Scanning Electron Microscope - Plug It In
The next challenge was rearranging appliances so that I had a dedicated
(the 'scope + pump + circulator draws 1500 watts, ~12.5 amps) circuit to
plug into. If you live in a modern (built after the Tesla/Westinghouse
polyphase system became common) house, this might not seem like much of
a challenge. This house, however, was built before the AC motor was
a gleam in Nikola's eye. There are remnants of knob and bail wiring
(no longer in use), black iron conduit with asphalt impregnated cotton
and gutta-percha insulated wiring (scary, if you try to bend it the insulation
turns to dust and falls off), galvanized steel conduit with rubber insulated
wiring (also scary, so old it's almost as brittle as the GP), aluminum
conduit with vinyl insulated wiring and Romex wiring (gee, I wonder if
there is any market for a History of Residential Wiring Museum?).
Don't believe me? Here are a couple of pics.
No, that's not a gas pipe at top.
There are also 8(!) fuse boxes (four of them bypassed) feeding a grand
total of ten, 120 volt, 15 amp circuits (for three apartments!) and two
220 volt circuits (clothes dryer and range). Here is a pic showing
seven of the boxes (the eighth is mounted on the chimney, next to the furnace
and is one of the bypassed).
After a week of circuit tracing I was amused to find that three of
those 15 amp circuits were each connected to more than 30 amps of lighting
and appliances (would have been more like 40 amps last year, but we switched
to compact fluorescent bulbs). A fourth circuit appears to be dedicated
to the furnace, a fifth to the outside security lighting and an attic ventilation
fan (a bit of a waste there, since the switch to CF bulbs, that circuit
is only carrying about 4.5 amps), a sixth to a clothes washer, seventh
to the first floor microwave oven, eighth to a first floor refrigerator
and ninth to the second floor refrigerator.
Curiously, the tenth circuit, originating in the second floor fuse box,
was connected to two outlets on the second floor (air conditioner and lamp)
and one outlet in the basement (a dehumidifier and 4' fluorescent lamp,
13 amps all together). By switching the 2nd floor AC onto the same
circuit as the 2nd floor refrigerator (13.1 amps total, yes, I know, if
both compressors start at the same time the fuse will blow), the dehumidifier
onto the 1st floor refrigerator circuit (which also had an outlet in the
basement, 12 amps total) and the 4' lamp to the washing machine circuit
(13 amps), I wound up with a basement outlet that could supply 14.7 amps
(the other 0.3 amps go to the CF lamp in the second floor apartment).