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Caro
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PostSubject: Lighting and Electricity   Lighting and Electricity EmptySun 05 Aug 2018, 04:04

Reading of the first street lighting in NZ and the southern hemisphere, and also of Bill Bryson (I think) saying how dark people's lives were in the past has me wondering just how electricity did change people's lives.  I realise modern appliances and technologies have changed the lives of many people in the 20th century, but what about in earlier times?  
 
Did people live in perpetual darkness outside daylight hours?  I know that gas lighting preceded electricity but it too is relatively recent.  From my own experience when the power goes off I know candles have their limitations.  Did people really go to bed at dusk, or did they keep hundreds of candles and fires lit for light?  What other ways of extending light hours were there, if any?
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Vizzer
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PostSubject: Re: Lighting and Electricity   Lighting and Electricity EmptySun 05 Aug 2018, 13:44

Caro, with reference to Reefton and your entry on the On this day thread, then the city of Tampere in Finland is also an unlikely candidate for a first in this. Located in the middle of the country, it is sometimes called the 'Manchester of Finland' and you can see why from the pictures below:

Lighting and Electricity Tampere-3696b4

When we were there a few years ago it looked to us even more like Manchester than Manchester itself (although, perhaps, without the litter of the UK version).

Lighting and Electricity Visit_Tampere_Reflections_of_Finlayson_and_Tampella_red_bricks_buildings_in_Tammerkoski_waters_Laura_Vanzo-1-1200x630

For clarification's sake, both pictures above are of Tampere (and not Manchester). Tampere (or Tammerfors in Swedish) was the location of the first factory in Finland. This was established in the 1820s by James Finlayson, a Scottish industrialist living in St Petersburg (Finland then being part of the Russian Empire), who realised that the fast flowing waters there would be ideal for the establishment of textile mills. Finlayson and his wife moved to Tampere where his company soon became the largest employer in the town.

In March 1882 the company saw the introduction of (incandescent) electric lighting in its buildings, the first in Scandinavia, and (as the Finns are proud to point out) also 6 months before electric lights were switched on in New York’s Wall Street in September of that year. The Finlayson company still trades today although has moved out of the 19th Century brick buildings which now form a complex of boutiques, breweries and restaurants etc:

Lighting and Electricity 22f38554728e9dc4133fdf26fa03a937--homeland-finland
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Tim of Aclea
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PostSubject: Re: Lighting and Electricity   Lighting and Electricity EmptyTue 21 Aug 2018, 07:37

Hi Caro

this is the from the opening paragraph of chapter 1 of my book.  

In 1859 the first oil wells were drilled in the United States and in 1860 the first refinery was built there, and refined fuel was sent to Great Britain in wooden barrels in the same year.  This first refined oil was kerosene, known in Great Britain as paraffin , which was initially used for lighting.   However, with the introduction of firstly gas and then electric lighting, the market for paraffin lighting declined during the latter part of the century.  It continued, though, to be used for cooking and heating and the author can remember having a paraffin heater in the kitchen at his house in the late 1950s.  Between 1900 and 1938, the market for paraffin for heating, lighting and cooking declined by around 20 per cent. 

Notes:

The term ‘paraffin’ literally means ‘lacking reactivity' but is used in chemistry for a group of hydrocarbons otherwise known as alkanes.  Kerosene is a paraffin but so are many other hydrocarbons from methane through to paraffin wax.
Kerosene was discovered earlier than this being distilled from coal in 1846.
D.J.Payton-Smith: Oil – A Study of War-time Policy and Administration

Kerosene was valued for lighting as it gave such a clear smokeless flame

regards

Tim
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Lighting and Electricity   Lighting and Electricity EmptyWed 22 Aug 2018, 22:24

@Caro wrote:
Reading of the first street lighting in NZ and the southern hemisphere, and also of Bill Bryson (I think) saying how dark people's lives were in the past has me wondering just how electricity did change people's lives.  I realise modern appliances and technologies have changed the lives of many people in the 20th century, but what about in earlier times?  
 
Did people live in perpetual darkness outside daylight hours?  I know that gas lighting preceded electricity but it too is relatively recent.  From my own experience when the power goes off I know candles have their limitations.  Did people really go to bed at dusk, or did they keep hundreds of candles and fires lit for light?  What other ways of extending light hours were there, if any?


Caro (and Tim and Vizzer)

"Did people live in perpetual darkness outside daylight hours?  I know that gas lighting preceded electricity but it too is relatively recent.  From my own experience when the power goes off I know candles have their limitations.  Did people really go to bed at dusk, or did they keep hundreds of candles and fires lit for light?  What other ways of extending light hours were there, if any?"

I guess, but didn't research for that, in the early Middle-East the olive oil lights was the main source of light, as in Greek and Roman times...
but if you think about the middle-ages, they seem to have had also a lot of light in the dark hours inside the home...
For instance the peasant's home light: the hearth and the core of rush dipped in fat...
http://clanntartan.sitesneakpeek.com/manual/lighting.html
From this site:
"Rushlights were very commonly used throughout western Europe. Rushes were gathered and dried. Generally, the outer layer was stripped down to the pithy core. The rushes would then be dipped in fat, tallow, or "salet oyle" (i.e. olive oil - Caspell p 171). Allowed to harden up, they would either be put in a pincer-like device with a counter weight (a "rush nips") or stood up in a container designed to prevent a fire starting. A split stick could also be used to hold the burning rush. Sometimes, a rushlight would have a candle holder as a counterweight for use on special occasions such as a visit from somebody important. Rushes were burned at an angle; they burn too quickly if horizontal, but tend to be smoky and go out if vertical. They are likely the origin of the expression "burning the candle at both ends". A "good rush", 2' 4 1/2", burned for 57 minutes (Robins p 14). They do not put put a lot of light, but they have the advantage over candles that they were potentially free. A few hours gathering the rushes, and a few days processing them after they dried, and saving fat at slaughter time or the drippings from your cook fire were all that were required. In fact, one could make a little spare change by providing rushlights to others."

"The most common light source in the home was that of the cook fire which was generally kept burning at all times. In most of western Europe, the hearth fire was fueled by wood. In Scotland and Ireland, however, peat was commonly used. About two weeks of work in the summer would provide enough peat blocks for the year, which surely compares favorably to how many hours we work per year to pay our light and heat bills."
Yes indeed peat. We had overhere in the Low Countries also a lot of peat "layers?"..even that lately as my childhood...we had a "Louvain stove (Leuvense stoof) flat tube resting on a container for the coal in the form of a bowl with a gitter inside for the ashes...but as they for the municipality dig up a lot of peat to deepen the local river...we used it for more than a year as fuel for this "Louvain stove" as it was not an open hearth, and the bowl was relatively small one had to watch (and that was me) to feed constantly with fresh dried peat...but you could heat up the bowl till it was red glowing...I suppose in a middle age's hearth it would provide the room with a lot of light...

Kind regards from Paul.
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LadyinRetirement
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PostSubject: Re: Lighting and Electricity   Lighting and Electricity EmptyThu 23 Aug 2018, 12:27

I don't know much about this subject.  In the early 1980s I did a stint of temporary work in the local offices of the MEB (Midlands Electricity Company) though nowadays there is no such thing - there are some regional offices in Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent.  I do remember that there is (or at least was - I have not checked back to see if it is still current) a law going back to something like 1909 stating that after a property has changed hands the new owner becomes responsible for paying for whatever figure is on the  meter next time it is read.  We had some people ringing up saying they had not used so much electricity as quoted and it must have been the people they had bought the property from who had used more electricity but of course the law stated that the new owner was responsible for payment if the electricity had not been cut off or at least a reading taken when the former occupant(s) left - so I suppose it's best to make sure the electricity reading is taken/has been taken when one moves into a property.  Although I was a "conveyancing" (English name for real estate or at least part of what is covered by real estate) secretary for a number of years I've forgotten some of the rules/conventions pertaining to moving home now.  I know that someone is allowed to take their electric light bulbs with them when they move but not the ceiling rose.  (I'm sure you all know what ceiling roses are but just being extra careful I'm providing a link showing some - not that I'm suggesting you buy any from Ebay!)  https://www.ebay.co.uk/bhp/electrical-ceiling-rose  I'm living in what was my parents' house - it was built in the 1930s and originally had (as far as I know just in the downstairs dining/living room, not in other rooms) gas lighting (in tandem with electricity) but that was disconnected some time ago and there was also a gas fire in the larger front bedroom.  (It's one of those semi-detached houses which are described as 3-bedroomed but the smallest bedroom is really a box room - though I slept in it for a time).  There was also a "back to back" stove in the kitchen which took its heating from the fire in the living (back) room downstairs though I haven't been able to find an illustration of such stoves on the internet - my searches kept bringing up wood burning stoves.  Speaking of which when I was in London I went to a course at the Institute Francaise (not sure if it still has the same name) to keep my French ticking over.  There was a book (I may have mentioned this on Res Hist but can't think where) which quoted an example of relations in the workplace in France at some time in the nineteenth century.  The management had bought a wood burning stove (poele) for the purpose of helping its employees keep warm (rather than for cooking I understood though this was not stated expressly) though the staff were expected to provide their own wood to burn - and not take advantage of the employers' generosity!  By the way, my Mum always cooked on a gas stove (we sometimes called in the cooker or the oven) rather than the back-to-back though I can remember her using it to keep things warm - the back-to-back was taken out and disposed of when my parents had the house extended (and went over to gas central heating - though that doesn't work anymore!).
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: Lighting and Electricity   Lighting and Electricity EmptyThu 23 Aug 2018, 21:15

With the benefit of hindsight it is tempting to view the progression - from candles and rush-lights, to oil lamps, to gas lamps, to electric light-bulbs - as a linear and almost inevitable march of successive technical improvements. But in reality the development of these technologies, with each supposedly replacing the one before, was by no means assured, and their history of is a very much more convoluted and inter-twined story. However this simplistic view of steady linear progress was even commonly expressed much closer to the times, despite, or perhaps even because of, people’s direct knowledge and experience. This depiction of "The Triumph of Steam and Electricity" comes from a special edition of the 'Illustrated London News' of December 1899, produced to celebrate the scientific advances that had occurred during the past century, as the country was poised to enter the next century.

Lighting and Electricity Lighting_pic_1
"The Triumph of Steam and Electricity".

The scenes to the left were meant to represent Britain before science had changed it into the advanced, modern country depicted on the right. But in relation to this thread I think it rather belittles the enormous effects of gas lighting when it was introduced at the beginning of the 19th century. I also suspect that the late 19th century desire to portray Britain as an advanced industrial nation, rather rode rough-shod over the reality of many British people’s own experience of what the nineteenth century had actually been like, and tended to ignore the fact that in 1900 most British households still used gas lighting, rather than electric light bulbs,  and moreover they would have to continue to do so for decades yet … while many others, again of necessity, still regularly relied on oil or paraffin lamps.

One of the first to investigate the flammability of gas for the practical application of lighting was William Murdoch, who, when over-seeing the steam engines of his family’s tin mines in Cornwall began experimenting with various types of gas, finally settling on coal gas (the flammable gas produced by heating coal) as the cheapest and most effective. In 1782 he lit his own house in Redruth, Cornwall, and then in 1798, when he was working for Matthew Boulton and James Watt at their Soho Foundry steam engine works in Birmingham, installed a coal-gas system to light their main foundry and workshop.

Others in Britain and on the continent were also working on gas lighting systems about the same time. In 1801 Phillipe Lebon, having installed coal-gas light around his Parisian house and gardens, tried to persuade the authorities to install gas street lighting throughout Paris, but at the time the Revolutionary government had more pressing matters at hand and his grand, innovative plans were only adopted in 1820. Meanwhile the German inventor Friedrich Winzer obtained the first patent for coal-gas lighting in 1804 and it was he who arranged the first well-recorded demonstration of public street lighting with gas, when he illuminated the length of Pall Mall in London on 28 January 1807. One of Murdoch’s fellow employees at Boulton and Watt’s Soho Foundry was Samuel Clegg and he, realising the commercial potential of this new form of lighting, left his job there and in 1812 set up the first chartered gas lighting business, the Gas Light and Coke Company. Less than two years later, on December 31, 1813, Westminster Bridge had gas lighting permanently installed with the gas supplied by Clegg’s rapidly evpanding company.

Lighting and Electricity Lighting_pic_2
Cruikshank, like many of his contemporary cartoonists, was not averse to making fun of the new technology – sometimes depicting the hazards of tall wigs catching fire from overhead lamps and people swooning under the influence of poisonous gas fumes or even being blown up in gas explosions – but with this one from 1818 entitled "A Peep at the Gas Lights in Pall Mall" he simply depicted Londoner’s commenting on the wondrous new street lights.

By 1825 numerous towns and cities throughout Britain were lit by gas. Gaslight initially cost about 75% less than oil lamps or candles and as it became more widespread and more consumers were connected, it became even cheaper, which further helped to accelerate its development and deployment. By 1859 gas lighting was to be found all over Britain and about a thousand gas works had sprung up to meet the demand for the new fuel. Factories, businesses and places of entertainment could now afford to continue in operation after dark and with municipal lighting city streets became safer. Meanwhile the brighter lighting allowed people to read more easily and for longer, which helped to stimulate literacy and learning. All in all the widespread adoption of gas lighting helped support a second industrial revolution.

But although gas lighting was undoubtedly a vast improvement over earlier candles and oil lamps, the light was still produced simply by burning the gas in air through a shaped jet or nozzle. To get a lot of light it was necessary to install a huge number of gas jets, and moreover the light itself tended to be rather yellowish. Nevertheless such simple gas jets remained the major form of household lighting until the very end of the century.

Lighting and Electricity Lighting_pic_3
Coal-gas jet burners.

But there were numerous other developments, some of which had quite unexpected outcomes. One major advance which prompted a chain of innovations was directly caused by the Ordnance Survey’s new project to incorporate Ireland into the recently completed survey of the rest of Britain. Since the only available mapping technology was based on simple triangulation, it was necessary for high terrain to be used to achieve long-distance point-to-point measurement, both within Ireland itself and to Scotland, to form the key base-lines and to link to the already completed survey of the rest of Great Britain. The problem was the Irish weather. Try as they might using lamps burning various fuels, the surveyor’s lights could not be seen across the long distances from one mountain to the next, nor critically across the sea to Scotland.

The problem was solved by Thomas Drummond, an engineer employed by the Ordnance Survey at Woolwich, who had been working on a new form of lighting based on producing a jet of oxygen gas combined with alcohol to produce a fiercely hot flame. This in itself was well-established albeit slightly cutting-edge technology, but Drummond’s critical improvement was to then play this flame onto a small ball of lime (CaCO3). As the lime heated it became incandescent, so when the now white hot lime was positioned in front of a parabolic mirror the result was a narrow ray of intense white light. Drummond was duly dispatched to Ireland and erected his lamp first on the mountain of Slieve Snaght and pointed it at Divis Mountain, 66miles distant. Immediately his lamp was fired up the observers on Divis clearly saw the light and got a accurate fix on its position … although Drummond didn’t know this until a despatch rider finally arrived at his camp two days later.

Impressed by the success of this light in surveying Ireland, the Masters of Trinity House (the body responsible for Britain’s lighthouses) invited Drummond to give a demonstration. The results were thought encouraging and several trials followed in 1820 during which Drummond changed his ignition mixture to use hydrogen in place of the alcohol, and this hydrogen/oxygen flame was found to give an even brighter light. In the words of one observer of a test conducted on 25 May 1830 "The light was not only more vivid and conspicuous, but was particularly remarkable for its exquisite whiteness. Indeed there seems no great presumption in comparing its splendour to the sun …".

Further tests were conducted on established lighthouses but these were beset with problems: the gas pipes leaked, the supplies were inadequate and gas bags burst, and in the end Drummond’s light was turned down by Trinity House on the grounds of expense. So he was forced to look elsewhere for a market.

Since its introduction a few years before, coal-gas  had become very popular as an illuminant in theatres. Covent Garden had taken the lead by installing gas burners as early as 1815, but in the decade that followed, the widespread introduction of gas lighting had doubled the number of theatre fires. The sheer complexity and unwieldiness of the supply systems, with literally miles of tubing and numerous leaky connections to all the separate gas jets, made fires almost inevitable. But the attraction of Drummond’s brilliant white limelight was too much for theatre proprietors to resist and by the late 1830s coal-gas fired limelight was being used to create special effects during theatre productions, and within a decade it was being widely used for isolating actors in the limelight of a so-called spotlight.

Lighting and Electricity Drummond_2
The basics of a Drummond 'limelight'.

Although Drummond limelights were used principally in theatres and lighthouses they were tried briefly as street lighting. This picture from the 'Illustrated London News' of May 1860, shows the lights mounted experimentally on Westminster Bridge alongside the much dimmer gaslights that had been installed back in 1813 and were themselves the first municipal gas lights to be installed in London.

Lighting and Electricity Lighting_pic_6

Meanwhile others were trying to solve Drummond’s original problem of gas supply to the limelight so that costs would fall enough for it to be of practical use in lighthouses and other applications where a continuous bright light was required. In 1849 Floris Nollet, a professor of physics at the Belgian Ecole Militaire, hit on the idea of generating hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis (ie passing an electric current through water to generate the two gases at opposite electrodes). This could readily be done in-situ at lighthouses provided a high electric current could be provided. Faraday had demonstrated in 1831 that an electric current was generated when a metal disc was rotated between the poles of a horseshoe magnet. Accordingly Nollet designed a generator composed of many banks of magnets which was therefore capable of generating the much higher electric currents that were necessary to effectively produce hydrogen gas from water. Nollet died in 1838 but he had formed a company to continue his work and to try and exploit his ideas. One of the engineers on the project was an Englishman, Frederick Holmes, and he realised that instead of using Nollet’s generator to produce a gas to be burnt to produce light, it could be used to produce illumination directly.

The principal of an electric arc – passing current between two close but not touching electrodes – was known, but had always been hampered in practice by the need for a very high electric current to ‘jump the gap’. After further development of the Nollet generator, Holmes approached the Trinity House authorities, and after successful trials the new system was installed in Souter Point lighthouse on the Northumbrian coast in 1871. But it was already obsolete.

A year before in Paris a French engineer, Zénobie Gramme, who had also worked on Nollet’s ideas in Belgium, produced the first truly commercial electric generator. Gramme had picked up on an idea of a Dane, Sören Hjorth, who had proposed that the fixed magnets could be replaced by more powerful electro-magnets (wire-wound iron cores) themselves powered by the electricity generated. Since the device produced electricity ‘dynamically’ it was called a dynamic-electro generator – later shortened to dynamo. This was the first generator to produce continuous high current and its arrival clinched the success of the electric arc light -  at least in lighthouses, theatres and other establishments that could afford to install their own expensive, steam-powered electric generators. And electric arc lights continued in use well into the 20th century whenever intense light was required, eg for anti-aircraft search lights.

As well as producing a brilliant light an electric arc also produced great heat and this lead to the development of the electric arc furnace in which very high temperatures could be produced. The French chemist, Henri Moissan, knowing that diamonds could be turned into basic carbon at high temperature, set out to see if he could reverse the process and so make artificial diamonds. In 1895, after a series of tests in which he put almost every chemical he could think of into his electric arc furnace, he tried a mixture of lime and carbon at a temperature of 2000°C. The result was a grey crystalline substance, calcium carbide, which Moissan thought fairly uninteresting until he put water on it, whereupon it fizzed violently, giving off a gas which he found burned with a brilliant white light.

Moissan, living in a world lit by flickering yellow gaslight or very expensive electric lighting came to the not unreasonable conclusion that he’d stumbled across the illuminant of the future. The gas given off by the reaction of calcium carbide and water is acetylene and it immediately attracted a lot of investment. By 1899 there were a quarter of a million acetylene gas lights operating in Germany served by 8000 acetylene plants. Acetylene gas lighting cost half as much as electric light and took up a quarter of the space needed to produce the same illumination by coal-gas. By 1900 calcium carbide plants were established near sources of cheap hydro-electric power in Canada, Switzerland, Norway and the French Pyrenees, and many more were already planned. Its future looked assured.

Lighting and Electricity Lighting_pic_7
An acetylene bicycle lamp of 1910. Water in the top reservoir slowly drips onto lumps of calcium carbide contained in the lower, and the acetylene gas so formed is forced up by the pressure through a jet behind a reflector where it burns. The system is light, robust, easily maintained, and can be recharged without needing access to mains electricity or a domestic gas supply.

But then disaster stuck in two forms. The first was the increasing use of the newly developed incandescent gas mantle. The gas mantle – a cotton mesh impregrated with thoria which, in a manner similar to limelight, greatly increased the luminosity of a coal gas flame - had been invented in 1892 by Auer von Welsbach. It was relatively easy and inexpensive to convert old coal-gas jet flames to take the new gas-mantles and so, despite recent advances in electric lighting, by the turn of the century gas remained the most common form of domestic lighting throughout Europe and North America.

Lighting and Electricity Welsbach_type_gas_mantle_from_1893     Lighting and Electricity Lighting_pic_8
A Welsbach-type gas mantle from 1893 and an advert from about 1900. Note the claims about the increased brightness for lower gas consumption.

The second set back to acetylene followed a few years later and was the cheaper production and distribution of electricity as its increased usage for domestic appliances, communications, industry etc (ie other uses than lighting) drove the establishment of city-wide electricity supply grids and economies of scale in its generation. By 1905 the bottom had dropped out of the acetylene market and today acetylene it is really only used as a raw material in the manufacture of some plastics and in oxy-acetylene gas welding.

That a thin metal wire could be heated to incandescence and ultimately melted by passing an electric current along it had been known since the mid 18th century and in 1802 Humphry Davy had demonstrated a sustained light could be produced by passing an electric current through a conductive material with a suitably high melting point – he used platinum (melting pont 1768°C). Over the 19th century many workers attempted to produce a workable electric filament light using a variety of conductive materials, usually enclosed either in a vacuum or inert gas to prolong the incandescent wire’s life. The British scientist, Joseph Swan, began working with carbonised paper filaments in an evacuated glass bulb and by 1860 was able to demonstrate a fully working device. But difficulties in obtaining a good vacuum and an adequate steady supply of electricity tended to result in short lifetimes for the bulb. By the mid 1870s however with the help of Charles Stearn, an expert on vacuum pumps, Swan developed a method of producing an improved light bulb, still using a rather delicate carbon filament. This received a British Patent in 1880 and Swan began installing electric lighting in the homes of wealthy sponsors (such as at ‘Cragside’, the home of the arms manufacturer, Lord Armstrong). Meanwhile in 1879 the first street in the world to be lit by electric bulbs was Mosley Street in Swan’s native Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and then in 1881 the Savoy Theatre in London became the first public building to be entirely lit by electricity.

In the USA Thomas Edison began serious research into developing a practical incandescent lamp in 1878, and he filed his first patent for an "improvement in Electric Lights" later that same year. Exactly like Swan he used "a carbon filament or strip coiled and connected ... to platina contact wires" and like Swan he realised that the key to a successful long-lasting electric light bulb was in achieving a good vaccum. Using the newly developed Sprengel pump (invented the German chemist, Herman Sprengel) which was capable of reducing the amount of air in a chamber to one-millionth of its volume , Edison tested the first of his new carbon-filament bulbs in October 1879 … which stayed lit for an astonishing (for the time) 170 hours. The incandescent electric light bulb was now commercially viable.

Lighting and Electricity Edison_light_bulb
An Edison carbon filament incandescent electric ight bulb from about 1880, looking not dismiilar to a modern light bulb.

However it really wasn’t until 1904 when the Hungarian, Sándor Just, and the Croatian, Franjo Hanaman, developed a method of producing a fine tungsten wire and hence produced the first practical tungsten filament lamp (thereby replacing Swan and Edison’s carbon filament technology) that the modern, bright, long-lasting, mass-produced light bulb really appeared. The incandescent tungsten filament light bulb (together with the fluorescent light tube, which although successfully demonstrated in the laboratory in the 1880s did not become commercially available until the 1930s) remained the main form of domestic lighting for most of the past century, until only recently replaced by the LEDs with their much greater efficiency in converting electricity into light (by not also producing unnecessary heat).

Thus, as so often with scientific discoveries and technological inventions, the route to where we stand today is a winding one with many inter-twined branches and not a few dead-ends: a development in an unrelated field might suddenly prove the key to solving the immediate problem, … all for it to perhaps to be rendered obsolete by yet another discovery. And as always it is all built on the combined efforts of many individuals. Who ‘invented’ the electric light bulb? Well, besides Swan and Edison, there were something like another twenty people working on the same idea at exactly the same time, many of them openly discussing and sharing results with one another. But Edison, actually somewhat a late-comer to the field, usually gets the credit as he was able to make it a commercial success.


Last edited by Meles meles on Fri 24 Aug 2018, 13:21; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : typos)
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LadyinRetirement
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PostSubject: Re: Lighting and Electricity   Lighting and Electricity EmptyFri 24 Aug 2018, 10:29

Thanks for the information MM - I'm impressed.  I can't remember if I've mentioned this before but I had (still have a few though I see them less often now) some relations living on the northern outskirts of Liverpool (well Waterloo and Crosby to be exact which may not be Liverpool administratively).  Anyway, at one stage in my childhood when I was visiting relatives my cousins and I (don't worry there was a responsible adult around) were on our way back from somewhere on foot after dark and we stood under the sodium lights (which somewhat distorted the colour of the skin) to make ourselves look like "purple people eaters" as in a pop song of the time.  I think I mentioned previously that when I worked in London but still periodically popped up to see the house where I based now, a little after Christmas I found a card from the Post Office saying to collect a parcel.  I thought it was a bona fide Christmas present but when I collected it, it turned out to be 3 energy efficient lightbulbs care of the Blair Government.
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PostSubject: Re: Lighting and Electricity   Lighting and Electricity EmptySat 25 Aug 2018, 22:27

Thank you very much for the survey Meles meles. I read it all from A to Z...

We my sister and I have still known the "petroleum lamp". In our childhood, we were mostly with our grandmother from mother's side.
Although she had electricity and gas (new build house from I think start of the Twenties), she said to us and perhaps she was right, that her petroleum lamp was cheaper in consumption than electricity. So at night we sat around the Louvain stove
Lighting and Electricity E2094cedc021fe7c23d302b919b40c91

in the light of grandma's light
Lighting and Electricity 295665236-koperen-petroleumlamp


And I forgot to say in the "back kitchen?" (achterkeuken). Every house in a row had basically the same plan, first a "salon", then an "official" kitchen, and then a "back kitchen" (also a kitchen where the real family life "happened")...where one ate, where the pump and the sink was and where saturday evening the whole family bathed in the zinc plated round wash tub...in fact where everything happened including the quarrels

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Lighting and Electricity   Lighting and Electricity EmptySun 26 Aug 2018, 17:15

Agree with LiR and Paul on an outstanding post by Meles. In fact it was bit like eating dark chocolate, one could only digest a little a time and had to come back later for more. In the end I read it twice it was so good. I particularly liked the story of the Ordnance Survey and the evocative image of the incandescent ball of lime burning thru the gloomy skies over the seas and mountains of Scotland and Ireland.
 
With regard to public street lighting in the pre-electrical era, then I was struck by a scene in the drama series Versailles whereby Louis XIV leads his guests blindfolded outside at night onto an open lawn and then asks them to remove their blindfolds to reveal the marvellous sight of a newly illuminated Paris in the distance. Needless to say that a degree of dramatic licence was involved here but French historians do point to the year 1667 as marking the beginning of modern municipal lighting. This was the year when Gabriel Nicolas de La Reynie was appointed to the newly created office of Lieutenant of Police for Paris. Modern policing is another first claimed for 1667. The royal edict creating the office says nothing specifically about public street lighting but merely outlines the responsibilities of the Lieutenant which included:

‘à purger la Ville de ce qui peut causer les desordres, a procurer l’ àbondance, ... du nettoyement des ruës & Places publiques, circonstances & dependances’ 
  
‘ridding the city of that which might cause disorder, facilitating wealth creation, ... the cleaning of the streets and public squares, surroundings and approaches’

It seems that de La Reynie made an imaginative interpretation of these duties and took a pro-active approach in his new role and that from 1667 candlelit lanterns began to be suspended at crossroads and other places in Paris. A more ambitious edict of 1697 would extend the practice to other cities and towns across France.
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PostSubject: Re: Lighting and Electricity   Lighting and Electricity EmptySun 26 Aug 2018, 21:04

Is series 3 of Versailles worth a watch, Vizzer?  I saw seasons 1 and 2 but had heard season 3 parted company with real history more than the first two seasons.  I know one can sometimes allow a certain amount of dramatic licence but if things get as bad as White Queen I am out.  What I've seen of Versailles I quite liked in a guilty pleasure sort of way.  A lot of the actors I had not heard of before - the actor who played "Monsieur" had been grown-up Mordred in Merlin (the BBC version) and been in a couple of BBC daytime shows I'd seen and had also been Dorian Gray in some audio productions for Big Finish but most of the others were fresh on my radar.  I liked the actress who played Liselotte - and well most of them really - I just found myself wishing for a bit more of what actually happened such as the inclusion of historic characters like the Mancini sisters and Moliere etc.  Not that what I've written here has much to do with lighting.  I don't know if I mentioned it anywhere but there is an informative blog about Louis XIV partylike1660.com

Back on topic, when I think of it, I believe (though haven't been able to confirm on line) that the original lighting in the road where I live (my house is a semi-detached part of "ribbon" development - though the land behind the ribbon has long since been filled in with other houses) was gas light and it changed in the early 1960s to electricity which still serves the road.
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PostSubject: Re: Lighting and Electricity   Lighting and Electricity EmptySun 26 Aug 2018, 21:42

@Vizzer wrote:
Agree with LiR and Paul on an outstanding post by Meles. In fact it was bit like eating dark chocolate, one could only digest a little a time and had to come back later for more. In the end I read it twice it was so good. I particularly liked the story of the Ordnance Survey and the evocative image of the incandescent ball of lime burning thru the gloomy skies over the seas and mountains of Scotland and Ireland.
 
With regard to public street lighting in the pre-electrical era, then I was struck by a scene in the drama series Versailles whereby Louis XIV leads his guests blindfolded outside at night onto an open lawn and then asks them to remove their blindfolds to reveal the marvellous sight of a newly illuminated Paris in the distance. Needless to say that a degree of dramatic licence was involved here but French historians do point to the year 1667 as marking the beginning of modern municipal lighting. This was the year when Gabriel Nicolas de La Reynie was appointed to the newly created office of Lieutenant of Police for Paris. Modern policing is another first claimed for 1667. The royal edict creating the office says nothing specifically about public street lighting but merely outlines the responsibilities of the Lieutenant which included:

‘à purger la Ville de ce qui peut causer les desordres, a procurer l’ àbondance, ... du nettoyement des ruës & Places publiques, circonstances & dependances’ 
  
‘ridding the city of that which might cause disorder, facilitating wealth creation, ... the cleaning of the streets and public squares, surroundings and approaches’

It seems that de La Reynie made an imaginative interpretation of these duties and took a pro-active approach in his new role and that from 1667 candlelit lanterns began to be suspended at crossroads and other places in Paris. A more ambitious edict of 1697 would extend the practice to other cities and towns across France.

Vizzer,

"an outstanding post by Meles. In fact it was bit like eating dark chocolate, one could only digest a little a time and had to come back later for more. In the end I read it twice it was so good. I particularly liked the story of the Ordnance Survey and the evocative image of the incandescent ball of lime burning thru the gloomy skies over the seas and mountains of Scotland and Ireland."

I said it already to you on another case, sometimes I envy you a bit about your splendid language. I am nearly sure that even in Dutch I couldn't equalize your use of words...not that MM isn't that good too...(double negation is that usual in English in these expressions?)

"With regard to public street lighting in the pre-electrical era, then I was struck by a scene in the drama series Versailles whereby Louis XIV leads his guests blindfolded outside at night onto an open lawn and then asks them to remove their blindfolds to reveal the marvellous sight of a newly illuminated Paris in the distance. Needless to say that a degree of dramatic licence was involved here but French historians do point to the year 1667 as marking the beginning of modern municipal lighting. This was the year when Gabriel Nicolas de La Reynie was appointed to the newly created office of Lieutenant of Police for Paris. Modern policing is another first claimed for 1667. The royal edict creating the office says nothing specifically about public street lighting but merely outlines the responsibilities of the Lieutenant which included:
à purger la Ville de ce qui peut causer les desordres, a procurer l’ àbondance, ... du nettoyement des ruës & Places publiques, circonstances & dependances’ 
‘ridding the city of that which might cause disorder, facilitating wealth creation, ... the cleaning of the streets and public squares, surroundings and approaches’
It seems that de La Reynie made an imaginative interpretation of these duties and took a pro-active approach in his new role and that from 1667 candlelit lanterns began to be suspended at crossroads and other places in Paris. A more ambitious edict of 1697 would extend the practice to other cities and towns across France.


Thanks for this history about Paris. Did some research about it on the internet
https://www.nature.com/articles/132888c0

I found something about the same story about London, but, and I suppose the change must happened this week, google books now give you only some sentences where the word appears in the book and if you want to read further you have to subscribe and perhaps pay...is this the beginning of the "paid" internet...the advertisements not read, even if you have to agree to the cookies to read anything...and by that lack of interest for advertisements they have to seek their earnings by paid subscriptions...?...

And sought for a picture of a candle light street lamp on the internet...but nothing, all gas lighted ones...even not a Chinese vintage copy...

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Lighting and Electricity   Lighting and Electricity EmptyWed 29 Aug 2018, 18:51

I can't offer anything with the depth and breadth of MM's post but herewith a link to The National Gas Museum website www.nationalgasmuseum.org.uk/  It reminds me that there are so many little (well not major) museums in England alone that I've never visited.  I remember at one time various members of the site mentioned some of the smaller museums that lie almost cheek by jowl with the British Museum. I worked very close to that museum at one time and I never visited any of those museums then (the job I was doing then took a lot of my time).  Of course I'm retired now so theoretically have more spare time  but news about terrorism and attacks with caustic substances has made me a little cagey of going to London.
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PostSubject: Re: Lighting and Electricity   Lighting and Electricity EmptyFri 31 Aug 2018, 21:20

One of Jesus' parables is in part a reflection on the lack of street lighting in 1st C AD Galilee - the parable of the wise and foolish bridesmaids (or virgins).  Unlike modern weddings, the exact day of the wedding was not known for the grooms party would arrive unexpectedly and try and catch the bridal party napping.  If the grooms party arrived at night then everyone going to the wedding would have to carry a lighted lamp as it was against the law to go out at night without a light as anyone doing so would be likely to be up to no good.  

Tim

ps I will let Nordmann advise whether Jesus filched this parable from either Plato or Aristotle!
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PostSubject: Re: Lighting and Electricity   Lighting and Electricity EmptyFri 31 Aug 2018, 23:47

tsss tsss Tim...

ps I will let Nordmann advise whether Jesus filched this parable from either Plato or Aristotle!


That is only to "nordmann uit zijn kot te lokken" (to lure him out of his tent, to draw him out)...foei (shame on you)...that's not the Christian way Wink ...

Kind regards from your friend Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Lighting and Electricity   Lighting and Electricity EmptySat 01 Sep 2018, 06:20

Apologies Paul, but I could not resist adding it.

best wishes as always

Tim
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PostSubject: Re: Lighting and Electricity   Lighting and Electricity EmptySun 02 Sep 2018, 03:13

I too was vastly impressed with MM's contribution, even if I didn't read it thoroughly enough to retain most of it.  

We have always called the refined oil (not that I knew or even know that that was what it was) kerosene though normally NZers used the British forms of words.  When our house burnt down when I was six, we spend the best part of a year while a new one was being built living in an old cottage/shed.  We used a kerosene heater there and on occasions its fire flared up to close to the ceiling, and though I was only 6, I remember thinking how embarrassing it would be to burn down TWO houses.  

As an aside to this experience, in those days women used to take off their rings to do the dishes, and my grandmother's rings were on the sink bench never to be seen again.  We searched for the diamonds and told the next inhabitants to keep an eye our for them, but they have never been found.  A further addendum: it was my sister's birthday and we were having a party.  My father tended to splurge on these occasions and there were exciting parcels everywhere (as I recall it) which all went up in smoke!  I have never remembered all the parcels we did open for other birthdays but I have never forgotten those ones that we didn't.
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PostSubject: Re: Lighting and Electricity   Lighting and Electricity EmptyTue 04 Sep 2018, 00:00

@Caro wrote:
I too was vastly impressed with MM's contribution, even if I didn't read it thoroughly enough to retain most of it.  

We have always called the refined oil (not that I knew or even know that that was what it was) kerosene though normally NZers used the British forms of words.  When our house burnt down when I was six, we spend the best part of a year while a new one was being built living in an old cottage/shed.  We used a kerosene heater there and on occasions its fire flared up to close to the ceiling, and though I was only 6, I remember thinking how embarrassing it would be to burn down TWO houses.  

As an aside to this experience, in those days women used to take off their rings to do the dishes, and my grandmother's rings were on the sink bench never to be seen again.  We searched for the diamonds and told the next inhabitants to keep an eye our for them, but they have never been found.  A further addendum: it was my sister's birthday and we were having a party.  My father tended to splurge on these occasions and there were exciting parcels everywhere (as I recall it) which all went up in smoke!  I have never remembered all the parcels we did open for other birthdays but I have never forgotten those ones that we didn't.


Caro,

just entered the board here local time 2 minutes to midnight...

"When our house burnt down when I was six, we spend the best part of a year while a new one was being built living in an old cottage/shed.  We used a kerosene heater there and on occasions its fire flared up to close to the ceiling, and though I was only 6, I remember thinking how embarrassing it would be to burn down TWO houses."

What a sad experience in your childhood...I was bombed nearly on 30 yards by an American bomber (a Lockheed lightning two fuselages) but one year old I remember nothing anymore...

"We have always called the refined oil (not that I knew or even know that that was what it was) kerosene though normally NZers used the British forms of words"


When I try to understand the different fuels in the different languages it is always a cacophony...
For instance we always say: "mazout" and now I see that it is French and in Dutch it is "stookolie" (and in English it seems to be "fuel oil")
And what with the English word (or is it American?) "diesel"? We call it "mazout" too, I suppose they call it in Dutch Dieselolie. But the mazout for the house, is the same as for the trucks. Only that there is a tax difference, and so they add to the mazout for the house a red colorant that you can't separate and there are road controls on the trucks to see if they don't drive with red mazout...


For the cars we use "benzine" and I thought that "gasoline" was the English word for it and "petrol" the American word and now I learned this evening that it is just vice versa...
And benzine seems to be even an English word:
https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/benzine
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gasoline

And kerosene is in my opinion a distillation fraction between "Benzine" (petrol) and Diesel oil (mazout)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerosene

"Kerosene, also known as paraffin, lamp oil, and coal oil (an obsolete term), is a combustible hydrocarbon liquid which is derived from petroleum. It is widely used as a fuel in industry as well as households. Its name derives from Greek: κηρός (keros) meaning wax, and was registered as a trademark by Canadian geologist and inventor Abraham Gesner in 1854 before evolving into a genericized trademark. It is sometimes spelled kerosine in scientific and industrial usage.[1] The term kerosene is common in much of Argentina, Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, and the United States,[2][3] while the term paraffin (or a closely related variant) is used in Chile, eastern Africa, South Africa, and in the United Kingdom,[4] and (a variant of) the term petroleum in Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, German, Hungarian, Latvian, Serbian, Slovak and Slovenian. In some of these languages the term kerosine refers instead to jet fuel. The term lamp oil, or the equivalent in the local languages, is common in the majority of Asia. Liquid paraffin (called mineral oil in the US) is a more viscous and highly refined product which is used as a laxative. Paraffin wax is a waxy solid extracted from petroleum.
And in Dutch we call it "petroleum" and the lamp that I mentioned was filled with that petroleum  (lamp oil)...

In French it is "pétrole", but they say also for fuel for aircraft: "kérosène" (in Dutch: "kerosine")

Yes and I forgot when I read Tim talking about "paraffin" I first thought at our "paraffine", which is a wax...(and indeed in my dictionary I found as translation "parraffin wax".

Caro I hope that you will read it to the very boring end Wink

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Lighting and Electricity   Lighting and Electricity EmptyTue 04 Sep 2018, 09:33

I was pleasantly surprised to see a paraffin tanker driving along an Oslo street the other day, I can't remember when the equivalent disappeared from Dublin streets as a common sight but it was certainly decades ago at this stage. It brought me back to a bygone day when my weekly chores included a trip to a local hardware merchant with a three gallon jerrycan to be filled with the stuff and the unmistakeably overwhelming odour of the fumes from the little heater (aka unexploded bomb) in the kitchen that signalled winter's return. I asked a local and was informed that not only had "parafin" never gone out of fashion but its use in "varmepumper" was now being strenuously encouraged by government legislation designed to reduce Co2 emissions and one could even get grants these days to convert older heating systems from other oil products.
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PostSubject: Re: Lighting and Electricity   Lighting and Electricity EmptyTue 04 Sep 2018, 10:24

Reading nordmann's post above, as an aside, sometimes when I go to the launderette I meet people who live on canal boats (not every time).  I presume they have some access to electricity because they have mentioned TV and listening to music but one lady told me they used a liquid paraffin heater.  I realise that a heater is not "lighting".
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PostSubject: Re: Lighting and Electricity   Lighting and Electricity EmptyTue 04 Sep 2018, 17:50

At the French group today one of the ladies had sold her house in France (well she and her husband had sold their holiday home).  Apparently it went quite quickly - to a French couple.  Of course the lady has a house locally in England.  But we were talking about moving house and I mentioned that anecdote about getting the electricity meter read if one is moving house but apparently (talking about England now) one can take one's own reading.  Still the time I 'temped' for one of the electricity boards was in the early 1980s so things have had plenty of time to change.
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PostSubject: Re: Lighting and Electricity   Lighting and Electricity EmptyWed 05 Sep 2018, 00:20

@nordmann wrote:
I was pleasantly surprised to see a paraffin tanker driving along an Oslo street the other day, I can't remember when the equivalent disappeared from Dublin streets as a common sight but it was certainly decades ago at this stage. It brought me back to a bygone day when my weekly chores included a trip to a local hardware merchant with a three gallon jerrycan to be filled with the stuff and the unmistakeably overwhelming odour of the fumes from the little heater (aka unexploded bomb) in the kitchen that signalled winter's return. I asked a local and was informed that not only had "parafin" never gone out of fashion but its use in "varmepumper" was now being strenuously encouraged by government legislation designed to reduce Co2 emissions and one could even get grants these days to convert older heating systems from other oil products.

nordmann,

was the little heater such one?

Lighting and Electricity Haller_complete

I can understand that it smells (in our dialect we say that it "stinks") and even the new ones (as I once was in the temptation to buy one) have even with all the nowadays tricks still a typical odour...and it is very dangerous as it takes all the air from your room and you have to be aware that you will need a good ventilation, what is a problem in the modern appartments (due for the isolation regulations)
Lighting and Electricity Zibro-kouskachels
But in our time in the "achterkeuken" (back kitchen?) where the familial life took place, we had a little stove "a duveltje" (little devil); And there was no danger of oxigen shortage, while in those days there were everywhere openings between doors and windows...

Lighting and Electricity Z


"I asked a local and was informed that not only had "parafin" never gone out of fashion but its use in "varmepumper" was now being strenuously encouraged by government legislation designed to reduce Co2 emissions and one could even get grants these days to convert older heating systems from other oil products."

Yes "warmtepompen" is the word of the day. We had them in the factory, but that was for big consumptions as the "restwarmte" (I don't find anything in English: the heat from a heating process, (in our case the heating of the spray installations of degreasing and phosphating) that remained at a too low temperature to use in the installation, was upgraded to the right temperature with a "heat exchanger pump?" using electricity,  to boost the "rendement" (output? efficiency?). And as they paid less tax on that electricty they had by this "rendement" (rate of return?) after only some years and the cost of the "heat exchanger" back...
Our legislators, in the Northern "region" of Belgium have now said that they will not provide the new "verkavelingen" (in my dictionary: "allotments") with earth gas anymore...they will all have to have "heat exchangers" with electricity...some guys have already reckoned that as the "heatexchangers" are that expensive that the rate of return will be more than ten years and that mostly because the Belgian electricity for particular consumption is that high...

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Lighting and Electricity   Lighting and Electricity EmptyWed 05 Sep 2018, 13:16

The unexploded device we lived with was like this one (and in exactly the same condition as I recall), Paul:

Lighting and Electricity 1936279_120429211607_076

Lighting and Electricity 1936279_120429212100_098

Lighting and Electricity 1936279_120429211901_077

The glass bottle with a drip valve screw lid goes in upside down and feeds paraffin through metal tubes to the reservoir. Capillary action sucks the paraffin up inside the can that sits in the reservoir to a circular wick within its upper perimeter. Once lit this then heats the mesh grill cap on top.

The idea of the can was to keep a distance between the lighted wick and the metal tubes feeding the paraffin. However a dirty wick or one getting so old that it started disintegrating then made a flame, and if that flame blew back into the can due to a draft from a window for example, then it was bound to lick at the tubes below.

Over the years this happened a few times in our case. The tubes actually exploded with quite some force and only the thin metal screw-cap lid on the upside-down flask that was filled with paraffin prevented the blow-back igniting the whole caboodle.

Happy memories indeed (I won't provide an image to go along with the memory of a happy little nude nordmann sitting in his tin bath in front of the bomb every Saturday evening, in only reasonably dirty warm water as he was luckily third in the pecking order - it's a wonder the youngest of the brood didn't emerge every Saturday even dirtier than he went in to the bath, poor bugger!).
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PostSubject: Re: Lighting and Electricity   Lighting and Electricity EmptyWed 05 Sep 2018, 13:24

Kerosene aka paraffin is much harder to ignite than petrol something that was emphasised in the safety reports for our storage depots which only stored aviation kerosene.  I was told that if one dropped a lighted match in a bucket of kerosene that the kerosene would put it out - not that I ever tried the experiment.  The only recorded fatalities on the government pipeline network were before I joined the system and were the result of a gasoline explosion at a time when gasoline was both transported and stored.

Tim
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PostSubject: Re: Lighting and Electricity   Lighting and Electricity EmptyWed 05 Sep 2018, 14:24

@Tim of Aclea wrote:
Kerosene aka paraffin is much harder to ignite than petrol something that was emphasised in the safety reports for our storage depots which only stored aviation kerosene.  I was told that if one dropped a lighted match in a bucket of kerosene that the kerosene would put it out ...

Exactly, and so if you put English 'petrol' in a French 'petrôle' heater, ie a paraffin heater of the type Paul illustrated above (and they are still common here too - I have a couple in the cellar for emergencies, together with a big 'bidon' of suitable fuel/carburante) you are likely to come to a very hot, sticky, dead-end! Literally so when the stove explodes and burns the house down.

But now that 'Marathon' chocolate bars have been universally renamed as 'Snickers' and 'Jif' detergent as 'Cif', and given the literally explosive effects of getting petrol confused with petrole, you'd think the EU could try and enforce common terms for these things. No doubt they tried but the idea was probably blocked by a lobby group representing the international oil industry.

And in response to LiR's comments about people living on house-boats ....

It is quite possible to live 'off-grid' whilst still having all, or at least almost all, mod-cons. I and my immediate neighbour are the last two properties up the valley with mains electricity. There are four more houses further along the river, none of which have mains electricity (and neither do they have fixed-line telephone, mobile phone coverage, mains water, nor sewerage). The first two houses are basically holiday homes and staying there is a bit like camping - but the third and fourth houses are lived in throughout the year. Indeed the third house is rented from the guy that lives in the fourth house. They all cook using bottled gas (not uncommon in France even in towns) or with a wood-fired Aga-type stove; they heat with wood (as do I); their water comes from a spring (as chez moi); and their sewergae goes to a septic tank (as here also). But they do still have most electric appliances, with power provided from a small hydro-electric turbine-generator installed in the adjacent river - plus some solar panels although they are quite hidden in the valley so I don't think these can be very effective. Having spoken to the owner - who admittedly is a bit of a DIY enthusiast and just loves tinkering with all these mechanical/electrical things - he has most normal appliances ... he says you just have to remember to unplug the freezer before using the vacuum-cleaner, remember to replug it, and then unplug it again when you want to use the PC, etc ...
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PostSubject: Re: Lighting and Electricity   Lighting and Electricity EmptyWed 05 Sep 2018, 15:07

One happy benefit for a brood of young male humans such as we were of having a guaranteed weekly supply of paraffin delivered to our abode was that it allowed some room for experimentation in testing the combustibility of the substance. Controlled experiments included filling old Airfix models with the stuff, having plugged any holes with plasticine, creating a pipe-cleaner fuse (how does the world get along these days without pipe-cleaners? They were used for just about every purpose under the sun with the sole exception of cleaning smokers' pipes, I reckon), suspending the subject at a safe distance, igniting it, and then running like feck away from the bugger. In this way many a recreation of Tora Tora and other assorted war movies was enacted in a small sub-rural (thanks Vizzer) Irish village, mostly outdoors of course after the first re-enactment of The Lion Has Wings done in the loft bedroom almost led to the last actual casualties of WWII.

Glad you didn't try the lighted match experiment, Tim. It would have been a shame to exit this universe without at least having emulated a brother of the Divine Wind brigade in all their holy glory.

MM - your reference to the dangers of having too many shared letters in words describing one quite innocuous item versus one bloody deadly one reminds me of a girl here from Venezuela who, when not sitting with the rest of us language students in our appointed voksensspråksopplæringssenteret, was eagerly learning the lingo of her adoptive home by gamely trying it out at every opportunity in the "real world" outside amongst the natives. When, in a hardware store (I know - there was a clue in itself) she saw mouthwash for sale at about a fifth of the supermarket price she could not resist and snapped up the bargain, proudly bearing her little trophy and proof that there was at last some evidence of economic sanity in a super-inflationary Cost-of-Living-Index nation home with her. After brushing her teeth that evening, followed by a bit of gargle business with her bargain wash, and despite noticing the rather stringent quality of the product along with its foul taste, she then decided to light a cigarette before heading off to her slumber (fortunately out on the balcony). It was about three weeks before she turned up again at our little language class (with an added determination to speed up her studies I might add), a little thinner than we remembered her - a consequence of enjoying every meal of the day through a straw for the intervening period. Her "munn vask" (mouth wash) of course wasn't anything of the sort. Her "mund væsk" however ("deadly liquor", used as an accelerant when lighting bonfires, large charcoal grills, Saturn V rockets etc) did exactly what it says on the packet when it or its vapour encounters a strong heat source within 10 cm. In her defence it must be said that just under the product name on the label it displayed the word "denaturert" with a friendly exclamation mark - which of course did not mean it was good for dental care, as she had assumed, but "methylated" for added OOOMPH!!
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PostSubject: Re: Lighting and Electricity   Lighting and Electricity EmptyThu 06 Sep 2018, 07:51

Slightly getting away from street light but a good example of the difference between gasoline and kerosene was the explosion at the Buncefield storage depot in 2005, which certainly lit up Hemel Hempstead.  Some paragraphs from the last chapter of my book.

'At 06.01 on Sunday 11th December 2005 the first of a series of explosions occurred in the Buncefield Oil Storage Depot near Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire, a commercial facility not forming part of the GPSS nor connected to the GPSS.  These explosions and the subsequent fires engulfed 23 fuel tanks and an extensive plume of smoke rose into the atmosphere.  On 12th December there was some loss of containment from the tanks bunds, which became worst on 14th December.  The fires were not put out until 15th December, it had taken 25 pumps, 180 fire fighters, 786,000 litres of foam and 68 million litres of water to achieve this.   Fortunately no one was killed, but the fires and explosions resulted in more than 40 people being injured and caused widespread devastation.  The large Maylands Industrial Estate with 630 businesses employing 16,500 staff was close to the depot.  All these organisations were disrupted as a result and twenty had their premises destroyed.   Some houses near to the depot were destroyed, others suffered severe damage, and houses as far away as five miles suffered some damage.  2,000 people had to be evacuated from their houses and parts of the M1 were shut.   The total cost of the incident was estimated at nearly £900 million.'




'The report Buncefield: Why did it happen? identified a large number of factors leading to the incident.  On 11th December 2005 tank 912 in the HOSL depot was being filled from the UKOP South pipeline.  At 03.05 the Automatic Tank Gauging (ATG) stopped moving meaning that the fill, high and high-high level software alarms were never triggered.  The gauge had apparently exhibited this behaviour on a significant number of occasions.  However, no one on site noticed that the ATG had stopped.  There was, in addition, an independent high level switch Emergency Shut Down system (ESD) which should have closed the inlet valve, but it failed to operate.  A padlock that needed to be fitted to the switch for it to operate correctly was not attached, it was not appreciated that this was necessary.  At 05.37 the tank started to overfill and a vapour cloud began to form.  The vapour cloud spread offsite until it was noticed by members of the public and also by tanker drivers onsite.  It was by then about 360 metres in diameter, 250,000 litres of petrol having spilt on the ground.   The alert was sounded and the firewater pump started.  This pump was located in what was supposed to be a safe area, free from explosive vapours.  However, due to the extremely large size of the spillage, explosive vapour was present and the pump starting triggered the first of several explosions.  There were to be subsequent failures of both secondary and tertiary containments.'



'There were two very important differences between GPSS PSDs managed by OPA and the Buncefield storage depot.  Gasoline (petrol) is not stored on these GPSS PSDs and kerosene, which is stored, would not have exploded at the ambient temperatures at which the Buncefield explosions blasts occurred.  The GPSS tanks are semi-buried not above ground.  The construction of the above ground tanks at Buncefield was such as to encourage the formation of a vapour cloud of the most volatile components of the petrol mix as it spilt on the ground.   In addition, on GPSS PSDs, if for whatever reason a fire and explosion had occurred in one tank then the radiant heat from the fire would have little if any impact on adjacent tanks.  This is due to them being surrounded by concrete and mounded over with earth.'
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LadyinRetirement
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PostSubject: Re: Lighting and Electricity   Lighting and Electricity EmptyThu 06 Sep 2018, 09:38

The above comments were informative from all of you (and thanks MM for the info about living on the barges but thanks everyone even if I don't name you.  I may have said at the time but when I was admitted to hospital because of what I later found to be coeliac disease, the lady in the next hospital bed to me had bladder cancer.  She had worked on machinery in her younger days and she and her colleagues used to clean their hands with benzene, which it turned out later could contribute to a person developing cancer.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Lighting and Electricity   Lighting and Electricity EmptyThu 06 Sep 2018, 23:48

@Meles meles wrote:
@Tim of Aclea wrote:
Kerosene aka paraffin is much harder to ignite than petrol something that was emphasised in the safety reports for our storage depots which only stored aviation kerosene.  I was told that if one dropped a lighted match in a bucket of kerosene that the kerosene would put it out ...

Exactly, and so if you put English 'petrol' in a French 'petrôle' heater, ie a paraffin heater of the type Paul illustrated above (and they are still common here too - I have a couple in the cellar for emergencies, together with a big 'bidon' of suitable fuel/carburante) you are likely to come to a very hot, sticky, dead-end! Literally so when the stove explodes and burns the house down.

But now that 'Marathon' chocolate bars have been universally renamed as 'Snickers' and 'Jif' detergent as 'Cif', and given the literally explosive effects of getting petrol confused with petrole, you'd think the EU could try and enforce common terms for these things. No doubt they tried but the idea was probably blocked by a lobby group representing the international oil industry.

And in response to LiR's comments about people living on house-boats ....

It is quite possible to live 'off-grid' whilst still having all, or at least almost all, mod-cons. I and my immediate neighbour are the last two properties up the valley with mains electricity. There are four more houses further along the river, none of which have mains electricity (and neither do they have fixed-line telephone, mobile phone coverage, mains water, nor sewerage). The first two houses are basically holiday homes and staying there is a bit like camping - but the third and fourth houses are lived in throughout the year. Indeed the third house is rented from the guy that lives in the fourth house. They all cook using bottled gas (not uncommon in France even in towns) or with a wood-fired Aga-type stove; they heat with wood (as do I); their water comes from a spring (as chez moi); and their sewergae goes to a septic tank (as here also). But they do still have most electric appliances, with power provided from a small hydro-electric turbine-generator installed in the adjacent river - plus some solar panels although they are quite hidden in the valley so I don't think these can be very effective. Having spoken to the owner - who admittedly is a bit of a DIY enthusiast and just loves tinkering with all these mechanical/electrical things - he has most normal appliances ... he says you just have to remember to unplug the freezer before using the vacuum-cleaner, remember to replug it, and then unplug it again when you want to use the PC, etc ...

Meles meles, Tim and nordmann.

Yes confusion is very dangerous and indeed it would be better to have an international code.
For instance I found in the wiki that I provided:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerosene
To prevent confusion between kerosene and the much more flammable and volatile gasoline, some jurisdictions regulate markings or colorings for containers used to store or dispense kerosene. For example, in the United States, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania requires that portable containers used at retail service stations be colored blue, as opposed to red (for gasoline) or yellow (for diesel fuel).[7]
Lighting and Electricity Kerosene_bottle

And Tim of course kerosene is less inflammable because it is a destillation fraction which lays between gasoline and fuel...
And my father and I had the surprise, when we put gasoline (parafinn) on some material to burn, we hadn't seen that the liquid went unseen on the floor under our feet, and when we ignited the middle we were suddenly in the middle of the flames...

"It is quite possible to live 'off-grid' whilst still having all, or at least almost all, mod-cons. I and my immediate neighbour are the last two properties up the valley with mains electricity. There are four more houses further along the river, none of which have mains electricity (and neither do they have fixed-line telephone, mobile phone coverage, mains water, nor sewerage). The first two houses are basically holiday homes and staying there is a bit like camping - but the third and fourth houses are lived in throughout the year. Indeed the third house is rented from the guy that lives in the fourth house. ) orThey all cook using bottled gas (not uncommon in France even in towns with a wood-fired Aga-type stove; they heat with wood (as do I); their water comes from a spring (as chez moi); and their sewergae goes to a septic tank (as here also). But they do still have most electric appliances, with power provided from a small hydro-electric turbine-generator installed in the adjacent river - plus some solar panels although they are quite hidden in the valley so I don't think these can be very effective. Having spoken to the owner - who admittedly is a bit of a DIY enthusiast and just loves tinkering with all these mechanical/electrical things - he has most normal appliances ... he says you just have to remember to unplug the freezer before using the vacuum-cleaner, remember to replug it, and then unplug it again when you want to use the PC, etc ..."

"They all cook using bottled gas (not uncommon in France even in towns) or with a wood-fired Aga-type stove; they heat with wood (as do I); "
Bottled gas: here too in every house were there is no a public gas net. The heating is mostly with mazout tanks undergrounds or on streetlevel.

"electric appliances, with power provided from a small hydro-electric turbine-generator installed in the adjacent river - "

What a luxe...I wanted to say to LiR an electrogroup with fuel and such a group is not too expensive...

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Lighting and Electricity   Lighting and Electricity EmptyFri 07 Sep 2018, 00:44

@nordmann wrote:
The unexploded device we lived with was like this one (and in exactly the same condition as I recall), Paul:
The glass bottle with a drip valve screw lid goes in upside down and feeds paraffin through metal tubes to the reservoir. Capillary action sucks the paraffin up inside the can that sits in the reservoir to a circular wick within its upper perimeter. Once lit this then heats the mesh grill cap on top.

The idea of the can was to keep a distance between the lighted wick and the metal tubes feeding the paraffin. However a dirty wick or one getting so old that it started disintegrating then made a flame, and if that flame blew back into the can due to a draft from a window for example, then it was bound to lick at the tubes below.

Over the years this happened a few times in our case. The tubes actually exploded with quite some force and only the thin metal screw-cap lid on the upside-down flask that was filled with paraffin prevented the blow-back igniting the whole caboodle.

Happy memories indeed (I won't provide an image to go along with the memory of a happy little nude nordmann sitting in his tin bath in front of the bomb every Saturday evening, in only reasonably dirty warm water as he was luckily third in the pecking order - it's a wonder the youngest of the brood didn't emerge every Saturday even dirtier than he went in to the bath, poor bugger!).
 
thank you very much for this detailed survey of your dangerous heating device. We had more as MM said about France the gas bottle heating with a gas bottle inside

[*]Lighting and Electricity Bleuflame_voorkant_small
But I don't find a picture of the old fashioned ones that we had...

"Happy memories indeed (I won't provide an image to go along with the memory of a happy little nude nordmann sitting in his tin bath in front of the bomb every Saturday evening, in only reasonably dirty warm water as he was luckily third in the pecking order - it's a wonder the youngest of the brood didn't emerge every Saturday even dirtier than he went in to the bath, poor bugger!)."

nordmann, I was the second after my sister (ladies first) and only with two and in the middle of the back kitchen in a zinc plated bathtub...I have here a modern version of a 17 gallon one




Lighting and Electricity Behrens-metal-mop-buckets-7x-64_1000

And we were that lucky that we were in our childhood in that time with grandmother in her back kitchen were there was a big "leuvense stoof"
Lighting and Electricity 9d3bf59e-eda5-11e4-906e-36765998f59e

Yes those were the lucky times of the childhood...but also of a small firebomb with a fuse, not exactly this one but something similar
[*]Lighting and Electricity Hqdefault

and the fuse was I thought extincted and after some minute in the middle of the other guys taking it between the fingers to look what happened and perhaps by the oxigen of the wind it blowed up between the two fingers...two big blisters on the fingers...I to grandmother...she with me to the "pharmachien" to have some wound healing "zalf" (ointment, salve?)...and pain and pain, but I didn't dare to say it...

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Lighting and Electricity   Lighting and Electricity EmptyMon 21 Oct 2019, 04:54

I wasn't sure where to put this but think this thread is as good as any. Yesterday we went to a little museum in Dunedin called the Gas Museum, only open on Sundays and Wednesdays, and run by three volunteers. It cost us $5NZ, and for that we were shown round the whole site, just the two of us, by two young(ish) men. We were there over an hour, accompanied all the time. It was full of large machinery and apparently has a steam engine going once a month and though by coincidence it was supposed to be running while we were there, it was being repaired or something. Its site says: "The Dunedin Gasworks Museum is part of the now closed Dunedin Gasworks which was New Zealand’s first and last gasworks, operating from 1863 until 1987. It is one of only three known preserved gasworks museums in the world. This is a significant local and world heritage site." 


My husband and I didn't get past 5th form (Year 11) chemistry and I really only enjoyed the equations and didn't learn anything about how things like elements and compounds work. He talked of retorts and condensers and how coal becomes tar and how various elements combine to form other compounds and though I asked occasionally what these meant, of course by now I have forgotten. Even so it was just great and we were so impressed. We hardly understood any of what he told us, full of retorts and conductors, boiler houses, etc. 


But I did leave with a pamphlet showing what 100 tons of coal can become: 70 tons of coke, 21 55 tons of gas, 5 tons of tar. And from these such varied items as paint, superphosphates, bleach, explosives, baking powder, grouting, saccarine, antiseptics, dyes, pencils, caffeine, sedatives, photographic chemicals, sheep dip, and household ammonia can be obtained. "Nearly 200 substances have been isolated from tar up to the present time."  


I lived in Dunedin from 1968 to 1972, but we didn't have gas for heating or cooking, but the man said in the area we lived (the student area) the outside lighting would probably have been gas. 
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PostSubject: Re: Lighting and Electricity   Lighting and Electricity EmptyMon 21 Oct 2019, 08:11

Unless the student area was operating as a private estate then Dunedin, like every other NZ city, had converted from gas by 1903 (private land even now can continue with gas if it can source a supply). The main challenge the city would have faced was the same as every other place in the world converting from gas to electricity at the time - both systems could not really run in the same locale and keeping them apart for safety reasons would be a hugely expensive undertaking in terms of excavation. Some areas just hadn't the space to accommodate dual provision anyway, and both systems could not safely even share proximity at area intersection points where gas sumps would have to sit in the same spot as electric current boosters. So the conversion always had to be pretty much a total one, and pretty much an immediate one too.

The man might have meant that the area used low pressure sodium lighting (as opposed to high pressure which became more and more popular from the 1930s onwards and almost a universal standard from the 50s/60s). However two factors inhibited conversion from low to high pressure sodium use - too much gradient variation and too much distance between generation sources. Excessive gradient can leave some streetlights at too high an elevation above their neighbours within the same "circuit" with a consequent requirement to be pressurized beyond the capability of the system, and this requirement to compensate for ambient pressure variations could only be resolved with expensive insertion of independent "booster" terminals and often a different design of relay per lamp-post. Too long a distance covered by a circuit between generation boosters means that a network within which the more forgiving low pressure sodium had been quite adequate suddenly hit several problems when expected to cope with too wide a range of ignition levels for a gas requiring quite a narrow range of tolerance to sustain that ignition (the infernal "disco effect"). Much of London stuck with low pressure sodium way into the 2000s largely due to this limitation, and large areas there still rely on it - I visited Hendon recently and couldn't believe how dark it was at night compared to what I'm used to in Oslo. When you're used to it I suppose you stop noticing light levels, but when you suddenly go from one to the other it's very marked indeed.

I see on Dunedin's council website they're going full steam ahead (no pun intended) with LED street- lighting. This was trialled in Oslo a few years ago but abandoned for the moment - the light levels were deemed too low and they required whole new grid provision too - even the high pressure sodium system's restricted circuits couldn't guarantee the current stability required by LED.
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