Milo Valley Farm - knob and tube wiring, part 1

by brae  

Yeah, that's some scary stuff, right there.  :O  bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzt

image from Wikipedia

Knob and tube wiring is an old and outdated method of electrification, and if your home inspector finds it in your house, be prepared to spend a lot of money to remove and replace the electrical system.  :\

I have no idea when the barn on Milo Valley Farm was built.  We'll just say it's way old since I don't know when I will again have the chance to make this insanity in 1:12 scale.  :D  I have gathered crochet thread size 10, white plastic tubing in two diameters (I used only the smaller of the two), white plastic rod and copper colored head pins.

Here are two examples showing the parts up close (link1 and link2).   This article from Rexophone is packed with information and images beyond just knob and tube wiring.  Blondie had access to some of this old wiring and gave me the dimensions for the knobs -- just over 1" wide and varying from 1.5" to 2" long with most being the longer measurement.  She didn't see any tubes in the setup, and those might have been removed or so out of the way as to not be seen or accessible.

Now, there's true scale conversion and there's just "getting the look" of something with proportional measurements. I'm going with the latter.  To make the tubes, I cut 1" lengths of 1/16" plastic tubing.  (The 1/16" measurement would be 3/4" in real life.)

I applied Testors contour putty to the end with a toothpick and then shaped with my fingernail.  The thread is fed through the tube.  I applied glue to the thread end to make it stiff enough to go through the tube, but I might do this for the entire length when I install it since it makes it easier to handle and put in proper position.  I will cut down the tubes to lengths needed to work in the various areas where I will install them.

To make the knobs, I cut two pieces of 1/8" plastic rod -- one 3/32" long for the top and one 1/8" long for the base.  Here is the top.

I made a small channel on the top of the remaining length of rod to make room for the thread.  It was easier to do this detailing while I was able to hold the length of rod in my hand.  The real life examples have two channels to keep the wire from touching the nail holding the knob in place, but I am going to use the nail to secure the thread in place.  In other words, I'd be causing fires and electrocuting people if I were a mini electrician.  :O


I then cut the longer of the two pieces.  I drilled holes in each knob set to make way for the headpins.

The reason I didn't use open tubing for this is because I wanted a tight fit for the pins and the existing 1/8" tubing had too large an opening.  It was either fill in the open tubing or drill holes in the rods.

With a little give on the measurements, I ended up with a knob that would be 3" long in real life.

The tube goes through the wall to bring in the wire.  I fed the headpin through the thread to hold it in place.

I then pulled it tight on the other side of the cardboard test board.  When I install these, I will glue and drill holes into the beam structure of the barn.  The prototype worked out well.  :D

I don't think I'll bother painting these, even with the contour putty being a slightly different color.  There won't be more than a few tubes, besides.  It seems a lot of hassle for very little return when they look good on their own.


Comment from: Debora [Visitor]
Great solution! I'm looking forward to seeing it in place :D
07/19/15 @ 13:34
Comment from: April [Visitor]
Nicely done :D
07/19/15 @ 13:37
Comment from: azteclady [Visitor]
Every time you explain how you achieve the particular effect you are looking for, I'm amazed at your commitment to detail, in every one of your builds. I know I repeat myself, but I really want to thank you for sharing your work with us. It's wonderful.
07/19/15 @ 13:46
Comment from: Betsy Rogers [Visitor]
Wow, Brae.....You really go the extra mile! I had knob and tube in my current house...(built in 1918) and yes, I had to pay to get it out of the walls and ceilings! I have also seen it in old barns where the wire is wrapped around a small ceramic "doorknob" shaped insulator which is nailed through its center to the beams. It just keeps the wire off the wood! I can't wait to see this in place!
07/19/15 @ 15:12
Comment from: pepper [Visitor]
Your attention to detail and commitment to making your builds historically accurate just add to the charm. Love it =0)
07/20/15 @ 00:27
Comment from: Keli [Visitor]
07/20/15 @ 00:44
Comment from: Nancy Enge [Visitor]
YOU WIN FOR CRAZY :D Brilliant problem solving and execution.
07/20/15 @ 11:37
Comment from: elizabeth s [Visitor]
"Impressive.... MOST IMPRESSIVE!" I also have had past experience with old knob and tube wiring and yours does look very convincing Brae. I admire your dedication to tiny details, which make all the difference from what is already good to what will eventually become Great!
07/20/15 @ 12:03
Comment from: Lucille [Visitor]
Intricate work, Brae! You work is always so detailed. Admire your patience!
07/20/15 @ 19:31
Comment from: jette [Visitor]
Hi Brae - this comment has absolutely nothing to do with your post. Do you remember that you made a fake latter to the attic in the haunted heritage? Well I have made a real latter to my attic. You can see it here: By the way - I love your Work. Kind regard from Jette
07/21/15 @ 08:43
Comment from: Blondie [Visitor]
I'm always happy to help with Out of Date/Code farmie life. Haha!! Great job!
07/21/15 @ 11:09
Comment from: brae [Member]
Thanks, everyone!!! :D I think it's going to be a lot of fun.
07/23/15 @ 12:39
Comment from: Suzanne Dargie [Visitor]
Wow! That looks so realistic!
07/24/15 @ 11:39

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