Elton Gish's Insulator Page

Fred M. Locke

Personal Information

I was born in 1948 and obtained a degree in Chemical Engineering in 1972. I work for a Texaco refinery (now joint venture with Saudi Arabia known as Star Enterprise) as a process engineer. We are the second largest producer of lubricating oils in the country (behind Exxon). Kathy and I were married in 1989. We have three children and one grandson (my previous non-parent status was over in an instant!). Kathy is a sixth grade teacher. She graciously supports my collecting interest. So far we have been able to make every National show since 1989 and look forward to vacationing in a different part of the country every year wherever the National is held.

My Collecting Interests

I started collecting Brookfield insulators in 1970. I was going to college at the time and soon found references to insulators in old electrical trade journals. I saw many articles and advertisements for porcelain insulators and became interested in early porcelain especially that made by Fred M. Locke. I still collect Brookfield insulators with more than 250 different ones in my collection including some nice color pieces in olive green, olive amber, and amber. I have a fair collection of embossing errors.

By the mid-1970's my major collecting interest became early porcelain. I specialize in Fred Locke, Imperial, New Lexington, Lima, Macomb, early Thomas (pre-1920), patent tops, G. P. Co., dry process, and multipart porcelain (pre-1920). I also collect cleats, knobs, spools, and other specialty porcelain styles with particular interest in brown wall tubes.

My favorite insulators are U-925, U-939C, U-956, U-967, M-2795 with either brown or white top, U-376A and U-376B (Etheridge patent), patented slot-top styles, M-2636 in turquoise, and early glaze-weld styles by Fred Locke and Thomas.

Insulator Research Service (Permanent Hobby Archive)

Another interest I have is collecting historical information about our hobby. From personal research at university libraries and trading with several other collectors, I have an extensive file of insulator related historical information. See the Insulator Research Service to learn how you can obtain copies of patents, advertisements, and other historical information relating to our hobby.


Jack Tod's regular column, "Porcelain Insulator News", first appeared in Crown Jewels in 1970. In 1984, he had lost much of his interest in the hobby, so he asked me to take over his column. As many of you know, PIN appears in Crown Jewels every other month. I have also written a number of other articles for Crown Jewels of special interest and on specific insulator patents.

There was a growing interest in multipart porcelain insulators at a time when most people still called them "boat anchors". I published the book, Multipart Porcelain Insulators, in 1988 which enabled the collector to finally catalog and collect this type of insulator by using M�numbers. Other books I have written are Fred M. Locke: A Biography (1994) and Value Guide for Unipart and Multipart Porcelain Insulators (1995). I also reprinted (still available) the following early insulator catalogs: Fred M. Locke (1900), Fred M. Locke (1902), Lima Porcelain Insulator Co. (circa 1904), and Pittsburg High Voltage Porcelain Co. (circa 1908).

When the Value Guide was published in 1995, Jack Tod's popular book, Porcelain Insulators Guide Book (1988), was out of print. This book is the only source for about 1000 U-number styles (for unipart porcelain insulators). Since the Value Guide included drawings for 86 new U�number styles and new collectors were continuing to join the hobby, I obtained permission from Mrs. Tod to reprint Jack Tod's invaluable book in 1995. If that wasn't enough, in 1995 I also obtained permission to reprint another of Mr. Tod's books: Insulator Patents, 1880-1960.

In addition, I have acquired a copy of two films produced by PINCO which shows in detail how porcelain insulators were manufactured. One movie was made in 1955 (silent) and the other in about 1935 (limited sound track). Both PINCO movies are available on one video cassette.

I am currently the editor and publisher of "Lone Star Lines" which is a monthly newsletter for the Lone Star Insulator Club.

Other Interests

I have been collecting old Texaco cans and porcelain signs since about 1973. It is difficult to add anything new these days because a lot of other people have discovered the hobby. The refinery where I work was where Texaco began in 1902. So much of our history was getting thrown away, so I started searching through old files, offices, and buildings to preserve what was left. In 1980, I started collecting historical photographs (more than 1,500 photos and glass plate negatives), paper items, cans, etc. from around our refinery. I am the unofficial local company historian and archivist. I recently put together a permanent historical display at work that has drawn a lot of interest from the employees. The items in the display will be rotated periodically.

How to Contact Me?

You can reach me at email address or by phone or mail at:

Elton Gish 409-755-3993 [home: evenings/weekends]
5415 Lexington Circle 409-989-7161 [work]
(UPS only: RT 1, Box 162)
Lumberton, TX 77657

Written by Elton Gish,

Last updated Saturday, December 29, 2001

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