this give any enhanced access rights?
Scott37 is offline  
Old 24th Nov 2018, 6:19 pm   #18
hannahs radios
Hexode
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Weymouth, Dorset, UK.
Posts: 394
Default Re: Voltage standardisation

Heatercathodeshort re 440 Volts supply don't forget that 440V between phases would give 255V phase to earth so would have been suitable for domestic use. Even these days your local transformer gives 433 Volts phase to phase and 250 phase to neutral, so really not much has changed.
hannahs radios is offline  
Old 24th Nov 2018, 7:43 pm   #19
broadgage
Octode
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: North Somerset, UK.
Posts: 1,369
Default Re: Voltage standardisation

6,500 Volts sounds rather high for series arcs, very dangerous even by the rather relaxed standards of the day.
Arcs for lighting large areas were indeed run in series but usually on more modest voltages in the region of 1000 volts.

Alternatively, street lighting arcs were connected in series groups of 8, 9, or 10 lamps between the outers of a standard voltage 3 wire DC system.

When arcs were displaced by high wattage filament bulbs, these series circuits were sometimes retained but fitted with 50 volt, 300 watt tungsten bulbs. This saved altering the wiring and switching arrangements and took advantage of the greater efficiency of 50 volt lamps.
broadgage is offline  
Old 24th Nov 2018, 8:39 pm   #20
Richard_FM
Heptode
 
Richard_FM's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Stockport, Cheshire, UK.
Posts: 896
Default Re: Voltage standardisation

Some early supplies seemed to be for industrial purposes & later used for housing in the area, even if it was non-standard.

I remember in a previous thread someone mentioned living in an area of Bristol with a lot of light industry & a voltage more suited for machine tools than domestic uses. At times their would be voltage fluctuations & their TV picture would be affected by this.

I've tried to search for this, but couldn't find a match.
__________________
Beware of the trickster on the roof
Richard_FM is offline  
Closed Thread

Thread Tools



All times are GMT +1. The time now is 3:31 pm.


All information and advice on this forum is subject to the WARNING AND DISCLAIMER located at https://www.vintage-radio.net/rules.html.
Failure to heed this warning may result in death or serious injury to yourself and/or others.


Powered by vBulletin®
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright ©2002 - 2019, Paul Stenning.