Serendipity

A crashed-into telegraph pole along the B5105

I can’t believe I’ve come to this.  Scrabbling down roadside embankments to retrieve bits of smashed telegraph pole following a tip-off from another website. This obsession all started last year when a lazy BT engineer lobbed an old one into my hedge, which I subsequently restored.  Since then I’ve been rescuing bits and pieces from all over the country.  Including the odd ceramic insulator sent to me in the post.  I have a cunning plan for those but cannot reveal anything at all just yet. All of which has caused my poor dear wife to come down with a severe bout of tutting-eye-roll syndrome.

Anyway, this is one of those lovely antique four-arms that still stand (stood) along the B5105 between Ruthin and Cerrigydrudion in Denbighshire.  And which fortunately, quite recently, I photographed the lot.  it’s unlikely that the offending vehicle is still in a singular number of pieces following such a smash, but there was no sign of it by the time I got there.

The Author scrubbing telegraph pole ceramicsAnyway, with my missus “keeping nicks” I  attempted a swift recovery.  However the ceramics were so badly corroded to their stalks that i couldn’t remove them.  But 2 of the arms were shattered and separate from the rest, so for now I retrieved these.  I managed to recover 3 x single grooves and 2 x double grooved white ceramics to add to my burgeoning collection. Alas the wood was beyond economical repair and has been added to the logpile.

I was later to be found sat in our yard scrubbing them back to some fantasised about former-glory.  I know that our Honorary Technical Advisor, Keith S**** H.T.A.T.P.A.S. will be pleased because he just wrote and said so.

Telegraph Pole of the Month – April 2011

Telegraph Pole of the Month, April 2011  The Top of April's pole of the month. The bottom end of April's pole of the month

What’s so special about this pole? you might say.  And a photo taken amid leafless trees on a dull grey  day. But they don’t have to be spectacular to feature in my pole-of-the-month spot.  They just need to catch my eye.  For starters, this one, at Pwllglas near Ruthin,  is an orphan – there are no longer any telephone wires attached to it. 

 

The business end of it, as well as having 5 cross-arms, some double-sided –  has an eclectic mix of ceramic insulators.  There are “pot-heads”, “double grooves” and in varying shades and of various antiquity.  And then there’s a couple of extra potheads on a mini-arm at the top. Clearly this pole has been busy at one time.

And then look at the bottom. If they were ever to remove this pole (heaven forfend) then it would leave a perplexing gap in the wall.

Da-da!

Da-da! I think that’s how you spell it.  Mission accomplished; fait accomplis; job done.  The head of my pet telegraph pole has now been restored.   

 

Restored telegraph pole head.

The arms dismantled, sanded, polished and then oiled. The metalwork sanded and rubbed and re-painted and a set of new insulators located. And doesn’t it look splendid. (Ok, please try to ignore that our porch needs a lick of paint)

Restored telegraph pole fitted to my pole barn

Pole barn – becomes telegraph pole barn

I pondered for ages where now to keep it.  My long-suffering wife even indicated there was an outside chance she mightn’t go completely bonkers if she came home to find it fixed up in the office.  But I remember how much the wood stank once it got warm and thought better.  Then another da-da! moment – my large 3 bay barn out in the field is a (telegraph) pole barn.  The obvious place for it.

More on my barn in a future episode dear reader, and some of the other uses to which I put retired telegraph poles around here.

By the way, Jake of jajainsulators.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/ wrote and told me that the unusual layout of this particular arms wood is to avoid the fouling of trees and other objects within the hedge line.   

I’ve almost finished my other “arms wood” project too.  That’s just a single arm with four insulators – two brown and two white. Another serendipitous hedgerow find that one. Hedgerow beachcombing is not quite so well known, and even less practised than sandy beachcombing, and whilst you do still find the odd useful item and plenty of old wood, you can end up with a lot of empty lucozade bottles too.

Other restoration projects in hand :  my “Welcome to Cerrigydrudion” road sign, and a 20+ ft length of rope. Coming to a telegraph pole website near you – soon.  You’ll just have to be patient.

Telegraph Pole of the Month – March 2011

Telegraph Pole of the Month, March 2011

Telecom Eireann engineers have come up with a novel way of getting around the budget cuts within the Irish GPO – simply don’t bother with the lower half of their telegraph poles.  No hole to dig, only half the wood used and technically no need to pay the wayleave ground rent either.

This photo taken along the R181 somewhere near Castleblayney in central Ireland.  Part of me says I should have saved this photo for April.

Christmas in March

posted in: Vintage | 0

A box of ceramic insulators fresh from the postvan.Many people, my wife included, upon being gifted a parcel like that at left, might be inclined to think “what the hell did I do to deserve this?”  But to a severe sufferer of Anoraksia Nervosa, like myself, such a receipt is a delight.  It’s arrival preceded also by the entertainment watching our flimsy postman struggle first to lift it out of his van, and then to reach over our gate to wedge it into my letter bin.

I must confess that these have actually been through a scrub in the kitchen sink before being put back in the box for this photo.  One of them – the darkened one in the photo – is an old L.M.S. (London, Midland & Scottish) insulator.  It’s seen some severe high-voltage arcing in it’s working life by the look of it.

Very many thanks to Mark Taylor from Sutton Coldfield who answered my appeal for ceramics. A cheque to cover the postage is on its way, along with some carefully chosen pure thoughts and our good wishes.

Hammerite & shavings

Freshly painted metalwork, planed wood and various workshop junk.

As you can see, I've been very busy in my shed of late.  Braving the cold, the drizzle and the incredible drafts that howl through the gaps in my jerry-self-built workshop. 

Graph showing where I'm up to in my telegraph pole restoration.,This week I have been mostly brushing, filing, sand-papering and painting.  Not to mention some arms-wood planing.  But first, the photo above gives you, dear reader, a tantalising preview of two other restoration projects that I have in-hand…

Read More

Telegraph Pole of the Month – Dec 2010

Telegraph Pole of the Month December 2010

You normally only ever see poles like this alongside heritage railway lines.  But this is one of a few such poles that run from the village of Clawddnewydd along the B5105 down towards Ruthin in Denbighshire, North Wales.  And even more amazing, this one is still in use.  The second lower left insulator has a telephone wire attached.  I went and photographed most of these recently and I don’t expect they’ll be left up much longer – replaced by an anonymous pole with a non-descript plastic junction box like all the others.

Arms Wood

Wood tar on Keruing arms wood off an old telegraph pole.

 

 

Firstly, more serendipity.  The problem of the missing 3 ceramic terminators has been solved.  I have been walking the same route along the lanes at home for a near geological timescale.  Yet last Friday evening at dusk, and completely unseen in all the previous 16,409 times that I have passed it, I spotted an ancient “arms wood” with 3 GPO insulators in immaculate condition.  At some time in the distant past this had been removed from the pole nearby and the farmer had used it to block a hole under his sheep fence.  Whistling nonchalantly, I clambered up the bank and quickly relieved it of the ceramics.  Some people would be astonished that something as mundane as this could make my day.

The very next evening I went back and recovered the wood too – making good the hole in the fence with an old plank of my own. Another piece of telegraph pole history to restore.

Meanwhile…

Ever diligent, Society Honorary Technical Advisor Keith S**** H.T.A. T.P.A.S. quickly wrote to me with some advice when he read my last post on the subject of my pole restoration : 

Cannot recomend rapid drying of arms wood which could lead to deep cracking of timber known as ‘shaking’ in the trade .Store outside under cover until comparative weights of samples indicate desired moisture content.

Wet weight minus dry weight times 100 gives percentage moisture content:

 [  mc = (w1 – w2) x 100  ]

Or you could just leave them till they look ok.

Keith S.Hon.tech.advisor

Alas, this counsel came a little too late – after just an hour in my warm office the black wood tar seen at left, oozed from the wood I had just rescued and stuck to anything that touched it.  The smell has only just cleared days later.  Anyway, that formula all sounds a bit much like school algebra, so the “leave them till they look ok” bit will more suit my modus operandii.

 

Strip Down

A little light to medium spannering, some sawing and a modicum of mild to serious swear words and the “arms wood” of my telegraph pole restoration project lay in its constituent parts upon my workbench.

My telegraph pole arms wood in its constituent components.

According to the society Honorary Technical Advisor, Keith S*****, the wood for the arms is an African hardwood called Keruing. 

Read More

GPO Insulator(s)

GPO Insulator off a telegraph poleIf you’ve got any of these things floating around your garden, shed, garden shed or that drawer in your kitchen where you keep all the junk and which never opens properly – then I’d be very interested to hear from you.  They are GPO standard ceramic terminators and they’re slowly disappearing from the wild.

My restoration project has stalled slightly because I have two of these insulators in a very poor condition.  They have clearly  broken in the past and some long-forgotten GPO engineer has glued them back together – araldite probably or perhaps a half-chewed Werther’s Original.  

Badly cracked GPO insulator off a telegraph pole

 

Anyway, I can’t get them off the retaining bolts and so am seeking replacements. There are some spare ones sitting on a disused pole not half a mile from my house.  But alas they’re just out of my reach.

Spare insulators atop an old poleI’d be happy to pay postage and packaging and in return would promise to turn to face your general direction and think nice things about you.*

Please email me martin@telegraphpoleappreciationsociety.org if you can help out.

 

* * * STOP PRESS * * *

I now require 3 insulators.  My wife broke one after I had left them in the sink to soak along with the breakfast dishes.  I have to wonder if she’s as 100% committed to this as I am – she wasn’t even sobbing uncontrollably when she told me!

* 10 mins max.

1 19 20 21 22 23