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Control/Dimming Old "telephone" switchboard style lighting patch panels

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Reggie, Feb 21, 2009.

  1. Reggie

    Reggie Member

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    Ship, Wolf and anyone else with a long history in theater lighting: who other than Century were building boards in the 50's and 60's. I just saw an old patch bay style system in a dis-used high school in NJ. Sorry I was in total awe and didn't write down any info.
    It probably predated the (non digital) one I worked on in a school built in 1966/67 which also had rheostat dimmers and a manual patch bay. As best as I can describe it, the patch cords (40) were in a horizontal field, the dimmer circuit jacks, 5 per dimmer, were vertically arranged above, beneath the patch cord field were the breakers for each patchable circuit as well as those for the house lights. The actual control system was all level style rheostats, no possible provision for a remote lighting board. It seemed like the power was off to the entire control system, but four circuits still control scoops hung in the proscenium. In the past someone had removed control of the house lights.
    Any guesses?
     
  2. gordonmcleod

    gordonmcleod Active Member

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    re: Old "telephone" switchboard style lighting patch panels

    All the dimmer manufacturers made patch panels Many used jacks and plugs supplied by Ward Leonard
    Some also used the smaller American Superior SuperCon connector
    Some of the dimmer makers like Major and Ariel Davis developed slider patch panels with some degree of sucess
     
  3. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    re: Old "telephone" switchboard style lighting patch panels

    My favorite of these was always the Kliegl Saf-Patch:
    [​IMG]
    Photo from 1965 catalog# T-61.

    A circuit breaker was adjacent to each hole, and the circuit could not be energized until the plug was fully inserted into the jack, then the breaker could be engaged. This made it impossible to hot patch a live circuit.
     
  4. Reggie

    Reggie Member

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    Not Klieg either. Might have been Major?? Pictures of some old panels would help. I'm sure each builder of controls wanted to have thir equipment have a recognizable look. If it helps to narrow it down, the dimmer jack field consisted of seperate sections, one for each dimmer, each panel section of 5 jacks (in a pentagon layout)was bolted into the cabinet face seperately. Any photos of panels that Major made?
     
  5. dramatech

    dramatech Well-Known Member

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    It sounds like it could be Electro-Control. If it was, it would be a Dark brown cabinet with a very light ivory color for the female patch connectors. sorry i don't have any pix. Most Electro control and the earlier company Ariel Davis had some sort of analog meter for checking the load.
     
  6. Reggie

    Reggie Member

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    Nope, battleship grey, except for the patch cord panel which was black.
     
  7. JD

    JD Well-Known Member

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    Blast from the past on that Kliegl! It's funny how legacy in the industry dictates design. (Location and shape of faders... Remember the old EDI scrimmer boards with the backlight?)

    Still have an old patch bay back in the shed, remember them well. Then we moved to the diode matrix patch bays, and then to the current soft patch.

    I like that feature on the old Kliegl where you can't overload them! Some modern dimmer manufacturers should learn that lesson ;)

    Thanks Derek, for the sheet and the trip down memory lane!
     
  8. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    We had that Kliegl panel in one of our college theaters!! But the plugs came from the top to plug into the dimmers.

    Wow I hated that thing!

    Mike
     
  9. rustystuff

    rustystuff Member

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    Wow - You've just described the dimmer board that I learned on in high school back in 19&*! (Back before the earth cooled...) And I thought I was the only dinosaur that remembered that stuff!

    Nothing like a whole wall full of "black spaghetti" to make things interesting...
     
  10. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Possibly Hub? Did Major make dimmers/control? Though in NJ on the other hand... I would have to think someone else, don't think they had offices on the East Coast.

    Was a few companies making control gear at that point but not something allot of catalogs survive to these days. Nor something much I have studdied, I more do fixtures - still working on acquiring old catalogs also so nothing to check other than stage lighting books written during that period. Perhaps Strand archive. Strand as a company would be supplying the East Coast also.

    I know my first College had the first slide panel patch board (think it was Kliegl) seen it in a text book recently though I forget which. Wish I photo copied the manual and tech drawings I found backstage. - Imagine a two scene pre-set's faders, except each circuit locked into a dimmer per which fader it was slid into.

    This verses the patch bay at the Athanaeum that was I think 1926 telephone patch bay and still in operation. If not 1926 probably will have been from the 50's. Believe the origional dimmers for that patch bay were "Cypress Creek" as another brand possibly making a patch bay or dimmers. Don't remember who made either of the above two patch panels. I'll be going out to both theaters this spring and take lots of photos.
     
  11. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    That is awesome Rusty. They had that set up until 2005 at least at UT. They might still have it.

    We also had 7.2kW dimmers in some of the slots and non-dim units to switch them out with.

    It was impossible tracing patch issues in that thing! Heaven help you if you had to repatch something. They also had those circuit breakers that kept the recptical from being live if the plug was pulled.

    You know the best part?

    On the other end of the DMX cable? Was an Obsession II.

    Mike
     
  12. jeffmoss26

    jeffmoss26 Member

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    my mom's work has an old ward leonard system...most of it was replaced with an ETC Unison, but the patch panel is still intact, as is the whole cabinet. I will get some pics next time I am home.
     
  13. reggie98

    reggie98 Member

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    Panel turns out to have been made by Stagecraft Industries which is still in business. School was supposedly built in 1960 (so says the district electrician). Photos to be posted soon.
     
  14. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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  15. reggie98

    reggie98 Member

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    A few images of the board.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  16. DAE

    DAE Member

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    Re: A few images of the board.

    I have come across two telephone style patch panels, here in Perth, Western Australia. They were made by LSC lighting, used the Australian piggy back plug, the leads were stored in the bottom of the shelf and were patched into dimmers that were mounted rack style above the shelf. There were only about 36 circuits out to the lighting bars. Usually 12 or 24 dimmer channels.
     
  17. Esoteric

    Esoteric Well-Known Member

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    Re: A few images of the board.

    Our patchbay had 120 dimmers and 356 circuits.

    Mike
     
  18. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    March 23rd, 2009 06:35 PMreggie98
    Profile: ship
    Ship,
    This thread: http://www.controlbooth.com/forums/lighting/lighting/lighting/l...ch-panels.html Unfortunately the "powers that be" in the town disabled the board when most of the lights were removed from the school. If the town ever replaces the board, do you thing any parts of it would be worth saving to build a primitive but mobile dimming system?

    reggie




    On the dimmers or dimming system, probably not. What are you trying to save in converting? Portable for what it does, perhaps for the light board at best, for the dimmers, most likely not - once almost dropped a 6x2K triangular “road pack” with master (from the 60's) thru the floor when my rigging broke - this thing while standardized parts for 40 years ago to what this touring pack had, itsn’t much use overall as a portable pack at least for the effort that would be needed and weight of it’s components. Given it depends on what specific gear you are thinking about. Did also save the Stage pin type panel mounts also for another patch panel I never got around to. Would still be useful but it's like 15x years since I saved them and I still have not used them this by way of not needed for a project or in general forgetting that I have them already pre-made and able to use as opposed to just starting from scratch for what's needed to the situation. Mostly forgetting I have them and or not considering them when making a new product and spending hours making new parts as standardized parts are constantly useful in being the same even 40 years later.

    Had three of them touring packs, one with master the others slaves which were much lighter. Saved some of the fader handles - on my window sill at work, saved the main dimmer as a door stop which later got trashed due to long story, and saved just about every screw or plate steel on them I could find. Don’t know what happened to a lot of the parts, think in the end I had to throw out a lot of them, know I still have the original master dimmer lever. Heck, one of the dimmer coils is still in use at work as dead weight for my wire rope hoist for my department when not in use. Still got bins full of screws and stuff from dismantling the things. Granted these days I don’t have much use for normal nuts or spring lock washers, but my bins are full of even brass or bronze ones which are useful at times and I’ll never have to buy again in my lifetime. The screws from the things on the other hand, constantly in use for projects. I rarely do Phillips for a machine screw thus older screws as long as serviceable works well for most of what I work on.

    Handles, plate steel etc... long gone in being used on new gear = know what the price on steel plate is? Just need one salvaged even front panel to a rack plate for a project, what’s saved is constantly perfect if one has the ability to shape and cut it to one’s needs. (Constantly replacing the bent aluminum barndoor shutter retaining clips to studio Fresnels. All it takes is like a L’ shape of 1" leg 16ga steel bent and cut in a reproducing the holder way riveted to the shutter to retain the shutters. Just a say 1" square of material out of a scrap steel bin - at very least some side plate off a dimmer is well worth having to buy plate to make it out of.) Side panels, angle plates etc. if you construct gear for a living like I do, salvage away. Not much on an old dimmer you won’t be able to save for future needs, the rest left over is either copper that can be recycled for a profit or at very least in not recycling what’s left of the steel framing etc., a lot less to pay to haul away. Wiring is of course gone in no longer useful to the recycler, but say some copper buss bar within the thing... copper no matter how old will still carry a current, if useful later why buy more or at least recycle it as a separate part than as part of the main dimmer contraption thing gone to scrap? Add up the bucks in seperating out what is what and balance it with the labor involved in saving the different materials and you should get ahead.

    On the other hand, when my old store front theater finally gave it up, we moved road boxes full of scrap steel and parts out of the place I had collected up - raw materials other theaters wouldn’t take and left behind after the garage sale. More than a dozen road boxes just full of plate steel and parts from indicator lights to screws to angle irons - no offers even for the 100+ gallons of paint in stock in misc. colors or stains (other than black) that had to be thrown out, or full lumber racks full of salvaged lumber from past sets by us or other places I acquired the sets to left behind. Hmm, bending luan, what might I find use for that for? Hundreds of ½" MDF 10x16" blocks of pre-painted blocks looking like stone under the audience, and no takers for them. I was really, really good at acquiring stuff to the extent we later had to turn the studio theater into a work shop storage space by way of given materials on-hand for sets, normally only needing like a $80.00 budget per show in the mid 90's for a full set always provided for our shows - this given it took a lot of labor so as to turn the sets back into raw materials and that labor needed in the end was in part what closed us down in burning ourselves out. Sure, we could cheaply do full shows but there was just so much work beyond just building the sets, in just prepping the scrapped sets for future use. So few people were willing to spend a day in pulling staples at the end, than build a show afterwards in the end, so much for free in cost labor but in being free for free materials, it burned all of us out. What was once the studio theater’s audience area, became lumber storage and we had it all, the stage to the studio theater became the work shop given the original work shop became just plain paint and flat storage. Ammo cans full of dry wall screws I still have, craft paper spool with cutter left behind amongst a full theater’s worth of gear I had to make choices in taking, leaving or actively asking a few fellow theaters to just take in often not being advanced enough to need. How could anyone not want paint, much less the shelving the cans were on? Lazy!!! and that killed off our theater also in too much work and not enough time = my point. Just couldn’t get takers when the theater closed & we sent out notices to all theaters in the Chicago area to come grab the stuff in the end for helping with our bills or free and even than limited takers. In the end, the road cases built to transport the gear were more sought after than the gear within.

    Was personally paying for the like 8x12 (floor to ceiling filled) storage locker for what gear the old theater I had saved including lights and cable which I did save than later kept or sold off elsewhere. Took me six months on the other hand to weed thru the gear in the road boxes in saving and not paying rental at a time money wasn’t coming in from work. Bringing to the new theater what I could in exchange for a few antiques like a 1926 oak stage brace etc. for pig iron steel they needed etc. in making safe what I was working on in making it safe given at the time a Hemp house, or just what I could squirrel away in it not being a production company, more a LORT type house.

    Once had a 6x2K One Scene dimmer pack light board with a different style of fader levers than in this discussion, (discussed this dimmer a few years ago with photos by someone else with a simlar one) - about the size and weight of an old school cash register. Will have been possible and was a goal of mine to make it into a remote dimmer pack - was I think analog internally at least and possible to make it into a six pack 2.4K dimmer as a theory. On the other hand, time is valuable and what will have been needed to make it something useful wouldn’t have been worth it even given it’s weight for the older technology dimmers. We are talking about parts/brains needed that will have added up to about as much as it will have cost to just buy a smaller economy dimmer & already done. Once bought a NSI 8 pack 1.2Kw dimmer for personal use when NSI was still a new company, still working in the theater I later sold it to and it was not expensive. Other brands and gear on the market that’s cost effective plus UL listed. This cost for parts not including labor in what it will have taken to make that six pack into something useful - time better spent on building sets or working on gear that was viable. This plus years of it on my TBA project list never gotten to, heck I ten years later still have a work light over my garage currently that I use daily but have not taken apart yet since the dark days of my wiring ability, this much less at times I have to spin at times a lamp to keep it working in TBA project I like ten years later have not gotten to (mechanic’s own car type concept.) Doubt I will have even still gotten to that dimmer pack even today and given the skilled labor to do parts of it for me for free will have been free assuming I didn’t antique it next to the below.

    Unfortunately I left it in the alley when I moved out of Chicago and scaled down a bit in stuff I had collected up. (That was years before my idea of collecting stuff for a museum - lighting gear only not dimmers or control got started.... too bad, an empty file cabinet space next to the origional light board for Cheap Treck at work, it will have been the perfect place to abandon that lost project.) Heck on it, I didn’t even have the time to fix minor things on it like indicator lamps or I think a channel not working, even though I owned it for a few years and it will have been just personal time spent, just never had time to fix it.

    On the other hand, what to salvage??? This especially given you pay for volume or weight in scrapping the gear? Depends first on labor again - time even if free is still money or time not spent on other more important things. On the other hand, a single 400A three phase Marathon block is worth like $80.00 and if you build distro gear like I do... when the shop thru out a bunch of old transformers and distros left over from the origional Cooper Tools / Turner Gas Works complex we occupy, I let it be known to the building manager that in the future any electrical gear needs to come see me before it’s disposed of in citing that price alone in stuff I have to buy for projects. Again, build much three phase 400A distro gear in this even if valuable in part amongst many including indicator lights etc... got the space to store the raw parts some times for years? Got 18" bin space to store for years without use the multitudes of no doubt QOU type Square D circuit breakers in still no doubt being perfectly good for future use? Yep, these and other models of circuit breakers are still in use, but do you need them, or have the space to store them in potential future use? Given like $10.00 or $20.00 per circuit breaker, perhaps, but on the other hand salvaging gear depends on future use of them as opposed to just pack ratting them away. This plus at some point like me, I forget what I did so and find out a week or two later, gee I didn’t need to buy that part. Even this past week given racks full of raw materials, could sware I had lots of four pin Cinch Jones plugs and panel mounts in me buying more... just can’t find them hidden behind the ladder hanging off the rack. There they are, this in floor to ceiling stuff in storage.

    Me, yep, I would have a great time in salvaging the materials from these racks, but on the other hand I would use the materials from them on future projects. What can you salvage, given they are not much useful for portable? Doubt much in having to ask/sorry in a no offense type of way. Standardized parts is standardized parts, once the brains and dimmers are out of the question, the raw parts that make them up one just balances with the price in removing verses what it costs for new and that’s a definate balance to do.

    Got some great guys in my department and they excell in taking stuff apart as long at they don't have to at times put it back together so for me it's cost effective. Last week my guys had a lot of fun in prepping a bunch of computer gear for recycling. “Beevis” (in having both of them in my department plus Stewert from the same show and “the old man from “Family Guy” as a joke more than realistic - “Grandpa Grey Squirrel” is his nick name otherwise, in me being the Beevis/Butthead guys with me more or less as their teacher in attempting to at times “now boys” get the ADD guys focused on their projects or Stewert and Grandpa Grey Squerrel working a bit harder to get stuff done.)

    Beevis and Butthead were constantly asking “Stewert” questions like, it says Pentium II chip, is it useful? Stewert sying and answering, “no Beevis not useful.” On the other hand, Butthead did find some useful computer components to take home which saved us money in paying per pound to recycle. Old Grey Squirrel being a former scrap yard owner was really useful in separating out stuff but on the other hand as in general, he is hourly and takes his time in doing a good job at often a slightly slower than necessary pace which drives me crazy in amount of literally magnifying glass detail of his work. Constantly entertaining my department for me my workers, Beevis’ taking a huge crow bar to a printer (which was emotionally reliecing for him and removed extra parts quickly - the goal), us removing base plates to flat screen monitors so as to conserve space and weight in paying to recycle, Stewert’ spending all day and me taking away from him part of his stack of stuff to “carefully remove” in paying to do the good thing in recycling verses just getting it out of the thing... Fun day in also keeping Beevis and Butthead plus the other two focused on their project and a concept that we would tend to want to get this over with and onto other things ASAP. This all granted I also got distracted at some point with magnets and lasors on disc drives and seperated out a small stack of what I might find useful verses as opposed to the weighty component we would be paying for if in theory that ruby on a circuit board we were paying for by the pound in lessening the weight, I might separate.... yea got a bit crazy in the details of my one day of fun in scrapping computers in saving only what was needed to recycle verses even saving magnets myself. The boys had fun with me also and we acquired a few bins full of small parts we never seem to have but otherwise asked for “got this say #3 screw” for other people’s needs and I did in the end even if misc. parts separate out machine screw from other type.

    Overall concepts. Recently got a box of track lights from the building manager he was about to throw out in being useless to him. Good thing in learning. At times the guys need “free time” in doing a project but having fun with it as long as recess is under general guidelines for time limit in balancing labor verses return saved parts worth. Than it’s storage space, about to re-arrange my own space again in acquiring more for like the fourth time since I moved into it, that’s also labor but given a fourth guy needed. For me in building gear, yea, I would scrap the dimmers for all parts able to get out of them = how can I run out of 8-32x1" pan head screws in checking my over stock today, I’m about that anial in storing stuff, this in also using it.

    For others, might scrap what I could in parts or for more valuable scrap in being if nothing else scrapped separately per pount - this especially if organized enough or room to store parts like screws per each size and type in bins, or circuit breakers to raw steel plate in a useful way. If not, it’s gonna be a legacy thing for you and unfortunately not worth saving. Don’t find the time to sort screws by type and length, you won’t when you need them otherwise so don’t bother.

    On the other hand after years of sorting screws - never throw out nutting, I can look at just about any screw and not only tell if metric or standard, but also it’s size and threading plus other details. Much helped initially by sorting by length screws, than needing to buy them by way of type later, but still if time, good education in visually being able to recognize a 6-32x7/8" from a 8-32x3/4". This much less drywall screws in sorting. Parts is parts, side plate to what ever = gauge of steel an it’s size in cutting as needed for the next project. For me at least.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2009
  19. Teber

    Teber Member

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    At the school I go to, we still have that patch board. Most of it still works!
     
  20. reggie98

    reggie98 Member

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    Thanks for the input Ship. I'll have to see what their final plans for the board are.
     

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