U-969 Fred Locke micro gutter... the ground hog story...

By Mike Spadafora; posted September 26, 2007

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I went up to visit Jim Kimble in Shortsville, New York a few weeks ago to do some digging and trading. As some of you may know Jim is Fred Locke's great grandson . We had a great time talking about his family history as well as our shared interests in preserving Fred's legacy and collecting and preserving artifacts related to Fred Locke. Jim was kind enough to share some priceless artifacts with me such as glassware from Fred's laboratory, some of his glass jem stones, and the original medals Fred got for his insulator trade show displays. We went out and did some digging wile I was there and had a nice time getting muddy and getting some good exercise as well. After several hours of digging in the "usual spot" and finding no treasures to save and take back, I decided to go and explore some old long abandoned railroad lines nearby .... Well down an embankment I spotted some old non-porcelain garbage so I took a few moments to poke around and Look for bottles ... then I spotted something white in a pile of gofer hole diggings ... a piece of the rim of a little white gutter....

OH MY GOD!!! A U-969!!! Holy (expletive!!!) !!! .....I yelled for Jim to come check it out ... I began digging up the gofer hole and found the complete core of a U-969 with the lower skirt and crown intact. soon I found 80% of it's platter and rim... the platter was a busted mess but repairable . Had it not been for the gofer's recent diggings this insulator would have been completely hidden under the dirt. I dug for a long time and never found the complete platter and rim but enough was there to make a nice displayable insulator (with some serious repair work) ... I later was able to get a chunk of another specimen to use for a cut and paste repair. I know of no other examples of this insulator in the hobby at the moment . There is one complete unbroken U-969 preserved in the the Victor plant. The U-969 is the smallest of Fred Locke's gutter 300 "Victor " series insulators. This insulator was originally cataloged as cemented multipart (cat #302) , The specimen pictured above was made as a glazeweld unipart with a six and one half inch top. It was later added as Catalog #"302 1/2 ". also the larger #306 was added as # "306 1/2" for the seven and one half inch top glazeweld version . No seven and one half inch unipart gutter tops are known to exist and No U# has been assigned to this style. Two cat. #306 (M-2335a) seven and one half inch inch multipart specimens exist [id=91510879] There is one six and one half inch multipart top for a #302 in the Smithsonian.

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