Hunts in Northern California

for M-2795 and M-2796

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Reported by Mike Spadafora on August 11, 2006: This last spring wile on a hunt with Paul Greaves, Carver Mead and the amazing Barbara we found the crown of a M-2796 porcelain gutter with this brass cap cemented to the top with sulfur. we soon discovered that the pole where we found the insulator had been the site of a switch which controlled a short tap line off the main line we were searching. Many old photos exist of early outdoor disconnect switches with gutters in them but till now no parts of those early switches were known in collector hands.

These early switch assemblies were obsolete by 1910 and none survive today.

The switches typically had nine insulators in them, three for each phase mounted in line with one another. The center insulator rotated and had a long steel bar with bladed copper ends that fit into corresponding copper receiving sockets on the outer two insulators. All three center insulators rotated together and were linked together with a long wood rod that was controlled by linkage and another rod with a handle mounted on the pole switch structure that was accessible from the ground.

The switch hardware was held in place on the insulators by screws that attached to brass or iron caps sulfur cemented to the tops of each insulator. Due to the very fragile nature of the crown of the M-2795 and 2796 the center rotating insulator was prone to breakage if the blade got stuck in the closed position.

This is an example of one such insulator crown cap. The metal was badly fractured from 90 years of frost, ice, and corrosion expansion, but I found all the missing parts and will be able to repair it when time permits. The large hole in the top was for pouring in the liquid sulfur