I am the new owner of an old, WWII-era home. The previous owner rented the property out for many years, and upkeep seems to have always gone to the lowest bidder. Among other things this means we have encountered many "interesting" examples of electrical maintenance work. For example, since the house is old and does not have grounded wiring, every three-pronged outlet in the house was wired up with what I eventually learned is called a "bootleg ground". (I removed those.)
Currently I am trying to fix a non-functioning three-way switch in the kitchen. I have looked at what feels like every diagram of three-way switch wiring on the entire internet and still cannot make heads or tails of how ours ought to be wired up. The basic situation is two wall switches on either side of a track light. There is standard 12/3 Romex running from one switch to the other. I have verified using a the continuity tester on my multimeter that each wire in the Romex is connected to the other outlet as expected.
The continuity tester indicates that the older, braided wire shown in the photo with the white arrow connects to the hot rail on the track light. Continuity tester doesn't give any more beeps if I check any of the Romex wires against the ground, neutral or hot rails of the track light. If I connect the black wire to source, the white wire becomes hot relative to ground. If I then connect the white wire and braided wires, the lights turn on.
I'm confused for several reasons. If white becomes hot when I connect black to source, shouldn't there be continuity between white and black? If so I'm not able to measure it. Also what is the role of the braided cable here? This wiring set up seems unlike anything I have found online.
Other outlet. The bottom four wires are the Romex coming from the first outlet. The two wire nutted bundles are a separate circuit (there is an outlet on the other side of the wall for the dining room). I have no idea what the black wire in the upper left is for. Seems to be part of the other circuit as well but I have verified that it is dead.