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Original poster: "Ed Phillips by way of Terry Fritz <twftesla-at-qwest-dot-net>" <evp-at-pacbell-dot-net>

It is indeed possible to build HV capacitors using oil as a dielectric,
and they were certainly used by hams in spark days, and I suspect there
were commercial installations as well.  Takes a lot of large,
carefully-mounted plates with good low-inductance connections, but can
sure be done and has the advantage that if there is breakdown for some
reason all that is needed to restore the capacitor is to clean the
plates and renew (perhaps just filter) the oil.  I have an article in a
very early 20's QST which describes just such a capacitor, 0.01 ufd at
25 kV, as I recall.  If anyone is really, really interested I could dig
it out and mail it to him.