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Past Rural Lighting


Wisconsin Ron

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One grandfather's place had "piped white spirit" lighting.

There was a pressure pot that held about 5 gallons of "white spirit" and a car tyre style pump to pressurise it.  That fed to the individual lights around the house.

I span from early kerosene lights like the chimney and wick and hurricane to Tilley lights (pressure kero and a good light) to the convenience of 32 volt electric and the arrival of 240 volt ac via SWER line

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Not rural but my parents house, in the family since new in 1899 and predating electric lights but with gas in the street, had gas lights. When electrified in the '20s armored cable was pulled to those fixtures converted to hold a light bulb. One outlet each in the kitchen, living room, and dining room. Watching "A Christmas Story" brings back the myriad extension cords and cube taps we had along with the frequent blown glass fuses.

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I dont know much about it but a recently retired buddy remodeled his grandmother's house after he moved in and it had the acetylene set up, or remains of it at that time. This was approximately 1990s or 80s

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Lisa’s grandmother’s farmhouse has natural gas lighting. I had never seen that before. Eastern Ohio. 
The house I grew up in, still had the Delco light plant, but it had all been converted by my time, although it was still tube and wire until the mid 70s. 

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The house my Mom bought after she retired had a carbide plant in the back yard. I saw it briefly once before she had it buried. That house was built in the 1800's.  Extreme rural Louisa county Virginia.  It also had a metal water tower with the remnants of a wooden tank on top and what was left of a sucker rod. The windmill itself was long gone. Interestingly, the hand dug well under it never had water in it the 20 years she lived there.

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We have a Colt acetylene plant at our Farm museum. It's a pretty interesting piece. I don't have pictures of it right now, but it is self regulating. As a small tank above a larger tank. Small tank holds the carbide, the larger tank holds water.  On the side is a telescoping holding tank. It is a two-piece tank with a top and bottom that slide together. That holds the acetylene. There's a lever in rod system off the telescoping tank that controls the amount of carbide that drops in the water.

Here is a setup like the one we have. I have read pretty terrible stories of explosions of these things.

https://frontierhomestead.org/homestead-telegraph/2018/3/21/a-look-into-our-collection-colt-carbide-plant

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