Hiding wires in a commercial cave.

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Hiding wires in a commercial cave.

Postby shottheradio » Jun 17, 2007 7:00 pm

I work at Endless Caverns in New Market, Va. I got hired as a cave guide,...but lately they have been making me the manager of most of the cave work. Last week,they gave me the job of going though the entire cave and hiding every light wire that is visible to the public.This is a huge,huge,huge job. which i don't mind doing. just the last owners of the cave didn't take good care of the cave in that aspect at all. so there is def a month more of work to be had. anyway.... for the wires that I can, I am just covering them with dirt. but the ones on the ceiling and on the walls,... I have been using clay that i find in def deposits from around the cave. the head bosses wanted me to use some sort of mortar,...but I'm not big on that at all,since it's not natural to the cave. Any thoughts or ideas on this?...
is clay the best bet,... or is there something else I can do.
thanks.
Andrew
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Postby tallgirl » Jun 17, 2007 7:49 pm

depending on where the wires are at you might be best just painting the wires to match the cave ceiling idk how many wires ur trying to cover or what color they are now. i imagine the clay will dry out and fall off and mortar is rly not gonna be a good contribution to the cave and i dont think it will be good for the wires either
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Postby Teresa » Jun 17, 2007 9:21 pm

shottheradio--

I suggest you contact NSS member Gordon Smith (also one of the reasons we're going to be near Marengo Cave for convention which he owns).

Gordon is both NSS and National Caves Association--the org for show cave owners.

If the wires cross a path, and cannot be routed elsewhere, I believe electrical code calls them to be put in conduit and the conduit then ramped with dirt or cement, so that the tourists don't trip. All cave electric should be (old stuff usually isn't) run in conduit, because of the high humidity in the cave. Inside conduit, the wires are both protected and loosely accessible if there is some problem. A little foresight eliminates headaches later.

Some show caves put the wires under what are called 'wire runs'-- in short, they put down heavy gage plastic sheathed house wire(often 3 wire, not two) and then put a formed sand and cement cover over them. These are miserable to remove, especially over flowstone. They can be unsightly, but aren't particularly harmful to the cave.

I suggest you ask Gordon to refer you to someone doing cave wiring, or talk with a union electrician. There are all sorts of ways to hang wire-- draping from the ceiling isn't a good option.
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Postby SpelunkerBoB » Jun 17, 2007 10:03 pm

Shottheradio,
I am embarking on a very similar project at the show cave where I work, except that my task is mostly to conceal all of the lights visible on the tourist trails. I'm planning on making artificial rock housings using 1/4'" wire screen formed and covered with mortar, then hand sculpted and carved to look like real rocks, and, in some cases, to conform to the natural features around them. That's the theory, at least. Currently, many of the lights are hidden behind stacks of loose rocks which isn't particularly attractive or natural looking. There are also some exposed wires I'll have to cover up, but I haven't gotten far enough into the project yet to have a plan for dealing with them, except to bury them when I can. There aren't really any exposed on walls like it sounds like you have, so I may not have to deal with your exact problem. If I come up with anything, I'll share my experience with you, and would appreciate any insights you might gain at your cave. Unless your exposed wires are fairly short, I doubt that mudding them will be very effective for very long. Painting them might be effective if it were done so that they blended with the surrounding walls and it could be done without getting paint on the cave itself. Contacting Gordon Smith or some of the other ACA cave owners to inquire how they do it might be a good first step, and you might also get some ideas by visiting other show caves to see how they handle that particular problem. Good luck to you. Let us know how it turns out![/i]
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Postby barcelonacvr » Jun 18, 2007 8:39 am

It's too bad this product is so expensive.One can easily put a spackle like structolite over it and blend it into rocks/ceiling etc easily.

http://www.goestores.com/page1.aspx?sto ... irecompany


interesting site

http://www.cavelighting.com/en/technologies.html


I have worked with this stuff,great product.It is Styrofoam with a skim coat of special concrete.It is reasonably priced.I wonder what the viability of having conduit covers made would be.Stone accents could easily be added on for a rough texture.

http://www.fibrecrown.com/catalogue.php

I would imagine places like Disney etc have suppliers for the fake stone look features they use on certain rides etc.I wonder if commercially available "stone" mechanical races are available? Or a foam used to create fake boulders etc.

MIT's wireless electricity may one day be ,THE WAY.
Last edited by barcelonacvr on Jun 18, 2007 11:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby baa43003 » Jun 18, 2007 8:44 am

I also work at a cave where wires are impossible to hide in some areas. In those cases, the lights have been positioned so as to keep the exposed wires in a dark area. This probably won't solve all your problems but it might help in some areas.

I've also noticed that most visitors are not really bothered by exposed wires. What they will comment on every time though is wires that are poorly camouflaged. Once they spot the "hidden" wires, they start looking for more instead of looking at the cave.

P.S. Do you ever get visitors asking how far below sea level they are? Geesh . . .
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Postby shottheradio » Jun 18, 2007 8:00 pm

Hey there,... thanks for all the help. if you have more please let me know.
Yeah,... Endless Caverns was wired back in 1920. we still use about 40% of the original wiring. so you can imagne that it's def not wired to code. we are also having so problems with voltage leaking....which we are dealing with as well. but with the wires that i can,... i am for the most part just burying them with dirt.

SpelunkerBoB let me know, what kind of mortar and mix that you are using. I also have to do some of those,which you are talking about as well.
I was wondering,.. is it possible to add in some dirt from the cave with the mortar to give it a more realilstic color as well?
I'am kinda worried about the clay drying out. I would be nice to have something like an inexpeicnive putty, to us in the odivous areas.

baa43003,.. yeah i do get people asking me that question alot. I've actually had people ask if the carpet we have in some of the areas of the cave was natural.
and i could tell they were being totally serious... as crazy as that sounds.
haha
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Postby Lost » Jun 19, 2007 6:27 am

shottheradio wrote:we are also having so problems with voltage leaking
How do you know the voltage is leaking? is it dripping on the floor?

I am a union electrician are you sure it is a leak or are you getting voltage drop because of the length of the run. anything over 150-200 feet should be larger size wire,


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Postby Teresa » Jun 19, 2007 3:47 pm

shottheradio wrote:
SpelunkerBoB let me know, what kind of mortar and mix that you are using. I also have to do some of those,which you are talking about as well.
I was wondering,.. is it possible to add in some dirt from the cave with the mortar to give it a more realilstic color as well?
I'am kinda worried about the clay drying out. I would be nice to have something like an inexpeicnive putty, to us in the odivous areas.


It's better than that. What is the humidity of your cave? If it is >80%, you can just take a dry cement and sand mix (a little heavy on the cement) and pat it into clay, and let it set up all by itself. This works on floors and slopes. Verticals require a little more ingenuity. If you're not doing conduit, you can make the sand/cement mix about the consistency of cookie dough and use as a paste. Check with a home supply store--they have actual concrete coloring stuff, but since the concrete isn't load bearing, a little dirt doesn't hurt. I've seen that done, too. If you can do a little sculpting/variation on your wire runs, they won't look as obvious as a line of concrete spaghetti.

I'd not be so quick to put things into the cave which are petroleum derivatives (styrofoam, plastic rocks, etc.) if you've got cave life in there.
They do break down over time...(oozy goo in a cave I know from tarpaper concrete forms left in place permanently).

Placement, and dark, not spackling, are the keys where possible. can they be run along walkways? Avoid overheads unless absolutely necessary.

I *love* to look for wire runs!!!
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Postby shottheradio » Jun 21, 2007 8:11 pm

Lost,... Sorry, I guess I used the wrong term. What was going on.what that the old lead wiring was making some parts of the cave electric. we have a crock that is filled with water, that was used back in the 20's and now days we let people put there hands in it. If you were wearing flip flops and put your hand in there, it would give ya a good jolt. we replaced a good length of wire at that point and it cleared it up. One of the problems was that the insallation in the lead wiring was shot and bleeding though the lead itself. and another is that back in 1919 when they started wiring the cave,.. the didn't us any ground wiring. they are putting some ground rods to some of the panels in there and hoping that will disspurse some more of the bleeding.

Teresa,... thanks for all your help. I am def going to give it a try.
thanks all
take care.
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Postby shottheradio » Jun 22, 2007 3:00 pm

you can make the sand/cement mix about the consistency of cookie dough and use as a paste.


Can you explain more on this. please??
thanks
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