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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In the course of rewiring portions of my 1939 home I encountered an outlet box with a duplex and single outlet - no grounding of course. The single was disconnected and a lone red wire was hanging behind it. The duplex was pigtailed to three hot and three neutrals.

When I shut off the breaker and started taking the wires apart, a 3-way light at the top of our stairs came on when two of the neutrals touched each other. The volt meter showed 110 V ac. I found that the power came on and off depending on the position of the light switch. This 3-way is on this circuit, but apparently got juice from somewhere else when its breaker was opened.

Anyone have a clue what might be happening here? I was theorizing that the red wire might be a traveler, if the disconnected single outlet was previously controlled by the stair light, but don't know how to check this out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks all for the lightning quick replies so far. The wire coming in was old style romex (braided cloth). The red wire had no power to it. Once I wired it back together (blacks together/whites together), the whole system worked just fine, including the 3-way switch. I imagine it has operated fine like this for 70 years, so unless someone suspects something dangerous, I will trust to the expertise of the 1930's pros.
 
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