The 1902 -03 Locke gutter top family :M-2785, M-2335a, U-969

By Mike Spadafora; posted January 6, 2008

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All three of the insulators pictured above were made in mid to late 1902 soon after the Locke factory in Victor, N.Y. was rebuilt from a devastating fire which occurred in January of 1902. This is the first time all three have been displayed together in the last 100 years. Locke cataloged five sizes of gutter top "eaves trough"designs. Of these five sizes, the 6 -1/2", 7-1/2", and 10-1/2 " diameter top skirt units are all that are still known to exist today . It is not clear if the 8-1/2" top design was ever produced as no historic photos of this size have been located and none have been found by collectors. A sample of the 9-1/2 inch top unit appears in a historic 1904 photo so at least a few were made as production sales samples thoe none are known to have survived..Research up to this date seems to show that the small white unit (U-969) was also produced only as a production sales sample. None of these white U-969 specimens are known to have been historically installed on active lines (as of this writing). All three of these specimens have Fred Locke's (6-1) six date marking stamp. The smaller gutter sizes pictured here are among the rarest and most sought after of all collectible porcelain insulators with only two complete examples of each known. The second small white specimen is owned by the Victor factory. The original Locke catalog #s for these three were, left to right ,#318, #302a and #306 respectively. . The #318 insulator top was redesigned in 1902 for better mechanical strength. The early version of the largest one pictured here(M-2785 cat #318)is the M-2796 [id=204256683]. The later version of the #318 (M-2785) pictured above remains elusively rare as well. Relatively few were sold by Locke as the gutter design was already proving flawed by 1903. No new orders for gutter top pin type insulators of any type are known to have been filled by Locke or new insulators installed on lines after 1903. Many of the 10-1/2 " top units were surplussed by utility's and reused on lower voltage lines from 1905 to 1925.