Thingamabob that he keeps running into in Boston basements

Bo Williams asks:

I keep seeing these… devices in the basements of Boston-area homes. What are they?

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Comments

Watch out

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That's an early version of the Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator.

No, no; this is how people

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No, no; this is how people used to hook up their interocitors back when they still were wired. Of course, wireless interocitors were developed pretty early and took over the market, rendering these things useless.

What is it?

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It seems to be an early prototype of the Krell Mind Control device

I KNOW I'm not the only one...

...that ran downstairs to take a picture of my 'telephone thingie'.
I knew it was telephone related and now I know what it is.

Cash prize for oldest date...
IMAGE(http://i.imgur.com/bDOYV43.jpg)

Iluddium Q

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So that's where I left it.

It is probably an old (pre

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It is probably an old (pre-1950) telephone line "station protector" I recognize the two red vertical rods as heat coils, designed to take the overload from a cross of a power line with the telephone line. If you examine the white insulator closely, you may spot the letters WE for Western Electric. The station protector saved the station equipment, the home phone, from power line crosses.96

By jove!

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You're right! The white thingee does say "Western Electric."

Haven't heard that voice in a while

The woman reading the mothers day announcement is very likely to be my husband's grandmother. It sounds just like her! She worked for the phone company around that time. She died five years ago at the age of 99.

Went down to check out the wiring in our basement

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Because I knew we had some majorly pre-1950 wiring, based on the fact it was pretty solid stuff and because of this tag:

New England Telephone and Telegraph

But, alas, no cool line-protection thingamabob, just a wooden board with what looks like a bakelite-based connector thingee for the wires coming in and the wire going upstairs (that, most recently, the Verizon FiOS installation guy used to anchor some of his wires).

Uh-oh

If you have both a thingamabob and a thingee on the same circuit, there's a possibility of a moebius short-circuit. You're lucky that Verizon guy didn't bridge the tepid wire to hermes, or your entire building could have gone into a timeloop.

Boston thingamabob

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These are versions of Western Electric type 98 station protectors installed by New England Telephone Co to protect your phone line coming into your house from hazardous voltages due to a problem outside. The long red things are fuses that blow with excessive current. Underneath the black knob in center are two carbon gap protectors that allow short burst of high voltage to get safely to ground. With a sustained high voltage on the line they actually short circuit to ground, keeping the high voltage from going in and damaging the house or telephone !

Question for Bo

What are you doing that you frequently find yourself looking at people's basements in Boston?

Analog

That's an analog flux capacitor! Only good for a couple hundred megawatts.

brights

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Step on the button in the middle and you'll turn on the house's high beams.