A Dictionary of Occupational Terms Based on the Classification of Occupations used in the Census of Population, 1921.
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Sub-order 1.—Electrical Apparatus Makers and Fitters (not elsewhere enumerated) and Electricians

319.—Other Workers

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* Term officially obsolete. Classed by the Post Office Engineering Department as a skilled workman (311).

accumulator sawyer
see plate sawyer.
*battery man, battery attendant
employed, usually at power station, also in G.P.O., to examine condition of electrolyte and plates in cells of an electric battery; keeps cells topped up with electrolyte; removes short circuits caused by positive and negative plates touching, by inserting new separators; cuts out and replaces faulty plates; takes readings of voltage, current, and specific gravity, by means of voltmeter, ammeter and hydrometer; "boosts up" low cells, i.e., gives an extra charge of current to under-charged cells to bring them up to normal; maintains secondary batteries generally.
bitumen insulator
one of a gang of two or three men employed under a cable machine driver (318) q.v. on a machine which coats cable with vulcanised bitumen; feeds machine, by hand, with cable, already sheathed with tape, cotton or other material, from a drum; puts small pieces of rolled bitumen, by hand, in a worm-fitted feeder, which passes bitumen into a small steam-heated chamber, through which cable passes and in which heated bitumen is forced round cable as it passes through a die; fits end of cable on to receiving drum as it emerges through water trough where bitumen is cooled and hardened.
bitumen lapper (cables)
see taper (cables).
bitumen roller
feeds vulcanised bitumen compound, for insulation of cables, between a pair of heavy rollers; starts and stops machine by means of levers.
braider, braiding machine tenter (cables)
as for cable machinist.
cable hand, cable man
(i) (in electric supply undertaking), see jointer's mate;
(ii) (on cable ships) seaman cable hand; handles cables on cable ship engaged in laying or repairing submarine cables, and assists in general upkeep of ship; obsolescent term.
cable hand, gutta percha
as for cable hand.
cable jointer's mate
see jointer's mate.
cable machinist, cable former, cable insulator, cable sheather, cable whipper
moves levers to start and stop automatic machine which is fed with wire from a drum and with tape, cotton, hemp, rubber and/or other insulating material, usually from spools; replaces empty spools with full ones as required; guides wire and insulating material into machine at commencement of operation; watches correct working; regulates speed of machine by means of levers; repairs broken material when necessary.
cable tester's assistant ; cable tank attendant, tank man
one of a gang of men employed in tank room; bares end of cable with a knife, lifts cable on drum into water tank with a hand lift; connects ends of cable which are clear of the water with wire to switchboard; switches on current to test cable for insulation and pressure; removes drum holding cable by hand lift after test.
cementer (cables)
see end finisher.
cleaner (lamps)
(i) see washer;
(ii) cleans finished lamps, by hand, with cloth and pumice powder before name is etched on.
coiler (cables)
see measurer.
compounder, compound maker, compound mixer ; tanker, tanker man, tanking man, tankman
(i) loads boiler, which is built over a gas, coal or oil furnace, with bitumen, gutta percha and other ingredients, by hand, to make insulating material for electric cables; operates, by means of lever, mechanical agitators, attends to supply of fuel to furnace; and opens ball-cock which allows melted compound to discharge into tank:
(ii) (in small works) mixes compound, by baud, over fire, stirring it with a rod as it boils.
copperer, carbon brush copperer
removes carbon brushes (used in electric motors and dynamos) from mould after they have been cast; places them in grill-shaped frame, and inserts in a pickling vat containing a copper solution; removes when process complete.
cord binder, telephone ; telephone cord finisher
binds, whips, and finishes into convenient lengths, using small spindle lathe, cords which connect telephone receivers to instruments.
cord boy
assists cord examiner or cord repairer (311) q.v.
cord finisher, telephone
see cord binder, telephone.
cord worker, telephone
moves levers to start and stop machine which forms telephone cords and laps them with cotton; feeds machine with spools of cotton and with wire from a drum; guides cotton and wire through machine at start; regulates speed of machine; repairs broken cotton when necessary by tying ends together.
cotton covering machine tenter
see coverer, cotton.
cotton lapper
operates, by means of levers, machine which covers bell wire or other wire with cotton; replaces empty cotton spools with full ones; guides cotton from spool and wire from drum through machine at start; repairs broken cotton, when necessary, by tying ends together.
coverer (cables, electric wires)
see coverer, cotton ; coverer, silk; coverer, wire.
coverer, cotton
cotton covering machine tenter, coverer (cables, electric wires); as for cable machinist.
coverer, silk ; coverer (cables, electric wires), silk machinist
as for cable machinist.
coverer, wire ; cover or (cables, electric, wires)
(i) operates machine which braids or laps cotton, with or without rubber strip, as an insulating cover for electric wire, e.g., bell wire, light flex; feeds machine with rolls of wire and spools of cotton, rubber, tape, etc.; repairs broken cotton, and joins ends of cotton or rubber tape on two spools;
(ii) operates, by means of levers, machine which covers fine wire with an endless rubber tube; replaces empty spool of rubber band with full spool; watches correct working of machine.
coverer, wire (gutta percha); gutta percha wire coverer
a wire coverer q.v. operating a machine which covers wire with gutta percha; feeds machine with hot gutta percha and wire; regulates pressure of gutta percha to die through which wire passes; attends water troughs in which covered wire is cooled (and gutta percha hardened) and drums on which it is wound.
coverer, wire (india rubber); india rubber wire coverer
a wire coverer q.v. who operates a machine which covers wire with india rubber.
cutter-up (cables)
see measurer.
makes platinum joint in carbon filament lamp, by heating it electrically under oil.
*desiccator hand
attends to running and cleaning of desiccator, used for drying-out lead-covered cables.
dryer-out (lamps)
sets washed bulbs (see washer, bulb) on spigots through which hot dry air is blown, so that interior of bulb is thoroughly dried; removes dry bulbs to tray.
drying cupboard attendant (cables)
see oven man.
drying oven attendant (accumulators)
places plates of electrical accumulators in drying oven, and removes them when dry.
electrician's assistant, electrician's labourer, electrician's mate ; wireman's assistant, wireman's labourer, wireman's mate
assists electrician (307 or 311) q.v. or electrical wireman (311) q.v. by bolding material, passing tools, and doing other unskilled auxiliary work; sometimes screws tubes, drills walls, fits wooden plugs for securing tubes, wires, etc., and does other similar work with tools, under supervision of skilled man.
electrician's assistant (film producing)
removes electric lamps, recharges them with carbons, and keeps them trimmed; is usually in charge of "spot" lights when film is being taken.
enameller (cables) ; lacquerer
operates, by means of levers, machine which enamels wires, by running them through a tank of quick-drying enamel and thence on to receiving drum; guides wire from drum through machine to receiving drum at start; watches machine for correct working; refills enamel tank when necessary.
end finisher, end capper, end sealer (cables) ; cementer
seals end of cable after final tests to keep out moisture, either by dipping ends in a tank of cement or bitumen compound, or by pouring cement or compound on ends with a ladle, or by fastening lead or rubber caps, filled with compound, by hand, on cable ends; lead caps are soldered on lead-covered cables and rubber caps are fitted on rubber insulated cables and securely fastened with wire by hand.
firepot boy
attends to portable fire used by linesmen (311) q.v. for heating soldering irons; carries fire-pot about, and waits upon linesmen generally.
fitter's mate
carries tools and materials for fitter; cleans surfaces of joints, and does work involving use of spanners, lifting tackle, and other simple tools and apparatus, under direction of fitter; assists fitter generally.
floor man (cables) ; labourer (cables)
sweeps floors; "lags" drums; carries raw material and finished or semi-manufactured products; does other unskilled jobs in electrical cable works.
gang hand, gang man (telegraphs and telephones)
a member of a gang of men engaged in fitting wires or poles, digging trenches, laying pipes and conduits; (in Post, 0ffice service) may be either a "skilled workman" (311) or a labourer.
guillotine hand
cuts up thin metal plates or mica sheets, to dimensions required, by guillotine (band, treadle or power).
insulation hand
general term applicable to any worker engaged in insulating electric wires, coils, cables, etc.
jointer's mate, jointer's assistant, jointer's learner ; cable hand, cable jointer's mate, cable man, plumber-and-jointer's mate
holds work and tools for cable jointer (311) q.v.; lights fire, heats metal and box compounds, helps in excavating (if necessary), and assists cable jointer generally.
labourer (cables)
see floor man.
labourer (G.P.O.)
(i) underground cables , digs trenches, assists in drawing cable into conduit, lays troughs, and does other heavy work in connection with laying of telegraph or telephone cables;
(ii) overhead wires and cables, fixes poles, and assists skilled workmen in erection of overhead wires and cables generally.
labourer, telegraph
a labourer (G.P.O.) q.v. employed in telegraph service.
labourer, telephone
a labourer (G.P.O.) q.v. employed in telephone service.
lacquerer (cables)
see enameller.
linesman's mate
assists linesman (311) q.v.; work similar to that of electrician's assistant q.v.
lug brusher, lug trimmer (accumulators)
cleans lugs of accumulator plates with a rotary brush, or by hand.
measurer (cables), cable measurer ; coiler, cutter-up
a machine attendant (or one of a pair of machine attendants, working together) who pass thin cable, or wire, from one drum, through an automatic measuring instrument, on to another drum set in motion by machinery; watches indicator, and, when enough cable or wire has been wound, cuts wire or cable; takes coil so wound off drum, and binds it round with tape, string, or wire; re-connects drum, replaces it on frame, and repeats process; keeps record of number of coils wound.
meter room assistant
assists meter tester (308) q.v. in meter repairs and testing, and works under his supervision.
(i) covers electric lamps with a coating of paint or varnish; -f
(ii) dips them in acid to produce an obscuring effect thereon.
oven man (cables) ; drying cupboard attendant
one of a gang of men who place cables, previously wound on a drum, in a steam-heated drying oven, using band lifts; replaces door of oven by means of band lifts and clamps it in place; watches instruments which indicate steam pressure in oven jacket or pipes; unloads cables from oven when dry.
painter (lamps)
see paster.
paper lapper
as for cable machinist.
paster (lamps) ; painter
paints binding material over joint between filament and leading wire of carbon filament lamps.
pinner (lamps)
starts and stops, by means of levers, machine in which studs are heated by gas jets as they revolve in machine, and in which pins forming filament support are automatically inserted; feeds machine with glass studs and with wire; removes studs, with pins inserted, and puts them in a tray.
plate dryer (accumulators)
attends stove used for drying accumulator plates after they have been pasted.
plate guillotiner (accumulators), plate trimmer
trims accumulator plates in a guillotine.
plate sawyer (accumulators) ; accumulator sawyer
operates circular saw, which cuts lead castings or other material, as required, in making parts of accumulators.
plumber-and-jointer's mate
see jointer's mate.
preparer (electrical apparatus)
takes various component parts from store to assembler's or mounter's bench for assembling; may also prepare small parts or components by filing, varnishing, or otherwise, in readiness for assembler; sometimes specifically designated, e.g., accessories preparer, telegraph instrument preparer.
sample maker's assistant (cables)
assists sample maker (318) q.v. in simple operations.
seaman cable hand
see cable hand (on cable ships).
silk machinist (cables, etc.)
see coverer, silk.
sorter (lamps)
sorts lamps according to their rated consumption and pressure.
spreading machine driver
operates, by means of levers, machine, fitted with several pairs of rollers and a spreader, which coats paper or fabric (to be used for protecting cables) with waterproof material; feeds machine with paper or fabric from a reel and regulates supply of waterproofing material from a feeder; removes reel of paper or fabric when waterproofed.
strander, wire strander ; wire runner
(i) feeds an automatic stranding machine with spools of copper wire, either by hand or with hand lift; passes wires through a die in machine and makes fast to receiving drum; operates machine, by means of levers, which automatically twists several wires together; if wire breaks, stops machine and joins broken ends with blow flame;
(ii) one of a gang of three or four men attending a stranding machine (as described above) where thirty or more wires are being stranded.
tank attendant, cable
see cable tester's assistant.
tanker, tanker man, tanking man, tankman (cables)
(i) see cable tester's assistant;
(ii) see compounder.
taper, outer taper (cables) ; bitumen lapper
starts and stops, by means of levers, machine which is fed with impregnated bitumastic tape from spools and with cable from a drum and which automatically covers cable with tape; replaces empty by full spools of tape; fits end of tape-covered cable on to receiving drum, by hand; if tape breaks, joins ends together.
tar boiling man
boils tar in a tank over a fire for coating armoured cables.
telephone track boy
as for firepot boy.
test room assistant, test room boy
in training to become a tester (308) q.v., and engaged in simple tests, e.g., tests rubber, composition, metals or other materials by chemical tests or by applying heat or by passing current through material to test resistance.
washer, bulb washer (lamps) ; cleaner (lamps)
places bulbs on trays in tanks of hot water before they are made up into lamps; removes trays and allows bulbs to dry naturally or passes to dryer-out.
winder (cables)
supervises winding of cable round a mechanically-driven wooden drum or, if cable is light, sometimes revolves drum by hand; watches to see that cable is winding evenly; signals to driver of engine supplying power for winding process to stop when enough cable has been wound; helps in removal of drum from frame when filled and in inserting empty drum by hand lifts.
winder, copper ; wire hand
places a coil of copper wire on a loose cone or capstan and allows wire to pass through his hand to metal bobbin or small drum, which is made to revolve mechanically; regulates position of wire passing through his hand so that bobbin is evenly wound; stops machine, when required, by means of foot lever replaces full by empty drum or bobbin; sometimes also feeds and operates a copper stranding machine.
winder, cotton
winds cotton on to machine spools for use in cable covering.
winder, jute
a machine winder q.v. who winds jute on to machine spools for use in cable covering.
winder, machine
winds wires, cottons, silks, etc., from a drum on to spools of an automatic machine, for use in manufacture of cables, electric wires, etc.; stops and starts machine by means of levers; replaces full spools by empty ones.
winder, silk (electric cables)
minds a machine which winds silk on to- spools, for use in covering electric wires.
winder, wire
a machine winder q.v. who winds wire on to bobbins or spools, to facilitate handling in further processes; joins lengths of wire together by means of electric welding tool.
winder, yarn (cables)
a machine winder q.v. who winds cotton, jute, silk, or other yarns on to spools, for use in cable covering.
wire hand (cables)
see winder, copper.
wireman's assistant, wireman's labourer, wireman's mate
see electrician's assistant.
wire runner
see strander.

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From: A Dictionary of Occupational Terms Based on the Classification of Occupations used in the Census of Population, 1921,
Ministry of Labour, 1927. Digitised by Peter Christian, August, 2016.   This text is in the Public Domain.