Wiring – Can anyone identify this old wiring in the walls


In several of the rooms of the house I moved into last year (built 1973, USA), there are blank wall plates. I've removed a few to investigate and found somehting similar to the below pictures each time: a loop of what appears to be thick brown electrical cable, accompanied by a foot or so of thin 2-conductor black cable that is either insulated with rubber or a very flexible plastic, and covered in orange muck.

I've given the large loop a god tug and it doesn't appear to be an off-cut tucked back up into the wall. If it is, it's jammed in there pretty good.

Neither appears to carry any voltage according to a NCV tester, and it doesn't resemble the mains wiring in any of the live outlets or switches (which is all white plastic NMC and generally a bit thinner than the thick brown wire here).

I'm not intending to do anything with it at this point, just curious as to what it is/was.

Best Answer

Partial answer: the larger cable is Belden 8290 shielded twin lead TV antenna cable, which was introduced the 1960s and so is probably original to the house.

It's been literally years since I posted this question so in all likelihood nobody will happen upon this, but while working in my attic today I uncovered an old UHF/VHF antenna that was laying on the rafters and buried by the blown cellulose insulation. After digging it out a bit I immediately recognized the wire it was connected to as my mystery large wire and could finally get a good look at it.

There was no sign of the smaller wire in the attic so what that was used for remains anybody's guess.