1985 >> November >> Bea Lines  

Bea Lines
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 field."

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 them, too).

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!

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