by H.G. "Bea" Hyve
Reprinted from "Crown Jewels of the Wire", November 1985, page 11
This month it is a real pleasure to interview my favorite "mud
wrestler" , Chris Hedges, or Kansas City, MO. ("Mud wrestler" is
my term for a porcelain power collector). Although Chris is just a young sprout,
he has been in the hobby for a long time and has a very low NIA number. ...#15.
(Chris, you must have been in diapers when you signed up.). Anyway, for you single
gals out there, let me tell you a few important facts about Chris. He was
born in October of 1954, which makes him 30 years old. He has his own home where
he lives with his cute little dog named Sara-dog. Chris has a good job, and best
of all, he's as cute as a bug... and .... he is single.
My favorite "mud wrestler" wrestling some mud.
Chris holding a 54
lb. Ohio Brass.
(Brent Mills book p. 74)
Chris has lived in Kansas City most of his life, and runs an electrical
contracting business there, primarily commercial and residential. He says,
"I was witness to the 'Holmes Street Blue Mouse Line' and to when P. and L.
trucks had their dash boards full of cobalt and electric blue 19's and H. G.'s.
Tom Wolf, where are you? Ah -- the good old days!"
Chris first saw, and became interested in insulators in the mid-sixties while
coming and going from his uncle's farm in the Missouri Ozarks. They were
converting an old overhead telephone farmer's line to a cable system. Lots of
common stuff there, but there were some SCA Hemi 9's and 12's. They cut the old
poles off and dropped them into the brush. On weekends his uncle would drive
Chris along the road and he would strip off the insulators.
Chris now specializes in power, primarily porcelain, and related old hardware
and construction. He says this ties in (pun intended) with his life-long
interest in electricity, and the creation of his miniature scale power
distribution system. I've seen that little line which runs around his yard, and
it is impressive.
Miniature power line in Chris' back yard.
Chris says, "I started my miniature power line when I was about 7 or 8
years old with Tinker Toys and string. When I was 10 my brother gave me a small
6 volt power supply and a quantity of wire and bulbs. I've been crazy ever
since. My system evolved from indoor to outdoor, now totaling almost one-half
mile in length.
The poles consist of wood dowel rode 3 and 4 feet long. Crossarms are of rook
maple and are 5/8" x 3/8" x 6", 8", or 10".
Crossarm braces are 3/16" x 3/8" x 1-5/8" long, with metal
fittings on the ends. Most of the hardware is adapted from electronic hardware.
All 'bolts' are 6-32 thread. One inch by 1/2" ceramic threaded standoffs
have been used as line post insulators.
Wood treatment has now evolved to a large vat of Penta with a mix of fuel oil
#2. The wood is soaked for several months and then dried. After drying, a heavy
oil, L.P.S. 3, is brushed on to form a moisture-resistant gummy surface. All
6-32 hardware is stainless, brass, or aluminum. This has been necessary for
longer pole life and cheaper long-term cost, resulting from re-usable parts.
|Close-ups showing details of miniature power poles.
I have five systems placed in various locations. They all operate on either
6 or 12 volts. The low voltage decreases the hazard of shock. At my house in KC
I have my 'Frankenstein Line'. It is a mix of my various construction techniques,
with a variable voltage supply that has the capacity to put up to 5,000 volts
on the line. Here I test insulators, arms, etc., against mist, rain, falling
objects, ice, and other operating problems before I put them into the
Chris' favorite insulators are the "umbrella" or tall Mershon
types. In his collection he takes special pride in his mint glass Locke 25, and
his set of different Lima 36's. His main want is a double-eve-drain Locke. When
asked how many insulators he has, Chris replied, "How many do I have? I got
enough boat anchors for the whole d--- Navy!"
Main part of porcelain room.
View of glass collection in kitchen.
One of Chris' other hobbies is studying power systems, new and old, and finding
ways he can adapt them to his miniature system. He also designs and has manufactured
miniature porcelain hi-line insulators for use on his lines. Another hobby of
his is collecting Navajo Indian rugs (something I can relate to, since I love
We've been to Chris' house several times and he is a great host, and he's just
plain fun to be with. He is an extremely enthusiastic insulator collector; the
absolutely perfect choice as the new NIA Historian. Chris, congrats on your
appointment. You'll be a good one!
Chris holding a 3-piece glazeweld X-top
and miniature pole top.
(4-piece F.M. Locke lying on floor)
One last word from Chris before we have to go for this time. "If you are
ever going to be in the area, please call. If you get my answering machine,
leave a massage. I love to show my collection and chit-chat, trade, etc. And, I
usually have a supply of the best d--- barbecue anywhere near!" Sounds too
good to pass up, Chris. We'll be right over!