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Old 01-26-2013, 09:23 PM   #1
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Hi,
I just happened to find this place and decided to join
I own a 20x96 building I am converting into my art gallery, it was built around 1910 and while the electrical circuits have mostly been replaced with newer romex, I decided to disconnect all of the wiring I won't be using and put in all new.
The place had 15 hanging commercial fluorescent ceiling lamps, outlets in the floor, newer romex connected to old cloth covered stuff in the attic etc.
I took out all the hanging fluorescents first, and because the wiring supplying those is the old cloth covered stuff in the attic, and because the insulation in the attic contains asbestos, I decided to run surface conduit on the ceiling and totally eliminate the wiring in the attic.

Whoever did that in the attic did a LOUSY job, wires going into conduit for a switch , and no junction box, no bushing, just slid the wires in and called it good. There were open boxes and hanging out wires.
Oh but here's the best! in the breaker box I found old cloth covered circuits coming in that I was disconnecting and removing, some dolt had the black hot wire from one circuit piggyback wire nutted to the neutral white wire of the other, so the polarity on that was reversed, and I'm happy to have disconnected and removed both of those!

The floor outlets were damaged and I'm putting in a new floor, so those and their wiring I removed, I also found there once were wall outlets but the baseboards were all removed at some point, and the wiring to the wall outlets was just left hanging down with wire nuts on them, and all of them were live.
That one also came out!
I'm not an electrician, but I've worked as a commercial building superintendent in NYC and I had to learn and do a lot of repairs and things in all systems, I'm a DIY'er but I tend to always exceed codes and minimums- using 12 ga wire instead of 14, a 2x6 instead of a 2x4 etc.
Anyway, it never fails to amaze and appall me some of the shoddy incompetant work people do, and some of these were licensed contractors!
My ceiling is all original tin, I was amazed to see that the cloth wiring to the ceiling lights was all simply punched through holes in the tin from the attic, and run into the vertical poles to the lamps, and new wiring connected in the lamps to the old stuff. So, all of the old stuff was in direct contact with the sharp edges of the holes punched thru the tin ceiling!

I'm glad I got rid of all that now, because after I pulled breakers out for the front light 2 switches it STILL had power to the 2 switches in the box!
One switch had full power the other had maybe 30 volts. Long story short,one of those old wires in the ceiling was making contact with the ceiling and energizing the ceiling and feeling current into that box!
Once I saw there was only about 30 volts in one of the switches and the other one still 120 volts and the breaker for those had been REMOVED, I knew there had to be another source of power, and it turned out to be one of the old lamps was apparantly getting it's neutral from the ceiling. Once I got rid of ALL the old stuff the 2 switches went dead and I could remove them and the box.

In the basement they used romex, now maybe it was before the code required wiring in exposed locations such as basements be shielded, preferably in conduit, but if not, I don't know how they ran all that romex around and no one objected.

I've always used conduit because I don't trust romex or wiring in walls, I've seen lots of fires caused by rodents gnawing wiring in walls, nails or screws winding up in the romex etc
I designed my ceiling lights to have 3 circuits in the back and 1 up front, and I bought a 4 switch gang box for the back so I would have one spare for a possible center light over my work table later.
I used 12 ga in all, with a green ground wire screwed to the boxes.
I rehung 6 of the lamps in 2 rows in the back on one circuit- <1,000 watts total.

on the ground floor I have only one last old cloth circuit to remove that also goes to the attic and 2 lamps in the back and the restroom.

So It's coming along nicely.

Now I wired up my new kiln, but here's where it gets screwy- the kiln manufacturer's manual is WRONG, it specified this model which is 240 volt, 6300 watts 26.25 amps can be run on a #10 wire for up to a 40' curcuit, #8 wire for longer. And it said to use a 40 amp breaker.
Well, that sure didn't seem right since #10 wire ampacity is 30.
So I wound up using #8 wire in 3/4" conduit, with a ground wire, 40 amp breakers, and a Nema 6-50 receptacle as specified.
The run is only 11 feet, but still, #10 wire is not going to cut it, and their older manual from 2011 states to use #8 wire. I sent them an email about this.
The conduit is all tapconned to the wall with brackets nice and snug, and it looks good.



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Old 01-26-2013, 09:31 PM   #2
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Here is a portion of the tin ceiling, one can barely see the conduit and boxes, the boxes are installed where the hanging lamps were, so they would have a good secure hold to the rafters with screws, since I could tell where the rafters were were.

I will have track lights on the conduit near the walls facing both walls, and pendant lights in the center.
Since the rest of my project is not electrical related, I'll post about the facade restoration in the construction folder.


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Old 01-26-2013, 09:47 PM   #3
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The "old cloth covered stuff" is Knob-and-Tube wiring. I have some in my house. Don't forget, that stuff is old. The polarity is frequently reversed, because they didn't worry which side was hot and which side was neutral. Sometimes, the neutral was switched for ceiling lights, rathen then the hot line. So, the light was out, but one line was still hot. Sometimes, they didn't use junction boxes in ceiling light fixtures. I've seen plenty with the two wires, wrapped in loom, just sticking out of holes in the ceiling. It usually pre-dates the 1930's, so it is most likely original to your 1910 building.
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Old 01-26-2013, 11:26 PM   #4
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The "old cloth covered stuff" is Knob-and-Tube wiring. I have some in my house. Don't forget, that stuff is old. The polarity is frequently reversed, because they didn't worry which side was hot and which side was neutral. Sometimes, the neutral was switched for ceiling lights, rathen then the hot line. So, the light was out, but one line was still hot. Sometimes, they didn't use junction boxes in ceiling light fixtures. I've seen plenty with the two wires, wrapped in loom, just sticking out of holes in the ceiling. It usually pre-dates the 1930's, so it is most likely original to your 1910 building.
Yeah I know about that stuff, but there were no insulators, the cloth wire in the attic ran into metal junction boxes, it very well could be a case where the original porcellain insulators were removed and they installed the typical octagon junction boxes but re-used the old wires! They had to wire up 15 of the commercial 8' fluorescent lamps in 3 rows, the fixtures are from the 1950s as some of the ballasts in some I got rid of were dated 1953, so around 1953 they installed those 3 rows of fluorescent hanging lamps. There are patched circular holes in the center that probably were the locations of several pendant lamps that were there originally, maybe 1910 to 1953.


The boxes I am guessing date to the 50s, or the 70s as that was when the owners did some extensive work on the building, the abstracts shows the cost was something like $35,000, and no doubt that was when they put the redwood siding up I detail in another thread here.

The polarity was reversed inside the NEW circuit breaker box though believe it or not, this is a newer standard breaker box that someone had put in, and they ran romex all over the place as the building was last used for a custom wood counter maker's workshop and he had a table saw and routers and other machinery, and before that it was an insurance agents office and they had computers and desks- thus the floor outlets.

The reversed polarity was not original, it was done by someone connecting the NEW to the OLD inside the new breaker panel.

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Old 01-27-2013, 11:01 AM   #5
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To long did not read.
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Old 01-27-2013, 11:31 AM   #6
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To long did not read.

Oh sorry to hear, guess you'll just miss out on an interesting project then.
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Old 01-27-2013, 11:52 AM   #7
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That is a very cool old building. You're definitely right about the kiln wiring. Not only is a 40A breaker on #10 wire unacceptable except under special circumstances, the entire circuit needs to be rated for 32.8A (125% of the load) since it is continuous for more than 3 hours during a firing. That means a 40A breaker and #8 wire, no matter the distance. How do you like that Bartlett controller? I'm about to get an electronic controller for my kiln (used for both glass and ceramic) and am deciding between Bartlett and Orton.
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Old 01-27-2013, 12:28 PM   #8
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That is a very cool old building. You're definitely right about the kiln wiring. Not only is a 40A breaker on #10 wire unacceptable except under special circumstances, the entire circuit needs to be rated for 32.8A (125% of the load) since it is continuous for more than 3 hours during a firing. That means a 40A breaker and #8 wire, no matter the distance. How do you like that Bartlett controller? I'm about to get an electronic controller for my kiln (used for both glass and ceramic) and am deciding between Bartlett and Orton.

Glad we agree on that, I heard back from the dealer today, he agreed the spec in the manual is wrong, Olympic is being notified and they should be acting on corrections shortly.
Yeah, it is a pretty cool building, it is actually L shaped and divided 40 years ago, the short portion is still a law office and the guy loaned me his old abstracts to copy as I asked about the history, an interesting read it is!
I believe it was originally a furniture store, and I found a box of bedstead brackets in the basement that date to around the 1910s.

I'm not sure on the Bartlett controller yet, I need to install the vent next weekend before I can fire a load for the first time in it. I'm used to the old mechanical controllers but even then it's been 20 years since I ran them.
From what I've read the Bartlett is a good one, it came with a manual and it's going to be a fair amount of reading to learn how to program and use it, so right now it's a little overwhelming to do that.
I don't think you would go wrong with either brand, Orton makes the cones and has been around a long time, though electronic controllers are fairly new regardless.
The kiln is an Olympic Freedom 1823, cone 10, 3" firebrick. It came as a complete package, literally everything needed was included- the vent kit, furniture, sample cones, a spare set of elements and sensor probe, even the tools needed to replace elements.
It was a great deal for someone who needs to install a new kiln where there was none before because it includes everything you need, and it was already predrilled for the vent and the controller installed ready to go.
I originally wanted the larger oval model but the cost was quite a bit higher, as would be the cost to run it... this one was a bit over $1600 total to my door. It's a decent size unit that will do a lot for me and it was within the budget I had, it will be too small for larger pieces but there's nothing that says I can't get a second larger kiln later on.

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Old 01-27-2013, 02:29 PM   #9
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If you have gas at the building, you might want your next (larger) kiln to be gas fired. It's usually cheaper to run, and has the huge advantage of letting you control the atmosphere for neutral or reduction firing. There's a lot of glaze work that just can't be accomplished in an electric kiln.
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Old 01-27-2013, 03:13 PM   #10
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If you have gas at the building, you might want your next (larger) kiln to be gas fired. It's usually cheaper to run, and has the huge advantage of letting you control the atmosphere for neutral or reduction firing. There's a lot of glaze work that just can't be accomplished in an electric kiln.
I do have gas, I was considering gas but then there's a couple of issues- venting, the supply line would have to be done by a contractor. The electric here is cheap, about 7 or 8 cents a kwh, and while the gas is not bad now, I remember it was much higher suddenly about 3 years ago. The gas price fluctuates that way, the electric has been very stable cost wise here. I'm on a real tight budget and this whole project with the gallery building is non-profit, so all of the costs are actually coming out of my pocket/paycheck from my day job.
The sculptures are mostly a hobby, it's reasonably self-supporting but that's about it.

I don't do any glaze firing normally, when I did use glaze it was mainly clear or crackle.
That doesn't mean I never will do any glaze work, but it's not a normal part of my work and not within my plans.

What I'll mainly be doing is bisque firing my original master models so they are no longer just greenware, and I have plans to explore either slip poured or pressed clay casts to replace the concrete currently used for exterior pieces, and those would need to be fired.
I normally use raku clay because it's so stable with no tendency to crack or warp at all no matter how thick, I also use red clay but less frequently.

Here's some samples of my typical models, the 3 sections of the owl panel and the eagle panel would fit in the kiln, the rest would not












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Old 01-27-2013, 09:00 PM   #11
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That is some pretty cool ceramics work!
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Old 01-28-2013, 06:54 AM   #12
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What circuit is feeding those duplex receptacles??

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Old 01-28-2013, 07:16 AM   #13
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The "old cloth covered stuff" is Knob-and-Tube wiring. I have some in my house. Don't forget, that stuff is old. The polarity is frequently reversed, because they didn't worry which side was hot and which side was neutral. Sometimes, the neutral was switched for ceiling lights, rathen then the hot line. So, the light was out, but one line was still hot. Sometimes, they didn't use junction boxes in ceiling light fixtures. I've seen plenty with the two wires, wrapped in loom, just sticking out of holes in the ceiling. It usually pre-dates the 1930's, so it is most likely original to your 1910 building.
That does not sound like K&T to me...sounds like the 2-wire stuff in my house....looks like cloth with a 'tar' coating...underneath, a layer of paper and then the 2 insulated wires.

K&T will be 2 separate wires wrapped around knobs and running through tubes.
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Old 01-28-2013, 07:26 AM   #14
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What circuit is feeding those duplex receptacles??

Mark
In the conduit is also a completely separate circuit for 120 volts with a 15 amp breaker to feed the vent fan motor which in the picture is laying on the floor waiting to be mounted to the wall, it is now mounted. I put in the 2 receptacles instead of one in case I need to plug something like a drill or trouble light etc in.
The vent motor has a plug and in-line switch, it's not much more than the kind of motor used for a bathroom vent it looks like.
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Old 01-28-2013, 07:31 AM   #15
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That does not sound like K&T to me...sounds like the 2-wire stuff in my house....looks like cloth with a 'tar' coating...underneath, a layer of paper and then the 2 insulated wires.

K&T will be 2 separate wires wrapped around knobs and running through tubes.
I'm sure there were variations to it all depending on the needs, this being a commercial building I'm sure dictated differences.
I have a couple of short cutoffs from 2 types of this, next time I'm over there I'll get a photo of them. They appear to be of 2 ages, one is dark colored and heavier, the other is white and looks more like modern romex but the vinyl is a woven fabric.
I would guess the heavier dark stuff is oldest, and the white maybe from the 50s.
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