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