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Old 12-29-2017, 02:13 PM   #1
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Default Old 3 way Wiring

Losing my head a little bit. Is there another method they used to wire 3-way switches 60-70 yrs ago ?

Iím working on a known 3-way circuit that I canít put back together with conventional wiring methods.

It seems this was working before with only 1 wire between each 3 way box as a traveler

Line on 1 switch load on the other

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Old 12-29-2017, 03:15 PM   #2
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1) Identify line side cable -- both hot and neutral -- they become big clues.

Wire nuts and a voltage tic do wonders on this front -- that and flicking the breaker.

You should find that BOTH boxes are line-side entry j-boxes.

You should find that the Neutral and the Hot are landed upon the 3-way switch...

with the Common pole running off to the lamp -- as just one wire -- from each j-box.

You should also expect that only one 120VAC lamp is on this weird switch leg.

2) Go to David E. Shapiro's "Old Electrical Wiring" page 57 for the wiring diagram.

ISBN 0-07-057879-6

If you STILL don't own this tome and you're working the Residential Repairs Beat -- then go to the back of the class.

Shapiro covers a LOT more than Carter 3-ways.

WronGun, ET has beaten the Carter 3-way to DEATH.
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Old 12-29-2017, 04:57 PM   #3
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yup..... Carter 3W.....~CS~
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Old 12-29-2017, 05:01 PM   #4
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Yup drove us nuts for a bit.... first time ever seeing this method.


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Old 12-29-2017, 05:04 PM   #5
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Default Old 3 way Wiring

You know your in trouble when you find this book left behind by the previous Home
Owner~1960



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Old 12-29-2017, 06:46 PM   #6
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You know your in trouble when you find this book left behind by the previous Home
Owner~1960



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I want this on my dash board everytime I wait to meet someone, so they can see it and lose all confidence before shaking my hand.
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Old 12-29-2017, 07:41 PM   #7
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I want this on my dash board everytime I wait to meet someone, so they can see it and lose all confidence before shaking my hand.

"You think that's impressive? You should see Complex Electric Wiring, it's a three volume set!" - Majewski
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Old 12-29-2017, 07:51 PM   #8
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"You think that's impressive? You should see Complex Electric Wiring, it's a three volume set!" - Majewski
A menards or home depot book would suffice.
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Old 12-31-2017, 12:35 PM   #9
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Code wise the problem with the 1 wire 3 way is it reverses the lamp connection depending on the switch position. So the shell could be energized.

To make things worse a person might think there is no electrical potential because the switch turned off the lamp. When it could be no neutral, with the shell and center socket energized. That's another code problem is switching the neutral only without the hot is not permitted.

Then there is all conductors need to be run together violation. Because the hot is from one direction and the neutral is from another.

When it was in conduit we would rewire the circuit.

I understand the problem with cable or even K&T in finished walls.
But at some point it really should be corrected.
Also should look to see if it has a EG.

At least if you could install lamps without screw in sockets, such as LEDs, you wouldn't have the energized socket.

Another possibility is you could wire it like a SP switch and install wireless 3 ways.
Or is the 3 way still needed. Sometime homeowner remodels will leave old switches but remove the door.
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Old 12-31-2017, 12:38 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by active1 View Post
Code wise the problem with the 1 wire 3 way is it reverses the lamp connection depending on the switch position. So the shell could be energized.

To make things worse a person might think there is no electrical potential because the switch turned off the lamp. When it could be no neutral, with the shell and center socket energized. That's another code problem is switching the neutral only without the hot is not permitted.

Then there is all conductors need to be run together violation. Because the hot is from one direction and the neutral is from another.

When it was in conduit we would rewire the circuit.

I understand the problem with cable or even K&T in finished walls.
But at some point it really should be corrected.
Also should look to see if it has a EG.

At least if you could install lamps without screw in sockets, such as LEDs, you wouldn't have the energized socket.

Another possibility is you could wire it like a SP switch and install wireless 3 ways.
Or is the 3 way still needed. Sometime homeowner remodels will leave old switches but remove the door.


We actually went with a The Lutron Wireless set-up


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Old 12-31-2017, 01:56 PM   #11
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You know your in trouble when you find this book left behind by the previous Home
Owner~1960



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As a true nerd in high school, I saw that book in the school library, and checked it out. I didn't try any experiments at home , just found it highly interesting and it sparked an interest that led me to desiring to become an electrician. I love my trade, thats a true confession. I don't always like dealing with my customers and doing business, but I truly love my trade.
All that started with that there edition of that there book.
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Old 01-03-2018, 07:18 PM   #12
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I took the book home , suppose itís good to have to reference old wiring.

No carter 3-way though , that must of been far before 1960?


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Old 01-03-2018, 09:46 PM   #13
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I took the book home , suppose itís good to have to reference old wiring.

No carter 3-way though , that must of been far before 1960?


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Ya it further than 1960 in fact it was start used from edison days and the NEC code do not allow it in 1930's for a good reason due the shell can be switched between hot and netural.

but ya still see it from time to time especially with older home with tube and knob system in there.

you may have to goggle some older three way diagram to get the idea.
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