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60-yr-old wiring

2536 Views 2 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  joed
Hello Experts,

Thanks for all your help with my previous space heater wiring project.

I am thinking about restoring a log cabin that was built more than 50-60 years ago.

Some of the original wiring is still in place. Cables run under door/window fascia and through holes bored through logs to enter boxes chiseled into logs. Some of the holes could only have been drilled while the cabin was being constructed. A lot of care went into running cables discreetly under wood "U" moulding along/between logs.

I opened a box and observed that the wires are NOT bare copper, but more~silver colored, not aluminum.
[Q1] Did cables include tinned copper or steel conductors way back then?

[Q2] Where can I look up specs for old cable. I am concerned about resistance of non-copper conductors.

[Q3] Are there books on how residential wiring guidelines have changed over the last hundred years?

I will probably end up re-wiring everything eventually, but first I want to attend to some structural problems. I thought I would initially replace the main plug fuse panel with a 100A breaker panel and the ground rod -- it's just a 3/4" pipe in the ground.

[Q4] Is there a (museum) market for old Wadsworth fuse panels in good working condition?

[Q5] What size wire should I run to the ground rod and to an old well pipe? Does the size depend on the AMPS of the main panel?

[Q6] Any comments or references to re-wiring old houses would be much appreciated.

1 - 3 of 3 Posts
Open up the main panel and take the picture and post on here, along with any writing on the sheath of the cable. Most like at that age, it can be Aluminum. If it is, and you take care to put No-Ox on the wiring, and use the proper receptacle's, light switches, breakers, etc, Aluminum is safe. Problems arise when people use the wrong fixtures, switches, receptacle's, etc. The latest NEC also recommends using AFCI breakers with Aluminum wiring for all points.
Tinned copper is most likely what you have. It was done because the rubber insulation would react with the copper.
The wire itself will be fine. It will be the insulation that will be degraded.
Fuse panel is scrap. If there is any copper in it you might get some value at the scrap dealer.
Ground wire depends on panel size. 100 amp panel gets #6.
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