Thursday, August 21, 2014

Brass Floor Lamp with Table Socket Replacement

A customer brought in this patient the other day and complained the socket was not working. The cord was polarized and in good shape, so the only lamp part needed for this fix was a new turn knob 3-way socket interior.

3-way sockets have the extra contact (in this case it's aluminum in color). This allows a 3-way bulb to be switched 50-100-150 watt.

First the socket shell is removed from the socket cap.

The old socket interior is a quick connect type that has piercing tongs and do not require the wire to be striped. The replacement interior has screw terminals, so the wire is clipped.

Cord slack is fed from the bottom so the wire can be reconnected to the new socket interior.

The lamp cord is split, stripped, tipped and a UL knot is tied in the cord.

The socket interior is attached with the ribbed wire going on the nickel screw terminal and the smooth wire going on the brass screw terminal.

The cord slack is pulled back through the base of the lamp.

The socket shell gets snapped into the socket cap. Tip: Notice the orientation of the turn knob on the socket: in the middle of the harp base. If you are reaching under a shade to turn off the lamp, it is easier to find the turn knob if it is center of the harp base.

A bulb is added and the lamp is tested.

Perfect. Total Cost <$3.00 Total Time < 10 minutes.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Load Bearing Lamp Parts?

In our lamp shop we try to make the best repairs with the best parts, period. We do not want a customer to leave the shop with a lamp fixture that has problems or potential for problems. Sometimes we compromise on the type of part to use. More often we compromise on the style. We will never compromise on the safety of a lamp, so there are times when we have to tell a customer "sorry, your lamp cannot be repaired"

If you are a DIY lamp person or a small time picker it is important to know when is the right time to say: Put some jam on it, this lamp is toast. You need to make that decision at the flea market or in the Goodwill store and not in the home shop.

Here is an example. A customer brought in this lamp the other day and it was obviously broken. This is not the common flickering bulb or bad switch, this is a break in the body of the lamp.

It doesn't look like a bad break and probably only makes the lamp a little wobbly. A close inspection shows the problem: the body of this lamp is not just decorative, it is a load bearing piece. It holds the lamp together and is under the pressure of the threaded rod.

This lamp could be disassembled and glued with a strong epoxy, but it would be time consuming and it would not be safe. The best thing for this lamp would be to recycle the good parts. The socket, cord, harp, harp base, threaded rod and all other miscellaneous parts should be put in the spare parts bin for the next repair.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Scroll Lamp Cord Replacement Should Be Easier

A customer brought in these lamps the other day and said they were not working any more. They had dimmer rotary switches on the cords and the resisters in the switch were worn out. The dimmer switches can wear out and are more likely to if the lamp has a high wattage bulb or burns for long periods.

While inspecting these lamps it was apparent the cords were worn, so the customer agreed to replace the cords with new on/off rotary cord switches. The switch and the polarized lamp cord are the only two lamp parts needed to repair these lamps.

Rotary Lamp Cord Switch

First thing it to remove the shade ring, lamp shade, and socket. These lamps have porcelain sockets so there are two small screws that hold the socket body to the nipple on the bottom of the socket.

With the socket removed the old lamp cord is pulled through the lamp body. There is a lot of resistance in the cord, so it is going to take some work getting a new cord back through the lamp body. To reduce the number of bends and breaks the cord is moved through the base and the top is taken off the lamp body.

The new lamp cord is pushed up through the bottom of the lamp and keeps getting stuck about 6 inches into the lamp body. (Note: Don't forget about the base of the lamp. Run the new cord through the base before it makes it through the lamp body.) After making several attempts to thread the new cord up the scrolled lamp body, a beaded chain is run through the body to attached to the cord and pulls the cord through. This helps the cord get past the snags. The chain is attached to the cord with a small wire and soldered to keep the cord from coming loose.

The lamp body is placed in a vise while the cord is pulled through the lamp. TIP: Use a towel, rag or other cloth in the vise to protect the finish of the lamp. Never tighten the vise enough to damage the lamp. With a little more grunting and sweat, the lamp cord makes it through the lamp body.

The soldered end is clipped off.

The lamp case and top are reattached to the lamp body. The socket base is installed.

The new lamp cord is split, stripped, and a UL knot is tied. The cord is attached to the socket. Remember the smooth cord goes to the brass screw and the ribbed cord attaches to the silver screw.

The socket is screwed back on the socket base with the two smaller interior screws.

The lamp is not finished but is tested. A bulb is added and the cord is plugged in.

Good. The lamp is working, but since this lamp has a keyless socket (no switch), the only way to turn it off is to unplug it. Now the rotary cord switch can be added. TIP: If possible, it is good to test the lamp through the repair so if the final result is a non working lamp, you only have to go back to the last tested point. The cord switch can be placed anywhere on the cord. Since these lamps are a pair, the other lamp is used as a guide for the switch placement. The lamp is unplugged and the cord is split where we want to place the switch.

Using some needle nose pliers, the gap is widened. The smooth cord is cut and a notch is taken from the cord.

The new switch is opened and placed on the cord. The cut cord is placed on the switch prongs that pierce the cord. When tightening the center screw in the switch, press firmly on the switch body.

The cord is plugged in and tested again.

Perfect..... finally Total Cost < $8.00 (each lamp) Total Time < 45 minutes (each lamp)