Stupid Is as Stupid Does

I’ve written about the various household projects I have in progress, but I don’t think I’ve mentioned one of the most frustrating.

I wanted to run a “copperline” telephone line to the glass-enclosed observation post here at the Biscuit City studios after the existing line was taken out when Verizon installed Fios about three years ago now. Instead of the four-wire telephone feed, I have what looks like a coax cable (a fiber-optic) leading to the router for my wi-fi. Fios has worked extremely well: when the cable was cut by a sliding ice sheet a couple of years ago, the repair guy came out and fixed it on a Sunday morning.

We do have a couple of hardwire phones: the kitchen phone that hangs on the wall and one of those wireless bases with four phones that go with it. The phones are a bit frustrating because if you get a call and someone else wants to pick it up on another phone, you have to transfer the call to the other phone. I have no idea where the directions are to do this, so we have to go to the kitchen phone or take the handset to the person receiving the  call. Then the handsets all end up in the same place. First world problem, I know.

So, I needed a copperline for the fax machine in the Biscuit City office. Actually, I have a laser printer/fax/copier/scanner. It has been fabulous. My dad’s financial guy, Mike Washer, told me to get one and it has been so useful. But I occasionally need to fax something and to do so I go over to the church and use the fax there. I know, it’s only about half a mile, but I expect convenience (I’m so spoiled, I know).

So, first I had to drill a hole through the wall, which I did with my 12-inch bit. Then I fed the telephone cable through the hole and went outside to hook it up to the junction box. There was no sign of the cable protruding through the wall. It had gone down inside the wall and had probably wrapped itself around the HVAC unit in the basement.

I pulled the wayward cable out and enlarged the hole Someone suggested a fish tape, which is a long metal ribbon (of darkness–it is black. Pace, Gordon Lightfoot!)that is used to “fish” cables through walls and other barriers. I got the line through the wall, hooked it up and tried the phone. Nothing. Since it was February and cold to be monkeying around outside, I put this project on hiatus and just got back to it this past week.

I thought the problem was the old cable I was using (nearly 45 years old) so I got a nice new run of cable and fed that through the wall. Three times. The cable kept going and slid outside the house. Finally I tied a pair of pliers at the end and that stopped the slide. I connected the wires (only need two out of four. I’m sure the other lines have a function: I’m just not sure what it is) and hooked up the jack. Nothing.

I then thought the problem was the jack so I got another one from my collection of cast-off telephone parts and tried that with the same result. I then thought the cable might have been bad even though it was new. Stranger things have happened. So I rigged up a telephone that I could take to the old school junction box and touched the cable wires to the terminal. Still nothing. Then I noticed that the hardwires that do work went to the Fios (new school) box. That was what was necessary to make a new line work. I didn’t want to mess with a Verizon installation so I ordered a VoiP box (voice-over-internet telephone. I think.) that will give me a wireless hardwire (oxymoron of the week). It’ll be here this week. I’ll let you know how the electronic genius that I am makes out with it.

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