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Old 25th Nov 2020, 11:53 am   #1
Gridiron
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Default Large GPO? Battery Box what was its use?

I have a large wooden battery box about 28" long, 10" high, 7" wide including lid which had handles and terminals at both ends which I believe was a GPO battery box. I was wondering if anyone knows what batteries went in these boxes and where they were used, would they be for exchange batteries. I have seen quite a few of these at antique fairs but can't find any information on the internet.
Mike.
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Old 25th Nov 2020, 2:22 pm   #2
Dave Moll
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Default Re: Large GPO? Battery Box what was its use?

I don't know about your battery box, which is larger than the Bakelite ones I have at 11" x 8½" x 4½", but mine contain three 1½V Flag cells, as shown below.
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Old 25th Nov 2020, 2:36 pm   #3
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Default Re: Large GPO? Battery Box what was its use?

There was a larger box, 'Box, Battery No 10' which I think could take up to 10 Flag cells. It was used containing 8 such cells as a power source for the Planphone if mains was not available

Bur I think the OP's box is too large for that.
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Old 25th Nov 2020, 3:00 pm   #4
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Default Re: Large GPO? Battery Box what was its use?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gridiron View Post
I have a large wooden battery box about 28" long, 10" high, 7" wide including lid which had handles and terminals at both ends which I believe was a GPO battery box. I was wondering if anyone knows what batteries went in these boxes and where they were used, would they be for exchange batteries. I have seen quite a few of these at antique fairs but can't find any information on the internet.
Mike.
It is a GPO 'Box, Battery, Leclanche, WK1, 4Cell' used to accommodate up to four glass Leclanche cells i.e. a battery of cells to give a voltage if up to six volts. Used to power 'local battery' telephones which needed a local supply to power the telephone speech rather than telephones powered by a 'central battery' at the exchange. Used with magneto exchanges or 'central battery signalling' exchanges where only the signalling was powered by the exchange. Last GPO magneto exchange was Jura which finished in 1974 and last CBS exchange was Portree on Skye which finished in March 1976.

See extract from GPO's 'Vocabulary of Engineering Stores' in the 1950's.

I remember happy days with the lineman going round 'subscribers' topping up Leclanche cells or renewing the zinc rods back in the 19... (rather a long time ago) In those days exchanges were often in private houses. For instance one of the exchanges was two positions in the front bedroom (circled in red) of No 3 Sunny Villas in Rossett but the exchange battery in a shed in the back garden was a 24volt lead acid cell one. The folk who lived in the house worked the board at night and two girls cam by bus from the nearby large auto-manual board at Wrexham. I worked on the replacement Strowger exchange which replaced manual exchange at Rossett then years later commissioned the replacement TXE2 electronic system. That was then replaced by System X years ago and now we're about to start going over to VoIP over IP!
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Old 25th Nov 2020, 3:35 pm   #5
Dave Moll
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Default Re: Large GPO? Battery Box what was its use?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pellseinydd View Post
four glass Leclanche cells i.e. a battery of cells to give a voltage if up to six volts.
Here are the unboxed four I have (one missing zinc electrode):
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Old 25th Nov 2020, 4:14 pm   #6
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Default Re: Large GPO? Battery Box what was its use?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gridiron View Post
I have a large wooden battery box about 28" long, 10" high, 7" wide including lid which had handles and terminals at both ends which I believe was a GPO battery box. I was wondering if anyone knows what batteries went in these boxes and where they were used, would they be for exchange batteries. I have seen quite a few of these at antique fairs but can't find any information on the internet.
Mike.
Would you have a picture, Mike?
When I was 14, I did work experience with BT and actually saw the backup batteries in use at that time.
As I recall, they were made from Plastic when I saw them, but you may have an earlier version of the same sort of backup device.

Ah, the days of Strowger gear, System X and (second hand) System Y.

Last edited by Your_Sinclair; 25th Nov 2020 at 4:20 pm. Reason: Added some clarification to the text.
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Old 25th Nov 2020, 4:29 pm   #7
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Default Re: Large GPO? Battery Box what was its use?

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There was a larger box, 'Box, Battery No 10' which I think could take up to 10 Flag cells. It was used containing 8 such cells as a power source for the Planphone if mains was not available

Bur I think the OP's box is too large for that.
I had one of these back in 1980 when I was 10 years old. It came from a local vets that had an internal telephone system, some years later when I found another on a local farm gate as a post box and managed to liberate it off the owner it survived superbly in the rain due to the massive thick layer of wax it was encased in! , I made myself a pair of speakers using two ELAC 6" drivers liberated out of two line arrays my school were throwing out. they were not great but sounded better then the plastic opperings that came with my Fidelity UA10? i seem to recall.
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Old 25th Nov 2020, 8:27 pm   #8
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Default Re: Large GPO? Battery Box what was its use?

Thanks for all the replies, it looks like Pellseinydd has the answer. I will take a photo and post it here, hopefully tomorrow. Only one handle left and no terminals.
Mike.
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Old 26th Nov 2020, 12:45 am   #9
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Default Re: Large GPO? Battery Box what was its use?

I had one or two of these when i was a kid, dad got them from somewhere, mine held four? huge dry cells that gave 1.5 volts each, that bought back happy memories.
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Old 27th Nov 2020, 1:00 pm   #10
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Default Re: Large GPO? Battery Box what was its use?

A couple of photos of the box in question now used for storage.
Mike.
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Old 27th Nov 2020, 3:54 pm   #11
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Default Re: Large GPO? Battery Box what was its use?

i have a couple of smaller one not sure if they were used for batteries but they did have a 2 way tag block on them.
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Old 27th Nov 2020, 4:22 pm   #12
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Default Re: Large GPO? Battery Box what was its use?

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A couple of photos of the box in question now used for storage. Mike.
Interesting that it has a drawer handle on one end. Does this imply that it would normally have resided in some sort of rack?

By the way, I can't see any exit holes for connections to anything electrical inside, such as batteries.
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Old 27th Nov 2020, 4:29 pm   #13
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Default Re: Large GPO? Battery Box what was its use?

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i have a couple of smaller one not sure if they were used for battery's but they did have a 2 wat tag block on them
What are the internal dimensions? The Leclanché cells are a little under 3¾" on each side and require about 7½" vertical clearance.
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Old 27th Nov 2020, 5:36 pm   #14
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Default Re: Large GPO? Battery Box what was its use?

There are holes, Dave, just above the handle (looks like there was a similar handle at one time on the other end). I have seen similar boxes with 2 thumbscrew terminals on an ebonite? panel in this position.
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Old 27th Nov 2020, 6:37 pm   #15
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Default Re: Large GPO? Battery Box what was its use?

If there were handles on both ends, could they have been for the purpose of carrying?

I can imagine it containing four Leclanché cells with their ammonium chloride sloshing about when carried, so handles to hold steady seem a good idea.
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Old 27th Nov 2020, 7:07 pm   #16
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Default Re: Large GPO? Battery Box what was its use?

Quote:
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A couple of photos of the box in question now used for storage.
Mike.
Thats the exact same one I had. I can confirm it was full of Zinc carbon cells.
Probably Flag size ones. I remember removing them when I first got it. it was configured for 30V from 20 cells.
I still have a smaller one which had 6 flag cells, which now contains matches and firelighters by the wood burner.

Last edited by Megatron; 27th Nov 2020 at 7:12 pm.
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Old 27th Nov 2020, 7:24 pm   #17
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Default Re: Large GPO? Battery Box what was its use?

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Quote:
Originally Posted by FIXITNOW View Post
i have a couple of smaller one not sure if they were used for battery's but they did have a 2 way tag block on them
What are the internal dimensions? The Leclanché cells are a little under 3¾" on each side and require about 7½" vertical clearance.
internal size is 5 3/4" x 13½" but only 7 1/4" tall
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Old 27th Nov 2020, 8:33 pm   #18
Dave Moll
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Default Re: Large GPO? Battery Box what was its use?

Not for Leclanchés then, as three would be a very loose fit and not enough room for a fourth.

Having measured my flag-type dry cells at about 2½" diameter and 7" high it sounds as though you could probably fit ten in this.
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Last edited by Dave Moll; 27th Nov 2020 at 8:35 pm. Reason: got my arithmetic wrong first time!
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Old 28th Nov 2020, 6:32 am   #19
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Default Re: Large GPO? Battery Box what was its use?

That sounds like the 'Box, Battery No 10' that I mentioned earlier.
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Old 28th Nov 2020, 2:26 pm   #20
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Default Re: Large GPO? Battery Box what was its use?

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That sounds like the 'Box, Battery No 10' that I mentioned earlier.
It is listed by the GPO as - 'Box, Battery, for 10 dry cells' - the cells being listed as 'Cells Leclanche, DR2' (dry round 2 5/8 dia by 7in high) later replaced by 'Cells Dry R40' (2 5/8in. dia by 6 in. high)

See attached entry from Vocabulary of Engineering Stores when these boxes were much used 1950/60's.

I have several of these kitted out with an 8 port Grandstream ATA plus a WiFi ATA and a 12 volt alarm battery - tethers to my mobile phone so that I can run 10 telephones (8 pulse dialling and two DTMF) anywhere off CNet.
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