Backboards

This was my first backboard and came from an installation in the Birmingham area. The wiring was in a bad state, but now has been redone, and I don't have any other pictures of it in its original condition, so I've had to use my old Time switch picture. The time switch on this backboard is a Venner MS2SP. Click here for a closer picture.

I've temporarily wired this up to run an 80 W mercury lamp, but it probably won't stay like this for long.


This backboard was removed from a concrete column on a footpath. It also uses an MS2SP, however may be newer, as it is fitted with a proper cutout instead of just an isolator switch. This is set up to run a 35 or 55 W SOX lamp.


This backboard was removed from a disused column near to Survivor 4D. It uses a Venner Vennerette time switch (click here for a closer picture) and can run a 125 W mercury lamp. The reason this backboard has two cutouts is because it was a control point. The plate below the capacitor shows which units it controlled: "E14 to C3". The GEC Alsthom (top) cutout looks like it was installed recently to replace an older cutout, however the white Lucy cutout looks original. The bottom of the board has been in contact with water for some time, as it is quite badly rotted.

Jeremy has now given me a more detailed description about this backboard, some of which may have already been said above: "The 125 W mercury gear backboard came from the main control point column on the footpath leading to the old Sturgess School. The incoming mains service cable is a 25 or 35 mm solid aluminium concentric with copper outer. This is now the standard service cable for street light and house services.

This service is fairly new (in the last ten years or so) and as far as I can ascertain, the E.M.E.B. [East Midlands Electricity Board] service was installed after the school had been demolished; the original supply coming from the school. The 'outgoing' cable, feeding the other lamps on the footpath, is a 4 mm split concentric. The outer wires in this are split into 2/3'rds covered in black PVC (for the neutral) and 1/3rd left bare (for the earth). This feeds from the red-spot fuse unit which I suspect is a fairly recent replacement (this would originally have had a porcelain fuse unit, which must have broken or burned out!) The split concentric cable, in sizes from 4 mm up to 16 mm, is also commonly used as a service cable for street lights.

The 'White Venner' time switch, as they were called (proper name - Vennerette) were quite unusual for street lighting and usually used with mercury lamps. The basic clock mechanism is similar to the clear-cover type Venner MS2SP, but you'll note it has 4 pins, having separate live and neutral connections for the clock motor. (To remove the mechanism from the case, undo the small securing screw at the bottom, just to the left of the red on-off knob.)

Many of these old columns can still be seen along the, now derelict, Sturgess School footpath. Some were concrete, some cast iron - they all had Beta 4s with 125 W mercury lamps originally; lately some had tungstens in. Where some of the columns have been removed the old lead cables can be seen and (from Watson St) the redundant lead cable and split concentric (some enclosed in conduit) can still be seen running along the bridge over the stream."


Thanks to Jeremy for giving a very detailed description of this: "This board came from the warden-controlled sheltered housing scheme at Arthur Hind Close where up until recently most of the lights were on part-night, going off at midnight and back on at 05:30 to 06:00 until dawn. (Incidentally, Arthur Hind Close still has numerous mercury lanterns, 125 W's in Gamma 5s, in very good condition - see here for pictures.) A few years ago the service board burned out in this column and the actual wooden board was replaced along with the cutout and service cable, though the original gear and MSQP time switch were retained. The original board was burned at the bottom and the column showed signs of blackening/fire from this.

We save the wooden boards from old columns that are in good condition, for cases like this where the boards have to be replaced. The service cable is a 4 mm split-concentric and the white Lucy MC040 cutout was the standard service cutout for street lights for years in Derby up until the mid/late 90s when the grey GEC - Henley type started to be used.

The control gear is unusual (the ballast). These were the first Thorn ignitor-ballasts, appearing around 1976. These ballasts appeared in with-gear Beta 5s until 1977. The ignitors themselves have not changed.

The Venner MSQP time switch is quite different from the smaller Venner models, having a much larger dial and longer switch - mechanism. These were also available in a white plastic case (like a big version of the Vennerette case). Unfortunately the glass is missing from the case in this one and the dial centre nut is a new, replacement one. The dial was originally held on with a twist of copper wire; the original nut, which would have been brass, was missing. Otherwise the time switch itself is in a very good and clean condition."


This backboard was used in the column to which the Abacus AM301 was fitted. The lantern was originally operated by a time switch with fixed on and off times - this was later changed for the Horstmann K Mk 2A shown above. The 110 W SON lamp is designed to be a retro-fit for a 125 W mercury lamp; and as such, both lamps use the same control gear. The isolator consists a Hager fuse unit with a 6A fuse fitted. The mains supply was a 4 mm˛ split concentric cable and the earth wires from this were taken straight into the time switch earth terminal.

This backboard was located in the base of the column which supported my older Gamma 5. Again, a 125 W gear set is used; this time with a part-night Venner MS2SP. When Jeremy first took control of the maintenance of the Gamma 5, he discovered that the old GEC ballast had completely rusted up - all the paint had 'blown' off and around 1999, he replaced it as he feared that it may fail and go short-circuit; destroying the ancient Philips 'Powerwhite' lamp.


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