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Old 15th Oct 2016, 11:37 pm   #1
unabridged
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Default Belling Champion Query

I am very fortunate in that I volunteer (albeit very rarely, about 2 hours a month!) doing PAT Testing for a local charity, in an area that is known for its...older...population.

So among all the TV's, kitchen equipment, and general useless disposable stuff that gets handed in, I do find quite a few charmers. And the benefit of doing this, is that I am allowed to keep anything deemed unsuitable for sale. As a form of payment.

So today I collected an immaculate Belling Champion. And I mean it...it's mint. These things seemed to end up getting used in damp workshops and covered in paint in their latter years. This one seems to have lived a fairly dry and clean life.

The only damage was wear at the flex inlet. It had worn through to the copper of the Neutral. Inside was clean, and contained a CFL bulb so recent use has been had.

Question One:

When do these date from? I know they made the parrafin version which I believe came as early as the 1930's, the electric following soon after. I saw reference on here however to electric production finishing in 1950. However, I'm not sure. If you look at my photos you will see the cardboard tag underneath states that it complies to British Electrical Standards. I have no idea but this looks newer than a 1950's item. As for the wiring, the flex was to post 1970 colours, however this could have been a replacement item (however it was terminated super neatly, and even had rubber sleeves at each end over the fabric outer instead of a few wraps of PVC tape!). The internal cabling looked...different but not necessarily older. The flex inlet was a more modern style plastic clamp, and the cutout in the side for this was clearly done in the factory.

Question Two:

That toggle switch. Not much seems to be separating the toggle from live. Have other people restoring these replaced them? I shall be adding a few extra earth points to this device so should be OK, but still, I'm never 100% with these old switches.

Sorry for the long post, but I hope it was of interest. Incidentally I fired it up on my workbench and my god...the heat it throws out is incredible for such a low power device!

All the best
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Old 19th Oct 2016, 1:00 pm   #2
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Default Re: Belling Champion Query

C. R. Belling was an electrical engineer from the start, serving his time at Crompton's. He branched out on his own in 1912, to produce domestic electrical appliances for the booming public supply industry.
The only non-electric Belling appliance is generally thought to be the wartime incendiary bomb snuffer, which is chemical in nature.
CRB did NOT manufacture paraffin heaters.
What you have looks to be a VERY clean Champion 91A. It's a late model, which we can tell by the legend 'Full On' at the lower switch position, and the insulating sleeve on the switch handle.
It's still listed in the 1961/62 catalogue, along with the 1500w 92A. The old-style 83A has finally been discontinued by this time.
There was a further re-design even later that 1962, which resulted in a heater containing no cast-iron parts whatsoever. Pressed steel is used instead, and the whole thing has a poorer feel for it. I have no catalogues later than 1961/62, nor earlier than 1953/54, and the changes to the 91A/92A are minimal during this period.
I have never obtained one which didn't work. I purchased one which had been modified to carry two light-bulbs and NO heating element, for reasons best known to the perpetrator. It was an early type, a No.1 rather than an 81, and has now been restored using salvaged parts.
I have also never met a problem with the switch. They sometimes need cleaning and lightly lubricating, but never seem to present any form of hazard. The whole structure is robustly earthed, so the most you might find is a blown fuse, either in the plug, or at the distribution board, depending on the supply system layout.
I'd love to know more about the earlier, 'cast-iron' types, 81A and 82A., and their predecessors Nos. 1, 2 & 3. The '8' appeared sometime during the war, and the 'A' was the optional '2-heat' switch. During the period of my catalogues, the switch was always fitted, and the 'non-A' models not offered.
Does anyone know when the last ones were listed?
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Old 19th Oct 2016, 2:21 pm   #3
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Default Re: Belling Champion Query

Wow thanks for that fabulous insight Sir! I can't tell you how much of a help that is.

As you can see I have disassembled the unit for cleaning and a new mains/internal cables - as you rightly say, it worked absolutely problem free, I just wanted to clean it and change the wiring, because as suspected the internal insulation was hard and brittle from the heat.

Since posting I have done a few earth checks on it and as you state, I have observed that the toggle is very well earthed so I no longer have any worries there.

I have read that some of these have an asbestos strip up the centre of the heating element. Of course that may be wrong, and I can't see a huge need for any heat proof features in this unit, so I assume I am asbestos free? The 4 panels that the element is wound through to make the chimney shape appear to be made of a hard substance...but it doesn't seem like asbestos to me. It is a foil backed type thing...
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Old 19th Oct 2016, 7:34 pm   #4
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Default Re: Belling Champion Query

I come across these from time to time, and I'm always tempted- although I've got far too much old stuff as it is. I've always liked the straightforward, robust, endlessly-fixable design of these old appliances. The 'foil like' element chimney- could it be made from Mica? Used to be a popular insulator in toasters. My attitude to 'things that look like asbestos' is 'Is it damaged or crumbly?' and 'Is it likely to become so in use?' If no to both of these, I leave it where it is. I have an old electric paint stripper with a horrifying fibre asbestos flex on it- it's sealed up in plastic bags in the shed until I decide what to do with it.
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Old 19th Oct 2016, 9:30 pm   #5
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Default Re: Belling Champion Query

Funny you should say that Oliver. I had another look at it with my cousin and a friend present (both working in the electrical industry an dhaving doen Asbestos courses!). They both believed it to be Mica. On second inspection it is semi transparent and you can't see anything fibrous. So I'm hoping that's all it is.

Yes I have passed a few up in the past but this was too clean
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Old 20th Oct 2016, 9:35 pm   #6
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Default Re: Belling Champion Query

Sounds plausible. It's very good for supporting elements, a great insulator, flexible, easy to stamp and shape and rivet together. Sometimes though it delaminates and flakes away- it's some kind of striated mineral- but I'm not sure if it's damp, heat or just age that does it. I've seen it happen in toaster elements and gramophone diaphragms, and those uses don't have a lot in common..
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Old 20th Oct 2016, 10:58 pm   #7
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Default Re: Belling Champion Query

Thanks for that info, much appreciated.

The deed is done now; rewired and ready to go. That's a poundland LED bulb in it but will change for a more firey one!
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Old 20th Oct 2016, 11:44 pm   #8
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Default Re: Belling Champion Query

Looks good! Was there not a cable restraint built into it, or is there a clamp of some kind on the cast base?
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Old 20th Oct 2016, 11:44 pm   #9
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Default Re: Belling Champion Query

See bigclivedotcom on YouTube -- he's done all sorts of crazy things with LED lamps. Replacing the original white LEDs with red ones, and probably changing the dropper capacitor for a lower value to reduce the current, would be right up his alley ..... Although since the thing gets hot for a living, you'd be as well off with a painted tungsten filament bulb. It's not as though you're going to notice 57 watts of heat either way.

These certainly are nice heaters, though. I love how the design imitates a paraffin stove, so it's obvious what it's supposed to do.
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Old 21st Oct 2016, 5:31 am   #10
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Default Re: Belling Champion Query

It looks to have one of those 'HUCO' plastic cable entry/grip bushes which would fit with the date of the cable colours.

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Old 21st Oct 2016, 8:15 am   #11
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Default Re: Belling Champion Query

Quote:
Originally Posted by julie_m View Post
Regular viewer of Clive's stuff (And John Ward). Also avid experimenter myself! Currently have one of these 1 LED bulbs on the bench and modifying it to replicate fireglow.

Yes I wouldn't notice the extra 57w but just fitting an original part would be far too easy

Yep, plastic HUCO cable grip. Indeed, the original cable was post 1970 but far too perished, so replaced by me with more modern heatproof stuff.
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Old 22nd Oct 2016, 8:53 pm   #12
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Default Re: Belling Champion Query

Hi Unabridged.

I love these fires. I had one as a kid, which I gave away when I moved into my own house for the first time and had to clear out a lot of junk. Subsequently I've bought 3 of the things. An old "Number 3" and two later steel ones. The "Number 3" has some lovely patterny artwork all over it. I'm not sure if it's original but it certainly looks like it might be.

Kind regards.

From Mike.
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Old 24th Oct 2016, 5:43 pm   #13
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Default Re: Belling Champion Query

That's a nice early example. The No.3 had become No.83 by 1942 at the latest.
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Old 5th Nov 2016, 4:35 pm   #14
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Default Re: Belling Champion Query

Winter draws on, and a No.2, 79, 82A, 83A, 91A and 92A are occupying various rooms here for use as required. I also have, not yet in use, a No.1 of very early manufacture. As the photos show, there's no ventilation on the upper base, so deep-pile carpets would be a definite no-no: and nothing underneath, neither has there ever been, to protect wandering fingers from getting a nasty shock, on account of which I'm in two minds about ever using the thing at all in spite of the household having no untrained occupants. Does anyone happen to know whether it would once have had, as every other Champion I've seen does, a mesh guard at the top?

Paul
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Old 6th Nov 2016, 2:30 am   #15
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Default Re: Belling Champion Query

At the top, the elelment is beter protected than the element of the circular 750W electric hotplates that were still available in the early 1970's, where the heating element was a coil of resistance wire simply laid in a serpentine groove in a circular ceramic disc with a grid made of a couple of widely-spaced thick wires arranged on top to support your kettle or saucepan.
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Old 6th Nov 2016, 2:48 pm   #16
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Default Re: Belling Champion Query

Yes, such has been a part of my thought about it, and the element is far enough below the top of the heater that fingers at least couldn't reach it. Still, I've never before met a Champion without a mesh guard - closer meshes as time went on - and the mesh gives some protection against items that could be dropped or poked into a heater that's designed to stand anywhere in a room.
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Old 20th Nov 2016, 6:24 pm   #17
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Default Re: Belling Champion Query

That settles it: while putting a pair of freshly recharged AAA cells back on a shelf, I dropped one straight into the No.1 Champion. No harm done, it wasn't in use and I'm not sure it ever will be, but the possibilities for damage are there and 3 for a suitable sheet of woven steel mesh seems well worthwhile to remove them. I can't quite believe the heater wouldn't have had some such guard in the first place, and should any later owner wish to be rid of it they would only have to undo a pair of nuts.
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Old 21st Nov 2016, 12:56 pm   #18
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Default Re: Belling Champion Query

That must be a very early No. 1. The bottom casting is completely different from mine, which has round holes all around the base.
Does yours have the flat face where the optional switch would go?
It's interesting to follow the development of the design over the years. I have a very late 92A with an enclosed-break switch and no cast-iron whatsoever. The absence of mesh on such an early example as yours doesn't really surprise me. Other electric heaters of the time were similarly lacking.
I still haven't located anything smaller than No1/81. They were out of the catalogue by 1953/4, which is my earliest edition.
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Old 21st Nov 2016, 1:59 pm   #19
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Default Re: Belling Champion Query

In all the actually existing heaters I've seen, the absence or presence of a flat area for switch or switches, if fitted, is the way to distinguish on sight the earliest models (No.1/2/3) from the later 79/80/81/82.83. Those had taken over at least in name by 1941/2, as catalogue extract http://www.forum.radios-tv.co.uk/dow...5415&mode=view shows: though the '82' and '83' there are pictured, not only with the older style bases ('No.2' and 'No.3' visible if you look closely enough), but with push-button switching which may or may not ever have been used on any Champion.

So, no, there's no flat on my decidedly pre-war No.1. I'll probably give it some occasional work to do once I've fitted the mesh. The meshes in my other early Champions are of perforated and pressed rather than woven form and show some corrosion, so perhaps there was one originally and it disintegrated: a heater designed to be portable and of cylindrical form just somehow seems to me more in need of such protection than the usual types of heater whose intended position was often the fireplace.
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Old 21st Nov 2016, 4:05 pm   #20
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Default Re: Belling Champion Query

I have a push-button No.83. It may be a No.3, and it's next on the 'to do' list as of this conversation!
It's in 'the container', and I'll report back as soon as I can get it recovered.
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