Telegraph Pole Restoration II

No prizes for guessing what Prof of Telegraphpoleology Jake Rideout is going to do with these bits and pieces recovered from his local salvage yard (Frome presumably).  I’m told this will be a freestanding garden folly sort of affair and we are promised photos of the progress and finished product.  Watch this space.  And if you’re up for a bit of Friday evening, just before the Archers, telegraph pole porn, you could do worse than check out Jake’s Youtube channel.

Two wooden crossarms and a collection of telegraph pole crossarms parts awaiting restoration A collection of telegraph pole crossarms parts awaiting restoration

Church of Telegraphpoleology

Reader's Telegraph Pole ProjectReader's Telegraph Pole Project

We readers of these pages are already of one mind that Telegraph Poles are things of beauty and provide an aesthetic punctuation to our roads, railways and verges.  Some, and I include myself in this list, take the next logical step in bringing these functional ferriferous forms closer to home.

Member and friend of this society G.D. (#0513) recently sent us these photos of his own project.  An eclectic collection of ceramic if ever there was atop a “D”efective shortened pole with the clever idea of using iron steps as feet for his display rather than planting it as I did mine. 

G.D. also told us of his tip of using a strap-type oil filter remover for removing stubborn ceramic pots from their metalwork mounts.  As a delinquent teenager I had no such trouble and used to just shoot them off with my dad’s air-rifle.  That was, of course, before I was struck by lightning, saw the light, and founded this church of Latter Day Telegraphpoleology. Amen.

An oil filter remover, probably lifted from some online catalogue

Restoration Progress

Ceramics off the lastest restoration project The finished arms wood with ceramics

Coming across a sick, broken or otherwise ailing telegraph pole always brings out the Samaritan in me.  This latest pole (see previous post) was no different.  Into my workshop for a bit of TLC wherein the application of a modicum of sawing, wire-brushing, hammering and swearing noises means they’re all better now. 

I have to say though, I haven’t got many of these brown ceramics and they’re a bit of a bugger* to remove from their pegs.  Despite my inventiveness with some sticky roofing felt which I used to supplement my grip together with a plumber’s wrench tool.  These had to be cleaned up in situ.

Anyway, when you can take your eyes off my amazing lawn in the bottom photograph (no chemicals added) you can see the finished arms wood replete with shiny telegraphic furniture.  I have a cunning plan for making a desk ornament out of this one.  Watch this space.

* for want of a better word  

Here we go again!

Temporary traffic lights on the B5105

Place: The B5105, about 3 miles from Ruthin
Time: 09:47am, 19th May 2011

Just on our way back up from town after a shopping trip to stock up on Wham bars, Island Organic biscuits and Welsh tea when we came across these extemporaneous traffic lights.

(A bit) like someone out of an Andy McNab novel, I fair leapt out of our still moving car as the lights turned back to red. I knew what these guys were doing, and I knew what I had to do. They were about to take away the remains of the crashed pole I blogged about 4 posts ago. Time for a rescue mission…

Okay, Andy McNab might have had me machine-gunning Taliban henchmen as I abseiled out of a helicopter before making good an escape with my booty. My reality was almost the same except that I sauntered up and asked the workmen if I could have the bits that were lying splintered on the floor, and they said yes.

A collection of broken telegraph pole bitsBut I did have their incredulity to contend with. That someone would want to collect bits of knackered ancient telegraph pole and then go away and do something useful with it meant I must surely need certifying. That’s correct gentlemen, totally barking. And they certainly didn’t believe me when I said I was from The Telegraph Pole Appreciation Society. They do now.

Anyway, cheers Ged and co.

Here’s a photo of what I recovered. And I’ve still got my eyes on the rest of those poles. More about this particular restoration shortly. Meanwhile, I have some Wham bars to wreck my filings on.


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 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.

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…

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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.


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.


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. 

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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 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.

My Restoration Project

Restoration project whilst it was still on a pole

The world’s first ever telegraph pole restoration project.

You may recognise this telegraph pole. Yes, it’s the one that lives across the road from our fields. And the very one which forms part of our iconic logo.  And it’s also one that I’ve admired for many years… Until recently.

I’m always alerted to a BT techie in the area by the sudden loss of what passes for broadband around here.  (If we all concentrate very hard and think pure thoughts, we can get speeds of up to 200Kbps) …


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