Bob Guilliams
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Back in Time: Century-Old Books Show History of Overhead Line Design

Nov. 2, 2022
Bob Guilliams is making two antique books available to linemen everywhere through digital, fully searchable editions.

Bob Guilliams not only works in North American Utility Sales for Composite Fiber Technologies for Wagners, but he is also an avid antique book collector. During his travels, he often visits used bookstores. His favorites are Moe’s on University Avenue in Berkley, California, and Powell’s on 4th Street in Portland, Oregon.

On two separate shopping trips, he discovered two gems--The Handbook on Overhead Line Construction from 1914 and the Overhead Systems Reference Book from 1927. Both books are in their original printing from the National Electric Light Association.

"I got them for a song," he says. "I spent a lot more having them rebound in leather. This actually decreases the value, but I’m not going to part with them anyhow."

While a company was rebinding the antique books, he had them separate the pages, scan them in and turn them into PDF files. Then during EDM International's conference on overhead lines, an intern indexed them so they are fully searchable. He said they are also open source and in the public domain, although they are still being re-printed in India. 

Since that time, he has located two more of each book, and he kept the originals and then gave the others away to good friends and customers. He says due to the age of the books, they don't include any computer graphics. 

"All of the drawings are pen and ink and the type was set in hot metal on a linotype machine.," he says. "I love this stuff."

When he takes them to trade shows, he says he "gets a lot of oohs and ahs." To share them with a wider audience in the electric utility industry, he sent the files to us at T&D World and asked us to share the PDFs with our subscribers. To download the files, simply click on the links below.

Have fun browsing the files and reflecting on the history of the line trade! After you have had.a chance to review the digital editions of the antique books, shoot us an email with your comments. 

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