New exhibition room for telephonic exchange type FT-200 and CK-20

The end of the year is always a good moment to sum up completed tasks and missed opportunities. It is especially worthwhile, when the end of a major project coincides with the break of the years.

Such coincidence was the final of the brickwork and plastering of the third room of future telecommunication exhibition. The room, a former workshop dressing room, was hosting a small portion of the Siemens exchange, partially assembled for the exhibition purposes. After moving the device to a new exhibition room, we decided to adapt the room for yet another part of the exhibition, this time with Polish-built exchanges type FT-200 (for town use, with Strowger selectors) and CK-20 (railway type, with crossbar selectors).

When emptying the room on Fall 2016, we expected the renovation to be quick and easy. At the first glance, we just needed to repair the plaster around the new holes for cables, check the smoke ducts and paint the walls. Unfortunately, the reality was more “screeching”…

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A closer inspection of the elaborate smoke ducts built back during the II World War concluded with a decision to dismantle them. Horizontal smoke channels consisted of draughty moulders that had to be chiselled off of the ceiling. We were aware that the work will be dusty but the reality went beyond our expectations. Despite the thorough cleaning of the channels, each struck of the hammer resulted with ton of rubble and even more of soot. We hoped that a natural draft will blow out the dust through the window, but after first opening of the door we ended up cleaning the corridor from the soot as far as to the main workshop. Another attempt, this time with the use of a fan standing in the window, provided more bearable conditions of work – the black cloud of dust and soot was reaching the tops of the trees. After plenty of effort and strain, new acid-proof metal ducts were put in place, resulting in much improved draft in the masonry heaters in adjoining rooms.

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After dealing with the ceiling we looked down on the floor. Half of the room was suspiciously uneven, as if someone was pouring down the concrete in stages and did not bother to level the surface. Once again we employed hammers and chisels to get rid of this botch job. First hit of the hammer resulted with a dull sound proving that the top layer of the floor is not properly fixed to the foundations. It appeared that concrete was poured on a piece of a particle board, under which we made a pleasant discovery. After removing the last pieces of wood and rubble, we unearthed a proper and smooth terrazzo floor.

Another stages of the work were devoted to closer inspection of walls. We were worried about a strange hump on one of the walls. Careful knocks revealed empty space. Once again we had to resort to an unplanned demolition. The old plaster was peeling off in large pieces as it was hardly affixed to the wall. Whomever was plastering the room many, many years ago, did not bothered to remove the previous, already damaged and falling off plaster. Initially planned to be small, the renovation started to look more and more impressive… and expensive. Still it was a good opportunity to take care of the electric installation which was in a sorry state. After the assembly of new circuit hidden in insulated plastic pipes, we were ready to conclude the plastering.

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Quite unexpectedly, a renovation of a relatively small room took us, with breaks, over 11 months. The culmination of the work was to put a stove to dry the walls. Once everything is dry, we can progress to finishing jobs like hanging a false ceiling to hide the new smoke ducts, resurface the walls and paint them. The last stage will be building of yet another masonry heater.

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