Dan Gauron of Colorado Springs recently bought a small collection of random porcelain pieces from a man in his area who's now deceased father pack ratted a lot of random old antique stuff in his life much of which was acquired in California (in the 1960's?) Amidst the collection was this 7" wide three part glazeweld Fred Locke The U-927 ...
Dan had never seen anything like it before and contacted several collectors including my friend Paul Greaves in hopes of identifying the insulator . I just happened to be with Paul sitting in our hotel room after a long day of insulator hunting at the moment he first opened Dan's email with pictures of this insulator attached .... the moment the photos opened my jaw dropped to the floor!
The only other known example of this insulator was recovered from a line in the Honolulu area in the late 1930's and was displayed at the GE "Locke" plant in Baltimore for many years after that. It was later aquired by Elton Gish and has remained a unique one of a kind insulator till now . As best I can tell, any line that would have ever used these has long been overrun by modern urban sprawl and there seemed there was little chance any others would ever be found . Somehow though, this piece slipped through the cracks and survived! Interestingly, none of these were found in the famous Locke attic dig ether . I wonder why Fred did not bother to save one as it was likely the first really large glazeweld insulator produced .. (???).. It is considerably larger then the large Boch patent design which was being produced at the same time as this piece.
This is one of three glazeweld pin type designs that are known to collectors that were without a doubt made for Fred Locke by the Electrical Porcelain and Manufacturing Co during the years 1898-1899 at the same time Fred was beginning to bring his new factory in Victor into production. This insulator is the earliest version of the Locke Cat#4 a design that was at first intended to compete with the Imperial "Redlands" U-935. These had a very short production life as by early 1900 the Victor plant was in full operation and Fred no longer needed to"job shop" is porcelain designs to other manufacturers. The Locke #4 later morphed into the odd looking U-932 [id=197203774] and [id=323821346] which saw some limited use on a few lines in the Midwest in the 1902-05 era
The crazing in the glaze and porcelain surface was caused by a mismatched glaze that did not have the same expansion coefficient as the porcelain body the darkness in the cracks looks like the typical volcanic soil colour one finds in many parts of the Hawaiian islands.
As you might guess this was an insulator I never dreamed of owning... well now I do ... Thanks Dan!!! More information about this insulator from 2004 CJ...http://www.cjow.com/archive/article.php?month=7&a=07Porcelain%20Insulator%20News.htm&year=2004