one thing i don’t talk about much is the age of our house (81 years) and the joy of some of the architectural features found inside.
when we first bought this place, there were many things that needed to be replaced or fixed or just plain thrown out. the wiring is a brittle cloth romex – wires covered in cloth. the panel in the basement was a vintage 1927 fusebox with three different boards and no central switch. the light fixtures in the ceilings are architectural antiques and (in my opinion) are butt-ugly. among the things that needed to be replaced were some light switches that were ancient and scary. i had a great time with several of the switches, but when it came to the one in the bedroom, i didn’t know what to do.
it sparked. it worked. usually.
it clicked LOUD. LOUD!
i bought a switch, popped the plate off, and couldn’t figure out what had exploded inside. what a mess! the switch was like nothing i’d ever seen before, and to top it off, the previous folks had plastered around it, so you couldn’t even get the thing out (if you even knew where to start!!) – i was at a loss, and was spooked.
i put the plate back on, prayed that the thing wouldn’t spark a fire (and with cloth-covered wiring)…
well, this sucker finally gave up the ghost about a month ago. we resorted to using the bedside lamps instead of messing with the switch, and i swore i’d figure out a way to get that thing out of the wall and replace it.
thank gosh for uncle ken.
this guy is the king of old houses – he and aunt sharon lived for decades in what used to be a mid-1800′s one room school house in Milford – he’d done everything you can imagine to keep up, replace, fix, and renovate this old place.
he and sharon were in town last week and they came over to the house – i snagged him part way through the party and asked him to take a look at the switch. 15 seconds later he’s hammering at the plaster around it, yanking on crumbling old wires, tugs, pulls, and asks me if i’ve got a new switch. dashing madly, i find the replacement, bring the needed tools, hit the circuit to turn off the current, and next thing i know, he pulls what you see in the pictures above out of the wall.
it’s one of the simplest switches i’ve ever seen, housed in a ceramic base. never seen anything like it before. the reason it wasn’t working was that the ceramic base cracked in two and the connection wasn’t being made with the terminal.
oh, but the joy of owning an older home.